Dominican Life | USA

Advertise on
Home | Sisters | Associates| Friars | Laity | Nuns | Link to Groups | World OP | DLC
Coming Events

Being Dominican
Preachers Resources
Justice and Peace
Faith and Film
Groups and Organizations
Latin America

Free Update

Can't open PDF format files? Click on the link below and download the latest Adobe Reader. It is safe and secure and free. Really.
Dominican Sisters of Akron:
Crown Point Ecology Center

Peppered with purpose

Bath ground not your ordinary community garden

Mary Beth Breckenridge
Beacon Journal

The gardeners involved in Crown Point Ecology Center's Community Supported Agriculture program believe in caring for the earth.

George Jakubiak of Barberton is on his way to picking a peck of not pickled but definitely pictured peppers at the Crown Point Ecology Center.
(photo:Lew Stamp / Akron Beacon Journal)

They also believe in caring for their neighbors. So the food they grow is not only divided among themselves, but also shared with people in need.

The program involves members of the community in growing and harvesting food using sustainable agriculture methods -- organic methods aimed at nurturing the soil as well as the plants, said Sister Joanne Buckman, director of the Bath Township center. The participants take home part of what they grow, and a portion is sold at the Countryside Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings at Heritage Farms in Peninsula.

In addition, the program donates part of its yield to Plant a Row for the Hungry, a hunger-relief effort sponsored by the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and the Beacon Journal.

The program's food bank donation has ranged from 35 percent to 50 percent of its crop, which usually amounts to about 15,000 pounds a year, Sister Buckman said. Last year's donation, however, was twice that total. ``We had a real bumper crop,'' she said with a smile.

Buying a share

The Community Supported Agriculture program grew out of a desire to support the food bank, said Crown Point's harvest manager, Beth Knorr. In 1997 the ecology center, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron, started a test plot of about an acre specifically to grow organic produce for the hunger agency, she said.

Crown Point quickly realized it would need income to keep such a program operating, however. So a year later, it invited the public to become involved, and the Community Supported Agriculture program was born.

Participants pay to be part of the program and share in the labor, and in return receive enough food each week during the harvest season to feed a family of four. Each participating family buys a share, the price of which depends on its level of participation, Sister Buckman said.

A standard share, which next year will cost $600, requires one three-hour shift of work per season. A working share will cost $500 and requires 20 hours of work, and a barter share will cost $50 and requires about 40 hours. Barter shares, however, are limited to people with agricultural skills who are chosen by Crown Point, Sister Buckman said.

The shares are so popular, she said, that the waiting list is long. Single people sometimes split a share, since the vegetables they take home are more than they can eat in a week.

Weekly bounty

On a recent harvest day, plastic crates lining shelves in Crown Point's 1910 barn held freshly picked vegetables, including carrots with their green tops still attached and tomatoes in a variety of shapes and colors. A chalkboard listed the weekly bounty that awaited each member: carrots, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, summer squash, eggplant, potatoes, sweet onions, tomatoes, tomatillos and several types of peppers.

Barberton resident George Jakubiak worked in the barn, weighing carrots that had been harvested that morning. He doesn't have room for a garden where he lives, he said, so the program lets him spend time outdoors and engage in what he called ``purposeful exercise.''

Jakubiak, 76, grew up in a family of six children in the Depression and said he appreciates the value of the food he helps to grow. Although he has only half a working share, the food he takes home is still too much for just him, so he shares with neighbors and others.

For Chris Lally, the program is a way of saving money while being able to feed her family the organic produce she values. Lally, of Northfield Center Township, has a barter share and works at Crown Point just about every Friday.

Her daughter, Emma, 4, sometimes accompanies her, and Lally said she likes being able to show her where vegetables come from.

She also appreciates knowing her labor benefits charity. ``I like the fact that I can give to the food bank without dipping into our funds,'' which she said have been more limited since she quit work to stay at home with her daughter.

Teaching tool

Today 10 acres are dedicated to Crown Point's sustainable agriculture program, which includes the Community Supported Agriculture effort. Crown Point rotates its crops, so about six of those acres are used for producing food in any given year, and the rest are planted with cover crops that replenish the nutrients in the soil.

The program isn't intended to benefit just those who enjoy its bounty, however. Crown Point's sustainable agriculture program is also used as a teaching tool, Sister Buckman said, in the hope that the ecological methods it uses will spread elsewhere. Every year, one or two apprentices works with the program to learn those methods and then carry them on to other places, she said.

The program supports Crown Point's commitment to what she called a triple bottom line economy, one that puts importance on people and the planet as well as on profit.

That's a concept she hopes Crown Point's gardens will help to grow.

Related Links

Dominican Sisters of Akron

Home | Contact Us | DLC
Dominican Life | USA is sponsored by the Dominican Leadership Conference,
the networking organization for elected leaders in the USA.
Dominican Life | USA © 2002-
2007, All Rights Reserved
Web Editor: Anne Lythgoe, OP

Since the time of St Dominic, more than 800 years ago, Dominicans have been living and sharing
the message of the Gospel. Today thousands of sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates,
and laity serve in more than 100 countries around the globe
subscribe to Dominican Life | USA and receive a free email update every two weeks. Unsubscribe