Our volunteer days are always a bit of an adventure. With each team member having a chance to determine each month’s volunteer project, we get to give back in lots of different forms and fashions. This past month, Sarah LaFleur chose an organization she serves on the board for and one that is very near and dear to her heart: Slow Food West Michigan in cooperation with Reformation Growers.
Our team was enlisted to help turn an old shipping container that Reformation Growers had acquired into a compost processing and storage facility. This included preparing and painting the container, digging holes, and securing posts that would support a deck and an extended pitched roof off the side of the deck.
It was warm and sunny without a cloud in the sky — the perfect day for an outdoor volunteer event. Our staff was ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work, but first, pizza!
Digging In and Buzzing Brush Strokes
Our team broke into groups to tackle the project at-hand. A few of us started digging holes to support what seemed like telephone-pole-sized posts, while others grabbed their scrapers, brushes, and rollers to paint the container a more conspicuous, vibrant color.
These volunteer opportunities not only allow for time to step away from the day-to-day of our regular jobs, they also allow us to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and engage in conversation that doesn’t always happen in the office. Brent Velting was only a couple of weeks in as the newest LaFleurian, and this project gave us a wonderful opportunity to chat about our families, hobbies outside of work, and more.
Leigh Ebrom and I were making great progress on the east side of the container when I noticed some movement inside a hole on one of the doors of the container. Upon further investigation, we found a swarm of wasps had made their home inside the container, and they were not pleased with our invasion or our paint fumes.
The wasps slowly made their way out of the hole and angrily flew around these giant invaders attacking their home. We bobbed and weaved before eventually deciding to give them their space and moving to the other sides of the container.
At the end of the day, the holes were dug, posts were secured, the container was (mostly) painted, and we walked away feeling good about helping our local community make strides to become a more environmentally aware and sustainable place. We also were left miraculously unscathed by our new wasp friends, which was an added bonus.
Until LaFleur’s next volunteering adventure, I leave with more information about the wonderful organizations we were fortunate enough to partner with this month.
About Slow Food West Michigan
According to their website, Slow Food
“…envisions a future food system based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice — in essence, a food system that is good, clean, and fair. We seek to catalyze a broad cultural shift away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and fast life; toward the regenerative cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, the pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life.”
In addition, they support for-profit and non-profit organizations that support their mission by:
- Planning social events to educate attendees about taste and the “joys of the convivial table.”
- Promoting food producers, purveyors, and restauranteurs who make meaningful contributions to the quality and sustainability of the West Michigan food system.
- Supporting similar organizations with similar goals through promotion, volunteerism, and donations.
Slow Food recently hosted a volunteer day at Reformation Growers — a local farm that is an outspoken champion of the Slow Food mission.
About the Compost Project from Reformation Growers
In 2017, Reformation Growers gained long-term access to field space in Gaines Township and began using it to compost food waste. To aid in that mission, they decided to modify a shipping container into a primitive off-grid compost processing and storage facility, which is what we were helping to accomplish.
The roof we helped build will keep the container dry and also provide an overhang for the adjacent deck, which will itself be used to screen compost and mix soil amendments. Finished compost will then be transported to town and processed.
As their compost operation has grown, so has their need for adequate space to be able to house the operation. The shipping container and proposed additions to it will provide the work space and storage capacity necessary for them to continue operation and allow room for further growth. Additionally, the ability to complete all aspects of the compost processing in one space will improve efficiency and reduce transportation costs. The container and build out will also serve other long-term goals for future agricultural use of the space.
Contact LaFleur for Help With Your Next Volunteering Project
In addition to being one of the leading marketing agencies in the country, LaFleur is fiercely dedicated to building communities and spreading goodwill. If you’d like to learn more about partnering with us to develop new marketing initiatives or to improve your existing campaigns, please contact us by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing this brief form.
Or, if you have a volunteering project in West Michigan you need some help with, please email Sarah LaFleur at [email protected] today!