We arrived in Boston on Monday the 26th but couldn’t move into our house for a week, so the four volunteers stayed with people part of the Boston Food Justice YAV board and people from our “care committees.” This was the first of many experiences of radical hospitality in Boston. People on the BFJYAV board have been planning and working and waiting for years for us to be here (and I thought my 3-4 months of preparation was long.) It is incredibly reassuring, and a little intimidating, knowing that people have worked so hard for us to come work for them… seems like it should be the other way around. But I know prayers have been surrounding us back when God had us in mind for this project, even when no one else knew. Everyone we have met through all four churches has been beyond welcoming and kind.
Our week of Boston orientation was not as hectic as Stony Point, but it was pretty darn near close. On Tuesday we did the paperwork (boring) stuff, which our site coordinator balanced out with Wednesday seeing everything in all of Boston. We saw Harvard, MIT, ate lunch in Boston Commons, did the Freedom Trail and saw famous cemeteries, churches, and landmarks. We even climbed the entire Bunker Hill Memorial (I almost lost feeling in my legs towards the top.) The night ended with a free Boston orchestra concert on the Charles River.
On Thursday we did some personality tests and talked about creating our roommate covenant which we will finish later. We also planned out our bulk food orders for the next 5-6 months. Part of the Boston YAV program is a local eating experiment. We will be eating as locally as possible until the end of January, meaning all produce, dairy, grain, meat, etc. must come from New England. (We have allowances for fair trade coffee and chocolate and basic cooking staples like salt and olive oil. We also each get to pick an ingredient- like nuts and rice as a cheat.) But this means no eating out (unless we buy something we know is as local as possible), and most everything we buy is from local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), farmers markets, and bulk grain from local farms. It has been a fun challenge.
Eating local is not always cheap, and buying CSA shares and food in bulk involve a lot of start-up costs, which the board has had the foresight to build into the budget. Each Monday we pick up a “share” (a big box) of vegetables and fruit, whatever is ready to harvest at that time, and we will soon be picking up a poultry CSA share once a month. We are also learning which brands of dairy products are local and where we can buy them. We are also on the look-out for local farms and markets with honey, maple syrup, etc.
As part of our local eating, on Friday the 30th (after visiting Walden Pond) we went to a pick-your-own orchard and picked a bag of apples, several containers of raspberries, and got a box of seconds peaches (that are not pretty enough to sell full price, but fine to eat.) We had our first canning lesson and ended up with several jars of delicious raspberry jam and canned peaches. The food preparation is actually really fun, especially with a group of people, but it’s hard to remember all of the rules about boiling the jars and keeping everything sanitary, which is essential, and will just take time to memorize. Our plan is to have enough canned fruits to last us the winter when we cannot buy them locally.
On Saturday we got to drive around Watertown (our new neighborhood) and had a picnic with people from all four churches in the Boston YAV program. It was great to finally meet the people that have not only been expecting us for so long, but who we will be working with very closely for the next year.
It was a long week but a great introduction to Boston!