When AmeriCorps service members begin their service term, they’re required to take the AmeriCorps Pledge, an oath that asks members commit to “get things done for America” and “to bring Americans together to strengthen our communities” (AmeriCorps Pledge). Undoubtedly, AmeriCorps service members face difficult situations in their service terms and are encouraged to overcome adversity, working to provide direct service in communities that help solve community problems.
One problem arose at Somers Middle School (SMS), FoodCorps service member Brenna Sellars’ service site schools. In the fall of 2017, the Somers community passed a $16 million bond to rebuild the middle school, a building in dire need of updates. Good news, right? Unfortunately, the new floorplan eliminates the existing school garden.
Perplexed by the question, “how do I provide students with garden education without a garden?” Brenna rose to the challenge, collaborating with her site supervisor and school community partners to develop a plan: move the garden to a new temporary location until construction is complete.
Brenna planned the relocation project for weeks, coordinating all the details embroiled in a community construction project: Where will the garden be relocated to? Will there be water access? Who will bring the backhoe to move the hundreds of pounds of soil? Nerves and anticipation built until the day of the project, May 14th, 2018.
Thanks to Brenna’s outreach and planning, a total of 17 community volunteers assisted with the relocation of the garden, including: a parent and his children, SMS students, FoodCorps service members, 100 Fold Studio AmeriCorps service members, and community residents. Together, the team of volunteers moved all of the garden beds, soil, fence panels, and wood chips across the SMS campus to its sunny location for the next few years while school construction takes place.
Brenna’s service project is the AmeriCorps values in action: addressing community problems through direct service that unites community members around a common cause. Somers Middle School students are overjoyed to continue having a garden and have been helping Brenna haul wheelbarrow loads of soil, manure, and wood chips this spring, as well as planting crops for the summer in their new garden.