Bekky, CFI’s Donation Station & Discovery Kitchen Coordinator, shares a day in the life at CFI: “I knew it was going to another long night as the produce started piling up around my table at the Chesterhill Produce Auction. But the good thing about being surrounded by tons of produce is that it attracts a lot of attention. Just from someone asking me a few questions about the Donation Station, I was able to procure 19 watermelons. And that wasn’t all. A man stopped by and was asking me questions about how we operate and where our food goes. After giving him my spiel I learned that he was there with his young son and that it was a great feat that his kid was finally there, having had no interest in a produce auction. But after seeing all of the large pumpkins and other produce the boy became enchanted. His dad told him that if he wanted a pumpkin than he would have to bid for it. He won! The boy was so proud that his dad was unable to convince him to donate one of his pumpkins to us. Instead, as it was getting close to closing time a bright eyed, blonde haired boy waltzes up to me and asks, “Bekky do you take checks?” I said, “Why yes, we do.” and congratulated him on his big buys. After this experience the young boy wants to come back and what an amazing experience it is for him to have and to be there supporting the local food economy and sharing the harvest through the CFI Donation Station.”
The Annual Community Food Initiatives Spring Membership Celebration is just around the corner on Saturday, May 18th, and that means three things-a delicious potluck meal is your near future, it’s time to renew your CFI membership, and CFI is on the lookout for new Board Members! This event features live music, a presentation from CFI Executive Director, Mary Nally, and giving thanks to our community, board of directors and CFI members for twenty years of supporting a local food system. Everyone is invited to bring a potluck dish to share!
CFI is a membership-based non-profit with a mission to support a local food system that ensures access to fresh healthy food for everyone in the region. CFI manages community gardens, supports school gardens and runs the Donation Station that collects and distributes food from the Athens Farmers Market and Chesterhill Produce Auction to area food pantries and social service agencies. Individuals can join CFI for $25 annually, and receive e-newsletters, free entry to garden and culinary workshops, community garden plot options, and voting privileges to lead the direction of the organization.
CFI board members are elected by the CFI membership at the Annual Membership Celebration. Each board member serves a two year term, attends a monthly board meeting and participates in committee work. Board members enjoy the benefits of contributing to the mission and vision of the organization, making new relationships and gaining professional experience. The Board of Directors provide guidance, oversight and evaluation of the organization, the program areas, and the Executive Director. Each board member brings their own skills, experience and interests and CFI strives to have a board that helps us deepen our connection with the community we serve, and build our efforts sustainably. “Besides the enjoyment of working with some great board members,” says current board member Lee Gregg, “being on the CFI board has given me the satisfaction of helping CFI provide people with the means for greater food security by establishing community gardens, encouraging more backyard gardening, and promoting healthier lifestyles through gardening and eating more produce.” If you, or someone you know, is interested, complete the CFI Board Recommendation Form and return it to CFI before May 18th.
Annual CFI Spring Membership Celebration
Saturday, May 18th 5pm-7pm
The Plains United Methodist Church
3 N. Plains Rd. The Plains, OH
*Bring a Potluck Dish to Share!
It’s official: Community Food Initiatives has published a Seed Saving Guide! Purchase your copy online now! Soon to be available in Athens stores soon. A great user-friendly guide, this book really takes the mystery out of saving your own seeds. Check it out!
Wild Chickweed, grows in patches and can provide much substance. It is one of the hardiest greens, even growing in the winter. It produces a small star shaped flower in the spring. This is where it gets its scientific name Stellaria media. It gets its common name from people feeding it to birds. It grows in patches, intertwined and viney at the base. Many people pull this “weed” from their gardens but it is multifunctional in keeping away insects, is edible and medicinal. Chickweed can be found in many different habitats, but is mainly found in the back yard. It grows from anywhere from 2 to 20 cm high. The leaves are ½ inch long by ¼ inch wide succulent oval and egg shaped. Every night the flowers close up and open in the morning. The flowers bloom in March till autumn they are white star-like flowers. Chickweeds is very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, can be added to salads or cooked, tasting somewhat like spinach. This tea is very medicinal. It can be used to relieve constipation, as a diuretic, as an antihistamine, and to treat rheumatic pains, wounds and ulcers. It can also be used to make tea. So if you do pull these so-called weeds out of your garden plot, make sure to find use for them!
Mary Seymour is a CFI Intern and Hocking College Ecotourism Adventure Travel Student
The cold weather often leads to sneezing and coughing. I really enjoy a warm cup of tea when it’s snowing outside. Like Winter Cress, White Pine is also very high in Vitamin C as well as Vitamin A. There is four to five times the amount of Vitamin C in a cup white pine tea as there is in orange juice!
The White Pine, Pinus Strobus, is the only pine with bundles of needles in five. An easy way to remember this is that there are five letters in the word WHITE. It’s given the name White Pine for the sticky and fragrant resin that turns white at the end of the needles in late Winter/early Spring. These pine needles are what you use to make the tea. White Pine needles are not the only useful part of this evergreen tree. You can also use the inner bark, twigs, and pitch of the White Pine.
Native Americans use white pine as one of their primary medicinal plants. The bark has often been used as an expectorant, helping with coughing, sore throat, bronchitis, and internal chest pains. Some tribes hammer the inner bark into a paste and apply it to ulcers, wounds, and sores. The resin can be chewed on like gum, to treat kidney disorders, helping with increasing menstrual flow, and even just for bad breath. The resin was also sometimes smeared on the body for pneumonia, rheumatism, and muscle soreness. CFI recommends consulting with a certified herbalist or medical practitioner before using these methods yourself without proper training.
For step by step instructions for making some of this deliciously medicinal tea check out this website: http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/pineneedletea.html
Mary Seymour is a CFI Intern and Hocking College Ecotourism Adventure Travel Student
CFI is excited to be offering a whole series of workshops related to seed saving, starting and more in addition to our seed swaps this year! Check out the calendar of events for details, and watch us on WOUB’s News Watch program talking about why it’s never to soon to start planning your garden!
There are many foods in the wilderness that require no care in growing; finding them is the tricky part. Wintercress, Barbarea vulgaris, is one food that grows even during the winter months. This little plant provides great nutrition for our bodies in winter through early spring. Common Wintercress is high in vitamin a and vitamin c. Because of its high amounts of vitamin c it was used medicinally to help prevent scurvy in the past. It’s easy to find and abundant here in Athens Ohio. Wintercress grows in moist soil so generally it can be found in moist forests, meadows, and along stream banks. As with any wild foods try to avoid picking plants close to roads because they may have been exposed to gas fumes, or run off from the road. This plant grows between 1 and 2 feet. Its leaves are similar to that of a dandelion. It has 2 types of leaves, base leaves and stem leaves. The stem leaves look a little more rounded the base leaves which are elongated. The bundles of little bright yellow flowers atop the stem are a sign that the leaves are getting bitterer. Many people will only eat the leaves until the plant starts to bud because of the bitterness. Part of the mustard family, Wintercress has a tangy, peppery taste when it’s young and gets more bitter the older the plant gets. For a less pungent taste, boil it a few times in fresh water to lighten the flavor. The flower buds themselves may be boiled and eaten as well. There are some delicious recipe ideas at http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/foraging/Wintercress.php for Wintercress. I hope you enjoy and happy hunting!
Mary Seymour is a CFI Intern and Hocking College Ecotourism Adventure Travel Student
Community Food Initiatives represents Ohio as one of 51 finalists in the running to earn $50,000 for a community project that will increase access to healthy fresh foods for food pantries, and offer cooking and nutrition classes to food pantry patrons. Through a public vote at www.Facebook.com/TomsofMaine now through October 9th, local residents can help bring the funding to Athens County with the simple click of a mouse.
The “50 States for Good” program seeks to uncover local nonprofit groups that address urgent community needs and engage volunteers to get the work done. Community Food Initiatives’ project “Fresh Eats: Discovery Kitchen” plans to increase access to fresh foods and teach cooking and nutrition skills among food pantry patrons. If CFI wins, The Donation Station, an existing Community Food Initiatives (CFI) program that distributes fresh local food from the Athens Farmers Market and area gardeners to food pantries and social service agencies, will expand to offer more support services to increase the ability of food pantries and agencies to offer more fresh food to their patrons. Additionally, cooking and nutrition classes will be offered for their patrons using the USDA My Plate model to increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“It is our firm belief at Community Food Initiatives, that everyone deserves access to fresh and healthy food,” says Mary Nally, CFI Executive Director. “The Tom’s of Maine funding will help advance the Donation Station and new Discovery Kitchen program. We now look to our community to help build the support needed to bring this funding to Athens County, Ohio.”
Non-profits from each state were selected by an independent panel of judges for the “50 States for Good” program. The public vote will determine six winning organizations to share $150,000 in funding from Tom’s of Maine. The organization with the most public support will receive $50,000, while the five additional organizations will each receive $20,000. Members of the public vote by going to www.Facebook.com/TomsofMaine. Each person can vote once per day until October 9th.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a CFI sponsored workshop at Greenfire Farm in New Marshfield. Though I had heard about a number of intriguing CFI workshops in the past, this one was the first I had managed to attend. The morning workshop was about solar cooking, a topic I had been meaning to indulge for a while now (anything to avoid heating up the house in the summer). This workshop was part of a day of learning and conversation, fed by everyone’s fascination with solar cooking, a strange new greenhouse design, and the concept of a global intentional community network.
In a moment before the solar oven demo, I watched as one participant tied two pine boughs to the frame of the greenhouse that was to be erected after lunch. “Do you know about two pines?” he asked. Twin pines are a symbol of mutual cooperation, an intentional relationship between people and the earth, and a partnership between people working toward a common vision. I was quite pleased with the intentionality behind this project; the spirit out of which it was born and through which it was being realized. The earnestness of the cooperative effort resonated with me in that moment. Meanwhile, a few friends of Greenfire were inside skyping intentional communities all over the world. What an amazing project, I thought, realizing the multiple scales of the vision we are working to actualize.
After the solar oven demo, we gathered for lunch, which was mostly oven-cooked, though the overcast sky had managed to heat up a bean and rice casserole (it had heated up to 225 degrees over the course of the morning). It was the type of gathering that generated all kinds of inspiring conversation; as one woman put it: “A lot happens in Athens over potlucks.”
Attending workshops like this inspire me in many ways. First, I learn about amazing projects that I can replicate. Actually seeing a solar oven, and talking to someone about the process of making one, where to get the materials, what designs work best, etc., brings the project further into the realm of possibility. I gain knowledge from such a demonstration, but more importantly, I gain support. This sense of being supported arises from the network of visionaries in this town and the growing interest in cooperatively actualizing something amazing for our community. The potential for collaboration and synergy is unbearably exciting.
For me, the workshop ended in a strange sort of dreaminess. I was not feeling well and was going to head home, but decided to stay for a while longer and see what this bubble machine was all about. Before I knew it, a giant pile of bubbles had formed in front of me. Soon the wind picked up, and broke off pieces of the bubble mass. Some tumbled down the hill dreamily, others were launched into the sky, floating like clouds.
I left with a sweet sense of having created something, together with the others at the workshop. I could barely escape conversation long enough to make a break for the car. But I love to be drawn into fascinating conversation, which I think is really co-creation. How better to get your vision out of your head and into the world than sharing it with others; how better to share the world with others by coming together to actualize a magnificent vision.
Essay and Photos by Eden Kinkaid, CFI Intern
This is the second installment of our series looking behind the scenes of the Donation Station, investigating where all the local food from the Athens Farmers Market and area community gardeners goes when it is distributed to area pantries and social service agencies. Under the microscope this time is Athens County Children Services’ Peanut Butter & Jelly Project.
As stated on the ACCS website, “Trimble, Coolville, Amesville, The Plains, and Chauncey Elementary Schools are among the poorest in the state. Over 65% of the students in these districts qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch. During the summer months, these children lose this much-needed subsidy. The Peanut Butter & Jelly Project aims to provide children with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the Trimble, Federal Hocking, and Athens City schools that are served by Athens County Children Services’ School Outreach Workers.”
This year, Donation Station fresh local foods were available to the families as well. Over the course of the summer, families were served over 500 times, providing food for over 1600 children in Athens County!
I tagged along with Diane Stock, School Outreach Worker at The Plains Elementary, during PB & J distribution one Friday recently. Parents and their children came in cars, on foot and on bicycle to receive much needed healthy food to help their families get through the summer.
The children were especially excited to see fresh peaches and apples, an instant snack.
Parents put together bags of produce, choosing corn, potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes. “All this will be eaten up within a week, my kids love vegetables,” stated one mother as she loaded up her car.
Diane chatted with the families about services available for getting school supplies and upcoming events for kids. The atmosphere was gleeful as everyone rummaged through the food, Diane offering chilled Snowville Creamery milk from coolers, and children running around under foot. One family had their dog tag along, and we all learned that even canines have a taste for fresh local food!
The Donation Station and Athens County Children Services make a great team, helping combat hunger and building community through healthy local food, one cherry tomato at a time!