August 22, 2016 at 8:30 am

Global Opportunities Team Experiences the Athens Food System

Office of Global Opportunities team members at the Plant Biology Learning Garden

Office of Global Opportunities team members at the Plant Biology Learning Garden

The Office of Global Opportunities used its annual office retreat local for an immersive experience of the Athens food system.

The retreat was inspired by the Food Studies theme’s spring break experiential course, “Food Justice in Athens, OH: Literature of Social Reflection,” as well as the increasing campus interest in growing our local, sustainable food culture. 

To date, the office has collaborated with Dr. Theresa Moran, Assistant Professor and Food Studies Director, on three separate Food Studies themed programs: Athens, Ohio; Sicily, Italy; and a new offering this spring break in Cuba.

“We wanted to spend the day doing something fun and team-building, but we also wanted to give all staff members a chance to see firsthand the experiential programming that OHIO is offering to students right here in Athens,” explains Keely Davin, Assistant Director.


The OGO team started the morning at the Plant Biology Learning Garden, where they toured the gardens bursting with produce, led by Dr. Art Trese, Associate Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology, and Moran. Trese and Moran emphasized the importance of empowering students to know where their food comes from and the work and resources that go into it with the intention of increasing their awareness of the true cost of the food that they are eating. Creating space to ask questions and experience food in a hands-on way is a core purpose of the Food Studies theme’s involvement with the garden.

At the conclusion of their visit, Global Opportunities team members picked baskets of tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic and eggplants as they planned their lunch menu for later in the day. 

Next the group went to the Christ the King food pantry to pack emergency food bags to be distributed to the wide network of families and individuals in Athens and surrounding counties who are food insecure. Dr. Nancy Bain discussed the practicalities and humanity of poverty in Southeastern Ohio and how it is being addressed with both governmental policy and neighborly generosity. 

And finally, off to Della Zona to talk with Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil, co-owners of Village Bakery and Cafe, about the importance of sustainable food systems. They illuminated the importance not only from an environmental perspective, but also in the interest of building robust local economies. The conversation continued in the kitchen as the group chopped and roasted the fresh-picked veggies in Della Zona’s wood-fired oven, before sitting down to a communal meal to conclude the retreat. 

“I think the day was a great success. We learned so much about the sustainable food movement in the local area. But more than that, we experienced what our students experience during the Food Justice in Athens spring break program. We all came away feeling energized and much better able to advise students on Food Studies themed programs. It was the perfect way to prepare for a new school year” said Davin.



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