From community farm to family tables in Seattle

By Krista Van Tassel
November 13th, 2012

Carrie WolterI’m thrilled to introduce our Environmental Forum readers to Carrie Wolter, an amazing colleague who leads our Green Team for the Puget Sound (Seattle) area. Carrie is a Vice President within the Wells Fargo Team Member Philanthropy group and leads our company’s annual Community Support Campaign. Originally from Iowa, Carrie started her career with Wells Fargo 17 years ago this month!

She moved to Seattle a few years ago, and is an active member of her local community and an environmental leader in the workplace. Carrie loves the Pacific Northwest and is an avid hiker and runner. She also enjoys getting her hands a little dirty in the soil as you’ll soon learn as she shares her experience working on an urban farm that supplies food to local food banks. (—KVT)

After more than 80 days of mostly sunny and dry weather throughout the summer and fall months, Friday, Oct. 12, served as a reminder that yes, this is Seattle, and in Seattle it rains.

Nevertheless, 15 team members from the Wells Fargo Green Team Puget Sound—as well as a couple of family members and friends—put on our rain jackets and boots and spent a fulfilling day volunteering at the Seattle University Urban Farm to help harvest produce and then donate it to a local food bank!

This was the first time team members volunteered at the farm since Wells Fargo awarded $100,000 to Seattle University (SU) and its Environmental Studies Program in November 2011. This grant helped fund the development of the farm on an unused parcel of a wastewater treatment site in Renton, Wash.—an innovative urban agriculture project partnership between King County Wastewater Treatment Division and SU. From the beginning, it was also decided that all produce would support local food banks.

Wells Fargo volunteers harvest hundreds of pounds of produce at Seattle University's Urban Farm on Oct. 12 that was delivered directly to a local food bank in Renton, Wash., later that day.SU’s Environmental Studies Program began partnering with King County on this project in the fall of 2010. Aside from its emphasis on producing local, organic food to support food banks, the program was designed to focus on using resources recovered from the wastewater treatment process, specifically bio-solids compost and reclaimed water, for sustainable agriculture. And with the benefit of the Wells Fargo $100,000 grant, the project was able to expand its educational, environmental, and community benefits.

The grant to SU came through our National Environmental Grant Program, which supports environmental nonprofits, universities, and clean technology incubator programs. The goal is to help break down barriers to progress in renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable agriculture— three areas of great significance to our national economy, quality of life, and business. Grants range from $25,000 to $500,000. To learn more about Wells Fargo’s environmental grant programs and other initiatives please visit our website.

At the end of our day at the farm, we drove over as a team to a local food bank in Renton and donated approximately 400 pounds of freshly picked organic strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs to feed the most vulnerable and financially-challenged families in the region.

It was an amazing feeling to know this organic produce—created by an innovative public/private partnership, as well our grant dollars and volunteer support from Wells Fargo—will ultimately help individuals and families have healthy fruits and vegetables to take home to their table.

Several Wells Fargo Puget Sound team members—as well as friends and family—spent a fulfilling day volunteering at the Seattle University Urban Farm on Oct. 12.Those of us from the Green Team who were at the farm agreed that we will definitely return in the spring to get our hands dirty again in the rich soil to help SU plant for the next harvest.

And yes, rain coats and boots will be in tow.

Krista Van Tassel

Krista Van Tassel

As Community and Team Member Engagement manager for Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs Team, Krista supports the company’s 70+ Green Teams, recognizing and promoting environmental innovator best practices, and engaging and educating team members about their role in helping the company’s sustainability efforts. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities’ $3 million annual nonprofit grant program focused on helping make long-term sustainable economic investments in local communities where its customers and 264,000 team members work and live. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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