Friday, April 30, 2010

The Spirit of Sustainability - Session 2

MultiFaith Council of N.W. Ohio

This evening’s session focused on the Earth Charter principle of Ecological Integrity. Heifer International has its organizational beginnings during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s. Church of the Brethren member, Dan West, organized the first attempts to address the agricultural devastation from that war. West’s organization became The Heifer Project whose focus was to send agricultural livestock to areas of the world that needed them. Now, Heifer International focuses on Sustainable Agriculture including the livestock donations. Interested people can find more information at Heifer International.

Heifer International’s video “Make A Difference” was the featured video presentation this evening. Several people interviewed for this program came from different walks of life but all dedicated to making the world a little better by doing things locally. Sustainable agriculture, community development and public health promotion were a few of the topics presented in this presentation.

Heifer International – Make A Difference

Some discussions that we’ve encountered led us to believe that people’s thoughts on sustainability were only about gardening…solar energy…and driving less. Dr. John Ikert, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics University of Missouri probably sums up the personal attitudes toward the sustainability model of life. John brings with his presentation a certain fire that speaks to the core issue of individual’s approach to sustainability. If interested in hearing his other presentations, you can Google his name and check out his recorded videos.

John Ikerd on Ethics, Responsibility and Purpose

Ms. Vickie Gallagher, Master Gardener

Our live guest speaker featured Ms. Vickie Gallagher, Master Gardener, of the 577 Foundation. Vickie shared the original vision of N.W. Ohio philanthropist Mrs. Virginia Stranahan in converting her Perrysburg, Oh property into a sustainable and organic garden laboratory. The 577 Foundation gives educational programs on gardening, pottery and also has an extensive lending library for members and guests. Gallagher spoke about her passion of growing nutritious food and implied that there was a social cost for the cheap food we are now offered in grocery stores.

Listen to Vickie's audio presentation here

Program Attendee Task Responses

The following are the program participant’s answers to the 3 group discussion questions that followed the presentations.

1.) What things or issues about today’s presentations were most memorable / eye-opening / inspirational?

Being introduced to the Heifer Project and their programs was an inspiration. The 577 Foundation featured a good integration of gardening and beauty. A renewed interest in the “Victory Gardens” program which was made popular during the Second World War. Toledo Grows and their sponsorship of Square Foot Gardens. Interesting to learn about the 577 Foundation and the many facets of educational programs for the community. The materials being presented give one a realization of the importance to grow food. The video of people making a difference went very well with Vickie Gallagher’s 577 Foundation presentation and the exploration of organic gardening. What was most inspiring was people having a vision and acting on that vision. The importance of transferring knowledge to the next generation.

2.) Looking at today’s topic, what do you consider to be the opportunities for our N.W.Ohio locality?

Teaching children to garden, cook and enjoy the food that they prepare is just one opportunity for N.W. Ohio. There are also opportunities to spread the world about the programs at the 577 Foundation. Opportunities exist to expand the number of Farmer’s Markets. Presently, governments subsidize the beef industry – opportunities could exist to change the subsidy model to include vegetables. Because of the agricultural chemicals destroying the soil, there are opportunities to develop plans to save the soil. There is a concern about the population loosing the knowledge of simple agriculture. Opportunities could exist to develop urban classes on gardening and small scale agriculture.

3.) What are the programs you would like to see to address those opportunities?

Develop specialized training and education in public schools and faith communities with horticulture emphasis. Partner with other communities to diversify local agricultural products. Work with existing and potential Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups to promote a community co-operative and provide mutual support. We need to work together, to know each other and to slow down our pace of life.

MultiFaith Council of N.W. Ohio

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