195117 A church based "eco-team" leads community in sustainable food initiative

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tamara L. Adkins, MPH , Environmental Studies Department, Antioch University New England Graduate School, Conway, MA
At St Peter's Episcopal Church in Bennington, Vermont, an intergenerational eco-team converted a large portion of the church lawn into an organic garden. Older members of the team shared their skills in food preservation ("putting food by") with youth from the neighboring high school completion program. The church kitchen was used to pickle and can vegetables from the garden for a local food pantry. In addition, a composting system was implemented for all food scraps from church events. In addition to raising awareness about global problems like hunger and climate change, the team brought healthy food to a community facing food insecurity. The project was not without difficulties. The church is located one block from a battery manufacturer. Deposition of heavy metals onto the soil and vapor intrusion from underground contaminant plumes have been detected. The community's water supply is not in compliance with EPA standards. After much discussion, the team decided to proceed using raised beds and imported soil. A decision was made not to test the harvest for contamination. This case study provides a model for a successful faith-based initiative in sustainability in a community facing many challenges.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the elements of a successful eco-team partnership 2. Identify multiple environmental and public health risks addressed in this intervention

Keywords: Sustainability, Religion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I co-founded the eco-team described.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.