FINAL PROJECT – LOCAL FOOD RESOURCES AND OWU
Introduction and Revised Project:
The initial plan for the formation for this project was based upon improving current physical infrastructure here at Ohio Wesleyan University to provide clean, healthy, and cheap food to students with any surplus being used to alleviate local instances of hunger. Over the course of the semester the core ideas of the projects have changed and shifted with the resources available and the contacts that were made with various individuals. Thus, the idea of community garden has changed from a singular instance of increased physical infrastructure and employment for students to something more expansive. I have begun focusing on working with a forming food web centered at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio (MTSO). Delaware County has the potential, via the social and physical infrastructure located nearby, to have a highly integrated and effective food web. Ohio Wesleyan can be a node on that web. Campus can be turned into a drop-off point for local produce and be a stage for strengthening the community through interaction.
All of this is inspired by a new contact with the idea of the Slow Food Movement from Chris Fink. Much of this movement is concerned with knowing from where and from whom one’s food is coming from and also the impact of food production and waste on various other aspects of life. Slow Food is about knowledge and awareness: knowing how to get good, healthy food and then knowing how to cook it.
Using the knowledge I have gathered in the last few months, the new goal of the project is three-fold then:
- First: to integrate Ohio Wesleyan into MTSO’s current Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program (By end of next semester)
- Second: to raise food awareness in Delaware via a “DISCO SOUP”
- third: to supply supplemental produce to the MTSO CSA via an expanded Ohio Wesleyan Student Garden (By next Fall Semester)
Ultimately, my initial project is more than useful in achieving the end goal of this revised edition. Perhaps having the assistance from other students, with separate groups focusing on each section, would be the most productive way to approach such a project. Each section of the project is intrinsically linked, but they are rather separate in the skill sets required.
MTSO uses a CSA program to provide fresh produce to its members. A basic CSA works as such:
- At the beginning of the growing season, a farm sells various “shares” of the product individuals. Those who purchase shares are share-holders or members.
- At the each of each week within the growing season, the farm divides all the produce up equally into the total number of share. The produce provided is based upon growing season and other factors.
- The farmer meets the share-holders at a drop off point and passed out the shares
Through CSA’s, risk is spread out amongst the members and farmer. Some weeks a member can get a lot of food, some weeks they may not. The food provided from a CSA is typically substantially cheaper than at a local supermarket and
The Methodist Theological School of Ohio:
I had to the ability to venture out to MTSO in late October and view their farm, which has seemed to have sprung up overnight. The well-developed grounds were built in late 2013 as part of an overall initiative at MTSO to become more sustainable and ecologically friendly. The farm is integrated into MTSO’s 80 acre campus almost seamlessly, and is an organic venture. The farm is composed of fields, 3 x 96ft raised beds (with 6ft high hoops), and two large 50 x 96ft high hoops to extend the growing season.
This entire development was funded by a combination of school capital and a grant from Nestle. As of my visit, the farm had already paid for itself and was consistently running in the black.
Besides providing all the produce for MTSO’s dining, MTSO currently has around a 45 member CSA program. From speaking to Kelsey and Noel, two of the apprentices serving out their year contracts at MTSO, many of the CSA members are from Columbus or are associated with MTSO as students or faculty. The CSA is not a “drop-off” style. Instead of having trucks of food that stop at “pick-up” locations and meet the CSA members, MTSO has a central location in which the members stop once a week to grab their shares. Also, MTSO has an “open” share system. They lay out their food in pre-portioned amounts and members pick and choose what they would like in their share that week based upon personal taste and availability.
This system is useful, but has its drawbacks. Most importantly, it does not allow MTSO to “get into the community” of Delaware as well as a physical truck would allow. Providing Ohio Wesleyan as a foothold into the community is a key goal of my project next semester. Integrating Ohio Wesleyan into the MTSO CSA through some sort of system with Chartwells (possible food points to buy shares?) will be in the works.
I will be carrying work on this project forward into next semester. I hope to receive help from a fellow of any sorts.
CONTACT ME IF INTERESTED!
MID SEMESTER: Project Proposal