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Acting Director of Service-Learning
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
North Carolina: Spring Break 11
Over spring break 14 enthusiastic workers led by Leonora Stefanile went on a service trip to Durham, NC. We stayed at a place in what is called the "rural buffer" of the city where four young men, including Eckerd ES alumnus Dylan Hammond, are working to transform an old tobacco homestead into a self-sustainable, off-the-grid home. They envision a homestead that will have no need for outside energy sources and an organic garden and orchard that will supply the home with food, allow them to sell produce and be a CSA site. When we arrived they had a compostable toilet, outhouse, rain-water collection system which supplies the whole house with water, a small garden, and big plans.
We helped them lay the foundation for a passive solar room and an outdoor kitchen, clear trees in the place of a future orchard (and planted blueberries!), renovate the kitchen, build a porch, and expand their garden by more than twice its original size. On Thursday we volunteered at NEEM (Natural Environmental Ecological Management), an urban organic garden organization in Durham doing various work to help them transform an abandoned florist shop/greenhouse/garden into a working CSA site.
The trip was refreshing, and being able to see so much progress in so little time was exciting. But what was most inspiring was working alongside like-minded people, both at the homestead and at NEEM, who see our future as one in dire need of sustainable practices and a new appreciation for farming and food. Everything is tied together by agriculture, yet our agriculture system is unsustainable. With education and the implication of practices and infrastructures like the ones we learned about during the trip we could very well save ourselves from unhealthy lives and worse. I'm thrilled to see what becomes of the little farm in the rolling meadows of North Carolina and the seeds we planted there... I'm thrilled to see what becomes of the knowledge and understanding it planted in us. -Deborah Hilbert