Garden with REC!
By Edith Morgan
It’s that time of year again: Worcester’s citywide Earth Day Clean-up happens April 9, and on that Saturday morning, from 8 a.m. to noon, we expect more than 1,000 volunteers to fan out throughout the city to pick up trash in public places.
So, in preparation for the event, there was a gathering at the Worcester Senior Center last night, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., to get ready – and to eat and see friends, and take care of “business.”
Earth Day has been observed here in Worcester by the REC and all our neighborhoods since 1989, and yearly we have gotten together to celebrate the successes of the REC projects, plan for the future, and pass out the materials needed for the clean-up.
A lively and excited group filled the large meeting-eating area at the Senior Center. After a brief welcome from REC Board President Julie Orozco, we got down to the business of eating the great assortment of “pot-luck” foods that attendees had brought.
Then, down to business business: President Orozco gave a brief summary of her involvement with the organization, and Treasurer Ted Hudson summarized the year’s finances, which were detailed for all attendees in the annual report booklet that we all were given.
To complete the formal part of this annual meeting, elections were then held (the slate was at each of our seats, and everyone was duly introduced, sworn in, and welcomed by the group.)
The Regional Environmental Council has greatly impacted the Worcester Community:
Thywill Opare summarized the accomplishments of the YouthGROW program and its impact on the young people involved with it.
Rafaela Morales-Rosa talked about the Community Gardens program.
Winifred Octave spoke about how she came to be involved, not only in the yearly clean-ups but also in advocating for the great improvements to Grant Park, directly across the street from where she lives. Together with Deb Bolz she founded the Green Hill Neighborhood Association, which carries on improvements year-round.
Finally, Steve Fischer, REC executive Director, spoke about some of the accomplishments of these programs:
Steve said there were 50 sites throughout the the city, that last year, 50 tons of trash were collected, involving more than 1,000 volunteers.
Trash all over our streets! Here’s a bunch of refuse illegally dumped, on Ward Street heading into the Canal District! pic:R.T.
He thanked the many great corporate and community organization sponsors.
Spring is here!!! flower pics: Chef Joey
Before giving the assembled Earth Day Coordinators some tips for the Earth Day Clean-up activities, Steve mentioned some figures that gave us a better idea of the impact these programs are having in Worcester:
There are now 64 [REC] community and school gardens in Worcester;
34 youth are employed on two “urban farms”
and the ever increasing number of REC farmers markets served 8,000 separate (unique) customers. Lest you get the idea that using these locally grown and sold foods are being consumed only by those who can afford the sometimes higher prices that fresh, pure fruits and vegetables bring, I was amazed to find that half of all sales went to users of SNAP benefits and the WIC Program – so people who need it most are getting great, healthy food, fresh and home-grown. That’s a real win-win!
All Worcester families can afford to buy the fresh produce and more available at REC FARMERS MARKETS because the REC markets do not discriminate – keep some city residents out of the healthy food loop – AND ACCEPT SNAP cards! Some even double the amount of veggies you can buy with SNAP. FOOD JUSTICE NOW!! – R. Tirella pic: Ron O’Clair
So, I urge everyone to participate, join REC, help us make our neighborhoods pristine …
… and on April 9 – our city’s Earth Day celebration – fill as many of REC’s yellow trash bags as you can!
REC provides Earth Day clean-up site coordinators with bags, gloves, instructions, and advice.
If you want to help, or have questions, or want to know more, call REC at 508-799-9139. Or go to their website: www.RECworcester.org.