Food Insecurity and Brooktondale Food Pantry Capstone – Candice

Studying Food Insecurity and Volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry – Capstone Project for Sustainable Farming and Food Systems – by Candice

Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site
Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site

I decided to do my Capstone project on food insecurity and how it related to families living in poverty. For this project, I  researched how easy it is to sink into poverty and how hard it is to get back to a stable financial life. I have also been volunteering my time at a local food pantry located right in Brooktondale.  You may think that a normal food pantry just gives out food to families in need, but this one does a lot more than just giving out food.  The Brooktondale Food Pantry has a full kitchen where it gives kids a chance to learn how to cook, and they have a full garden out back where they grow all of their vegetables for the kitchen and to give away at the food pantry.

Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations
Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations

One of the tasks that is included in volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry is unloading vegetables and meats from the Southern Tier food truck that comes to Brooktondale and drops off donations. We have to sort everything out –  all the meats go together, all the cereals go together, veggies go together and so on.  Then we must inspect everything, this includes writing the date on our inventory sheet that it came to pantry and the date that it will be put out for families to take. We also have to check the expiration date and check to see if the product is damaged in any way. If it is damaged or out of date it gets put back on the truck. This is a food safety precaution that we have to follow. Some of the donations such as local fruits and vegetables are given to us from local farmers from Dryden, Cortland, Brooktondale and even Ithaca.  We also have been receiving a truck full of different kinds of breads from the Ithaca Bakery.

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Food Trail Map For Cortland County Capstone – Maria

Developing a Capstone Project and A Food Trail Map For Cortland County – by Maria

Discovering my capstone project was my first task, a project all on its own, which entailed determining what I was interested in and what was available for me to work on.  Unlike my fellow students who undertook more manual labor oriented projects, I decided I preferred the more cerebral, food systems side of our program. In fact, what originally sparked my interest in sustainable farming and local food was the discovery while living in Maryland that raw milk was in fact illegal to buy in that state, a food I was raised on here in NY. I wondered how something as simple as a food choice could be legislated, and what other issues our industrial food system has created for nourishing food procurement.

Food Trail Map of Cortland County
Draft Food Trail Map of Cortland County

I had always been interested in farmers markets, which I saw as a means to opt out of the industrial model by allowing producers to sell directly to consumers. My initial ideas led me to interview Becca Rimmel, a market manager for the Ithaca Farmers Market, as well as preliminary planning to attend the Farmers Market Federation of NY 2016 NYS Farmers Market Managers Conference and/or begin the FMM Pro: SUNY Farmers Market Managers Professional Certification Program.  But when I heard there was discussion of a potential indoor, year-round farmers market in Cortland County, I hoped that capstone project idea would to fruition over any of the other ideas.

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Caroline Elementary School Garden Capstone – Steve

Caroline Elementary School Garden – Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Student Capstone Project – by Steve

Caroline Elementary Service Learning Day
Service Learning Day

When I first signed up for this Capstone class in Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Degree I really had no idea what the class was going to consist of, but I am super happy that it is part of my degree. This class makes you go out and do things in society that you might not think about doing on your own. I have always had a deep passion for gardening, teaching kids how to garden and grow their own food, and helping them to understand where their food is coming from.

Cleanup at Caroline Elementary School Garden
Steve Supervises Compost Hauling

I decided for my project that I was going to devote my time to Caroline Elementary School and teach some kids what I have learned while helping to restore the raised beds that the third graders plant in every year. I started my time there with a service learning day, where all the kids in the whole school came together and completed projects around the school to make it look better. Some were raking, some were weeding and some were taking wheelbarrows to the compost pile. We all got shirts that said we are needed and nothing could be more truthful than that. We had a great day and a lot got done and at the end of the day we all held hands around the whole school while a drone took our pictures from the sky. Unfortunately the pictures did not turn out all that well.

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Fall Market Garden Workshop for Veterans

After Action Farmers

Fall Market Garden Workshop for Veterans

A Free Workshop for Veterans interested in homesteading and market gardening…

A Capstone Project for the TC3 Sustainable Farming and Food Systems

This veteran-focused workshop will cover everything you need to know about the preparation and planting of a fall vegetable garden. Whether growing food for the family or preparing to sell for a Fall Market or farmstand, home gardens are a great way to provide for you and your family. The workshop will guide beginning homesteaders and gardeners through the process of choosing the best crops for fall production, preparing the garden, and proper growing techniques. In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn about: site assessment and bed preparation, direct seeding and transplanting, organic pest and weed control, mulching, and more. The workshop includes a free lunch at the Legion. Come join your fellow veterans to learn about growing, share ideas, and help grow a strong network of Veteran Growers.

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Courtyard Gardens and Gardening Club – Capstone

Campus Courtyard Gardens & Sustainable Growers Gardening Club – Spring 2016 Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Capstone Class at Tompkins Cortland Community College – Student Post by Hailey

This semester for the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems capstone class we worked with the Wellness Council on the Tompkins Cortland Community College campus to plan and change the courtyard spaces on the campus into courtyard gardens. We also began the Sustainable Growers Garden Club as an extension of that project and that turned into another entity itself. We started with big hopes and grand ideas for the courtyard spaces.

TC3 Courtyard Garden Before
Courtyard Garden Before
TC3 Courtyard Garden
Courtyard Garden After

Because we started the courtyard garden planning in the middle of winter, there was no physical labor to do. We put our minds to work first, brainstorming then presenting ideas, landscape layouts, activities, and crop plans to the council. The realities of processes, formalities, supply needs and group efforts really humbled us along the way. While we were short on supplies and good weather, things began to feel stagnant so we turned our attention to the club.

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Tompkins County Food Insecurity – Capstone Project

Assessing Food Insecurity in Tompkins County – Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Capstone – Sarah 

After researching food insecurity in Tompkins County for three months, I know so much more than I did when I started out, but I feel like I’ve still only breached the tip of the iceberg. There is so much complexity that goes into the way that people receive help in this area. Even the ways that the words “poverty” and “food insecurity” are defined are complicated.

Loaves and FishesSo here’s a summary of what I found out:

The groups of people who have the highest instance of poverty in this area are families with children under five, specifically female led households, and people of color. In the city of Ithaca, 100% of female led households with children under five live at or below the poverty line according to the Tompkins Community Health Analysis.

The biggest sources of help to impoverished individuals in Tompkins County are the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, and the programs mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The former supports soup kitchens and food pantries across 6 counties and distributes over one million pound of food each year. The latter provides funding for things like school and summer lunch programs, and for WIC (the special supplemental program for Women, Infants, and Children).

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