Veggielution Trip

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Highway 280 crosses above the Veggielution orchard

Last weekend our class volunteered at Veggielution’s Saturday workday. Veggielution is a beautiful six acre community farm located in East San Jose. This was my first experience on a farm and I was not quite sure what to expect. The beginning of our workday consisted of an hour long tour of the farm. My first reaction to the farm was shock – the farm was larger than I expected. It was very surprising to me that a farm this big could be located in the middle of an urban area. During the farm tour we learned about the many different programs and events Veggielution hosts. For example, they hosts “Veggielution Kitchen,” which is a cooking class that teaches participants on how to prepare healthy dinners using the farm’s produce. The farm offered so many different ways for the community to get involved!

Following the farm tour we pulled weeds in the orchard. In the short two and a half hours we pulled weeds, we were able to transform the area. Beforehand, it was impossible to walk through the area and by the time the workday was over we were able to walk through much of it and see all the fruit trees! I felt accomplished each time I successfully pulled out a stubborn weed and enjoyed seeing the end product of our efforts.

Veggielution aims to distribute 70% of their produce at lost cost or for free to the local communities. Knowing that I was able to contribute to the farm and the local community despite the little knowledge I have about farming was very rewarding. Regardless of your farming experience I recommend taking the time to volunteer at Veggielution!  Community farms are a wonderful way to connect to people within the community while making a meaningful contribution to the local community.

Cultivating Change

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Veggielution Work Day

A bright stretch of farmland with hand-painted signs welcoming you in is not the first thing you would expect straight off the highway on the east side of San Jose, but that is exactly what you will encounter on South King Road. As an urban farm with a mission to “connect people through food and farming,” Veggielution seeks to preserve the agricultural history of the Santa Clara Valley.

During our class tour, the farm manager discussed how Veggielution has come to understand the importance of getting community input for a community space like an urban farm. In consideration of their Spanish-speaking local community, cooking classes hosted at Veggielution are conducted in Spanish with English translation available, rather than the other way around. The farm also has a program in place to hire and train members of the community about food-based entrepreneurship. It is also planning to start field trips to the farm for local middle schoolers.

I saw a connection between my Veggielution experience and readings about urban hazardous waste in the Bay Area through the engagement of the youth in a community, the generation with the means to build on the progress made before them. Whereas Veggielution grapples with its role in engaging and educating the youth who come to the farm, young activists in the EPA Youth United For Community Action (YUCA) organization are the ones taking it upon themselves to educate their community, as well as those from elsewhere, about environmental justice.

This goes back to a question that has come up during our weekly discussions: what is the most effective way to bring about change in a community? At the heart of it all, local grassroots efforts that are conscious of the needs of the community or come from within the community itself have consistently seemed to be the most impactful.