By Madison Fang, Noora Fayad, and Mannat Rajput
Scroll down below to view the work accomplished by a team apart of Dr. Kramer's COLL220 class, Service Learning Practicum, this past semester.
Background of Mirasol Village/Alchemist CDC
Mirasol Village is a mixed-income housing community (Mirasol Village) located in Downtown Sacramento. Despite being in such a prime location, the community is in a food desert (Alchemist CDC, 2023), meaning they do not have convenient access to a grocery store that provides fresh groceries and nutritious foods. Alchemist CDC is a non-profit organization based in Sacramento, California that is committed to connecting communities to land, food, and opportunity. As part of a community garden project, Alchemist CDC was connected to Mirasol Village in an effort to build and promote a community garden in the development as a place where community members can get together and have access to fresh produce grown right next to them. This promotes healthier eating habits through the use of fresh ingredients and a great solution as they battle living in a food desert.
Simmer and Share: Interactive Cooking Class
In an effort to promote the community garden, we started an interactive cooking class called Simmer and Share. In the cooking class that was held in the garden, we picked the produce that would be used in the recipes, immediately washed them, and used them in our cooking. We walked community members through making enchiladas. At the end of the class, we provided a laminated copy of the recipe, as well as any leftovers to bring home.
Through the class, we were able to demonstrate to community members that cooking using fresh ingredients was a manageabletask, while tasting
incredible. Marcel, an eleven year old, was once disgusted by eggplants then realized that they can actually taste amazing with spicing. We were glad to see that not only did this class promote the garden and healthy eating, but it also provided a safe place where the community could get together.
Many people were also impressed by the food andinspired to start renting their own plot and gardeningthemselves. Rachel, a Mirasol Village community member, actually was unaware that the community garden was open and was describing that she was excited to rent out a plot. Once we told her that it has been open for months, she was excited and said that she is going to look into the process of renting one. They started to see the garden as a place to hang out and socialize with others, while eating good food. Their children also had a place to play with other children, giving them the opportunity to meet their community.
Our Meaning of Service Learning
Through this opportunity of our community project, we were able to learn what it takes to run and hold an event. It was much more difficult than we thought and took many hours and countless conversations with our community partner to make sure we were holding a successful event that met the needs of the community. Through many trials and errors, we learned that it is important to ask questions in order to grasp an understanding of what is happening in the community, instead of making assumptions.
As service-learners, not only were we able to provide something to the community, we were also able to learn many lessons from the community. Through their stories, we learned about their daily struggles, especially when it came to living in a food desert.
Overall, we had a great time working with the Mirasol Village community and Alchemist CDC in holding this successful event. We hope to be able to continue this event and make it more consistent in order to have a more long-lasting impact in the community.