One Program – Two Projects
The Kootenai Environmental Alliance recognizes the need to look beyond trees and water to monitor environmental impact. Most food systems in the United States operate on a consumerist mindset. They fulfill the immediate need for inexpensive groceries through large-scale farming, imported food, and unsustainable agricultural practices. As environmental stewards, KEA promotes a healthy food circle by sponsoring the program of Community Roots, a program which takes a two-pronged approach to developing a healthy local food system in our area and reconnecting people with the land that feeds them.
For more information email us at email@example.com / 208-667-9093.
Keep up to date with Roots events, volunteering, photos and more at our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/communityrootscda
Roots Local Food Share is a volunteer-based program of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance that distributes surplus produce from local gardeners and farmers to food assistance facilities. With thousands of people seeking aid each month, the Coeur d’Alene Food Bank struggles to meet the increasing demands for food assistance. Furthermore, food banks stock mostly processed, non-perishable foods. Many adults and children in low income households have never experienced the flavor of a freshly picked tomato or a “just off the vine” cucumber. Since most gardeners find that they have grown more produce than their family can consume at peak points in the season, the Roots Local Food Share offers a simple solution to meet these nutritional needs and improve the cohesion of our community.
The Roots Local Food Share also plays a role in reducing food miles and green house gas emissions. Food Miles represent the distance our food travels from point of production to point of consumption and the environmental impact it takes to get it there. Since its inception in 2007, Roots volunteers have distributed over 36,000 pounds of donated fresh produce to local food assistance facilities, mainly through environmentally friendly bicycle deliveries. Help us surpass last year’s donations by growing a little extra in your garden or by lending a hand as a volunteer.
In 2012 Community Roots partnered with North Idaho College to build a garden on an unused section along the education corridor. Transforming this “brown field” from a neglected vacant lot to a blooming, productive growing spot is a big challenge. An all-volunteer Steering Committee has been formed and the ideological seeds have been planted to build an urban farming and garden education center. This new program has been named The Gathering Garden in reference to its original use as a gathering spot for indigenous tribes and later housed one of the many sawmills that signified the economic base of the region.
This year the Community Roots Gathering Garden will be the hands-on classroom for a number of interns participating in the Work Ready Program, a 5-step employment readiness training program for at-risk youth administered by Crosswalk North Idaho (formerly Project Safe Place). Participants will gain experience in various organic growing practices, water conservation, tool safety, soil remediation, seed selection and planting as well as marketing strategies, customer service and money handling for the food they will be growing to sell.
Plans are in the works to erect a large hoop house, build raised beds, compost bins, develop a pond to teach water ecology, plant berry bushes, augment the soil to increase fertility and generally nurture a long neglected piece of ground back to health and productivity.
The Gathering Garden is an all-volunteer effort and if you would like to join in the fun, make a donation of time or materials or give a monetary contribution, call the KEA office ( 208) 667-9093 and find out how you can be one of the “many hands that make work light.”