Center to Host Symposium on Local Lessons, Local Foods, and Community

3/1/12 ASHLAND, OH -- A local Amish farmer and Christopher Norman, executive director of Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, Ohio, will explore the role of local food in building a strong community, on Tuesday March 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Ronk Lecture Hall in Ashland University’s Schar College of Education.


The presentation, part of the 2012 “Creating a Caring Community” Symposium, is sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University and is free and open to the public. A book signing and a question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.  


Christopher Norman, executive director of Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, will provide an overview of one of the oldest local food education resources in the region. He will explore why some religious groups address environmental health, especially sustainable agriculture. A discussion of Crown Point’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and environmental education programming will focus on the challenges and opportunities that re-building the local food system present.  


Norman’s presentation, “Dirty Nuns and Guerilla Gardening!” explores the motives some religious groups have in addressing environmental health, especially sustainable agriculture.  


The second speaker is a local Amish farmer, naturalist, and writer. He and his family farm 120 acres and operate a 40-cow organic dairy near Mt. Hope, Ohio. He is the author of three books and is an editor for “Farming Magazine.” He will explore the benefits of a local food economy in an address titled “Who is Your Farmer?” 


They will be addressing such topics as food deserts, food security, and the fundamental role of local foods and farmers in building up our community. 


“The program will help the community explore how it builds community by way of local foods,” according to John Stratton, executive director of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. “The ways that food is grown, produced, cooked and eaten can build health in the soil, the individual, the family, and the community, or it can do violence to them.”


A sustainable local food economy directly connects consumers, farmers, local businesses and institutions. With more than $15 billion spent on food each year in Northeast Ohio, there is an enormous potential to connect the emerging local food economy with new economic opportunities and an overall improvement of quality of life. How can food localization comprehensively address nutrition and health, economic development, ecological sustainability, and community vitality? 


Locally raised foods, found in places such a farmer’s markets, co-operatives and some restaurants, solve many problems. Local foods are neighborly, connecting people with the gardeners and farmers who are growing their food. They are fresh and more nutritious, especially if they have been raised organically, and they taste good.  They are “food secure”: every product can be traced to the grower. 


Awareness of the growing practices assures the consumer that the food is safe to eat and that farmers have taken good care of the soil, their crops and their livestock. Buying directly assures that the farmer makes sufficient and fair money to assure that unhealthy short-cuts will not be taken. Finally, local foods encourage food independence. Rather than relying on the “global market,” people are encouraged to seek local sources of food, grow their own, and preserve it. 


The Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University, located on the AU campus, is committed to exploring and promoting alternatives to violence in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.  The center explores and promotes finding choices when there seem to be none, as well as answering the seemingly unanswerable question, “What else can we do?” 


For more information about this event, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, please call 419-289-5313 or visit the website at  


Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.


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