Anathoth Community Garden, End of Year Fundraiser: Last Day, “I Unite the Givers and Receivers, and Know Not the Difference.”

Hi friends!

Last day of the end of year fundraiser, and the last day you can make a tax-deductible contribution and have it count for tax year 2016!  I don’t think I’ll make my $500 goal, but am so grateful for the $200 4 kind souls have given! And if you are reading this, consider making a small donation so I can make it to the halfway point of $250!

My fundraising page where you can make a donation is here.

Every time I work with Anathoth; volunteer at a work day, work through a board meeting, donate money; it all feels like a gift to me! A small bit of that peace Anathoth pushes to create. The greatest gift I received through Anathoth happened on November 19th, the Saturday night when Anathoth’s annual “Thanks-For-Giving” event occurred. Approximately 150 people get together to raise money for Anathoth Community Garden, enjoy an evening of good fellowship, food from Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, music, and a few words from people who work with Anathoth, sharing small reflections about their experience.

One person who shared a reflection was Thomas Day (pictured below), a gentleman whose mother participates in the HarvestShare program. He stood up at the microphone and showed everyone one of the cardboard produce boxes Anathoth Community Garden packs fruit and vegetables in before delivering each week.  Mr. Day said a few words about how much these vegetables meant to his elderly mother, especially the time Anathoth staff and interns spent talking with his mom, then read aloud this poem he had written.  Please read it!  His poem brought tears of joy to my eyes, at the beauty of his writing, and also the picture he created with words of why Aanthoth Community Garden matters, and exists to serve others.

Again…last time I get to ask in 2016, consider making a donation to Anathoth at my fundraising page here.
“Anathoth Box”: A Poem

Thomas Day is an Anathoth supporter whose 91-year-old mother, Lucie White, is a HarvestShare participant. Thomas still farms the land where he grew up, on the border of Cedar Grove and Efland — even while working as a systems administrator. Read more about his mother, Lucie White, in this 2014 newsletter, under “A generous gift of greens.” (Photo: Thomas on the right, with Anathoth board chair Catherine Lee on the left.)

At the Thanks-For-Giving dinner, Thomas read a poem he wrote, imagining the perspective of a HarvestShare box!

“Anathoth Box”

I am Anathoth Box.
I come to your home filled to the brim with garden vegetables so nutritious.
All who partake say my contents are so delicious.
I was built by design on a sliding scale,
now all the fortunate and less fortunate can enjoy and prevail.
I am lined with Love Hope and Charity.
I Anathoth Box give Love Hope and Charity,
because i have been filled with Love Hope and Charity.
I am you. I am Anathoth Box.
I unite the givers and receivers and know not the difference.
I am Anathoth Box.
I am symbolic of Community.
Now in you home unpacked I sit.
I await a new destination, embracing the journey.
While I am here and I just say ” Love Y’all”
I am Anathoth Box.

+ + +

A reminder: You can easily get updates about workday activities and see snapshots of life at the garden by “liking” Anathoth’s Facebook page here.
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Anathoth Community Garden, End of Year Fundraiser: Day 4, the HarvestShare CSA and an Interview with Freddy

Hey friends,

I have two days left to raise $300 more for Anathoth. Every little bit helps. Thanks for taking the time to visit my page. I really, really appreciate your reading these stories and considering making a donation.

Today, I’d like to tell you about how Anathoth connects people with the highest quality, perishable produce and their community through our HarvestShare program. We started the HarvestShare program four years ago with the hope that it would allow us to sustain our mission to ‘cultivate peace’ with financial support from a broader network of churches and individuals.

The program is based off of the Community Supported Agriculture (“CSA”) concept in which people make a financial commitment at the beginning of a growing season to support a local farmer. In return, they get a share of what that farm produces throughout the season. HarvestShare models an equitable CSA because for every share that someone purchases for their own household another one is donated to a household that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. This past year we supported about 150 households with a weekly supply of sustainably-grown produce for 8 months. Additionally, we encourage HarvestShare participants to join our weekly workdays where they can connect with the source of their food and their neighbors in the garden!

Here’s today’s interview, with a HarvestShare participant, Freddy, and artist in Chapel Hill:

Meet HarvestShare participant: Freddy Cotton

Freddy Cotton (shown here with one of his drawings of a picnic table) was born and raised in Chapel Hill, where he still lives with his step-father (and resident chef), William. Freddy is an artist, and during the interview he pulled out a stack of drawings, signed and dated, from over the years. Below are excerpts from the interview with Freddy.What was it like growing up in Chapel Hill in the ’60s?
Things were quieter, it wasn’t as congested. There weren’t as many people around. I liked riding my bike. 

Our neighbor had a big, big field. We used to help, picking corn and potatoes, and they would share it with us. I helped them feed the hogs, watered the hogs, all the time.

How has it been to make your life in Chapel Hill, over the years?
I just love it here. It’s peaceful. I used to work at the hospital. I retired from the hospital. I worked in housekeeping — but I worked in the operating room.

What’s your favorite way to spend your day now?
I like to sit around and draw. I do a lot of drawing. Some people say, ‘You must be bored, because you’re always drawing.’ But that’s just what I like to do. I draw several times a week. I never draw the same thing over. I try to find something different.

I love music. I love rap, R&B. I try to sing a little bit. I try to play. I play bongo a little bit, drums a little bit. I play piano, just something I learned from my son.

I have one son and four grandkids. I like to see them laugh and have fun.

How did you learn about HarvestShare?
I went to Social Services, and they had a flier there on the table. I picked one up and started reading, and I thought, ‘I should go call them.’ Because we like vegetables, and we didn’t have any, and the doctor’s always telling you to eat your greens and fiber.

My favorite vegetables are carrots — all of it. I can eat everything, if it’s cooked. The tomatoes, green beans, all the greens. I started eating broccoli in 2015. And I started eating a little squash.

Anathoth Community Garden, End of Year Fundraiser: Day 3, Internships, the Power of Waiting, and Tomatoes!

Day 3 of telling you more about Anathoth and asking if you might donate to help this non-profit continue its mission.  Thank you, thank you to the folks who have made contributions so far.  I have three more days to raise money for Anathoth (I am striving for raising $500). If you haven’t yet, please visit my page and consider donating; $5, 10, $25, whatever you can!

Today, I’d like to tell you about how Anathoth uses internships to prepare adults to lead similar projects in their own community. For 10 weeks each summer we invite adults from across the country to come learn with us. This past year, some came from as far as Iowa and Kentucky, and others as close as Duke Divinity School and Wake Forest University School of Divinity.  Beyond the softer learning that happens by way of osmosis from living and working together, their education also centers on a curriculum that is part practical and part theological. Interns are taught horticultural skills like starting seeds in a greenhouse and also to see how many of the divisions in our communities and churches stem from a broken agricultural history.

This past year we were excited to introduce a new adult program we call the season-long apprenticeship, where former interns or other folks with previous agricultural experience can learn the day-to-day operations of our agricultural ministry throughout the entire growing season.

Here’s today’s reflection:

Meet a summer intern: Erin Welty

Erin Welty (in the center in this photo) hails from North Carolina, and is now studying English and Classics at the University of South Carolina. Just returned home from the summer internship, Erin shared a reflection on the summer.

“Rejoicing Together”

Dear friends,

Paul instructs the body of Christ to “rejoice with those who rejoice; to weep with those who weep.” It is the mark of true community to share in each others’ joy and pain. During my ten weeks interning at Anathoth, we have gathered together often and shared about our lives as we work, before workday potlucks, and around the table. I have felt overwhelmed in those moments by joy and sorrow that is not my own – or rather, that is made my own through the mysterious, God-given presence of friendship. 

With that being said, there could be no sweeter way to close my time at Anathoth than with a sudden and overwhelming abundance of long-awaited tomatoes! The joy of the tomato harvest is shared amongst our community in the most tangible way of sharing I can think of – eating together. One of the gifts of HarvestShare is that I can share in the joy of people who I have and have not met. I don’t know everyone who will eat the tomatoes that we have so joyfully harvested in the past week, but we are all together in the joy nonetheless.  It is through the support of the HarvestShare community that we are able to grow tomatoes, it is for you that we harvest them, and it is with you that we joyfully eat the fruits of our labor. 

As you enjoy Anathoth’s tomatoes, know that their growth has been a long journey of labor and love. If you’ve read Julia’s weekly farm updates in the newsletter, you will have read quite a bit about tomato plant care. During my ten weeks of work as an intern, we have prepared the soil for the tomato beds, driven tomato stakes, planted the seedlings, suckered them (pruning to produce more effectively), tied them, tied some more, and then tied some more! (A twangy refrain of “bury me with my tomato twine” became the song that echoed over the fields in homage to the everpresent task of tying our growing tomatoes.) In the sweat of all that work, I felt the practices of sacrifice, prayerful patience, and unconditional care become ingrained into my increasingly calloused hands. 

The joy of finally harvesting and eating these tomatoes, then, is no small joy. All who eat them share in the depth of that joy, and this shared rejoicing can only be the gift of the Spirit for the body of Christ. Praise be to God for such a gift. 

This weekend, I left my home of the past ten weeks in Cedar Grove to return to my family and prepare for the coming school year. It is hard to leave behind a place and community that has welcomed and transformed me so thoroughly. It is also hard to leave behind the work that I have come to love – the care of tomatoes continues on, and preparation for the fall season is in full swing, and it is sad to step away from those every-day acts of care.

But our shared joy extends far beyond my time as an intern and has eased my mind in this time of transition. Here is the beautiful part of leaving: I brought some tomatoes and other veggies from the garden home with me. My mom and I made pico de gallo last night with Anathoth tomatoes, peppers, and onion. As we prepared and ate together, I shared stories of my time working at Anathoth. Even at a distance from the garden, we joined the body of people that rejoices together in the harvest. I ask of you, then, if you are enjoying the bounty of the harvest this summer, to eat your tomatoes. Share them with your neighbors. And know that they are the deepest expression of love and community that I can think of.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing in the joy of the harvest with us. 

Anathoth Community Garden, End of Year Fundraiser: Day 2, Meet an “Open Hands” Intern

Hey folks,

It’s Day 2 of my campaign for Anathoth. Thanks so much to those who have already contributed. For those who haven’t made a contribution yet, please visit my page. The cool thing about this method of fundraising is that even $10-$25 donations add up quickly to make a big difference. And it’s easy; you don’t have to find your checkbook. 🙂

Today, I’d like to give you a snapshot of our paid summer internship for local teenagers called Open Hands. Open Hands began as a way to deepen our work with local teens who were coming to Anathoth to complete court-mandated community service hours. The program now consists of a diverse group of teens–some who come to us initially to do mandated service, but also others, like Amy, who are interested in learning how to use agriculture to heal divisions between land and neighbor.

Here’s today’s reflection:

Meet Open Hands intern: Amy Mejia
Amy Mejia graduated from Cedar Ridge High School this year, and is preparing for a gap year in Kenya. She shares some reflections from her summer internship at Anathoth:
 
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My name is Amy and I have recently graduated from Cedar Ridge High School. Both parents were born in Mexico, but I was born in California. I have grown up living with two cultures where at home our family holds Mexican values. But when I go outside my home, I engage in an American culture where there’s a socio-economic ladder and values such as freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness. Living with these two dominating cultures in my life have allowed me to grow an find my own hybrid identity. But this combination is not always so smooth. There is clashing of some values and this phenomenon is called “el choque”  which means “the clash”. This identity is called Chicano/a Culture. Chicano culture is an empowering community of artists, authors, activists and workers that dwell in the expression of both cultures and “el choque” where Chicanos are reminded that it is a complicated, but beautiful way of life. As a Chicana activist called Gloria Anzaldua has stated “Deep in our hearts we believe being Mexican has nothing to do with which country one lives in. Being Mexican is a state of soul – not one of mind, not one of citizenship. Neither eagle nor serpents, but both. And like the oceans, neither animal respects bores.” The picture above is me standing next to my self portrait where I delve into this expression and my identity.

Since I have graduated I decided to take a gap year before coming back to school for college. In my gap year I am searching for perspective, motivation and focus. Therefore, Anathoth was the kickoff to my gap year. It has been such a blessing to be a part of Anathoth and I have gained so much from this experience. In early January I will be leaving to volunteer for an organization called Positive Life Kenya located in Mlolongo, Kenya. There, I will be working with the HIV community specifically with orphans and families that have been affected and are challenged by HIV.

Compassion, kindness, love, faith and strength is exactly the kind of goods that I will need in Kenya and it is exactly what Anathoth gave me along with my full box of veggies. I have gained experiences of nurturing and care at Anathoth. I have been humbled by the care and love of the earth. God has created a planet where we as a species can have a symbiotic relationship with the earth. Such as how in the summer when it’s hot the earth creates hydrating produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peaches. I have also found strength in the love that has surrounded me this summer. Both by the nutrients of the earth like the iron in chard, but also by encouragement and faith of the leaders and interns I worked with. I have also strengthened my relationship with God through this community and have been inspired to have a garden of my own at home. I have come to understand the magnificence of God is so many ways. I specifically remember a conversation I was having with one of the interns about the concept of worship and asking what it meant to her. She was quick to respond as we were picking beans, “This is a form of worship to me.”  At that moment, I felt rejuvenated at the thought that my relationship with God can be as unique and as personal as I’d like it to be. Experiences like these have shaped my perspective and has caused a curiosity and excitement for all I can do to be with and feel God. 

At Positive Life Kenya I will be giving the very love and compassion Anathoth has let me be a part of. I hope to bring love and strength to the people of the slums in Mlolongo.

With lots of love,
Amy M

Anathoth Community Garden, End of Year Fundraiser: Day 1, Meet a Harvest Share Participant

Friends and family, I have been a part of Anathoth Community Garden & Farm for just over a year as a volunteer, and as a member of the board of directors. Anathoth began in response to a murder in the community, and our mission is to cultivate peace by using sustainable agriculture to connect people with their neighbors,the land, and God.
Through our educational internships for teens and adults, and a sliding-scale Community Supported Agriculture program, HarvestShare, which makes good food accessible to more than 150 households of all income levels, I believe Anathoth is bringing people together to heal divisions, and the land.

As a counterpoint to this past, very divisive, year, I believe Anathoth serves as a witness of an alternative way of relating to one another. Over the next five days, I will be raising funds to support Anathoth’s mission to cultivate peace. Each day, I’ll be sharing one of the interviews we conducted over the past year with people whose lives are being changed by our work.

Please visit my fundraising page today to make a contribution. I hope to raise up to $500 in these 5 days, and hope you might include Anathoth in your year-end giving.

Thank you so much,

Chip

Here’s today’s first interview.

Meet a HarvestShare participant: Cumilla White

Cumilla White was born and raised in Cedar Grove. Many of you have read about her great-grandson, Raekwon Webb, who was an Open Hands intern. He was killed in an accident last November. Members of the Anathoth community honored and remembered his life at a garden memorial service in May.

Cumilla has been a pillar of strength, not only to Raekwon, but also to her family and whole community. This interview is just a glimpse into her full and rich life, from her birth in 1937.

What do you remember about growing up in Cedar Grove?
I remember we were raised on a farm. Tobacco farm. We grew the tobacco. We grew everything. We had everything that we had to live by. We didn’t have to go to the grocery store. We had cows, hogs, a garden — Lord, my God, what a garden. 

We didn’t have any running water. We had to walk from here to the next house down the hill to a spring for our water, and that was for the washing, cooking, everything.

Those were the good years. Because we had everything we needed. We didn’t have to go hunting for anything…we had chickens, eggs. We had everything.

I went to school (at Sartin School, which was off highway 86), and later on moved on down towards Hillsborough. Going down 86, after Coleman Loop, three or four houses down, if you look out in the woods, you can still see (the school).

What was a typical day like for you, growing up?
A normal day was for us to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning, to start our chores. Some had chickens, some had hogs, everyone had something different to do. There were altogether 11 of us. Seven of us girls. Once we reached 9-10 years old, we had to take over the kitchen and help cook. You had to decide what you were going to cook. You had to get the garden up and (the produce) in at night, so you knew what you were going to cook.

I had to quit (school) before I finished the 10th grade, because my mother had to go to the hospital for surgery. At that time, they didn’t sew her up, and they didn’t have sutures — so she had a big wound. She said my hands were the best at soothing her…rubbing the side of her wounds up and down, so it would close up. I quit school to see after my mother, after the surgery. But I later got my GED.

Cumilla went on to give birth to seven children (and now has 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren). She’s worked a number of jobs: from domestic work as an 18-year-old for just $18/40-week, to working with children with special needs. Cumilla served with Emergency Medical Services for 17 years: three years as a volunteer, followed by 14 years on staff as an Emergency Medical Technician, until she retired. 

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Cedar Grove over the years?
By sending all the kids to Hillsborough to (integrated) schools. It took a while for them to get there, and it took a while for them to get home on the bus. That was nerve-wracking (not knowing what would happen to them on the bus).

And all the young people going away. I think that farming going away is the main thing that took most of the young people out.

At one point, your neighbors’ kids were just like your own…but now, no.

What changes do you dream of seeing happen in Cedar Grove?
I’ve seen it. The big brick building (that was the blacks-only Cedar Grove School, by the current Cedar Grove Park) — they’ve remodeled it (to be a community center). There’s going to be exercise equipment, people using the computers. It’s going to be so much. June 18 is going to be the grand opening. That has been the greatest thing that’s happened in Cedar Grove…

Because when they were trying to make a change (with integration), the whites said they would never send their kids to that school. And now the whites are pouring in. It’s good that we get together.

How could a place like Anathoth be part of the changes you’d like to see?
I wish that more people would get involved with Anathoth and learn about the vegetables. I’m about to have a salad (from Anathoth) for lunch. If more people could come together, you don’t have any idea what could happen there…And the food — people could learn more about the food that’s grown there, learning more about nutrition, because so many of us have diabetes.

I think there could be more togetherness (in the community).