Steven reflects on Will Allen's visit

I know that Thanksgiving comes after Easter in the calender year, but I did not realize that it comes this early. The past month has brought me an overwhelming amount of support to be thankful for. It all started at Longview School where I did a seed tray demonstration for Mr. Patrick Faulkner's horticulture class. A week or so later our Farm Manager, Sun Butler, said to me that Mr. Faulkner was going to have a visit from Will Allen of Growing Power and that he may need some help setting up the event. To this I exclaimed "No way!" and Sun gave me a hearty "Way."
So it began, the scramble to acquire materials in three weeks time. Some materials we already had, such as wooden pallets from Bland Landscaping and coffee chaff from Larry's Beans. Other materials I had to get for either very cheap, or free; and anyone that knows me knows that I usually opt for free.
Just prior to becoming full-time staff at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle I had helped get a greenhouse up at Spence's Farm in Chapel Hill. I knew that the farm had composted horse manure (worms love it!) and possibly some hay that I could use. After coaxing my better half into an inquiry with her program director I was given the go ahead on everything I needed. YES! Things were falling into place.
I knew the possibility existed that Mr. Allen would be visiting our newest community garden at Alliance Medical Ministries. Once again we relied on our friends at Bland Landscaping to come till up a few rows and provide us with some compost and fruit trees. Luckily I had some help from the Wake County BGC Teen Center to get some compost spread in the garden. We had received a few flats of plants for the garden from Campbell Road Nursery which is just a stones throw away from the IFFS Farm. If you're ever at the farm you should not throw stones at them, but pay them a visit. Several familiar faces from the IFFS volunteer roster came on Saturday morning to help prep beds and plant the garden, but we also had some new faces from the Raleigh Community Gardens and Triangle Area Homesteaders Meetup groups. These two groups have been helping us canvass and raise community awareness about our garden in the area around Alliance Medical Ministries.

What I did not know was the possibility that Mr. Allen would be paying a visit to the farm and needless to say things were a bit hectic at the farm. Thank goodness for Caroline MacNair! She had her farm manager, Johnny Hassell, and his staff lend us a hand the morning that Mr. Allen would be arriving at the farm for a steak dinner. It's amazing what can be done by a focused group in a few hours time. The farm looked wonderful.

I'd like to thank the Raleigh branch of the USDA's Risk Management Agency. RMA's Ron Brown helped escort Mr. Allen around town. I also have to thank all of the Food Shuttle staff that helped pull this together, especially Chef Terri, who stayed up past her bedtime to prepare and serve delicious food at the event. I may have left some people out, but my point is that it takes a lot of partners to make an event a success. I look forward to developing stronger relationships with the aforementioned groups and hope to create new relationships with our next exciting event! Now its time for my nap.