Despite being one of the busiest first-response units in the area, Alameda County Fire Fighters from the 164th Street Unit had planned to spend National Night Out on Tuesday, August 7th, in San Leandro.
While that City's fire stations need back-up to service their 15 or more National Night Out community-hosted activities, the 164th Avenue unit's own neighborhood in unincorporated Alameda County’s Ashland host zero. At least, until last night.
The Ashland Cherryland Garden & Arts Network and The Vine Christian Fellowship co-hosted a National Night Out celebrating the organzations’ new partnership for the neighborhood. The Network, which hosts programs and projects to improve livability and health in the Ashland Cherryland communities, sponsored the event to thank The Vine for donating an office space for their outreach work. The groups are excited to work together to bring the Network’s programming to the neighborhood, including garden installations, healthy food workshops, art and dance activities for youth, and stress-relief classes for families.
The event, which featured an educational dinner buffet, was sponsored by The Ashland Cherryland Food Policy Group, a result of the Network’s collaboration with Alameda County Public Health to address the area’s food desert status.
The evening featured a deep-local meal of grass-fed meat from Marin Sun Farms, and salads of organic veggies grown within 250 miles of the event, provided by Earth’s Produce, a West-Oakland community-owned wholesale produce distributor. A marinated radish salad even contained Cherryland-grown radish, the harvest of another Network project that is helping residents start commercial farms in their own backyard as a home-based business. Everyone's favorite was the organic grilled corn.
No sodas at this meal! Folks were refreshed with water infused with cucumber and lemon. Dessert was home-made mint ice cream, flavored with fresh mint from the Hayward Community Gardens and made with milk absent of growth hormones.
The family-style buffet included colorful sandwich boards - one side in English, one side in Spanish - made by local artist Dora Chavarria, that helped eaters understand why this buffet of carnitas, tortillas, and simple veggie salads with a sweet treat, is any different from “the usual.” Food Policy Group volunteers were there to provide more information with diners about how to identify healthier grass-fed meats, non-GMO tortillas, organic produce, and milk free from hormones when they shop.
Teens enjoyed The Vine’s “Undiscovered” Youth Lounge, while younger folks enjoyed chalking-up the sidewalks. And once the fire truck showed up, everyone enjoyed modeling the fire hats and taking a tour of the truck.
Network Program Manager, Shanale Allen, felt the event was a huge success, “We’re so happy to be here planting roots at The Vine. Our buffet was a delicious representation of how it takes the greater community to build a meal, which is the foundation for health. In partnership, we can build local community, which is the foundation for safety and non-violence. We plan to do it, one meal at a time."
Pastor David Ortiz, of The Vine Christian Fellowship was also thrilled with the event and excited about the possibility of attracting the broader neighborhood to the church as a resource for families. "There were people here tonight that we have been trying to reach out to for years."
The Ashland Cherryland Garden & Arts Network will be hosting after school and weekend workshops for adults and children at The Vine Christian Fellowship in Ashland including gardening, healthy lifestyles, stress-reduction, break dancing, and more. Contact AshlandCherrylandGardenNetwork@gmail.com for more information.