Written by Alexa Kristensen, Grant Writing and Development Intern

Tim Ryan is no stranger to volunteer work. A radio broadcast journalist by trade, Tim’s volunteer experience ranges from serving on a Board of Directors at a drug abuse alternative center, to stocking shelves at a local food pantry, to working at several food banks. At Each Green Corner, Tim does a little bit of everything. He advises interns on public relations strategies, participates in two of EGC’s programs—Seedling Starter and Senior Gardens—and regularly attends EGC’s Work Days. When I talk to Tim, he’s fresh off two consecutive work weekends where, by his own admission, he struggled with the delicate intersection of a foggy memory and the construction of several white boards. 

But Tim’s a good sport and, thankfully for us, he’s passionate about our work. “Yesterday, with the method fresh in my head, we were able to build two signboards perfectly,” he says, a little triumphant. “Real quick, real plumb, real straight. It was great to brush up on an old skill set and it was a little bit of a challenge for me.” Tim explains that he worked the Arundel Work Day with two high school sophomores, teaching them the proper way to use a speed square and to cut lumber. “I walked away feeling good just thinking, yeah! That was pretty cool. It was a good vibe.” 

Before and after photos from an Arundel Elementary work day.

Underneath Tim’s excitement, though, is a concern for our food systems. He speaks with a clarity of conviction about food sourcing in the United States, lamenting that the food we do have—”Grown from God knows where!”—doesn’t provide good choices for a better path to our nutrition. He asks a very important question: If you can’t feed your people, what can you expect? 

Tim’s first project with Each Green Corner involved taming the backyard of an 83-year-old Vietnam vet, named Henry Smalls. Armed with a chainsaw and, later, some boy scouts, Tim cleared Henry’s land, which he described as a jungle that extended to a nearby creek. For Henry, EGC’s volunteer team provides conversation, yard maintenance, and easy access to food. It allows Henry to connect to his community through his garden and shows that everyone has a role to play in giving back and caring for our surroundings.  Thinking back on it, Tim realizes that it was his first project with Each Green Corner and the one that made him want to stay: “I said I really like all of these people. I will continue to volunteer with them. Because, you know, during a pandemic, it’s a little bit risky being out there gardening and constructing, but you’re doing great work.”

Tim’s stories teach us that not only is sharing food communal, but so is the act of growing our food: across generations, all of us can teach each other, learn together, and join one another as we care for our environment. Community leaders like Tim actualize our mission and ensure that everyone benefits one way or another. Thank you so much Tim!  

Caption: “Trimming a tree in San Carlos. It’s my best side!” — Tim Ryan

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