Eden Flourishes in Urban Gardens

April Pandora, Eden Urban Gardens

April Pandora, Eden Urban Gardens

I had the opportunity to sit down with April Pandora of Eden Urban Gardens. April chose to begin an urban garden following a vision from God guiding her toward it. She left her health field career of 15 years to follow her calling. Having no formal experience in farming, April enrolled part-time in the sustainable agriculture program at Cincinnati State. Seeking a formal education was important to April as it served as a demonstration of the commitment she had to urban farming. While enrolled, she picked up jobs at other local farms to gain hands on experience, in addition to help pay for her schooling. Working on rural farms, April realized that an urban farm/garden had different and unique needs.

April’s vision for an urban garden went without a proper name until it came to her during a meditation session. The word Eden came to her, as it is the first garden referenced in Genesis. In 2016, with three hand tools and a vision, Eden Urban Garden first began in Pleasant Ridge, now fondly referred to as “Field A”. Later, “Field B: was started as a leased space in Spring Grove. With the dependency farmers’ have on the land, April decided that owning the land would allow her to put down more roots, both literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, buying the current leased plot was not an option. Subsequently, April begin what ended up being a two-year search for a permanent location. She needed the new location to be within 15 minutes of the existing Pleasant Ridge location to maintain efficiency, sustainability, and to be able to continue to serve the communities she was already vested in. The search was much more difficult than expected with many deals falling through, running into many hurdles regarding locality regulations, and urban land prices hindering her purchasing power. At last, she found a piece of land in Avondale coming up for auction. April attended with an exact budget in place, and after back taxes, court fees, and the cost of water hydrant installation-Eden Garden’s new location was realized.

Although the land procurement was daunting, April’s ever-positive outlook on the Cincinnati community influenced her to help others following the same path. Through her experiences of securing land and her experience of partnering with various neighborhood and city organizations, she has begun creating a report aimed to benefit future urban farms. April, along with other like-minded organizations that she worked with along the way, discovered gray areas that needed to be defined to help urban farmers succeed in Cincinnati. Her report will help fill in the gaps for all parties moving forward. April’s creation of an urban garden was important to her as it fosters a direct relationship of residential communities to their food source.

Because the gardens are in residential areas, Eden Urban Garden is not able to sell on site. April does not perceive this as a negative, as she loves the idea of Eden Urban Garden being a silent green neighbor that supports the community. An important factor to choosing the location was to increase access of quality foods to neighbors that lacked in the resource. Customer service and community engagement are critical facets of the business for April. While visiting the new location, April greeted neighbors by name, and relished in the sharing of stories and explaining the business to those as they stopped by.

The majority of Eden Urban Garden (EUG) products are sold directly to consumers within the immediate communities. EUG offers a Healthy Bounty Bag CSA Share, in which Shareholders receive their deliveries directly to their door. A vast variety of herbs, leafy vegetables, non-leafy vegetables, and fruits are grown and offered by EUG. In addition to the assortment offered by Eden Urban Garden, they also partner with other local farmers to offer additional products. Produce, houseplants, and non-food items such as catnip toys from EUG can be purchased at two farmers’ markets within Cincinnati: Pleasant Ridge Tailgate and Norwood Market. Furthermore, April works with Local Food Connection to distribute to restaurants. As for the future, April plans to offer fruit from newly planted cherry, peach trees, and berry bushes. A non-food product that April is particularly excited about offering in the future is pussy willow from her family’s third-generation tree.

April describes the experience of creating and maintaining the urban garden as challenging, but the rewards and benefits highly exceed the challenges. She credits her successes to having faith, patience, persistence, and to a lot of hard work. April is currently working to have the Eden Urban Garden USDA organic certified and to expand her land. For now, it seems that the future opportunities for EUG and April are endless.

Check out Urban Eden Gardens on Facebook


Haley Shutter moved to the Cincinnati area from southern Wisconsin, near Madison with her husband Chase. Professionally, she has worked as a director of a childcare center, developing the nutrition and children’s garden programs. She is currently working toward her graduate degree in Public Health Education and Promotion at the University of Cincinnati. Haley also works at a local brewery coordinating charitable contributions and events. Her passions and hobbies include: gardening, cooking, and traveling.

Dreaming of Weeds in Winter

As a kid I used to wander the empty fields of my south Florida neighborhood, the bible according to Euell Gibbons in hand. His book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, was my first field guide to a life-long love of foraging.

The native flora of southern Ohio offers plenty of edibles, such as wild ramps, a delicacy similar to leeks, pawpaws, spicebush berries, and fiddleheads of ferns. But I’ve made an ethical choice not to harvest plants from the delicate forest understory. Too much of the land has been trampled and intruded upon by us humans, and I’d rather turn to less imperiled areas already disturbed by human activity. (I’ll make an exception for fruits, since that doesn’t remove the whole plant: if I can do so without causing damage, I’ll harvest things like pawpaws or wild plums.) In short, I choose to eat weeds. There’s a botanical name for these plants: ruderals. The label refers to hardy species able to colonize disturbed ground – whether farmed fields or “waste” places. Many of the ruderals were introduced by immigrants over the centuries, who brought with them plants from their Old World homes.

Whether maligned for growing as weeds in cultivated fields, or simply overlooked because they grow in vacant spaces, the following plants are abundant enough to provide staple greens throughout the growing season, and provide ample nutrition for anyone with the time to harvest. They are there for the taking, freeing you from the time needed for sowing and thinning and weeding the more familiar garden greens. The following handful of species can serve as a practical foundation and an easy entry to foraging for wild foods. A simple Internet search will turn up loads of information; here I’ll give a brief intro to each.

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, superhero of the weed world, starts off the growing season. The presence of “officinalis” or “officinale” in its Latin species name attests to its long standing value in the European apothecary. The too-often maligned dandelion is considered by some a superfood, with very high levels of vitamin A, as well as a great source of vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, antioxidants and minerals. As one of the first plants brought to the New World by Eurpoeans, iIt should be a staple in everyone’s diet. Leaves can be harvested early in the season when they are small, as bitterness increase quickly as the plants grow. You can blanch the leaves by covering plants with a layer of mulch or cardboard, or an overturned bucket. And the flowers make a delicious veggie burger, where flour and egg help to bind the bulk of yellow flowers together. I make a batch or two in the spring and store in the freezer, then pan fry throughout the year.

Chickweed, Stellaria media,

Chickweed, Stellaria media,

Another late winter/early spring offering to look forward to is Chickweed, Stellaria media, an introduced species that grows in clumps just about everywhere its seeds fall. I've seen it growing around telephone poles, along houses, and it can carpet the ground in my garden. This plant is one of the earliest to appear at the end of winter, and eaten raw it is a restorative shot of chlorophyll after a long winter. You can mix it into salads, or lightly steam it, or put it through the juicer. It has a somewhat grassy taste to my palate, so I prefer it mixed with other raw greens. Like dandelion this plant has medicinal uses as well. It’s valued as a part of Japan’s traditional Festival of Seven Herbs, celebrated on January 7.

A bit later in the season the following three plants appear and their greens will be available until the end of the growing season.

Redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus

Redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus

Redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus, is one of the many species of wild amaranth native in the Americas. Though native, it was not so commonly found until agriculture spread across North America, as it loves to grow in disturbed fields. Agricultural extension offices consider this plant a noxious weed. Its unfortunate name masks the fact of its high nutritional value and excellent flavor. I remember a Jamaican neighbor dancing with delight when she learned of this plant growing in my garden. She said it was the veggie used to make the traditional Jamaican dish, calaloo. I provided her with bags of it. It can be used as a substitute for spinach in any dish, and, like spinach, pigweed has oxalic acid in its leaves and should be cooked. Imagine if instead of trying to eradicate pigweed in favor of their cultivated crop, the farmers harvested it for market! It cooks up like spinach, becoming tender within a few minutes. I call this summer spinach because it’s super available when cool-weather-loving spinach’s growing season has ended.

Purslane, Portulaca oleracea

Purslane, Portulaca oleracea

Another plant that’s easily found and easily established in one’s garden is Purslane, Portulaca oleracea - a low creeping, shallow-rooted succulent that will reseed itself from year to year. This native to the Mediterranean regions is in the cuisines as widespread as Turkey, Russia, India, north Africa, Mediterranean Europe, Mexico. The fleshy leaves and stems are excellent either raw or cooked. In addition to its high levels of vitamin C and minerals, it has high amounts of essential fatty acids and antioxidants. I like to munch on freshly picked purslane while working in the garden, and it’s also great sautéed and pickled. A Google search will produce numerous international recipes for preparing it.

Lambs quarter, Chenopodium album

Lambs quarter, Chenopodium album

Last but far from least is Lambs quarter, Chenopodium album. This highly adaptable ruderal is thought to have been native to Europe but is now naturalized globally and valued. It’s related to spinach and beets and can be used as a spinach substitute. The leaves are more substantial than those of pigweed, so they're appealing to munch on raw. But they cook up quickly to a spinach-like texture and are excellent just steamed with a bit of butter. They make a great spinach substitute in a Korean spinach salad, a fabulous Indian saag, and a delectable spanakopita. The best thing about Lambs quarter is that it provides a generous ongoing harvest of leaves throughout the season. While most gardeners have to coddle their spinach, and then enjoy only while temperatures remain cool, lambs quarter is readily available with no fuss. In fact, I don’t bother to grow or purchase spinach knowing that I can depend upon this plant reseeding itself annually in my yard and garden beds.

An easy way to guarantee a supply of these foods is to get some seed and establish them around your yard. Dedicate some space for weeds, and you’ll have an easy supply of greens most of the year. Once established, they’ll return reliably year after year.

A good resource to learn more:

The Wander School by Abby Artemisia
Wildcrafting, Wild Foods, Asheville, Celo, Burnsville, Edible Food, Medicinal Plants, Botany, Plant Walks, Abby Artemisia


Karen Arnett is a former freight pilot and weather forecaster who loves to observe the natural world. She is a beekeeper and gardener and besides helping with the CORV Guide, she’s on the planning team for the Midwest Native Plant Society’s annual conference. She also helps plant trees in her community.

A Preview of the Upcoming 2018 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Cincinnati


Cincinnati will host the 9th Annual 2018 National Farm to Cafeteria conference April 25-27 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. The conference, organized by the National Farm to School Network, will offer speakers, smaller group informative sessions, in-depth short courses, and regional field trips. The event is a collective of innovators who have done the research and laid the groundwork for creating programs that benefit children, farmers, and communities throughout the country and worldwide.

Two main organizations, The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and Ohio Farm to School, are working on this conference. As a non-profit organization, NFSN, advocates and serves as a central hub of information for the local food movement throughout the country. The organization provides nutrition education to communities and encourages the relationships necessary for local food procurement. The many attributes of NFSN including innovative leadership, networking opportunities, and compilation of information have helped to create school gardens, agriculture education, and locally produced food to cafeteria programs in over 42,000 schools nation-wide. This organization recognizes the civic importance of food, and has been an invaluable advocate for the movement.

Ohio Farm to School (farmtoschool.osu.edu) is a program through Ohio State University Extension. Ohio Farm to School provides our region knowledge and support regarding nutrition, agriculture and the connection to the community within Ohio. The OSU Farm to School program provides resources to preschool to college institutions by aiding in connecting key resources in our communities to create strong and lasting partnerships throughout Ohio. The National Farm to School Network and OSU Farm to School, along with other organizations have joined forces to propel the Farm to School movement.


While the focus of the conference may appear to be farm to school, the information is applicable to nearly every institution concerned with the health and wellbeing of its community. It will be a great opportunity for public health professionals, teachers, school administers, food service workers, farmers, and parents interested in advocating for the health of our communities to network and collaborate. Topics and considerations of everything from farms and gardens to institutions throughout communities will be presented.

Calling all Ohioans! Wednesday, April 25 3-8pm a pre-conference event will be hosted by OSU Ohio Farm to School and InFACT (Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation) focusing specifically on farm to cafeteria within Ohio. Topics will include achievements, opportunities, challenges, and government policy concerning farm to school in Ohio. A dinner highlighting the bounty of Ohio will be included in the pre-conference. It will be a chance to have significant and progressive discussions regarding the advancement opportunities in our area.


There is an abundance of workshops and short courses presented Thursday and Friday throughout the day. Sessions will provide a how-to of securing government funding, strengthening local food chains, and creating viable and effective programs. Conference sessions will include information on equity in food access, government policy, integration of farm to school into classroom curricula, and how to form collective partnerships. Additionally, there will be presentations on examining the efficacy of programs through data collection, food ethics, and racial equity in food systems. Basically, the sessions and short-courses offer the proven toolkit to create socially responsible, sustainable and successful programs.  


On Friday choose from an array of field trips throughout the area. An outing with OSU extension will detail research into the nutritional aspects of local foods. At Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden, you can explore a successful urban garden program. Le Soup offers the experience to visit an area non-profit combating the issue of food waste in Cincinnati (Check out our annual printed CORV (eatlocalcorv.org) guide in April for an in-depth look into food waste). There are also several opportunities to visit area farm to cafeteria programs, production farms and gardens, and other integral partners in the local food chain.


For those of us who value and understand the importance of supporting the health and wellbeing of our community, this is an amazing chance to gather insight from pioneers in the local food movement. The Ohio River Valley region has the natural resources and vibrant community necessary to propel the local food to institution movement, and the conference affords the opportunity to further existing programs, and create new ones.

For more information and to register for the conference visit:



Haley Shutter recently moved to the Cincinnati area from southern Wisconsin, near Madison with her husband Chase.  Professionally, she has worked as a director of a childcare center, developing the nutrition and children’s garden programs.  She enjoys volunteering for the leadership board of Granny’s Garden School in Loveland, OH.  Her passions and hobbies include: gardening, cooking, and traveling.

Navigating a New Local

Navigating a New Local

As my husband and I begin a new adventure in the Cincinnati area, I have found myself
navigating in search of tasty local foods, restaurants, and artisans. In my former life, near Madison, Wisconsin, I was already established as a known patron and locavore. I had a vast knowledge of area growers, dined at restaurants where the chefs were my friends, and knew where to purchase the best of the best at the market for my Sunday dinner. Now as I immerse myself into the Central Ohio River Valley culture, I am in search of those same local greats in my food selections and dining experiences.

Food Mapping the Nati!

Food Mapping the Nati!

First lets talk about why Food Mapping is important. This exercise helps participants understand their local food webs, or food environment. Maps are tools, baselines that can show improvements over time on a wide array of issues including areas in need and areas of privilege. Food mapping tells a story of how the physical environment intersects with the lived experience of food access.

What’s Sustainability Got to do With It?

The pages of this Food Guide are filled with lists of producers from our local foodshed. People support these businesses and farms for many reasons such as they value a local food economy and care about their own health. Some people also choose to eat within their foodshed because they support farming practices that strive to be ecologically sustainable. Which brings up some good questions -- What does it mean to be sustainable? Even more specifically, what does it mean to be ecologically sustainable? What does food have to do with the environment and why is this definition important?  

Two of the primary ways we interact with the natural world are by farming the land and eating the food it produces. As our human population has increased, so has our impact on the planet, where now 40% of the Earth’s land surface is used to grow food. Defining sustainability in terms of food provides a framework of understanding how our food choices impact the wider ecology of the planet. And yet, it can be joked that if you take a room of 500 people and ask them to define sustainability, you will get 500 different answers! This highlights the challenge of a widely-used term where ambiguity can lead to confusion or even misrepresentation. Furthermore, in discussing ecological sustainability two other important terms need to be explored: sustainable agriculture and multifunctionality. 

At its most basic level, sustainable agriculture supports environmental health, ecosystem services, economic profitability, and social/economic equity. To be more specific, the U.S. Code Title 7, Section 3103 defines sustainable agriculture as an integrated system of plant and animal production that will over the long term satisfy human food/fiber needs, enhance environmental quality and natural resources, efficiently use nonrenewable resources, integrate natural biological cycles where appropriate, sustain economic viability of farms and enhance the quality of life for farmers and the greater society. 


Bringing us back to the topic of local food, the vast majority is produced by small, regional farms and in 2016, small farms made up between 7%-10% of total US food production. Small farms are not automatically more sustainable, but these farmers are typically more committed to land stewardship and their farms tend to be multifunctional, growing different types of food products. Agricultural economist John Ikerd argues that it is the multifunctionality of small farms that makes them sustainable. When a farm raises a variety of animals and crops it more closely mimics the diversity of healthy natural ecosystems and thus operates more sustainably. Large farms are not unsustainable because of their size, but because they are monofunctional, growing only one product and thus out of balance. Ikerd contends that in order to be sustainable, large-scale monocrop farms would need to be divided and operated as multifunctional small farms.

Agriculture is often described in terms of yields, supply, demand and commoditization. Sustainability asks us to consider changing our thinking about the purpose of agriculture. Is maximizing productivity its only goal? Could there be more to this significant intersection of humans and nature? Perhaps the act of farming, of both cultivating and caring for the Earth, is just as important as the outcome. By supporting sustainable agriculture, we can protect the environment, improve economic conditions of farmers and communities, and feed ourselves, while also ensuring the food needs of future generations will be met.

What can you do to support sustainable agriculture?

Buy local food, of course, as consumers have the power to shift the market place. Ideally, when you buy locally-grown food you are investing in multifunctional small farms and thus in sustainable agriculture. Choose new foods that help multifunctional farms thrive as we support their diversity of offerings. Support policies and regulations that promote sustainability in agriculture: for updates on local food policy check out: 


Ikerd, J. (2016). Multifunctional small farms: Essential for agricultural sustainability and global food sovereignty. Livestock Research for Rural Development, 28(11), 1-8.

Owens, J. (2005, December 9). Farming claims over half Earth’s land, new map shows. National Geographic News. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1209_051209_crops_map.html.

Ramsey, J.L. (2015). On not defining sustainability. Journal of Agricultural Environmental Ethics, 28, 1075-1087. doi: 10.1007/s10806-015-9578-3.

Thomson, P.B. (2007). Agricultural sustainability: What it is and what it is not. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 5(1), 5-16.

What is Sustainable Ag? (2016). National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Retrieved from http://sustainableagriculture.net/about-us/what-is-sustainable-ag/


Nicole Gunderman is excited about finding ways to support sustainable agriculture. She is an educator at Gorman Heritage Farm and a graduate student pursuing an MA in Biology. A native Cincinnatian, she lives in Clifton with her husband and son.

It’s Time to Cry Over Spilt Milk and Other Food Loss

No matter our age, gender, education, or career choice, we have one thing in common: we all waste perfectly good food. Have you ever left food you’ve been served on your plate (pizza crust or that last bite of cake)? If you answer no, then give yourself a fist bump! Take a closer look at your eating, cooking, and storing habits and I bet you’ll be surprised by the amount of food you actually dispose of, even with the best of intentions.

As a matter of fact, approximately 40 percent of all food produced in the United States goes to waste (A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent, ReFED 2016). This startling fact, in conjunction with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announced goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent in 15 years, has been the impetus to jump start an educational campaign to prevent wasted food. After all, when food is not eaten nearly all of it goes to the landfill where it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In addition, all of the resources that went into planting, growing, harvesting, transporting, storing, and purchasing the food are squandered as well.


The EPA has developed this Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize action steps we can take to keep food from being wasted. Consequently, the focus of Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District’s educational campaign is the prevention of wasted food as source reduction (reducing the volume of surplus food generated) is the most preferred action.  The food we waste is actually surplus food. If we didn’t waste it, we would have more money or be able to share it and feed more hungry people. In fact, the average family of four spends $1,500 on food they never eat!  

Food Waste_Chicken.jpg

None of us purposely trashes food--we just don’t pay close enough attention to some important details. For instance, we are confused by date labeling, make a huge batch of something and get tired of eating it, prepare food leaving a large amount of edible material behind, eat at a restaurant and the serving-size is too large, or leftovers get lost in our refrigerator. From farm to table, food is lost at each step of the way, with the largest loss occurring in food service and at home. In fact, the food we waste at home accounts for 25 percent of the food we buy. (Source: Bloom, American Wasteland, 187)

What actions can we take to avoid wasting food? These simple steps are a great start:

  1. Begin by taking note of what you are throwing away.
  2. Before shopping, see what’s left in your refrigerator.
  3. Create a weekly meal plan (including dining out).
  4. Shop locally and for seasonal produce. 
  5. Buy “ugly” produce.
  6. Prep ahead:  Smart prep is prep now, eat later.
  7. Create an “eat this first” area of your refrigerator.
  8. Learn to store perishables for longest life. 
  9. Get educated on the fallacy of expiration dates.
  10. Freeze.
  11. Share.

More tips can be found at SavetheFood.com.  

Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District is piloting a Save the Food Campaign with the help of many partners. Perhaps you’ve seen the ads on Facebook or the video “The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry”? Later in the year, we plan to extend our outreach and are developing programming to reach a broader audience. 

Each one of us is a consumer of food and can decide to take control of our purchases. Beyond the home, many other factors need to be addressed to move the dial in the right direction. Gleaning food from the fields after the initial harvest, educating business owners on the donation protection provided by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, or training food service workers on proper handling and prepping are a few other important actions. 

If you are interested in having us set up at your farmers market, would like to participate in a wasted food study or food recovery challenge, or would like to help spread the message, please email SavetheFood@hamilton-co.org


Jenny Lohmann is a Program Specialist focusing on education outreach at Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District. She assisted in planning and development of the region’s first Food Waste Forum and is a devout foodie.

Sowing the Seeds of Good Nutrition: Teaching Children How to Eat with Local Foods

Sowing the Seeds of Good Nutrition: Teaching Children How to Eat with Local Foods

When I work with parents of young children, I often tell them they have to teach their children how to eat just like they teach them how to read or how to ride a bike.  What I am talking about is not how to use a spoon or drink from a cup but how to eat a variety of fresh, minimally processed foods.

I Took the 10% Shift Pledge and So Can You!

This past spring I took the Green Umbrella pledge to shift 10% of my food budget to buying local food. And then I wondered, “What have I done?” I had no idea what my food budget was or what it would entail to fulfill the pledge I was making. Now you may be someone who tracks your weekly spending closely, but I definitely do not, and the prospect of figuring out 10% of my budget felt overwhelming. At the same time, I also needed to select a “Personal Life Change” for a class in my master’s program called Issues in Cincinnati Conservation. This assignment required making a change in my lifestyle and determining the associated ecological benefits. The Green Umbrella 10% Shift Pledge was a perfect fit for this project. I would overcome my budget-tracking resistance and turn this into a learning experience to share with others.

First step: analyzing my food budget. This actually turned out to be simpler than I expected. To get a baseline, I kept all store receipts and tracked which foods were local and which were not for two weeks. This record keeping took a few extra moments after I put my groceries away. At the end of the two weeks I added up the amount I spent on local foods and the amount I spent on non-local foods. Then I figured out what percent of my total food budget was spent on local items. You could do this by entering the amounts in an Excel spreadsheet or just writing two columns on a piece of paper and using a calculator; it doesn’t have to be complicated. And,(drumroll please!) it turned out that 22% of my food budget was spent on local food. What a relief! I already met the 10% shift pledge!

Given my 22% local food baseline, I decided to take the pledge further. If I shifted an additional 10% of my food budget to local food, relative to my current budget, I could set a new goal of 32% local food, and still use this pledge for my school assignment. Which brings us to weeks three and four. For this stage I changed my shopping habits to intentionally increase the amount of local food I purchased. I followed the same process of saving receipts and marking local and non-local items when I got home from the store. Then I added up the columns and found I had increased the percentage I spent on local food to 59% of my budget! Yippee!

Whether you are starting at zero or increasing the percentage in your current food budget, here are some tips on how to reach your local food goal:

Tip #1:

Ask the manager at your regular grocery store to give you a tour of local food items they sell. Ask them to mark these items for other customers as well so that everyone knows. If they find it hard to locate items to show you, mention that you are a regular shopper who would appreciate more locally-sourced options.

Tip #2:

Find a farmers’ market near you by searching the CORV Local Food Locator Map. Add the market’s days of operation to your calendar. Note whether they pause in the winter months or move to an indoor location. There is a farmers’ market within a five-mile drive of my house on every day of the week except Tuesday and Friday. By putting them on my calendar I was reminded to make a trip to the market that day if I needed groceries.

Tip #3:

Buy a share in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Not only does this set you up to meet the 10% Shift Pledge, you’ll get a basket of delicious locally-grown produce every week and support a small farm in your community. Find a CSA .

Tip #4:

Replace some non-local food items you normally buy with local versions. This is easy to do with vegetables in the summer, but year round you can buy local bread, eggs, meats and dairy products. Many small business entrepreneurs are making delicious local packaged foods including snack chips, granola, desserts, fermented veggies and other preserved products like pickles, jams and fruit butters. Look for them at specialty stores, farmers’ markets and ask your grocer to stock them. Specialty stores include: Madison’s Market, Clifton Natural Foods, etc.

Tip #5:

Try new foods. Whether it is a kohlrabi bulb that comes in your CSA or a jar of kimchee made by a local company, trying new foods can be fun. You might even find some new favorites!

Tip #6:

Forego some non-local foods. Perhaps they are not the healthiest choices and you have wanted to move away from them anyway. Maybe they are transported an extra-long distance to get to your grocery and therefore have an extra-large carbon footprint. Be sure to check the label for where the food comes from, and note that this is different from where the distributing company is located. Embrace eating local foods when they are in season and find out how much better they taste than their non-local counterparts flown from distant lands. 

But what do you do if this is too much for your busy lifestyle? If you just don’t have time to track your budget, the Green Umbrella website states if an average family shifts just $12 per week to local food it can meet the 10% shift goal. And, if just 10% of people in Greater Cincinnati shift 10% of their food budget to local food it will result in $52,000,000 infused into the local economy!

Whew! I was able to fulfill the 10% Shift Pledge and it wasn’t that hard after all. These tips helped me meet my goal while improving the quality of my family’s diet, introducing us to new flavors and supporting the local economy. I enjoyed becoming more aware of my food budget and becoming more connected to the people that produce my food. This shift supports my vision of working toward large-scale systemic change in our food production system while I make a small change in my everyday shopping habits. Will you join me in taking The Pledge? Click here to fill out the online form 

Eat Local, Save Energy, Make the World a Better Place.

Eat Local, Save Energy, Make the World a Better Place.

There are many reasons to eat locally grown food. It is fresher, tastes better, healthier for you, and supports regional farmers and the local economy. Another important reason to eat locally grown food is that it saves energy, especially if the food is grown using alternative agro-ecological approaches, such as no-till, organic, biodynamic, restoration agriculture, and permaculture practices. 

Welcome to Talk Local

We are excited to launch our monthly article series starting in July. Our goal is to bring you a wide range of informational, research, persuasive, and opinion pieces related to agriculture and food. We have put together a diverse team of authors, from local chefs and food advocates, to farmers and scholars alike. We also encourage readers to submit their own ideas for possible articles and even responses to what’s been posted. It is our hope that these written pieces will stimulate conversation, informed decisions and even policy making in our region and beyond. Please take a moment and view our submissions to get a sense of what has already been covered. A new article will be uploaded at the beginning of each month.


The CORV Talk Local Editorial Team

Deborah Jordan
Alan Wight
Breanna Parker

CORV Author Guidelines

First, submit an idea or two for consideration, and wait for a response. If yes, when composing your article please do the following:

  1. Submit a Word Document that is 500 - 1000 words in length. (If you need more, just ask.)
  2. Include at least 1 picture/diagram per every 500 words. Breanna Parker, our graphic designer, will help locate photos.  Local shots are preferred, but graphics related to the article are also important.  Please use High-resolution photos. 
  3. Include a list of 3 keywords that describe your article so we can eventually categorize articles. 
  4. Hyperlink references to keywords for online content. Include all citations at the end of the article as well.
  5. Include a short bio (3-4 sentences) and photo (when possible).
  6. Article will be posted the beginning of each month, starting July.  We will promote via social media.

Traditional Seed Saving

Traditional Seed Saving

Seeds are the beginning and the end of the life cycle of a great number of plants, and we rely on this rhythm in many ways. Corn, beans and grains are our staple food crops and are seeds themselves. The practice of growing and saving seeds each season ensures the chance to plant again the coming season and perpetuates varieties that express desirable traits like pest resistance, unique color, or large harvests.