My name is Aaron Williams (He/Him/His) and I am an alum from the 2018-2019 service year. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelors in Peace, War and Defense; originally thinking that I would want to be a Foreign Service Officer for the State Dept. Life had a different plan for me.
As a JSC member in 2018, I made my way into the food justice community by learning to farm at Anathoth Community Garden. Being from Liberty City in Miami, the idea of working on a farm was far from anything I had ever done before. It was a new way of using my body for the land. This is where I had an opportunity to work in community and observe how land, food access, and identity intersects with the liberation of black people and other POC folks in this country. I had a lot of time to sit with myself, realizing that this is not just a chance to work on a farm, but to really find my own voice in this issue of food insecurity. With that said, I began attending conferences and reading all that I could about it.
Since then, I have continued this work by becoming an AmeriCorps-FoodCorps service member where I started teaching as a garden educator. I was tasked with serving at two elementary schools in Raleigh, where I assisted in the development of their garden education program by creating clubs, cooking lessons, and crafting an outdoor experiential learning curriculum. I had a chance to really hone in on the skills that I had learned through my service year at JSC and now apply them in my role as an educator.
I am now the Saplings program coordinator for our middle school students at SEEDS in Durham. During this time of Covid, we are working with our families in the community to meet their most essential need right now – food. As an organization uniquely positioned in the heart of the Durham community, we are working to support local food distribution efforts to our families. I am engaging my students virtually and in-person with cooking classes, social emotional learning activities, art projects and more.
I am so excited to be on this journey, that has led me to my dream job at SEEDS. I get to be a part of building a stronger Durham community. I am getting to plant seeds in the ground and watch them grow into food that will feed my community and my students as they become agents of change. The formative year I spent working on the land and in reflection as a JSC member has provided me the space to thrive and show up as my whole self as a servant leader in my community now.
In the times of quarantine life, you can catch me outside reading, cooking new cuisines in the kitchen with my roommate Alli, and taking scenic nature walks.