Meet Zyanya and Andy

Posted by on Nov 16, 2018 | Comments Off on Meet Zyanya and Andy

Meet Zyanya and Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH ANDY BLUNK

1) Tell us about an early experience with gardens and nature.

My mom is a wetland biologist, and is somewhat evangelical in her approach to her passions, at least with her children. I grew up looking under rocks to find all the different microinvertebrates present and hearing my mom comment on the indicated stream health. It became second nature to ask, “what is underneath there?” and “what does that indicate about the larger system present?”. This wonder and recognition of the small things that affect the larger whole is part of what still excites me when I look under rocks and dig up soil with students and make similar connections between soil biological health and our food system’s health.

2) What got you involved with CSG?

I enjoy the excitement of students learning something new in the garden is what keeps me involved.  I am new to Charlottesville, recently moved from 2 years in Peace Corps Ethiopia, and before that Central PA.

3) What has been your favorite experience CSG?

I enjoyed handing out kale chips to elementary students during the monthly Harvest of the Month event run by the schools and CSG. When we asked kids if they would like to try the kale chips, we received a mixed reaction from the students. A minority of students jumped with excitement and asked for a serving, the majority shrugged in ambivalence and others stood to their feet with their hand stopping us in our steps and their other hand covering their nose saying “disgusting!”.

Children sociology is fascinating, maybe simple, maybe impossible to understand- I left the day unsure. But as the kids that experienced revulsion by the sight of cooked greens saw their friends eat the food, continue to breathe, and even ask for more, they began to try as well. By the end of each lunch period, nearly every kid had tried the kale chips and most were asking for more as they left the cafeteria.

4) What are your dreams for CSG in the future?

A dream is CSG running a larger, few acre, farm on school property. This farm would continue to be a learning environment for students, with a focus on production, and it would supply a large percentage of Charlottesville public schools’ vegetables for the fall school season. In effect, each school would have a salad bar of fresh, organic vegetables, grown on school land, by students interested in small business and farming, and CSG growers. Sounds wonderful to me.

5) If you were a fruit or vegetable, what kind would you be and why?

A carrot. I like the idea of spending most of my life underground and amusing myself with that which is directly next to me. This sounds pretty care free, although maybe a little claustrophobic. Then, before the end of my life, I get to be pulled out of my soil life and also experience the open air and gain a new perspective. I also like eating carrots.

 

INTERVIEW WITH ZYANYA OTAL

1) Tell us about an early experience with gardens and nature.

My earliest experience in nature occurred when I first arrived to the US from Mexico. I could not yet speak English and found refuge collecting flowers and playing with worms, crickets, and butterflies on the outskirts of the playground. Since then I have continued to involve myself in activities where I can continue to be outdoors and have been lucky to learn how to create sustainable life through gardening and farming, as well as appreciating the native greenery of Virginia.

It’s wild to me that after all of these years (and with a much better grasp on English), I’ve come full circle. I find myself back in the outskirts of the playgrounds with my hands in the dirt, helping other students find their own refuge among the flowers, veggies, and bugs.

2) What got you involved with CSG?

I have been so impressed by the excitement, love, and determination that drives this organization. I am honored to be a part of it.
3) What has been your favorite experience CSG?

My favorite experience so far has absolutely been attending the Harvest Festival. It was fantastic seeing the dedication and care that Buford Middle School students put into their fantastic eggplant recipes and I loved seeing the outpouring of support from the community at the event itself. There were so many fantastic activities to spark curiosity and inspire creativity through our garden and the food that our neighbors grow.
4) What are your dreams for CSG in the future?

Oh, man. I don’t think I’ve been around long enough yet to have any established dreams for CSG. I’m really impressed by what the organization is doing for our community currently.
5) If you were a fruit or vegetable, what kind would you be and why?

Absolutely an avocado. They’re super versatile in any recipe and they love toast, just like me.