Capturing that same spirit of service following 9/11, dozens of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer members are dedicating this year’s day of service to helping devastated communities recover from Hurricanes Harvey. VISTA members serving Houston’s Refugee Coalition organizations helped urban farmers from Plant It Forward whose farms were damaged by tropical storm-force winds and the deluge of rain that occurred at the height of the storm. For many of the farmers the crops were the sole source of income for their families.
Plant It Forward provides Houston with fresh, local produce by helping refugees grow their own urban farm businesses. Each farmer is trained to farm using organic methods and sell their produce through farmers markets, farm stands, restaurants, and farm shares. Through Plant It Forward Farms, refugees can become active and contributing citizens that help Houston realize its potential as a leader in sustainable living.
VISTA members worked at the organization’s farm at the Braeswood Church on Fondren Road, where six farmers currently grow vegetables, fruit and flowers. Alliance for Multicultural Community Service volunteers helped farmers’ clean debris, replace destroyed crops with seeds, and repair drip irrigation systems. The repairs are critical as the farmers hurriedly prepare for fall planting while trying to maintain their weekly farm share subscriptions.
“Alliance works to help refugees become self-sufficient and productive, so we’re happy to help these refugee farmers get back on their feet as soon as possible,” said Sarah Perez-Klausner,” Alliance’s Houston Refugee Coalition VISTA Team Leader.