November is Local Food Month— Groups put focus on food resiliency
- Published: November 19, 2015
In Athens, Ohio, the Athens Food Venture Center serves about 65 food-based businesses yearly, providing shared commercial equipment and consulting advice that allows entreprenuers to develop new products without the usual financial burden. The center helps boost the local economy by promoting business development and also reduces Athens’ carbon footprint by increasing local food products.
The impact of that center on Athens, and the potential for a similar food center in Yellow Springs, will be the focus of a talk this Saturday, Nov. 14, at 4 p.m. at McGregor 113 on the Antioch College campus. Speaking will be Leslie Schaller, the director of programming for the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, or ACEnet, which includes the food center. She will address, “Reinventing Our Local Food Economies to Create Opportunities for All.”
The program is the first in a series of events this month focused on local food, and presented by a coalition of local environmental and community groups that aim to provide education around climate change issues. The effort is called Yellow Springs Grows Together: Local Food Month.
Everyone eats, and most care about doing right by the environment, but many don’t understand the impact on the environment of the choices they make around food, according to Susan Jennings, executive director of Community Solutions, one of the event’s co-sponsors. So organizers hope to both educate the public on climate change and build a resilient local food network, she said.
“Food is a way that people step into the climate conversation,” she said in a recent interview.
Other food month events are a screening of the film “Fresh” at the Little Art Theatre at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15. Following the film, several villagers will present information on steps they are taking to create local food resilience at a workshop at the Yellow Springs Library at 3 p.m. Topics will include constructing hoop houses, raising chickens, raising tilapia and preserving food.
And later in the week, a panel and community dialogue on Climate Change and Food Security takes place on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. at McGregor 113 on the Antioch campus. Panelists include Amalie Lipstreu, Bob Brecha and Krista Magaw. All events are free.
The programs are the first in a series of monthlong events to help educate villagers to the challenges presented by climate change. In January, the focus will be how villagers can step up efforts to reduce waste; in February, saving energy in the home; in March, ways to use the sharing economy; in April, renewable energy; and in May, transportation.
“This is a community-wide conversation,” Jennings said.
Aside from Community Solutions, other event co-sponsors are Glen Helen, the Yellow Springs Resiliency Network, Zero Waste Yellow Springs, the Green Environmental Coalition, Antioch College, the Village of Yellow Springs, Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, Home, Inc., Antioch University Midwest, the Little Art Theatre, the Yellow Springs public schools, the Yellow Springs Environmental Commission, the Yellow Springs Energy Board, the Yellow Springs Interfaith group and Rails to Trails.The events are funded by the Yellow Springs Community Foundation.
Organizers for the food month events are Macy Reynolds, Maureen Dawn, Peggy Nestor, Nadia Malarkey and Al Schlueter.
Gardening brought Reynolds, a master gardener, into the climate change conversation, she said recently. Over the years she’s seen significant changes that appear linked to global warming, including longer growing seasons and more dramatic climate events such as droughts and floods.
“It’s been pretty drastic,” she said. “There are some natural swings in climate, but when you see so many, you start to ask why.”
Many people don’t realize that about 50 percent of the carbon impact nationally is linked to food and agriculture, Jennings said.
“We all eat, and the choices we make have a high impact on our carbon footprint,” she said.
In many ways, Yellow Springs stacks up well regarding local food options, according to Jennings and Reynolds. The village has three farmers’ markets in summer and one in winter, and three community-supported agriculture, or CSA, farms.
Yet villagers could do more. Local CSAs could use more business, Jennings said, and more villagers could garden. They are also eager to hear more about the Athens Food Venture Center, a model that could both boost the local economy and reduce the local carbon footprint.
Organizers hope the November events raise local awareness on how the village could become more resilient regarding raising and producing its food.
“We won’t always be able to depend on full grocery shelves,” Jennings said. “The systems we depend on now are fragile.”
Climate change offers the potential for both crisis and opportunity, she believes, especially regarding opportunities for new businesses along with an enhanced sense of community.
“We need to be thinking about how to be resilient as neighbors,” she said.