Camp Fletcher crime spree

watermelonIt’s a sad day in the Camp Fletcher garden. Three nights this week, four legged criminals have managed to defeat our highly sophisticated security measures (a short wire fence) and have just about wiped out our watermelon crop. We were oh-so-close to harvesting a bumper crop of watermelons but the furry terrorists beat us to it.

Rick Ellis, whose day job is the chief financial officer for Camp Fire Alabama (Camp Fletcher’s parent agency) planted the seeds and tenderly transplanted them from our greenhouse to the ground early this spring. Rick has been watching over and nurturing our plants ever since in anticipation of the day that he could have a delicious slice of ice cold Camp Fletcher watermelon. Now it looks like his dream has been shattered and will have to be deferred to next year.

Can the expert gardeners out there tell from the pictures what we are up against? Our leading theories are raccoons, deer or coyotes. Feral pigs, maybe?  Also, any tips for keeping the fuzzy menaces away from next year’s crop would be much appreciated.

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Camp Fletcher Education Garden & State Farm Neighborhood Assist

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Camp Fire Alabama has been selected as one of 200 finalists in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program! Our submission, along with the other finalists, is live at http://www.neighborhoodassist.com and anyone with a valid email address can logon and vote for our cause. The 40 causes that receive the most votes will be announced on Nov. 30 and a $25,000 grant will be awarded to the affiliated nonprofits to implement the solution.

The Camp Fletcher Education Garden will provide students and their families an opportunity to learn about the food they eat, while providing the community with a new source of fresh, local produce. Our organization strives to improve the lives and welfare of people in our community, and we can further that mission by rallying together and encouraging others to join us in support by voting.

To support Camp Fletcher Education Garden and vote, click here  to vote! The voting phase is open from Oct. 26-Nov.4 and anyone with a valid email address is eligible to vote up to 10 times per day.

State Farm Neighborhood Assist is a crowd-sourced philanthropic initiative that lets communities determine where grant funding is awarded. The initiative utilizes the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to vet submissions for causes and empowers the community to vote for the final 40 grant winners. The program has been inspired by the incredible number of neighborhoods that are coming together to solve a problem or improve their community.

We are thrilled to make it to the top 200, but we need your help to win! Vote for Camp Fletcher Education Garden TODAY! 

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!

 

 

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: 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.