By Maria Camila
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
This quote represents one of the most important aspects of solving a problem, taking into account the surroundings and causes of the problem. You can’t fix the problem without thinking about why it started and why it still exists; you have to look into the past, act in the present, and consider the future. In Climate Corps we take this into consideration with one of the problems that terrorize society the most, climate change. Eastie Farm’s Climate Corps program brings the community together to work towards creating safe green spaces and fighting for Food Justice. It only takes one person to act, to create a whole movement.
Throughout the first week of working with Eastie Farm in the Youth Climate Corps program, the group learned about different contributions to the community that Eastie Farms provides, such as their Community-Supported Agriculture farm share program, which provides local, seasonal, and affordable produce to community members. We also learned about how Eastie Farm works with Channel Fish, distributing hundreds of pounds of free fish that would have otherwise gone to waste. Another important Eastie Farm partnership is with TREE Eastie. In that collaboration, we water seedlings that have been planted in East Boston. We’re currently experiencing a drought, and there isn’t much tree canopy in East Boston, so this is really important, since trees filter the air and provide shade and directly decrease the impacts of climate change. We are all responsible for certain trees in the neighborhood.
Within the first week of the program, our group could already notice the difference we were making in the community, whether it was starting to compost, cleaning up the Eastie Farm sites, maintaining the garden beds, or giving away fish and produce that put food on the tables of hundreds of households who immediately show up when we send out texts about free food. Regardless of what type of work the group did, everything felt connected back to the community and seeing the smiles of the people made everything worth it.
One of the most outstanding interactions with the neighborhood this week was the fish distribution. We started distributing the fish around 12pm with a maximum of two per person and before we hit 2pm, there were no fish left. My coworker and fellow Climate Corps member, Nicole, started helping Roberto to distribute the fish but we soon changed positions and I started giving out the fish. While I gave out the fish, she would have a bag ready to put them in for those who didn’t bring one. While doing these, we noticed many people brought their own bags, producing a nice change in the mentality of people carrying their own bags and recycling instead of getting new ones. Many told us that they had walked there just to get the fish, creating the idea of a general demand and satisfaction on the distribution. Not only that but most people who would come over and talk to us told us they had about 6 persons in their house taking sometimes even 4 fishes. Contributions like this ones bring awareness about food justice and how it is often not talked about publicly. So with projects like this one we hope to bring more attention to the problem and have a realistic idea of how many people are affected with food problems in just one community.
Other farm activities we did throughout the week were starting the harvest of the mulberries (from our trees at our garden on Sumner st as well as throughout the neighborhood) and cherries! So many people don’t even realize that there is fruit growing right here in our neighborhood that they can harvest themselves. Not only do we harvest and enjoy this fruit with each other and our community, but we use it as a vehicle to increase awareness about seasonal foods, the importance of reducing food miles, and the joy of connecting to where our food comes from. We also include what we harvest in our CSA boxes and give it out to community members. This week, we also fixed the water barrels that hold rain at our sites and which we use to water the trees. Have you heard of rain harvesting? We do that here at Eastie Farm – instead of rain falling from the roof and seeping into the basement of our neighbor’s houses and causing all sorts of structural problems to their house as well as going down the rain drain that takes the water to the sea, we installed pipes that collect the rain and gather it into barrels on our sites, which we then use to water our garden beds. See, there are always creative solutions to our problems! It’s a similar thing with the trees we water in partnership with TREE Eastie. These trees, which are a huge benefit to humans and wildlife for many reasons, also take care of another big problem – excess carbon dioxide in the air. Bill from TREE Eastie taught us all about how trees mitigate air pollution (which is high in East Boston especially because of our proximity to the airport) and also reduce stress among people. Not to mention providing a safe place for wild life to live in and being an integral part of the ecosystem and important in their own right! We water these trees on a weekly basis, and we teach about this too.
Everything we’ve done so far has not only helped the community but also climate change and made us realize how such small things can create a big impact over time.