Bessemer Farmers Market

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Camp Fletcher is so thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Bessemer Farmers Market this summer! Running from June 2 – September 15, The Bessemer Farmers Market is the only certified farmer’s market in Western Jefferson County. Each Thursday from 4-6:30 p.m. vendors from all over the Birmingham area set up shop at Alex Bradford Park to sell fresh, local produce to area shoppers.

Major vendors – farms selling a large variety of produce –  include Dixon Family Farm from Clanton, Fiddlers Farm from Hayden, Postell Farm from Verbena, and the Veasey family from Hueytown. These farmers bring their very best seasonal produce, giving those living in the area access to produce they might not find in grocery stores. Other vendors include We Three Beeks Honey from Birmingham, Eleanor Wells from Bessemer with chicken and duck eggs, Carol Cockrell from Bessemer with handmade children’s clothes and hand towels, Magic City Sweet Ice from Homewood and Camp Fletcher. While we occasionally have some produce to sell from our garden, we’re happy to come out each week and talk about our programs with market attendees.

The farmers market is all about access to local, healthy food choices and most vendors participate in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which is a USDA program administered through our State Department of Agriculture that provides low income seniors access to vouchers than can be used at markets.  The Bessemer Farmers Market also accepts SNAP/EBT payments, and now participates in the Double Bucks Project. This provides SNAP users the opportunity to receive $1 in fruits and vegetables for every $1 they spend on fruits and vegetables purchased with SNAP benefits, up to $20 per visit. This program is funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

There’s a wonderful sense of community each Thursday in Alex Bradford Park, and we’re excited to join with local farmers and vendors to take part in the local food movement. If you would like more information about the market or becoming a vendor, you can contact Joe Openshaw or look for the Bessemer Farmers Market group on Facebook. It’s a great market, and we hope to see you there Thursday!

For more information about Camp Fletcher’s VISTA Education Garden, visit us online!

 

 

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VISTA Spotlight: Jade

Summer is always an exciting time at Camp Fletcher, but this summer has been especially exciting with the addition of two new VISTA members, Cynthia and Jade. Jade joined Camp Fletcher and Camp Fire Alabama in June as our Education Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA. She has some fantastic ideas for our garden education program, and we know she’s going to have a great time serving with us!

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Jade is 23 years old and was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from The University of Montevallo. We’re so excited about all of the passion and experience Jade brings to our VISTA team!

What made you decide to serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher?
I decided serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher for two reasons. First, I want to have experience in the education field and, secondly, Camp Fletcher matches with my goals for a future career in school counseling.

What previous experiences do you have that you feel will equip you for your position?
A majority of my work and volunteer experience has been in youth service. During college, I worked as a teacher’s aide at Child Study Center, a senior camp counselor at YMCA Camp Cosby and mentored for two years with Blueprints College Access Initiative.

What are your goals for your year of service? What do you hope to accomplish?
My number one goal for my year of service is to make sure every garden exploration lesson plan is up to course standards and is fun! Also, I want every day to be a day of learning, not just for kids, but every adult — as well as myself.

What aspect of your position are you most excited about?
I am most excited about interacting with kids, but I am so excited about doing a job I love. With this mindset I know I can give more than 100% to achieve success for everyone involved in the garden education program at Camp Fletcher.

What aspect of your position do you feel will be the most challenging?
This job is a new adventure, the most challenging aspect of this job is to make a curriculum that everyone will like and find successful.

We know Jade is going to do a great job, and we can’t wait to share the garden education program she’s designing with you next spring! For more information about Camp Fletcher’s garden and the VISTA project, visit us online!

 

VISTA Spotlight: Cynthia

It’s an exciting time at Camp Fletcher – summer camp just kicked off and we’ve also welcomed a new VISTA member to our team! We’re excited to introduce Cynthia, and we know she’s going to have a great year of service with us at Camp Fletcher.

Cynthia will be serving as our Community Mapping Specialist. She is originally from Dayton, Ohio but has lived in the Birmingham area for many years. Cynthia currently holds a B.A. in English, a Masters Degree in Business and is finishing up a B.S. in Psychology. We are so excited to welcome her, and we know she’s going to be a great addition to our VISTA project!

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What made you decide to serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher? I am very active and engaged in my community and when the opportunity to serve as a VISTA presented itself, I was very happy and honored to accept the appointment.

What previous experiences do you have that you feel will equip you for your position? I currently serve as the Special Events Coordinator for the Title I Parent Leader Counsel as established under Federal guidelines, and this volunteer position has afforded me the opportunity to serve my community in a number of capacities that range from working with school administrators, parents, students and key policy makers throughout the Birmingham City School system and surrounding areas.

What are your goals for your year of service? What do you hope to accomplish? My goal during my 1st year of service is to connect with and establish lasting relationships with the educational communities that surround Camp Fletcher.

What aspect of your position are you most excited about? I’m excited about bringing awareness to the surrounding area that Camp Fletcher is true Alabama history and that it should be seen as our gold mine.

What aspect of your position do you feel will be the most challenging? Initial contact and establishing the connections with the persons that can move the cause forward will be the most challenging.

If you would like more information about our VISTA project, you can visit us online to learn more about all of our service members!

VISTA Spotlight: John!

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This week is AmeriCorps Week, and we are proud to have four AmeriCorps VISTA members currently serving at Camp Fletcher! Our newest member, John, joined a few weeks back as the Garden Specialist, and we’re so happy to have him at camp overseeing the garden. John is from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and is currently pursuing a degree in architecture.

1. What made you decide to serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher? I decided to serve at Camp Fletcher because of my interest in helping youth gain knowledge through hands-on experiences that will assist them in succeeding in their future endeavors.

2. What previous experiences do you have that you feel will equip you for your position? Before I decided to serve as a VISTA, I worked as a counselor for an after-school program known as Open Door. I have also been a camp counselor for the Woodlore Camping School based in the Boy Scouts of America’s Choctaw District. As an Eagle Scout, I have volunteered for many organizations ranging from the Wounded Warriors Project to the Red Cross.

3. What are your goals for your year of service? What do you hope to accomplish? In my year, I hope to build the foundation for an education garden that, over time, will expand into a cornerstone of Camp Fletcher. While I believe that it will be difficult to quickly create a database of what is best to grow in the garden with the time I have been given, with my support staff and resources I am confident that it is possible. I am excited for the opportunity to learn, as well as teach others about my own endeavors planting in the garden. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and start planting.

4. What are you excited to do now that you’re in Alabama? Now that I have moved to Birmingham I am overjoyed to begin backpacking all the new trails that are available to me and traveling to the great city of Auburn to watch football games, War Eagle!

We’re so excited to have John with us! If you want to learn more about the garden at Camp Fletcher, or if you’re interested in volunteering, be sure to check out this post. We’ll be planting our spring garden very soon, and we can always use an extra hand!

 

VISTA Spotlight: Marion

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The beginning of 2016 brought another new AmeriCorps VISTA member to Camp Fletcher. Marion Brown will be serving as the Education Coordinator VISTA at camp, overseeing the development of garden lesson plans and field trip curriculum. We are hoping to have garden field trips available to schools in 2016, and Marion will play a key part of insuring that our programs are relevant, engaging and educational for all students. We know she’s going to do a great job, and we can’t wait for you to learn more about her!

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Marion Brown, Education Specialist AmeriCorps VISTA

Marion is from Mobile, but has lived in the Birmingham area for many years. She holds an AA Degree in Criminal Justice. This is her 5th year serving with an AmeriCorps project. Her past projects include two years with the UAB Civitan AmeriCorps State and National program. She has also worked with many area agencies including the American Red Cross, Lakeshore Foundation, Exceptional Foundation, Head Injury Foundation, Birmingham Aids Outreach, AIDS Alabama, FocusFirst Impact Alabama and Samford University.

Marion says she’s excited to help Camp Fletcher reach area communities, schools and organizations with knowledge of important natural resources.

We know 2016 is going to be a great year for the Education Garden & Camp Fletcher! If you’d like more information about the garden, field trip opportunities, or ways to get involved, click here.

 

Fall Gardening at Camp Fletcher

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October was a busy month for all of us at Camp Fletcher! We had a great time at all of our Fall Events, and we even managed to plant our fall garden. With the addition of our new VISTA members, Danelle and Chele, we’ve really been able to get to work and the fall garden is looking great!

This is our very first fall garden, and we learn something new each time we plant! Our summer garden yielded corn, squash, tomatoes and more, and we are thrilled to try our hand at some fall vegetables. Our plants this time include carrots, garlic, strawberries, kale, cabbage, collards, and three varieties of lettuce. We also added a fence around the garden and a bench with planters. We couldn’t have done it without the help from Camp Fire Alabama employees spending time in the garden last week!

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Many of the plants came from The University of Montevallo’s Organic Plant Sale. Everything is in the ground and growing, and we’re excited to see what we’re able to harvest in the coming months.

If you would like more information about Camp Fletcher’s Education Garden, click here. We’re always looking for volunteers with green thumbs to help out, so feel free to contact us today if you’d like to get involved!

AmeriCorps VISTA Spotlight: MiChele!

This week, Camp Fire Alabama and Camp Fletcher welcomed two new AmeriCorps VISTA members to the Education Garden program at camp! These VISTAs are a vitally important resource for Camp Fletcher as they work to engage the community, develop new resources and provide valuable capacity building to our organization. We’re so excited for you to meet MiChele!

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MiChele joined Camp Fletcher as the Resource Development Specialist for the Education Garden project. She is originally from Malden, MO, but lived in the Charleston, SC area for more than 25 years. She comes to Birmingham to spend time with her daughter, and we’re so excited to have her at Camp Fletcher!

What made you decide to serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher?
I am very excited about teaching youth about where their food comes from and how to make healthy food choices because of that knowledge.

What previous experiences do you have that you feel will equip you for your position?
I have experience dealing with people from all walks of life and my life experience helps me relate to them in a way that they can find value in our program. I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Arizona for the last 18 months honing the skills I need in my current role.

What are your goals for your year of service? What do you hope to accomplish?
I plan to expand the network of community partners and continue to grow the relationships with the existing partners in regards to Camp Fire programs and specifically for Camp Fletcher and the Community Garden. I also plan to help establish a support/governing body for Camp Fletcher for long-term sustainability.  I will set up a program for continuity when my service is complete that will allow for seamless portability.

What aspect of your position are you most excited about?
I am thrilled to work with people that are “on fire” with passion!

What aspect of your position do you feel will be the most challenging?
Learning the traffic patterns will probably be the most challenging – it has been so far.

What are you excited to do now that you’re in Alabama?
I moved to Alabama to be near my daughter. (I spent the last two years in Arizona near my son.) I am looking forward to some road trips with her to visit my family in Missouri and friends in South Carolina and North Carolina. I am also really excited about getting to enjoy the fall colors again. Each time I move to a new area, it is like Christmas – getting to explore all the things that are intrinsic to the area. I enjoy camping, hiking, and gardening.

We’re so excited to have MiChele join us for her year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA! For more information about the Education Garden, click here!