Monday, May 12, 2008

Rural Action News

Chesterhill Produce Auction to Celebrate Opening Day May 15
By Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator and Kelsey McCoy, VISTA for Media

On Thursday, May 15, Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA) will hold its season-opening festivities. The CPA is located at 8380 Wagoner Road, South of Chesterhill in Morgan County. It is owned and operated by Jean and Marvin Konkle, who started the business with help from local non-profit organization Rural Action and The Ohio State University Extension Horticulture Educator Brad Bergefurd, from OSU South Centers in Piketon. Local growers, including members of the Chesterhill Community, supply the produce for the auction.

The Konkles started the auction to address economic needs in the community. The auction acts as a wholesale operation, supplying buyers seeking to purchase produce in bulk, including restaurants, suppliers to farm markets, and even institutions, such as Ohio University. Smaller retail sized lots, featuring baked goods, are also available. This strengthens food systems in Appalachian Ohio.

Opening Day activities will begin at 3:00 pm, with light refreshments served. Community members are urged to attend and help CPA recognize the volunteers who have helped make this local food source possible.

As part of the celebration, Ohio University Executive Chef Matt Rapposelli will speak on the growing relationship between Ohio University and CPA. This season, Rapposelli says, Ohio University will buy as much produce from CPA as possible, incorporating seasonally available items into its menus.

“Everyone who eats at Ohio University will come in contact with Chesterhill Produce Auction items,” Rapposelli said. “The relationship between Ohio University and Chesterhill Produce Auction makes so much sense: superior quality products are available locally, cutting out the rising shipping and supply costs while supporting the local economy.”

All auctions, including the first one, will start at 4:00 pm. Seasonal produce, as well as flowers and garden plants will be available. For directions and more information, please contact Jean Konkle at 740-286-3458, or email Tom Redfern at

Photo from one of last year's events at the Chesterhill Produce Auction.

May 11-18 is AmeriCorps Week!
By Tori Patterson, Rural Action VISTA Leader

This week is a time to recognize and thank all who serve their communities in the AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps provides over 75,000 national service opportunities each year, and more than 542,000 people have served in AmeriCorps since its inception in 1994.

Since 1994, Rural Action has had the opportunity to host 338 AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) members who have committed their time, usually for one year or more, to serving Appalachian Ohio. The aim of the AmeriCorps VISTA program is to alleviate poverty in the United States. At Rural Action, these volunteers have worked to build the capacity of local nonprofit organizations, create income opportunities for local communities, address the effects of resource extraction and pollution, and foster youth leadership and service learning. VISTA members hold public meetings, educate children and adults, mobilize community members, raise money to address community concerns, and so much more. Their efforts often take place behind the scenes and sometimes go unnoticed, yet their work benefits local communities in innumerable ways.

Fifteen VISTA members currently serve with Rural Action:
Emily Beveridge – Federal Valley Resource Center
Emily Boyer – Sunday Creek Watershed Group
Katie Durham – Rural Action Strategic Planning
Christine Far – Youth Act
Bob Fedyski – Sustainable Agriculture
Cat Fincun – Events and Volunteer Coordinator
Brian Koscho – Stuart’s Opera House
Amber Leasure-Earnhardt – Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership
Emily Maluski – Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center
Kelsey McCoy – Rural Action Media and Communications
Tori Patterson – AmeriCorps VISTA Leader
Heather Sheets – Sustainable Forestry
Jordan Vincent – Rural Action Development
Sarah Warda – Rural Action Graphic Design
Chris Zdinak – Federal Valley Watershed Group
We’d like to thank all our VISTA members, both present and past, for their service and commitment to Appalachian Ohio – your service is truly making a difference!

VISTA members provide vital services to our communities and can always benefit from new training and development opportunities. Kind support from businesses that can provide special services or offers to individual VISTA members is appreciated as well. If you’d like to learn more about Rural Action’s VISTA program, including how you might support the national service program as an individual or business, please contact Tori Patterson, or 740-767-4938.

Earth Justice Network Program Will Help Recycle Compact Fluorescents Light Bulbs

Many people have began using Compact Flourescent Light bulbs (CFLs) . However, if you have made the switch, you may know that there isn’t a CFL recycling location in Athens. CFLs replace incandescent light bulbs and produce the same amount of light but use less energy and have a longer life. However, CFLs contain mercury, which make disposing of them a challenge due to health and environmental hazards if they break.

The Earth Justice Network, a group of citizens working on climate change issues in the Athens area, is now offering a CFL Recycling Program. Greg Kremer is serving as a collection point for anyone in Athens or the surrounding region who need to dispose of burned-out CFLs. Greg will periodically transport them to a recycling facility in the Cincinnati area, where he travels frequently. The mercury recycling greatly reduces the one major concern with CFLs--release of small levels of mercury when the bulb casing breaks. People can give their burned-out bulbs to anyone in the Earth Justice group to bring to Greg at one of our meetings, or they can email him to arrange a drop off:

FREE Site Assessments Available for Local Landowners
Learn How to Better Utilize Your Woodlands
By Chris Zdinak, Federal Valley Watershed Group VISTA and Heather Sheets, Sustainable Forestry VISTA

The Federal Valley Watershed Group and Rural Action Sustainable Forestry Program are currently offering site visits to interested Forest Landowners. This is a great opportunity for landowners to look at their property with knowledgeable professionals, and discuss options for sustainable management, and economic opportunities. For example, one possibility for forest land use is growing and cultivating ginseng, a high value medicinal herb (pictured left).

Dave Schatz, a retired Division of Forestry Service Forester, and Chip Carroll a Non-Timber Forest Products consultant, are both available for these site visits. Through funding by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund these consultations are available free of charge to residents of the Federal Valley Watershed. They are available with a current Rural Action membership and a small mileage fee to landowners living outside of the Federal Valley.

These site visits are a great way to identify options and resources for your woodlands. They are available on a first come first serve basis, so contact Heather Sheets 740-767-4938, or Chris Zdinak chris@fvwgvista 740-767-4938, to discus your specific interests and arrange for a site visit.

Nominate Someone Today for a Rural Action Sustainability Award

There is no time like the present to nominate that deserving person, business, organization or agency for the 2008 Rural Action Sustainability Awards. The short nomination form will only take you a few minutes to fill out, and will give that special nominee the recognition and credit they have earned.

We need YOU to help identify and nominate those who are either helping Rural Action achieve its mission of sustainable communities or doing important work in sustainability for our region.

Nominations are due by FRIDAY, JUNE 6 to Cat Fincun at Visit and click on "Sustainability Awards" to download a nomination form. You can email it directly to Cat, or mail it to: P.O. Box 157 Trimble, OH 45782. Or just give us a call: 740-767-4938.

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