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Community, sustainability, justice and spirituality — these are the forces that drive Crown Point Farm and Education Center.
Founded by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron in the early 1960s as a place for “healing and restoring the earth,” Crown Point has gone through many changes. However, the fundamental principles the sisters envisioned when establishing Crown Point remain — becoming one with the earth by becoming one with each other, and with the concepts of preservation, equality and nurturing of the land.
One Foot Forward, the Other in the Dirt
Tucked away in the heart of Bath Township at 3220 Ira Road, Crown Point sits at the highest point of Bath, overlooking the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and across the fields in to Hudson and Aurora. Even on a chilly fall morning with few leaves on the trees, the natural space is breathtaking.
Delle Nadler, advancement coordinator for Crown Point, says the working ideology of the farm and education center from the Sisters of St. Dominic is to demonstrate the practical applications of ecology.
“The sisters were very committed to the Earth and the understanding that we are connected to the Earth,” Nadler explains. “The environment — this is our habitat.”
During a brief tour of the facilities, Nadler indicates some of the various ways the sisters’ principle beliefs are supported — features such as the farm area, where the concept of community supported agriculture is exercised; the children’s gardens, now closed for the winter season, where children can learn the fundamental concepts and “play in the dirt” without fear of being exposed to pesticides or other harmful chemicals; the solar collector panel on the barn, which cost $1,200 worth of materials to install but provides enough heat to warm the entire maintenance area on any day by using the sun as a natural energy source; and the strawbale garden gate — a forerunner of the soon-to-be-built eco-village at Crown Point, where strawbale and stucco replace standard insulation and building techniques in this working model of “green building construction” — something Nadler says is quickly becoming popular in developing countries. One can see how the bale is put together by looking through the “truth window” in the gate itself.
While the features Nadler displayed each play a pivotal role in Crown Point’s mission, it is community supported agriculture that forms the largest component of Crown Point’s raison d’etre.
“Those involved are promoting biodiversity through this type of agriculture,” Nadler says of community supported agriculture. “Our actions promote minimization of global warming.”
The point of community supported agriculture, or CSA as Nadler calls it, is to bond with the earth and with one’s fellow farmers, or community members, and produce healthy, non-chemically preserved or protected produce. Nadler says the concept originated in Japan, where women began to worry about the quality of the produce being fed to their children and decided to go “back to the beginning” in the agricultural sense.
Similarly, Nadler says that is what CSA endeavors to do. No pesticides have been used at Crown Point since the late 1980s, the production process involved in CSA has a low environmental impact, the technique preserves the integrity of the watershed on the farm and the surrounding environment and, most importantly, the healthy foods (in this case, more than 40 different types of vegetables) produced are shared equally by those involved in CSA, who work together as a community in every step of the process.
“We’re only here for a short time,” Nadler says. “We need to ensure what we have is maintained and preserved. We’re leaving a legacy for our future.”
Furthermore, CSA goes a long way toward bringing a sense of togetherness back to people — be they family units, business professionals or even complete strangers.
“People work side by side in the fields cultivating and harvesting — people who may never have met had it not been for CSA,” Nadler says.
Giving Back by Giving to
Those in Need
Nadler explains some of the most important principles one takes from CSA are those of equality, justice and community — the same principles Crown Point’s mission upholds. An example of the principles in action is Crown Point’s CSA partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
Nadler says Crown Point is the only organic farm that donates produce to the food bank, and the partnership between the two entities has grown exponentially since it first began 10 years ago. Originally donating a little more than 10 percent of its produce to the food bank, that amount has now risen to 34 percent. Almost 200,000 pounds of produce has been donated by Crown Point to the food bank thus far, 19,000 pounds of produce this year alone.
Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the food bank, is grateful for the partnership between the food bank and Crown Point. “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it,” Flowers explains. “The produce we receive is always of the highest quality.”
Flowers says, in addition to the great produce the food bank receives, it is Crown Point’s generosity that he feels those the food bank serves really appreciate. “I think that if the clients knew groups of people get together to do this, they’d be very proud,” says Flowers, who believes one of the reasons the partnership between the food bank and Crown Point works so well is the similarity in mission and beliefs of both organizations.
“We have a closely aligned set of core values,” Flowers says of the food bank and Crown Point. “We both seek opportunities to preserve resources and recycle responsibly.”
Those concepts are dear to the very essence of Crown Point and its spiritual foundation, Nadler explains. “The overall mission [of Crown Point] is about sustaining a community,” she says. “Environment, community, justice — all these principles are interconnected.”
Take a Trip to the Garden
For those wishing to learn more about Crown Point, or to get involved in the variety of opportunities available on both the farm and with the education center, there are plenty of options.
The grounds themselves are open from early morning to early evening every day except on public holidays, and visitors can take self-guided tours through the property, including the spiritually grounded labyrinth, built to inspire healing and introspection as one walks through its trails.
Office hours for those wishing to get more involved, either through volunteering or by participating in CSA, are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
And for families who want their children to spend the summer outdoors, “just as it should be,” Nadler feels, there is the annual Summer Farm and Science School, which runs from June to August for 6 to 11-year-olds and exposes children to various farm techniques and ecological principles at Crown Point, allowing them to participate in the ecological experience.
For more information, contact the center at 330-668-8992, or visit Crown Point on the Web at www.crownpt.org.