As you may know, this year RVF2S has two FoodCorps members, one returning and one new. Karen Tassinari is not new to Southern Oregon, or RVF2S, but she is the new FoodCorps member for this school year. Karen was born and raised in Massachusetts and ventured to Southern Oregon seven years ago. After attending herbal medicine school in New York state, Karen was deciding whether she wanted to go far east to Maine or journey west for a 10 week internship in Williams, Oregon where she had friends from herbal school. Lucky for us, she got the internship! Little did she know that it would lead to a fruitful life in Southern Oregon for years to come.
Karen began working with RVF2S in 2012 doing after school garden programs and later working at farm camp, all the while working the occasional Harvest Meal as needed. She was working at the Ashland Food Co-op before jumping into her current FoodCorps position.
Karen likes the laughter and joy children bring to everything they see and touch, “kids make really spot on observations that adults miss because we’re moving a little too fast sometimes”. One of Karen’s favorite jobs was working as a field guide hiking and camping with students at Malakoff Diggins State Park－ site of the largest hydraulic gold mine in California. These hikes help the kids connect with nature. They see how destructive gold mining is to the surrounding habitat while also experiencing the environment’s resilience in the ways it’s growing back and restoring itself.
Karen’s skills and passion drive her work toward education, caring for the environment, and cultivating bounty to serve people. Currently, Karen is embracing the opportunity to work with students and develop her skill sets as a garden educator through FoodCorps.
Karen educates at Phoenix High School with the farm to school class and FFA students in their Agriculture class. She is also at Sams Valley Elementary working with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders where she gardens with over 120 students within a couple hours, amazing! The goal at Sams Valley this year is to produce most of the food for their cafeteria salad bar. They’re working on crop rotation and production. Karen also teaches at Ashland Middle School with the culinary arts teacher and garden inc., an elective gardening class.
Backpacking in the Trinity Mountains is her favorite place to be. Along with fermenting and preserving food she also loves river-time adventures. Karen recommends The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman if you’re looking for a good read!