Bright Spot Ventures combines environmental and social justice. A field report from Elizabeth.
Yesterday, Dee Burdash and Elizabeth Siftar sweated it out at the Bright Spot Urban Farm in New Castle. This is definitely a project that readers of the Connector ought to know about. Here’s Elizabeth’s report.
We were assigned to remove those tiny, nasty weedies growing around the ready-to-pick swiss chard, collards, and other greens. Wednesday is a big a market day for Bright Spot. They take the produce truck to Claymore Senior Center, JP Morgan Bank, Rodney Square Farmers Market. Workers were busily cutting produce, taking it over to the cleaning trailer, loading it on the official Bright Spot Ventures produce truck, and heading out to the sites.
The two new young men, Yosef and Henry were introduced to us, and we met Kirstin, the intern who manages the produce marketing. Mary was working with the students, the Uof D intern was cutting, and Krista came and said thanks for volunteering and Mike was in and out. But, at one point, no matter what each was doing, they ALL were working in the beautiful rows of veggies. There’s a very good feeling at the farm, even with the traffic noise from Rt. 13. The land is beautifully maintained under the supervision of Mary and Krista, both of whom are Longwood Gardens trained.
To understand the real results and get a feel for the quality of the Bright Spot program, you really have to visit one of the market sites. Cool Spring Farmers Market, Thursdays from 4–8 is the best, because the market itself is run by Bright Spot. There are several vendors, fresh prepared food, music, and kids and dogs. In addition, members of the Wilmington community who rely on EBT are given vouchers to purchase the fresh produce grown by youth from their own community. The big Bright Spot produce truck is parked in its place, and the produce is displayed in various artful ways. It’s all gorgeous—and the kids are there!
The Urban Farm production continues through October, so volunteers will be needed for several more months. Let’s recruit more from First Unitarian! It’s an hour and a half on Wednesdays—rotating. Right now, we are recruiting adult or older teen volunteers. I will be there when new people go out.
There’s a really nice synergy developing between our Green Sanctuary and ILYA [Independent Living for Young Adults] programs and Bright Spot Ventures. Lois Morris of ILYA recently wrote:
Are you wondering what ILYA (Independent Living for Young Adults) has to do with First UU’s Green Sanctuary? Interestingly enough, both organizations have a big interest in the success of a little-known third organization—Bright Spot Urban Farm. With its emphasis on fresh local produce, Bright Spot is a perfect fit with Green Sanctuary. And because it was created so that former foster youth could learn the agriculture business by doing, it’s a perfect fit with ILYA too. Former foster youth plant, harvest, and sell their own produce while learning what it takes to run a successful business.
Do you see where this is going? Won’t you be in synergy with ILYA and Green Sanctuary to spread the word to potentiate Bright Spot’s success? How many people can you tell? When you buy fresh local produce at the Cool Spring Farmer’s Market at 10th & Jackson Streets every Thursday from 4–8 p.m., you can help give a former foster youth a successful future—and give you a tasty summer meal!
Bright Spot is an excellent example of serving locally with inner city-youth, supporting sustainably and ethically grown food, and helping to bring that food to those in the community who lack access to healthy, fresh food. Our work combines Environmental Justice and Social Justice and is an example of our UU Principles at work.
Thank you for all that you do!