When I first applied for the FEWS Summer Team Impact Project, I never would have guessed that I would be doing my work remotely and meeting with my peers and project leaders over WebEx. The FEWS Summer Team Impact Project examines the interconnectedness of food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) in rural Rapidan, located in Culpeper County, VA and finding solutions to FEWS problems in the area. The location for this project was chosen for many reasons, one of which being that Rapidan is relatively close to Fairfax. This made it possible for the team members to be able to go to the project location and see the farms, observe the flooding of the Rapidan River, and speak directly with the community members. Of course, this did not happen due to COVID-19. However, the FEWS team did not let this alter the main goals of the project.
The FEWS Project shifted gears. Now, instead of in-person interviews, we have been meeting with dozens of farmers, community leaders, and community members online. On a positive note, it has allowed us to interview many more people than expected, because working remotely has increased the flexibility of many people’s schedules. Our enthusiasm for this project has certainly not been stifled by COVID-19, as we have been able to meet virtually with so many locals of Rapidan and Culpeper County and deepen our understanding of the various issues they have been facing. Flooding is a prominent issue for many community members. Obesity and adverse health effects of malnutrition are two more prominent issues. I could go on and on about the multifaceted issues that community members of Rapidan have faced, but our project is still ongoing and every day we learn more about the negatives and positives of being a resident of Rapidan. Our hopes for this project remain the same during COVID-19: that we can find solutions for Rapidan residents and work to solve the issues relating to food, energy, and water systems in their town.