Nafisa’s Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles 4

Nafisa Tabassum wraps up her time with Onondaga Earth Corps.

I was very conflicted to end my time at Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC), but moving forward was the right decision for me. My last working for OEC … sometimes when it is a last week of a job or an experience, it can go by in the blink an eye and leave you breathless wondering, where did the time go? Or, it can go on forever, dragging day by day through each of the motions until finally it’s over.

This week was not like either of those instances. It was not too fast or too slow; everything happened in its own time and pace. I spent the majority of the week pruning trees and getting caught in multiple much-needed scattered thunderstorms.

My last day had to have been the most bittersweet. OEC Founder Eli MacDonald made the most beautiful and delicious cheesecake–it was an honor to get to try this specialty of his! I spent half the day at the Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden, which is part of the Rahma Health Clinic in Syracuase. This clinic provides free healthcare services offered by doctors who volunteer, often on weekends.

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Nafisa’s Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles: Chapter 3

The Rain Garden in James Pass Arboretum, in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood of Syracuse. Photo by Nafisa Tabassum
Nafisa Tabbasum:
As a Crew Leader for Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC), my responsibilities include directly supervising a small crew of young adults in either pruning or green infrastructure. In that capacity, and as a learner myself, I bounced around participating in many different projects this past week.

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Nafisa’s Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles: Chapter 2

Mid-summer harvesting at Salt City Harvest Farm in Kirkville, New York, where New Americans can grow crops from their family cultures. Photo by Nafisa Tabassum
Nafisa Tabassum:
Most of the week of July 13 was spent working at home because of a potential COVID-19 exposure, but fortunately I was back in the field by the end of the week. While I couldn’t spend much time in the field, I had several days to work on my AmeriCorps leadership project. As an AmeriCorps member, I must complete a set amount of hours doing direct service, such as pruning trees or tending green infrastructure. I am also responsible for completing a leadership project, which has to serve the community, Onondaga Earth Corps, or both.

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Nafisa’s Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles: Chapter 1

Onondaga Earth Corps Crew Member Nesha waters a quaking aspen. Though it may be hotter than hot, one nice thing about working solo outdoors is the ability to get breaks in the day from mask wearing.

Nafisa Tabassum’s OEC Chronicles Begins 

Last week was one of 90+ degree days. Trees are in desperate need of water and rain gardens are in need of love. This past week, I worked on the Green Infrastructure crew led by Taj Martin and Meqdad Ali. We hit several rain gardens in Syracuse, including the garden at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Comfort Tyler Park, and Percy Hughes Elementary School.

Generally, urban greenspace maintenance is collecting any trash from the site and removing unwanted plants that may compete with the species of plants that were deliberately planted. Rain gardens are a depressed area in the landscape that collects rain water and allows it to soak into the ground. Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, they are a beautiful way to reduce runoff!

All of the weed plants we remove are recorded as volume of cubic yards. This information is then inputted into a report that gets sent to Onondaga County and is used to monitor the health of rain gardens all across the City of Syracuse.

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Nafisa Tabassum: Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles

We are excited to be following the progress of former student ambassador to NY ReLeaf, Nafisa Tabassum, who at the time of ReLeaf was working as an urban forest technician with Syracuse City Arborist Steve Harris. Nafisa earned her degree in Sustainable Energy Management from SUNY-ESF in 2019. She attended ESF Ranger School as part of her education, and she delivered the 2019 Commencement Address to her peers. Nafisa will be writing the Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles for us this summer.