By Amelia Brycelea, FoodCorps Service Member with COPE Project: Navajo Nation
The week of June 22nd was FoodCorps New Mexico’s final state training of the year and took place in the beautiful Gallup area, in western New Mexico. It still seems like yesterday when we had our first planning call at the beginning of March. Farm to Table NM, UNM’s Community Engagement Center, and COPE all joined forces to brainstorm ideas about the upcoming site-based training.
Three months later, we had our final agenda. On June 22nd, all of New Mexico’s Service Members, the Farm to Table team, and UNM’s CEC members arrived in Gallup. We convened in the evening for a potluck and introductions. On the morning of the 23rd, we gathered with Gloria Ann Begay of the Diné Food Sovereignty Alliance (DFSA) in the Solarium conference room.
She gave a presentation on food restoration and the history of the food system on Navajo.
After lunch, we caravanned to the Bááháálí community-15 miles south of Gallup- where we pulled countless weeds, and assisted with putting four raised beds in the Senior Center’s Inter-generational Garden. That evening, we closed out the day with some delicious Navajo tacos at the chapter house.
On the 24th, we spent the day at the Community Pantry. After taking a tour around the pantry’s HOPE Garden, we heard a panel by two of the DFSA members and two of the NCHO Youth Leaders. The panel was on the landscape of Farm to School in Indian Country. In the afternoon, Farm to Table gave a helpful presentation on traditional foods procurement followed by a workshop on curriculum building.
Thursday, the 25th was spent in Pine Hill, about an hour and a half south of Gallup. We helped the Families and Children Education (FACE) program restore their community garden, where they built a teepee trellis for the beans the kids planted shortly after. That evening, we camped out near the lava tubes, outside of Grants, NM.
The experience was not only fulfilling, it was also quite humbling.
I so much enjoyed being a part of the planning process as I was able to create deeper connections with community partners while organizing some awesome service projects!