January Sustainability Challenge: Food for Thought

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.

Simple Gifts that Keep on Giving

We’re all searching for the perfect gift that will surprise and delight our loved ones on Christmas morning, something he or she will enjoy all year long. This year, Crown Point has you covered with a gift you’ve never given before.

gift-certificate-one

Through our unique CSA gift-giving program, you can now purchase a whole or half share in our Crown Point CSA program for someone you love. With the gift certificate you purchase, friends and family members will enjoy 20 weeks of fresh, organic vegetables during the spring/summer growing season.

And you can rest easy this holiday season, knowing that our certified organic produce is grown with love on a farm that supports permaculture, environmental conservation and biodiversity – all things you can’t buy in a store.

Whole CSA shares are $700 and Half Shares are just $350. This amounts to just less than $20-$35 per week for a fresh supply of organic produce, much less than you (or your loved one) would pay in a grocery store. Crown Point membership also qualifies you to receive a 10% discount on the share prices listed above!

How does it work? file_001

  1. Purchase a gift certificate redeemable for a CSA share for family members or friends.
  2. Shareholder (certificate recipient) registers online and makes arrangements to pick up vegetable at Crown Point Ecology Center when the spring/summer harvest begins.
  3. Produce pick up begins the third week of May and continues for 20 consecutive weeks.
  4. It’s that easy. Now relax and have a wonderful holiday!

 

 

Contact us by email (info@crownpt.org) or call 330-668-8992 for more information about purchasing a CSA gift certificate. Thank  you for supporting Crown Point Ecology Center with your holiday giving!

 

Asia, Inc & Crown Point Ecology Center: Free Range Summer Fun

asia-inc-imageDuring the long days of summer, parents everywhere are looking for ways to keep their children busy and engaged. Crown Point Ecology Center’s Farm & Science Camp has done just that for hundreds of youth in the greater-Akron community for over twenty years. This summer, however, there was a group of children whose parents and teachers were especially happy to see them running through our acres of woods, harvesting vegetables and preparing fresh recipes.

With a little bit of creativity and collaboration from Theresa Beyerle, Chair of Crown Point’s Board of Directors, and Kim Helms, a Program Coordinator for the non-profit Asia, Inc., a group of refugee students were able to enjoy a week of outdoor exploration and fun during the first week of August. Asia, Inc. (Asian Services in Action) is an organization committed to empower and advocate on behalf of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including those who have come to northeast Ohio seeking a permanent home after displacement from their native country.

According to Ms. Helms, one of the primary challenges that keeps students in the Asia, Inc. ESL (English as a Second Language) program from participating in many activities is a lack of transportation. Once Theresa realized this, she accessed funding for a van and over twenty children were able to experience the joys of summer camp, most of them for the very first time.

Because of language barriers and cultural differences, Kim explained that Asia, Inc. staff members often have to provide extra support to their students on these type of excursions, which can sometimes get in the way of children fully engaging in an activity with other adults. But she was pleased to say that Crown Point’s experienced educators jumped right in, and the Asia, Inc. chaperones were able to step back and enjoy watching the children learn and play.

Favorite activities included visiting the pond, learning about bee-keeping and like many crown point visitors – they loved the chickens! Each day, the eager campers headed for the coop on arrival with a morning greeting, and later before loading into the van for home, each child made a point to “say goodbye” to their feathered friends. One student has already arranged a return visit, with the help of a neighbor who offered to bring her back with her family.

Following the success of this partnership week, and a very sunny camping season, the staff of Crown Point is eagerly anticipating future opportunities to engage with our extended community. This includes a variety of workshops, events and meeting space for group visits throughout the year.  To learn more, about getting involved, you can view our event calendar online or contact us by email at info@crownpt.org.