Grow Clarion is an initiative to raise awareness of local foods and how they can impact the local economy. Students, faculty, and staff, are working closely with community members to establish community outreach programs and develop initiatives to entice farmers and producers to grow and harvest more. Through their work, the Grow Clarion team hopes to help as many people in the region as they can by providing them with healthy food, and educational and occupational opportunities.
To get the ball rolling with the larger community, the Clarion/Venango/Forest County Farm Bureau and ABLE (the student Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement) partnered with Communiversity to bring Ben Hewitt to Clarion earlier this spring. Ben shared wisdom from his book "The Town That Food Saved" and his life experiences in Cabot, VT. Growing local, eating local, buying local, and thriving locally are all options that the Clarion region is primed and ready to do. Our project and research over the past two semesters have led us to some really fascinating and exciting possibilities to bring to life as a region.
Riding the wave of energy from Ben's visit, the Grow Clarion team hosted two town hall meetings in partnership with the Clarion Free Library. Community members were invited to these open forums to discuss the team's ideas and suggest new ways in which the region could benefit economically, socially and health-wise from locally grown and produced foods. The responses were fantastic. Ideas for growth and development in promoting agriculture in our area abound!
What are the pieces and parts?
A central retail venue/distribution point
- Community education & outreach
As we move forward, building on the ideas from the town hall meetings and our visit with Ben Hewitt, we need to find out what ideas our community members really want to pursue and bring to life. We are now in the process of collecting information from growers and producers in the Clarion Region. Finding out what foods are produced here and in what volume can help us determine how much food can be sent to local retailers, restaurants, and direct to consumers. If you are a grower or a producer of food and would like to take the survey, click here.
There will be additional surveys to help us shape the future of the project. A survey for retailers, and a survey for community members. By finding out what everyone needs, our goals will become clearer. If you are interested in working with developing parts of this program, don't hesitate to contact us by sending an email to Kelly Ryan at the address on the right.