Rhianna Costiloe (pronouns: Rhianna/They/She/We) is Elk Run Farm’s AmeriCorps Summer VISTA Associate Service Member through the Harvest VISTA program. They’re at Elk Run Farm for 10 weeks, during the farm’s peak harvest season, alongside five high school students in the Summer Internship program. Together this group gets to learn about critical aspects of the farm that support it in supplying produce to the local food banks. We have each demonstrated a wish to further develop our horticulture skills, understand the workings of what it takes to be involved with a nonprofit farm, and how to be activists for food justice.
This is Rhianna’s first AmeriCorps position. A year ago Rhianna realized they’re a nomad, and needed to find ways to support a transient lifestyle. They’re starting out with a 10 week summer VISTA position to immerse themselves in how AmeriCorps can be a fruitful experience for them. Because they’ve enjoyed this Summer VISTA Associate position so much, they’re considering whether they can make a “career” out of shorter term AmeriCorps positions, while learning about social systems, and organizations passionate about sustainability and justice.
Through recent university experiences, Rhianna was able to become more versed in aspects of food security and sustainable agriculture, so she was interested in being part of a program that worked outdoors, in direct support of the community. Elk Run Farm is a food bank farm situated on 4 acres of former golf course, amidst residential neighborhoods in Maple Valley, Washington. The farm is passionate about no-till practices, satiating pollinators, on top of feeding our diverse community in a sustainable, and responsive way.
Working on a farm interested Rhianna, as she hopes to have a homestead in the future. Already she is learning so much about the care of plants through seeding, transplanting, direct seeding, as well as tending to different plant and soil needs around irrigation, harvesting, and crop rotation. In addition to working with plants, Rhianna is also able to utilize her handy-person skills and drive to support the farm through site maintenance and various aesthetic and functional projects that allow the farm to operate more efficiently.