Food Waste to Food Growth

  Local first19If you read our Composting Collaboration blog, you already know how connected LFA member Recycled City is to the Phoenix community. Recently the lovely gentlemen of Recycled City invited Local First staff to get more acquainted with their composting process and walk through their daily operations. We packed a car full and off we went to Recycled City’s satellite office, The Orchard Community Learning Center, located along the base of Phoenix’s South Mountain.

gardenOnce we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by John Wann, the Orchard director. Wann was the principal of Valley View Elementary School for 22 years, and in the four years since his retirement from the school, he has been mentoring, educating, and innovating. Something tells me his endearing smile and optimistic approach to life, are signs that the hard work is worth it.

The seven-acre farm is full of lush vegetable gardens, rows of citrus trees, castor plants (which help to eradicate gophers), an aquaponic garden, and Recycled City’s compost piles hard at work. This eclectic farm is managed and loved with the help of one specialized, staff gardener and the rest of the work is done solely on a volunteer basis. On a Friday morning we encountered half a dozen smiling volunteers. So what makes this land so special that AmeriCorps, community members, and volunteers alike are eager to be involved?

Their whole mission is to inspire the community toaqua think about what they consume, question what real food is, and educate children about how to build self-reliance. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a noble mission? I certainly adopted John’s tip of asking the question, “What would Grandma think?” prior to eating, based on his philosophy of “If your grandmother does not know what is in it, don’t eat it.”

After visiting and learning about the Center, it is no surprise that The Orchard and Recycled City teamed up as they both pursue real food justice. Here is how you can help them grow: