March Challenge: Dispose of the disposable cup habit

It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world – Chaos Theory

We don’t often think of coffee and butterflies simultaneously, but for this month’s sustainability challenge, let’s make small shifts in thinking and small changes in actions – like thinking twice about the use of disposable cups. Tiny changes you make do make a difference. If millions of people make those tiny changes, the butterfly effect will help us reverse the environmental damage we have created, and we will have a cleaner healthier planet for our children and grandchildren.

Drink your morning cup of tea or coffee as if it were the first time in your life. Enjoy the smell of the roasted coffee being ground or the fresh-mown hay smell of the tea. Hold your cup, your favorite cup, the one that is made of clay, the one with the broken handle that allows you to warm your whole hand when you hold it, the one that says “World’s Best Dad”, the clear glass cup, the high-tech one, or the dainty grandmother cup on the daisy plate.   Sit down and sip, slowly, aware of the beautiful event that this is, every morning and every day.

And if you must travel with your coffee enjoy that too, but use a travel mug instead of disposable. The use of these disposable cups creates a typhoon of environmental consequences.  Billions of cups are tossed annually. And let’s see what it takes to make cups: Millions of trees, billions of gallons of water and the energy to power 50 to 100 thousand homes.   Every four paper cups equals one pound of CO2 emissions.  The number estimates vary between data sources, but we can agree the numbers are staggering. And coffee cups are hard to recycle, because they are often coated in plastic resin.

It might seem far away but choosing to enjoy your coffee in a reusable cup will keep the fluttering wings of beautiful, rare and pollinator butterflies in the coffee forests alive and well.

You can also visit us on Facebook and share your photos on instagram, when you catch yourself doing good. And please remember to tag us in your post!

Monica Bongue-Bartlesman, Ph.D.

P.S. If you missed our last two challenges, you can still participate and it’s easy to catch up! In January, we challenged our supporters to think about food waste. In February, we focused on using reusable bags while shopping.



Changing weather is simple, and it’s that hard

March, muddy March, a bridge between winter and spring. Green things start popping out of the soil and the urge to go out and dig in the mud becomes irresistible.
Spring comes far too soon, before we have had a chance to rest our bodies and spirit in the winter quiet.  We’re often pivoting between the depths of Winter and the start of Spring.
Tonight I will cook a comforting soup using the butternut squashes harvested last fall and the new spring onions popping out through the snow. Like farmers, they are defiant and fearless – knowing that it is only a few more weeks when we will be basking in the sun and enjoying the spring rains.
One of our high tunnels blew in the strong winds two days ago. While the plastic was flapping in the wind the herb, vegetable and flower seedlings kept growing undisturbed by the commotion in the greenhouse next to the now empty ground.
We protect our peppers seeds from the critters that like to eat them, put our chickens away at night, play with the kitty and keep on coming to the farm. We keep planting little seeds in trays, mulching our new strawberry field, measuring fields, planning, hoping, like farmers always hope, for the promise of spring.
This growing season will not blow us away like a high tunnel in the wind, we have the support of our volunteers and members that anchor our organization.
Thank you for being a part of the foundation that sustains us.

Love from the Farm & Strawberries

I like the saying “Don’t buy Food from Strangers.”
We feel your friendship when you make it out to the farm and talk to us. We work the soil and plant the plants, and you eat our food. How cool is that? We are connected through the nourishment that our land provides us.
Our relationship is uncommon to be sure.  We write to you, extend invitations to on-farm events, share recipes, photos, concerns, thoughts and happenings. We want you to feel nourished, included and connected to your food. At Crown Point Ecology Center, we believe the care of our earth, of our community and our own bodies and spirit are all one and the same.  People don’t often think of farmers as innovators and leaders – but we are, and so are you!

Roni Pasi, Farm Manager, plants strawberries on an unseasonably warm February day.

We hope that with every CSA pick-up you will experience more than the beautiful colors and fresh taste of our produce. Crown Point food is grown with love and care, and we put a little bit of that into every carrot, every lettuce. Our commitment even extends to each little bird that flies over our fields. We hope you are indeed healthier and happier knowing the people who grew your food did it with loving intention. We feel providing you with our harvest share is more than a sale, it is a partnership.   We are grateful to have people like you appreciate who we are and what we are offering.  Thank You!

This week, we are welcoming old and new members to sign up for our 2017 growing season CSA shares. If you did not already save your spot, you can do so now by following this link to easily sign-up on line.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, and remember that you will receive a beautiful, all natural, canvas market bag as a hearty thank you.
Thank you for partnering with us for a successful growing season,
Monica Bartlesman-Bongue, PhD.
Executive Director
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help.  Gardening is an instrument of grace.” 
May Sarton

February Challenge: Remember your reusable bags

If I told you there was a big problem that you could easily help fix, would you do it?  Of course you would!


You’ve seen them gently skipping on the streets, caught in bushes, and fluttering in trees on a windy day. Plastic shopping bags, are an eyesore and a nuisance.  Used on average for 12 minutes, they clog our drains and our landfills for thousands of years. They are a danger to marine species including various turtles, porpoises and seabirds,  and are often found in their stomachs. Plastic bags have been sarcastically christened the “national flower” in many African countries because of their prevalence in bushes and trees.

The statistics on plastic bag use are staggering. According to the Earth Policy Institute a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year worldwide. In the USA alone, almost one plastic bag passes the hands of every person each day.  The production of plastic bags requires the use of billions of pounds of fossil fuels, billions of gallons of fresh water and results in billions of pounds of solid waste and millions of tons of CO2 every year.
Fortunately, this is one area of environmental concern that is easy to fix.  All we have to do is remember to bring our cloth or recycled reusable bags when you shop. You can even reuse the thin produce bags for a few times. I leave those inside my cloth bags so I always have them with me.

Make February 2017 the month you start re-committing to reduce plastic bags in your home, work and community. As a special thank you for helping us protect the planet, Crown Point will provide a reusable tote bag (like the one pictured on the right) to anyone who registers for their CSA share by February 24th, 2017 – which also happens to be National CSA Day!

Register now for 2017 CSA + FREE TOTE

You can also visit us on Facebook and share your photos on instagram, when you catch yourself doing good. Use the hashtag #CPSustainabilityChallenge or tag us in your post!

Monica Bongue-Bartlesman, Ph.D.

There is no such thing as “away”.  When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.  -Annie Leonard

January Sustainability Challenge: Zero Food Waste

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world? – Anne Frank

As part of our mission to support ecological stewardship in northeast Ohio and beyond, Crown Point’s new Executive Director, Dr. Monica Bongue-Bartlesman, Ph.D., will offer a monthly challenge with tips and suggestions for how to take better care of ourselves and the planet. This year’s first resolution takes a look at simple things we can each do to reduce food waste.

Throwing food away is a matter of conscience. As a culture, Americans are incredibly wasteful when it comes to food. According to a 2004 study from the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson, on average, American households waste 14 percent of their food purchases,  that includes products still within their expiration date but never opened.

Timothy Jones, who led the study, estimates that an average family of four currently tosses out $590 per year, just in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products. Nationwide, Jones says, household food waste adds up to $43 billion, making it a serious economic problem.

To put this in perspective: 5% of Americans’ leftovers could feed 4 million people for 1 day. Can you live without producing food trash?  Will you challenge yourself to do better in the new year? There are a few simple things we can do to generate much less waste.

Examine your trash bin.  I find that most of the trash in my bin comes from food packaging and it is mostly plastic.  Take a look at what you throw away and see if you can find a better option. One of the options is to buy less.  In spite of (or just for the pleasure of embarrassing your children or friends) put the apples and oranges you buy in a re-useable plastic grocery bag. Place them right in your cart, or carry them inside your cloth shopping bags.  Make a big deal of letting others in the store know that you are using REUSABLE produce bags.  Display your re-usable organic burlap shopping bags at the register with great enthusiasm. Some stores will even make a donation or give a discount for people who bring their own bags.

Get Creative. We all love those plastic containers that our salad mixes come in, and I have learned that greens do keep better in those plastic boxes. Yes, it’s also very convenient.  So challenge yourself to find a use for the boxes. I sometimes use them to store stuff that might leak in the fridge, for storage of other things, or as little mini greenhouse seed starter containers.  Be creative, if you can’t avoid the packaging re-purpose it.   As a last option, recycle the packaging, but keep in mind that a lot of our “recycled” plastic still ends up in a landfill.

Fresh is best. The ultimate way to eliminate food packaging is to grow your own vegetables or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture program. Participants in Crown Point’s organic CSA program, pick up their veggies straight from the farm, fresh and without any packaging. Find out more here.

Cook at home.  You can compost vegetable trimmings from preparing the meal. Buy enough ingredients to have leftovers (this means less packaging), which will also save you some time on busy weeknights.  A compost bin right in the kitchen is very handy.

Once you start thinking about food waste, there are often unexpected benefits, beyond the landfill. Being mindful of how you consume food and thinking about how you plan meals (including the clean up) will also lead to improved health and a lower shopping bill.