Today, we worked with the residents at Mattoon Health Care and Rehabilitation Center and Williams Elementary students to make tie blankets that will be donated to Choices Pregnancy Center and to the Salvation Army! Our project this month was sponsored by Thrivent Financial as an Action Team project!
Logan Retzer and crew worked on building a shed today to house the various equipment that we use to equip people to serve in our community garden! We are SO THANKFUL for this good work!!!!
Saturday we were blessed with the women's tennis team, the women's golf team and students from the Christian Campus House in the garden! Our strawberry patch was significantly expanded and weeds were pulled! Some of the EIU crew even took home some sweet potatoes and bell peppers!!
Both of our volunteer groups from the YMCA helped us harvest green beans today. Below, one of our volunteers shows off a handful of green beans he harvested.
Mr. Bill explains to the younger kids how to pick green beans:
The YMCA groups did a lot of work in the garden today. The older kids helped us pick tons of tomatoes this morning. Later, the younger kids came out to see the big garden and did a bit of harvesting as well:
We'd like to thank the members from Family Worship Center for coming out to the garden to help us this morning. With their help, we completed a lot of weeding, cultivating, and harvesting. Below, the members of Family Worship Center pose with some of our harvest, including corn, green beans, and onions!
Two groups from the YMCA helped us in our gardens today. In the morning, our volunteers helped us weed and harvest in the large garden, while the afternoon group joined us at Fit-2-Serve and made stepping stones, played hopscotch, and created construction paper gardens.
Below, two of our volunteers help harvest green beans:
One of our volunteers poses with her paper garden:
Our YMCA group helped us make stepping stones for our garden today. While they waited their turn to make the stepping stones, they enjoyed a game of the longest hopscotch ever!
Some young volunteers joined us in the garden today to help with planting some pumpkins, picking some rocks from the garden, and test-tasting some strawberries. Below, our volunteers work hard at filling wheelbarrows with stones to clear out our garden:
Lots of volunteers came out to help in the garden this morning, including a group of five incoming freshman from EIU! Everyone helped us with weeding, watering, planting, and harvesting. Below, Mr. Jed, Ms. Hannah, and Ms. Laura pose for a photo with our volunteers after a morning of great productivity.
In addition to other gardening work such as watering, weeding, and mulching, each of our volunteers got to try their hand at using the cultivator today. Below, Mr. Bill shows a volunteer how to work up the soil to get it ready for more planting:
Back Fit-2-Serve, our volunteers participated in another kind of art project: painting rocks! These rocks will be put together to form the bodies of rock caterpillars in the garden!
Our YMCA volunteers helped us with weeding, mulching, watering, and harvesting in the garden this morning. Thanks to their help, we managed to harvest tons of green beans! Below, a few of our helpers show off the green beans they found:
Several families came out to the garden this morning for Family Day! As always, there was a lot of work to be done and a lot of fun to be had. Our volunteers worked hard to help us pull weeds and pick rocks out of the garden. We even discovered some ripe peppers! In addition, our volunteers enjoyed games and activities and a taste-testing of fruit kebabs and some freshly harvested vegetables.
Below, on the left, some of our volunteers work together to chip away at an ice block filled with frozen treasures. On the right, a few volunteers show off the peppers they found!
Pictured below, a couple of our hard-working volunteers work at collecting rocks from the garden:
Our next Family Day is Saturday, August 13, 2016 from 8-11am. Please feel free to stop by for a fun day of garden work, games, and taste-testing!
The Fit-2-Serve team headed over to the YMCA today to witness the many talents of our volunteers as they put on an impressive talent show. Among the talents we had the pleasure to witness today were singing, dancing, drawing, and even folding paper cranes!
We talked about the fun and helpfulness of different farming jobs with our volunteers again today. Below, some of our volunteers draw and share their favorite careers!
The group from the YMCA learned about various farming jobs today. After a story and discussion of all the different community-serving jobs out there, our volunteers drew some of their favorites:
We had a great time at the community lunch today. A group from the Apostolic Center in Mattoon volunteered their time and efforts, preparing and serving a delicious meal of tacos for our guests!
All of our hard work in the garden is paying off in the form of happy, healthy plants, many of which are thriving and producing fruits! This morning, while we had no volunteers, the team worked hard out in the garden and observed the fruits of our efforts:
Today was a day full of gardening and art for the YMCA groups. The morning group worked hard at planting, fertilizing, weeding, and collecting rocks from the garden. The afternoon group worked on some projects about pumpkins, including a stages of growth activity and a fun art project.
Below, our volunteers work together to plant a new row of onions:
Some of our afternoon YMCA volunteers creating super-power pumpkin art:
The YMCA group were out in the garden again today. The work they helped us with included mulching, watering, and weeding. Below, Ms. Mavis shows our volunteers the best way to water the plants so that their roots will absorb the most water possible.
The younger group back at Fit-2-Serve worked on a few activities including naming and decorating a pumpkin. Below, one of our volunteers poses with her "I Love You" pumpkin.
Thanks to a very hard-working group of volunteers who came out to help in the garden this morning, our garden is better than ever! We now have more strawberries complete with mulch, three new rows of beans, a new patch of corn, and lots of cultivated soil ready for planting. Below, a couple of our volunteers work at planting some new rows of corn.
We had a very successful day at the Farmers Market this morning. We sold all of our onions, beets, peas, green beans, broccoli, squash, pumpkin blossoms, and lettuce. We plan to have a tent set up at Peterson Park in Mattoon every Friday morning at 8am. The produce we sell will vary from week to week, but will always be fresh and delicious! Feel free to stop by!
The group from YMCA joined us at Fit-2-Serve today. We read a book, followed by a few fun activities, including blackberry tasting, mud-pie making, and homemade bird feeders. Below, one our volunteers constructs a bird feeder out of a pipe-cleaner and cheerios.
The YMCA kids game back to the garden today. Below, some volunteers measure the same crops they measured last week, to see how much they've grown!
The younger kids worked on some projects back at Fit-2-Serve. Below, Ms. Abby helps one of our volunteers to make a mud pie!
Volunteers from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization joined us in the garden today, where they helped us plant, load mulch, and water our plants. The volunteers also enjoyed taste-testing some of our produce and a picnic lunch.
Below, Ms. Lyndsey shows some of our volunteers how to find the biggest, most ripe peas.
Some of our volunteers also were lucky enough to find a couple ripe tomatoes!
Volunteers joined us in the garden this morning and helped us get a lot of work done, including cultivating, planting, harvesting, weeding, mulching, and watering. Below, Ms. Laura and one of our volunteers rake some soil to prepare for some rows of beets, kale, and spinach.
Some of our harvest from today, seen below, includes peas, beets, and green beans!
Our garden is looking especially green and alive today after a much needed and appreciated rain shower. Pictured below is the garden at Fit-2-Serve, where strawberries and other crops are thriving.
Today was a great day for taste-testing some of our crops while we worked. The morning YMCA group worked hard weeding and transporting rocks, but also took a moment to try some fresh peas and strawberries. Below, on the left, a group clears out weeds from our strawberry patch and on the right, a volunteer takes a break to sample a strawberry.
A few groups from YMCA joined us in the garden again today. The older students worked on numerous projects this morning, including planting, watering, picking up rocks, and measuring the progress of some of our plants. Below, a few of our volunteers measure how tall a crop of our indian corn is getting.
Back at Fit-2-Serve, the younger students learned about plants that grow up, down, or around. Below, Mr. Jed shows a few of our volunteers the plants growing in our raised bed.
The garden at Heritage Woods in Charleston received some love and attention today in the form of weeding, watering, and some additional beans being planted. Below, a couple tomatoes continue to grow in the garden at Heritage Woods as Ms. Mavis waters the raised bed.
Yesterday was Family Day! Several families came out to help us out in the garden, play some fun games, and try some tasty treats. Below, on the left, Ms. Abby and one of our volunteers pose in front of our mulch pile as they get ready to work. On the right, another volunteer takes a break from watering plants to try some delicious, freshly picked peas!
Below, a volunteer works with Mr. Bill to plant rhubarb.
Guests from Broadway Christian Church joined us today for our weekly community lunch. Ms. Laura and Mr. Bill assisted with serving the meal to our guests.
We all worked hard this morning to maintain our beautiful garden. There was a lot of work to get done, including weeding, tilling, and a whole lot of watering. Below are pictured Ms. Laura and Ms. Abby doing their part to keep our plants hydrated.
Another group from YMCA joined us in the garden today, where they worked hard helping to weed, move rocks, and plant corn. Some of the students even harvested and sampled some fresh strawberries! Pictured below are some of our volunteers working to remove weeds from the garden.
Back at Fit-2-Serve, another group from YMCA did some activities including planting onions and sunflowers, painting with onions as paint brushes, and seeing if some fruits and vegetables floated or sank. Pictured below are Ms. Erin and Ms. Abby with some of the kids, all sporting sour lemon-smiles!
This morning the kids from YMCA were very busy collecting rocks from the garden, weeding, planting corn, pumpkins, and onions and even doing some harvesting!
This afternoon, another group of kids from YMCA joined us at Fit-2-Serve, where we had a lot of fun with various activities, including Mavis teaching how to plant squash.
Yesterday Fit-2-Serve welcomed five new AmeriCorps Vista members. Pictured left to right are the new AmeriCorps members, Hannah Evans, Jed Donaldson, Laura Evans, Abby Eickberg, and Erin Clifford, along with Lyndsey Reedy, and Mavis Bagby.
Steve and Mike from the local Rotary Club installed elevated beds today at several local area nursing/assisted living/senior living homes! A sample was also placed at Fit-2-Serve! So thankful for this community service organization!! It's time to get our garden on :)
Ken Newby returned to the Community Garden yesterday to cultivate the 1.5 acre plot so that year two in Plot #2 can officially begin! Thanks so much Ken!
Today, we cultivated the four (20 by 6 foot) plots at the Fellowship Center! Each plot will be "womanned" by a Plot Princess! One of those previous souls is Elaine (in the red jacket), who is getting equipped in the picture below by Mavis on how to cultivate!
We are pleased to celebrate with Ms. Hannah Spain and Ms. Brittany Diener the awarding of a grant they wrote to Farm Credit to help support some of the local microgardens that are planned for this spring in Mattoon! Both women are members of Mattoon High School's FFA chapter and will be working alongside some of the other FFA members in maintaining some of the local microgardens this summer!
Our culinary guru, Cheryl Lee, was preparing this week for our Farm to Table cooking class to be held on April 22nd with a first grade class from Williams Elementary School! Her grandchildren this weekend gave the project high marks!
We had lots of fun last Monday teaching about strengths and engaging the JROTC in team building and strength fostering exercises!
We had a great time last week learning about teamwork during our Coles Country Time-In meeting! Thank you to Amanda for all the good information on being an effective leader and good team member. Especially the helium stick activity. I encourage you all to try this one. It is harder than it looks!
Tuesday, we were blessed to hang our with Dr. Gillespie from Eastern Illinois University and learn about poverty rates in Coles County but more importantly to examine and explore solutions! Oddly, enough...at least for me...the solutions seem to lie hidden in the process of equipping people to serve; however, the typical pattern is to apply "relief"...I pray our learning journey continues as look forward to learning from and walking alongside others in our community!
Let's face it! Although gardening promotes community, COOKIES certainly do! We were blessed to hang out with the gang at the Fellowship Center this past Monday as we engaged them in a cookie walk! In 2016, we get to work alongside them and a 3rd grade class from St. Mary's school and be a part of harvesting some more healthy food options from their microgarden!
We had the pleasure of helping students (forty in all) from Williams Elementary School decorate cookies with the residents at Mattoon Healthcare Center. After all their hard work everyone enjoyed eating the awesome homemade cookies. It was such a great day!
Such an amazing educator! As soon as she left the day care at Broadway Christian church today having read to the students, Mavis then heads with me to the Fellowship Center where she teaches about the need to cultivate in the garden! I love working with this woman!
Today we had such a good time learning about all the neat projects that are going on in Mr. Karl Rabe's agriculture classes (aka ag) at Mattoon High School. Our time with him ended with a tour of the greenhouse and the aquaponics system! We are excited to begin partnering with the FFA chapter at MHS and two early childhood centers on two additional mircogardens in the city of Mattoon!
I am just getting started at Fit-2-Serve and have been a part of two Community Connect gatherings. What a wonderful way to meet new people and learn about so many good things happening in our area! I invite everyone to please come out and join us!
We were blessed to work with Williams Elementary School and plant our first school garden! Pumpkins galore were the result as we worked alongside Mrs. Molly Masulis 2nd grade class and look forward to continuing the partnership in 2016!
Today, Lyndsey Reedy joined our team as an AmeriCorp VISTA! She completed her training last week in Chicago and will be with us through November 8th, 2016!!! Lyndsey strengths are Responsibility, Maximizer, Input, Achiever and Learner and we could not be more thrilled to have her on our team!
Blessed beyond measure! Fit-2-Serve got 20 solar panels as a result of some brotherly love (thanks Joe Duey) and then a brother-in-Christ (Tomey Long) is installing them today with some other friends!
We were blessed with two girl scout troops working with us this past Saturday and harvested over 100 pounds of produce that we delivered to Mark's My Store!
Youth Service Day was a blast! We had people young and old working together towards a common goal. There were some games, we made some progress on the new rock garden, and everyone had a great time.
One more reminder! Youth Service Day is TOMORROW. We will be working hard, but we also love to form community, goof off, and have a blast! So if this piques your interest, come join us in the garden from 8-10:30am.
Tonight, a few members of our team got to go and experience an end-of-summer celebration put on by Sarah Bush Lincoln's nutrition program. Everyone went to separate stations to help prepare the dinner, and some of the kids got to compete in games against the administrative team.
Today marked the last day of the summer that we will be spending with the kids from the Salvation Army day camp. We made the most of it, though! There was some rock-picking and some super fun games to wrap up our time together.
Youth Day is THIS SATURDAY!! The garden is wide open for youth and the young at heart all the time, but this Saturday is especially for kids looking for some weekend gardening fun! Come and join us from 8-10:30AM at the garden to garden, chat, and hang out with these hooligans -->
Today we had the opportunity to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the garden. Today was the official kick off of the new rock garden and the kids were not only having a blast but also had the opportunity to learn about service. On another note, we have now harvested 600 pounds of produce, and it just keeps growing!
We picked and picked and picked and finally had enough produce to make it to the farmer's market! If you missed us today, don't worry; We will be back again next Friday.
Harvesting green beans:
On our way to market:
Selling our produce:
This week we were able to donate a bunch of our produce to a parent and child cooking class that was run by Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital and hosted by the Fields Church. They taught the participants to cook healthy and easy meals that taste good too!
This past Saturday we had an abundance of volunteers and it was phenomenal! Please remember to come volunteer at any point during our Community Garden hours because we are always looking for helping hands and ready to make that next connection with you. All ages are welcome. All gardening skills (or lack thereof) are welcome. EVERYONE is welcome! We would love to see you!
We are having a blast seeing everyone at Bagelfest! We will still be there tomorrow so it's not too late to paint a rock animal, have your face painted, or participate in a Sink-or-Float activity. Come on down to see us starting bright and early to morning at 8 o'clock!
Molly performing her Sink-or-Float activity and wowing the crowd :D
Cayden and I showing off our face and "hand" paint
Today we were able to take some of the kids from the Salvation Army day camp to the water treatment plant to see the work that is put into providing clean water. They were also very helpful in pulling weeds and picking up rocks in the garden. The first picture shown is a couple of the student's reflecting on what they learned during the water tour, and the second is a couple of the kids standing next to all of the weeds they pulled today!
Today was full of fun and silliness. We started by going to Douglas Hart Nature Center and discussing the work they do to gain volunteers. It was reassuring to hear that we are doing the right things to move towards a great volunteer base! We also got a chance to hear a practice lesson from Molly Masulis which will be used for youth events in the future.
We made "Soil Sammy's" today with nylon socks that will have cute little faces with grass growing out the top posing as hair.
Fit-2-Serve will have a booth at Bagelfest this year!! There will be several activities such as rock animal making, a "Sink or Float" activity, and garden themed face painting. Pick out your face painting now and come on down Thursday, Friday, or Saturday to have it done!
We were fortunate enough today to see the raised-bed gardens behind Salvation Army. They are tended by several youth who attend the Salvation Army day camp. There are several plant varieties they are growing, and it is watched over by two ladies from the U of I extension office. We love to see what others in our community are doing in their gardens!
Today Fit-2-Serve had 23 youth volunteers from various organizations come together to work in the garden. The first picture shows youth from Broadway Christian Church and the second of a local boy scout troop working hard in the garden. Join us for the next youth service day on August 1st.
Yesterday we began planting pumpkins at Williams Elementary School. They will turn into a small pumpkin patch behind the school which will be used for lessons and hands-on experience.
Today our team was fortunate enough to have a tour of Mercy Gardens in Decatur, IL. They are an organization specializing in job training and urban gardening. We came home with lots of ideas and a new connection that will now be able to utilize in our future endeavors.
Today there were 21.5 pounds of harvested from the garden! This is such a massive amount and yet we strive to grow and to be able to harvest thousands of pounds per year. Have a fantastic Fourth of July everyone!
Recently we have had an influx of youngsters joining us at the garden. This week we were joined by the Salvation Army day camp as well as a group of kiddos from the local daycare.
Today, we were also very fortunate to see plans for a remodel of Lytle Park that will create an awesome place for kids and adults alike to play, exercise, and just be outside! One of their plans includes space for several raised beds that will create a community garden.
Yesterday, our team took a trip out to Lake Land College to see some of the sustainable resources they use on their campus. We were able to see how they run their community garden, and we were able to climb up onto the roof of one of their buildings which houses over 400 solar panels. It was great to see someone else accomplishing sustainable ideas so that we have a clearer idea of what we can strive for with Fit-2-Serve's project.
We are incredibly thankful to have had so many great volunteers lending a helping hand. A ton was accomplished in just one day, and we would love to have anyone come help for the weeks to come through the harvesting season!
Today, 20 volunteers from local churches came together to work in the community garden. Families worked side by side to form community and work towards the same goal of a flourishing garden. This weekend is SERVE weekend, so there are volunteers working all over Mattoon for a couple days to make our town a better place. However, volunteers are always welcome to make their way to the garden to work and form friendships. Our volunteer hours are Monday-Thursday from 4-6PM and Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8-10:30AM.
As a result of this work, 100 strawberry plants were added to the land.
Today our team took a trip to a local day care to read stories and play with the kids. They are hoping to get out in the garden sometime soon, but because it has rained both times they had scheduled to come, we went to them. They got to here two stories and we had a blast playing games, eating pretend food, and enjoying a fashion show featuring a fireman, a police officer, a fairy, and a pirate. It is a great opportunity for us and for the kids to be connected through the garden.
Today our team delivered our first produce to sell at Mark's My Store. We were able to take a bunch of green onions, three packages of cut broccoli, and 3 orange zucchini. It's a small amount right now, but we will be taking much more in the coming months, so head over to My Store to snatch up our locally grown produce.
This picture shows Mark showing us where our produce will be stored when we take in a delivery.
This is the current corn at the garden! With all of the rain, it has had the opportunity to just shoot up. There has been so much growth in this area in the past week.
TJ was successful in replanting some of our pumpkins. We have had an abundance of pumpkins showing up recently, so now we have expanded their space.
Thanks to JJ for teaching us about planting "Three Sisters." A three sisters garden is a Native American tradition using squash, corn, and beans. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. For more information on this topic visit:
We have made it to social media! If you prefer Facebook, please come like our page. You will be able to see several events that we have planned for the week. If twitter is more your style, follow us: @_Fit2Serve_. We will be working towards daily tweets and plan on having an Instagram set up in the VERY NEAR future! You can like our Facebook and follow our tweets by looking in the top right hand corner of this webpage.
Today at Fit-2-Serve we were blessed with a big lunch from the Crossover church. It was an hour filled with fellowship and a very filling meal of pasta, salad, and cookies.
The second portion to our day was a book study of When Helping Hurts. We are able to come together as a group to learn each other's strengths and discuss how to better help the community without causing more hurt to those already affected by poverty.
A few days ago, a couple of us were able to go visit a local family's backyard garden. It was a great experience to be able to connect with local gardeners, see what they do differently, and talk about the work they may be able to do to help further development in the community garden.
We have had a fun-filled day! This morning we had a group of kids from the Salvation Army day camp come to Fit-2-Serve and learn how to wash, dry, weigh, and package newly harvested lettuce. They had a blast and were led in games by Gini and Lee. Each child was also sent home with a package of the lettuce that they prepared.
Right after them, a group from Big Brothers Big Sisters came by to have lunch and to learn how to make a vinaigrette dressing with fresh herbs grown right outside. Some of them weren't so sure if they wanted to eat salad but the dressing they were able to make may have sold them. They got to take home their dressing and a package of this morning's lettuce. If you want to make your own dressing, here's how we made ours:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (we used sage, basil, cilantro, or thyme)
A pinch of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients, seal the container, and shake it up!
We packaged our first produce yesterday! The starfish in the picture represents the unstoppable power of leaderless organizations as Fit-2-Serve simply seeks to equip people for works of service.
The picture above shows the extra half acre we have yet to plant. Even with the massive amount already accomplished, there is still a lot to go. It has taken 458 volunteer hours to become what it is today, but these hours will continue to add up and the garden will continue to grow and thrive.
This picture shows the rest of the land after it has been cultivated today by Ken Newby. He has used his tractor to cultivate the land three times this year. Ken has an auto body shop here in Mattoon (pictured below). A huge thanks to Ken for all of his hard work!
We want to give a HUGE thank you to deBuhr's Feed and Seed in Mattoon. They very graciously donated this pictured (above) truckload of plants for the community garden. The plants were relocated very quickly to their new home. Don't they look great?!
Another day in the garden and we got another slew of jobs finished. Although we were able to get a lot done, we are always looking for more volunteers to join us in our efforts!
Last night, a dinner was served including a course of salad made of only produce grown fresh in the garden. The garden is thriving! Today, the harvest consisted of 5.3 lbs of lettuce, 2 lbs of broccoli, 1.8 lbs of onions, and the plants just keep on growing!
This afternoon at Fit-2-Serve, there was quaint tea party complete with tea, cookies, and bingo. A big thanks to Becky Darling for organizing the event!
We had a great group of volunteers working hard in the garden this morning! It was a perfect day to be outside, and we got so much done! We had plenty of conversation and got a lot of much needed work accomplished. There were people watering the whole plot, picking up rocks, and we even got 15 hills of watermelon planted!
Pictured (Left to Right): Molly Masulis, Alyssa Miller, Virginia Johnson, Lee Hearns
Beginning June 8th, Fit-2-Serve has been blessed with a team of four AmeriCorps volunteers. They will be working to help further community development in Mattoon for the next eight weeks. Their focus will be on helping to grow volunteerism in the community garden, finding ways to alleviate poverty, and helping to provide fresh foods to those with little, or no, access to nutritious produce. Another goal will be to incorporate partnerships with local schools and churches to better bring the people in the area together. This is a team of people with diverse backgrounds and strengths who will be able to work together in a powerful way to create a more tightly knit community in the coming weeks.
It is June 2nd and I was bless to observe a 2nd precious moment today!
My dear friend and sister-in-Christ (Mavis, pictured on the left) taught Will and Reese how to pick the perfect strawberries! 6 pounds later, they caught it! They didn't want to leave the garden or Mavis! Now granted, I think they picked about 7 pounds of strawberries but Reese ate one pound herself while she "picked" alongside us but either way, this experience was yet another precious moment as we seek to live out our mission to "equip people (even little people) for works of service".
My mom and sister use to collect Precious Moments figurines. The mission of the company that makes them is to “make the world a better place by helping people share the gift of love.” Today, I was blessed to observe a very tangible precious moment and I just had to share! Right before church started, a woman handed me an afghan she made and asked me to give it to someone in need. The afghans she has made in the past were delivered to those residing in our local homeless shelter or that recently transitioned out of the shelter. However, I opted to deliver this particular afghan to a couple that live in a local nursing home. When I presented the afghan to Les and Evelyn, the precious moment came as they received the gift! Their joy was tangible and heart-warming. I am amazed how a gift of love passed on to another can become such a potent precious moment! Perhaps that should be the mission of the body of Christ…to pass on and to receive the precious gift of love from one another.