Energy Corps member Ben Maddox is serving with the City of Fayetteville Solid Waste and Recycling Division. Ben writes:
This week the service members from Energy Corps, Food Corps, Episcopal Service Corps, and Americorps Vista came together to celebrate the Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service in Fayetteville. This event took place across the country, and we were fortunate enough to have Fayetteville’s Mayor Lioneld Jordan join us at the Town Center for an official proclamation. Mayor Jordan thanked the Americorps community for its work and pointed out that Fayetteville has a reputation for being a service-oriented community. In 2012, over 35,000 of Fayetteville’s 73,000 residents volunteered at some point, and as a community we recorded more volunteer hours than any other town in the state. Following the mayor’s speech we posed for a group photo before heading out for a combined day of service.
We began our day at the Yvonne Richardson Center, a non-profit community center that provides educational and recreational opportunities for youths in Fayetteville. Part of their programming involves a community garden where kids can learn gardening basics and other skills like rainwater harvesting. We joined forces with staff from the Richardson Center and the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation department to spruce up the garden for springtime. With unparalleled efficiency we unloaded a trailer full of mulch and spread it between the garden beds. For those not pushing wheelbarrows or shoveling mulch, there were plenty of weeds to remove – a task performed with zeal by some of our Food Corps friends, who no doubt have pulled their fair share of weeds.
Alas, our time in the garden was not over. After bidding our friends at the Richardson Center farewell, we went across town to Tri Cycle Farms, an urban farm in the heart of Fayetteville. Aside from growing delicious food, Tri Cycle is also involved in combating the issue food insecurity in our community. Washington County has the third highest level of food insecurity in Arkansas, a state in which more than 1 in 4 children are food insecure. Tri Cycle works to alleviate this food insecurity by providing farm-related training and sharing a large portion of its harvest with the surrounding community – many of whom stop by on work days to volunteer on the farm.
Luckily, in addition to Tri Cycle and the Yvonne Richardson Center, we have a lot of other dedicated farmers and gardeners in Fayetteville who are working to bring us closer to our food. The fine folks at Feed Fayetteville, whose mission statement is “Creating community food security by cultivating a sustainable local food network” have compiled a database of food access resources. Clearly, our community faces plenty of challenges – particularly when it comes to food insecurity. But the Mayor’s Day of Recognition was a wonderful reminder of all the work that is being done here and of all the volunteers and service corps members who tirelessly work to make our community a better place.
A Fayetteville native, Ben Maddox graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2011 where he specialized in the political economy of international relations. He will serve with the Fayetteville Solid Waste and Recycling division, where his primary responsibilities include environmental education, public outreach, and program development. He will work to increase waste diversion and recycling participation through targeting underserved portions of the population, particularly apartment residents and businesses. This is Ben’s second Americorps position after previously serving with the U.S. Forest Service in Southern California.