Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We're getting noticed in high places!

We've had a few very busy days in the past week, and that's good.

The DXC/Feed Dayton Urban Farming Initiative has really taken off and we're attracting a lot of attention in high places with it.

Last Thursday, Ohio State Representative Peggy Lehner (R-37th District) paid us a visit and spent about two hours talking with us and Ken Carman, the director of Feed Dayton. And Treva Jenkins, Outreach Director for them.

Then, on Friday, Gary Abernathy, the District Representative for U.S. Senator George Voinovich (R-Oh) came to town to see us.

Finally, but certainly not least, Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley (D) stopped by to see what's going on.

In the mix were reporters from the Dayton Daily News and WDTN – Channel 2 News.

Ken is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about developing urban farms to feed the hungry and homeless that it it's hard not to get excited about it just talking to him. All of our visitors – reporters included – left firm believers in our project and they all openly asked what they could do to advance the cause.

What Feed Dayton and DXC are trying to do goes beyond just feeding those here in Dayton who are in need. Make no mistake, that alone would be enough to demand respect. But we see much greater things in store.

For one thing, Feed Dayton and we want to make it easy for people at all levels to grow at least some of their own food. Study after study show that we can save money by having food grown nearby, but also that, the fresher the food, the more nutritious it is. Couple that with making a city like Dayton more self-sufficient and you have a win-win-win situation for everyone!

But wait! There's More!

The program itself is self-sufficient. Ken has been so resourceful that its now producing food and has cost him less than $20.

That's right – less than $20.

How he's done it is to use the resources around the city that are normally discarded or wasted; things like getting neighborhood residents to “donate” their fallen leaves and grass clippings; arranging with local tree trimmers to bring their wood chips to the farm and dump them for free, rather than playing to do it at a landfill; and bringing in manure from the county fairgrounds to use in his compost, saving the county some money by not having it hauled away commercially.

Using donated rain barrels, he catches the castoff water from the roof of our building for watering purposes rather than using city water.

When harvest times comes, he'll be in touch with neighborhood residents who will come over to help out in exchange for keeping 20% of everything they harvest.
So, who wouldn't get excited about a program like this?

All of this, we think, is a great model to use for other communities to do the same thing, so Ken and we spent a lot of time talking to both Rep. Lehner and Mr. Abernathy about how we can “export” the model to do good things in more places. Ohio needs to lead the way in innovation and forward thinking and this is a great place to start, both our guests agreed.

Who knows? It may just be that cities all over the country might one day be doing what we're doing here – all because we believed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Come Out and Celebrate Spring with Us!

Spring has finally come, it seems, and we're all just as happy here as everyone else. In fact, we wanted to celebrate the early days of Spring with a our friends and friends-to-be, so we came up with a day set aside just for that. We're calling it Family Fun Day and we see it as a chance for people to get out and enjoy a (hopefully) warm Spring day and also have a chance to learn a few things about health, safety, and wellness.

In fact, it has taken off and flown much higher than we expected. Last week, United Health Solutions (who oversees the AmeriCorps program here in Dayton) contacted us and asked to make Family Fun Day its official AmeriCorps Week project! Of course, we agreed right away and as a result, we're getting a lot of very good people attending to help us out.

Even before AmeriCorps came on board, we had some pretty good partners in this: The Dayton Fire Department is going to have a truck and some firefighters there to let the kids get a look at what being a firefighter is all about, and to give tips on how to make y9our home safer from fire.

Also, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office is going to have child ID kits and other information, plus McGruff the Crime Dog is going to be wandering about having fun with the kids.

The American Red Cross of Dayton, Dayton Children's Medical Center, the Children's Hunger Alliance, and United Way and the Power Mobile are all going to be in there too.

But don't get the idea that it's going to be all business! We've got some great games and activities planned and giveaways too!

There's going to be a balloon toss and balloon stomp , face painting, and a ducky pool – see a theme developing here (wear clothes you don't mind getting wet!)?

Free bike helmets are going to be given away for kids 12 and under on a first-come-first-served basis, and there's more: King's Island has given us two free tickets to give away; Cassano's has coupons for free pizza, and Subway sandwiches has coupons for free subs. Plus, the Dayton Dragons is giving us gift bags with free Dragons hats and shirts, and a few free tickets to see a game!

All of this is going to take place at the Dayton Leadership Academy, 1416 W. Riverview Ave in Dayton and we really want to thank them for offering their facilities so we can hold the Fun Day rain or shine.

So come on out and share a day with us. It's going to run from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. And it's going to be a whole lot of fun!

See you there.