Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 and Beyond: Joys, Challenges and New Directions

Welcome to 2012! On these gloomy January days (when we are rather glad to be warm and dry indoors rather than out in the garden), it's a good time to pause and take stock of where we've been and where we're going.

So, without further ado, here are a few of our accomplishments in 2011, made possible by the help of our generous volunteers (over 9,329 volunteer hours!) and financial supporters:
  • Provided seeds, plant starts and gardening information for 3,695 food bank clients at 23 different locations
  • Supported gardeners at 49 P-Patches to grow and share over 17,000 pounds of organic produce for food banks and meal programs (with only half of the gardens reporting)
  • Distributed seeds, starts and resources to 13 community gardens at schools, low-income apartments, food banks and churches
  • Held community meetings and garden classes (in 5 languages), built a shed, fences and tables, planted, tended a grew 3,023 pounds of vegetables for the Rainier Valley Food Bank and community work-trade participants in our inaugural season at the Seattle Community Farm! 
  • Taught nutrition, organic gardening and ecology at the Seattle Community Farm and Marra Farm, reaching over 170 children
  • Harvested 4,605 pounds of local fresh fruit that would otherwise go to waste for food banks and meal programs across the city
  • Held events to raise $20,000 in needed funds. Thank you Friends of Lettuce Link!
And yet, as we catch our breath this winter after a busy year, we've found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. Fewer grants, budget cuts and belt-tightening measures provide an opportunity to reassess our work - what are our program's strengths? What do we do that's unique? How can we continue to grow and change our program to meet community needs, provide wrap-around services for Solid Ground participants and further our anti-racism work?

These are not easy questions, but we're committed to working through them with your support. Here are a few exciting projects to keep an eye out for in 2012:
  • Building an overhead structure at the Seattle Community Farm, which will allow protection from the elements and make the space more conducive to community gatherings
  • Expanding our CSA at Marra Farm, to both raise funds for our program and offer a sliding-scale subscription to our neighbors
  • Advocating for just food policies on the city, state and federal level. Watch this space for details in the next few days! 

Thank you for your time, resources and support both this past year and as we boldly stride into 2012 - pushing a wheelbarrow and wearing our rainboots!

The Lettuce Link team - Michelle, Sue, Scott, Robin, Amelia, Mariah and Blair

(with much gratitude to Molly, Kate, Andrea, Sophie and Alice, our staff, AmeriCorps volunteers and interns who have moved on to new adventures)

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