The AmeriCorps* VISTA volunteers who make-up the Grow Food, Grow Hope Garden Initiative are a unique and diverse group of young, passionate individuals. We all come from different backgrounds, different education experiences, and different worldviews. Together, though, we combine a wide variety of skills to target one singular goal: ending poverty. Through outreach, through education, and through empowerment, we are working toward that end.
Name: Eric Guindon
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Community Outreach Coordinator
Hometown: Wilmington, OH
Education: B.A. in Spanish and International Relations from Heidelberg College
Favorite vegetable: "A big, juicy homegrown tomato."
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "I see GFGH as an excellent opportunity to not only engage in community service, but also provide community members (and ourselves) with the framework to improve upon and appreciate the importance of quality of life."
Favorite quote: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Name: Dessie Buchanan
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Farmers' Market & Buy Local Food Coordinator
Hometown: Wilmington, OH
Education: B.A. in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis. M.A. in Social Anthropology from University of Wales, Lampeter.
Favorite vegetable: "My grandpa's sweet corn."
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "Grow Food, Grow Hope is a way for me to give back to the community that raised, nurtured and helped me grow into the individual I am today. It is a way of letting the people of this community know that this is not the end for Wilmington— there are people who care about the future of this community, there are things we can do to help ourselves as well as others, and— working together— there are ways to overcome."
Favorite quote: "We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo to the end." - Hunter S. Thompson.
Name: Mariah Fulton
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Youth Outreach Coordinator
Hometown: Carrollton, OH
Education: B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Wilmington College
Favorite vegetable: "Corn."
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "Ever since I can remember, I've had a passion to help people in need. My heart's desire is to see lives change. Grow Food, Grow Hope allows me to reach out to struggling and hurting community and to provide resources that could truly make a difference in their lives, and in the lives of their families and friends.
Favorite quote: "You may be one person to the world, but you may also be the world to one person" - Unknown
Name: Sonja Koehler
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Research & Data Collection Coordinator
Hometown: Mainville, OH
Education: B.A. in Education and History from Wilmington College
Favorite vegetable: "Potato."
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "I wanted to give back to the community that I called home for four years as a college student. Grow Food, Grow Hope has allowed me to do that. I see this initiative as a way for the people of Wilmington to come together and support one another."
Favorite quote: "Have happy thoughts!"
Name: John Cropper
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Public Relations Coordinator
Hometown: Wilmington, OH
Education: B.A. in Public Affairs Journalism and Italian from the Ohio State University.
Favorite vegetable: "Grilled asparagus"
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "To me, Grow Food, Grow Hope is a community-driven food movement meant to change the way people think about their dinner plate. It's a way for me to serve within my community on actionable, tangible goals, and to reach out to those in need of help."
Favorite quote: "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." - Henry David Thoreau
Name: Jennifer Kerschner
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Community Gardens / Edible Landscape Coordinator
Hometown: Litchfield, OH
Education: B.S. in Agricultural Production and Agricultural Education from Wilmington College.
Favorite vegetable: "Eggplant"
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "Agriculture has been a key component in the rise of human civilization. Having a surplus of food has allowed humans to focus on improving others aspects of life, such as technology. In today's hard economic times, I feel as if it is important to remember where we come from and the community building potential of agriculture. Grow Food, Grow Hope will help people grow their own food, which in turn will open up other opportunities, as it has in the past."
Favorite quote: "There are no secrets to success. It is a result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure." - Colin Powell
Name: Jessica Braun
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Food Distribution Coordinator
Hometown: Wapakoneta, OH
Education: B.A. in French from the Ohio State University.
Favorite vegetable: "Potatoes, because they're delicious no matter how you cook them."
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "While watching our episode of Rachael Ray, I caught the most important statement in the entire episode: 'We're looking to Wilmington to inspire all of us,' and I think Rachael hit the nail on the head. Being here, working here, I'm going to be a part of what inspires and what changes peoples' lives everyday. We're not feeding people, we're changing the world, one meal at a time."
Favorite quote: "Mais les yeux sont aveugles. Il faut chercher avec le cœur." Translated: But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart... " - The Little Prince
Name: Aileen Ash
Grow Food, Grow Hope position: Grower's Co-Op Coordinator
Hometown: Glenside, PA
Education: B.S. in Wildlife Conservation Biology and International Development from the University of Rhode Island.
Favorite vegetable: "Squash"
What Grow Food, Grow Hope means to me: "I think we have lost the connection to our food, where it comes from, and the healthy labor involved. Grow Food Grow Hope will provide me with the opportunity to help a community in need reconnect with their food supply and with each other. I feel fortunate that I have found a place where my energy and efforts are needed.""
Favorite quote: "I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." - John Muir