Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Business Spotlight

Rural Action is sustained by the support of our members, and we are pleased to count many local businesses and organizations in our membership role. To show our appreciation for their support of Rural Action's work towards a self-sustained region and in recognition of their own work in sustainable development, we share their vision, mission and action in the Business Spotlight.

Earthtouch and Niches Retreat

The hills around McArthur, OH once rang with the sounds of saws and shovels - the trade tools of extractive businesses, lumber and coal. Today a peaceful quiet has settled on the land. A landscape once mared by man is let go wild, and as it does Niches Retreat offers a vantage for the transition.

Niches was founded in 1986 on 50 acres of land. In 1993, a non-profit called Earthtouch was created to purchase land directly surrounding Niches in order to provide a buffer around the unique, peaceful setting. Over the years, Earthtouch acquired some 250 acres around Niches Retreat. In 2006, Niches and Earthtouch merged.

Niches Retreat is located within the 300+ Earthtouch Nature Preserve. The preserve hosts a variety of eco-zones including grasslands, forests and riparian areas (FYI: "Grandmother Tree," the largest oak in Vinton Co. lives in the preserve). Niches offers programs, workshops and retreats to connect visitors to these environments. Upcoming workshops include “Slow Food Workshop," “From the Root: Women Reclaim Food and Land," and a permaculture workshop with Josh Beniston of Habitats Gardens.

"These are great opportunities to learn more about our philosophy, learn some practical skills, meet new people and eat some amazing local food including food from our own experimental organic garden," says Sara DeAloia, Director of Niches Retreat. "We also have volunteer days coming up on May 20th and July 13-16th."

There are many ways for you to get involved and support Earthtouch's mission. First, consider Niches as a location for a personal or organizational retreat. Second, volunteer by attending a "Volunteer Day" (next one is May 20) or by calling the office to set a time that best fits your schedule. Third, you may join their new fundraising campaign, "Adopt-An-Acre," by adopting an acre of land at one of five support levels.

Please take some time to research Earthtouch and Niches further. Visit their website at or call their
office at 740-596-4288. Also, you may visit Niches at one of their Real Food Revivals, held on the last Sunday of every other month, with the next revival in June.

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