The Joy in Fresh Food
What is home? For Rosie Miller, home is the Oakland house she grew up in near Chinatown--the house she was raised in by her mother, and the same house she lives in today.
Her home is dripping with memories. Rosie describes it as a place of solitude and comfort, and the place where she cared for her mother during her mother’s final years.
But home is also Rosie’s community. Neighbors are often greeted by Rosie with a cheerful “Good morning!” as Rosie rounds the block to clear gutters of cigarette butts and wrappers--a ritual she finds equally therapeutic and tiresome. When Rosie reflects on her life and her connection to Mandela Partners, her tone gets lighter as she shares, “Mandela Partners invested in me by sharing food through the CSA Program. I found myself looking forward to my box--something fresh, colorful, and gay. I had something to cook!”
"What a difference your box can deliver."
Rosie is referring to Mandela Partners’ Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. Mandela’s CSA Program was started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic when its community produce stands shut down.
Mandela Partners offers a CSA donation program for limited-resourced residents, in addition to its retail CSA for customers with the means to pay. Like many residents, the pandemic came with many hurdles that Rosie couldn’t have possibly planned for. Rosie has chronic asthma, in addition to having hives and allergies.
“My lungs are so compromised that COVID could get me,” says Rosie. Even though Rosie was grateful for any canned food donations, eating fresh food again was a joy.
Rosie remembers when she found out about Mandela Partners’ CSA donation program.
“I was just scrolling through NextDoor,” states Rosie. “When I saw Mandela Partners [CSA Program], I loved that [Mandela Partners] was supporting the local farmers and helping to protect the land.”
That same week, Rosie met Nina Arrocena, Food Access Program Manager at Mandela Partners, who delivered Rosie’s first produce box. “Nina is my good fairy!” Rosie grins, “She brought me watermelon and strawberries, and things I would have never thought to buy. I got to eat whole and nutritious food again; I hadn’t experienced that in years.”
Each Friday, Rosie looks forward to receiving her CSA box, calling it her special gift box to open with anticipation. She confides, “It came at a really hard time and gave me a lift each time.”
Rosie now considers herself a food systems advocate.
“We’ve lost so much California agri-land to business and housing,” says Rosie.
Rosie composts and grows collards, lemons, onions and apples; and appreciates the effort it takes to plant, grow, pick, pack and distribute quality produce. Rosie notes that she feels much better since she’s started eating unprocessed fresh food, and a lot of that food goes straight into juicing.
“My energy is better so I’m more active and absolutely healthier,” mentions Rosie. “What a difference your box can deliver…God bless your successful efforts supporting the Earth, small farmers, and spreading health.”