Community Connections Fostered by California Conservation Corpsmembers

CCC members ( right center to left center) Rhonda McCracken & Robert Mauch and Americorps VISTA members Jordan Serin & Rafferty hosting a workshop in the CCC’s community garden at the center in Fortuna.

As part of Cesar Chavez Healthy Communities Project’s Youth Conference “Own Your Community”, California Conservation Corps and Americorps VISTA members presented a workshop, “Hunger: What Would Cesar Do?” for 22 regional high school students. The annual event, held at Fortuna’s River Lodge, brought together 150 students from Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties and provided them a forum to learn about local community needs, explore their personal civic responsibility, and develop an understanding about the life and values of Cesar Chavez.
Students convened on Thursday, September 25th for breakfast and a keynote address, then broke into chosen workshops. CCC members began their workshop with a walk to the center, challenging the attendees to imagine marching for a cause during the time of Cesar Chavez’ struggle for decent conditions of migrant farm workers in California.
The workshop presented perspectives on hunger and community solutions and responsibilities surrounding this issue. Using the garden as the classroom, participants engaged in hands-on exploration of organic produce as a means of combating hunger.
The CCC organic garden grows and donates produce to Eureka’s Food for People as part of a national campaign with local steering by VISTA Sarah Hoskinson. Known as Plant-A-Row, the program currently enlists help from 11 Humboldt County groups and individuals as well as many people in the community who bring excess produce directly to the food bank. This year, the Food Bank has already received nearly 1,500 pounds of fresh produce from PAR participants and backyard gardeners. They have received over 11,000 pounds of produce from local farmers helping to feed 9000-10,000 Humboldt County residents every month.
California Conservation Corps’ participation in PAR is only a small part of the organization’s commitment to community. In Summer 2003, CCC members contributed over 500 hours of their free-time to local organizations and events including the Fortuna Autorama, Fortuna Rodeo Days, Rio Dell’s Wildwood Days, the Redwood Summer Games, Habitat for Humanity, Vagabond Players, and Sequoia Springs Living Center.

Robert Mauch and students planting organic carrots for Plant-A-Row

Corpsmembers wrapped up the hour-long workshop by leading the group in planting organic carrots, turnips, broccoli, and cabbage. Now just little sprouts, the veggies will be ready for harvest and donation before the cover-crop is sown and the rains begin to fall.

Article submitted by Rafferty, Americorps VISTA member at the California Conservation Corps. For more information, photos, or volunteer opportunities contact Rafferty or Stacy @ 707-725-5106