Educational initiative in Hillsboro focuses on ‘mentoring and hands-on learning’
By Sarah Allen
HILLSBORO — Hillsboro residents had the chance this past summer to dig into organic lifestyles through a six-month program that offered classes ranging from cooking with kale to preserving produce.
Hosted by the Freedom Farm Market, Ground Swell was “an educational program that pair(ed) up experienced homesteaders with Hillsboro residents,” according to Analena Bruce, Ground Swell coordinator.
The classes, she said, were “based on mentoring and hands-on learning” for those who were either planning to start a homestead themselves or who simply wanted to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Among the many topics discussed during Ground Swell’s monthly classes were: uses for a gallon of milk, how to replace sugar with honey and cooking with herbs.
Bruce said the Stinner Summit, held each year at The Ohio State University, inspired her to pursue the Ground Swell program in Hillsboro. The summit, she said, is a “unique event” held in honor of the late professor Ben Stinner.
According to Bruce, the summit brings together researchers, community organizations and students “who want to build a more sustainable food system in Ohio.”
While there, Bruce said she and her husband were paired with individuals who hosted a Ground Swell program in Columbus.
From there, Bruce said she decided to create “our own unique Hillsboro adaptation” of the Columbus Ground Swell.
The main difference between Columbus’ Ground Swell and Hillsboro’s was that there was less of a focus on urban homesteading. She added that Hillsboro’s Ground Swell also utilized feedback from participants in the Columbus program.
The Hillsboro Ground Swell was funded through a seed grant, according to Bruce.
The ultimate goal of Ground Swell, Bruce said, was to “connect people.”
She said, “When you’re trying to live a more healthy lifestyle, (it is helpful) to build relationships with people who are doing similar things.”
And Ground Swell, Bruce added, allowed people from different backgrounds and age groups to network with each other.
Some participants had many years of experience, she said, while others were just starting.
Both perspectives, she said, brought “a lot of opportunity for them to learn from each other and have fun.”
And the relationships formed among organic farmers, consumers and local stores were the “real value” of Ground Swell, Bruce said.
The knowledge and connections Ground Swell participants gained, she added, ultimately “empower (people) on their individual paths in living a new, healthier lifestyle.”
Bruce also discussed how the Ground Swell classes can affect participants in their day-to-day lives. As an example, she said one class examined how to best utilize organically raised chicken.
Because organic chicken is typically more expensive, the class offered tips on how to save money by purchasing a whole chicken. The class taught participants how to cut the chicken and use as many parts as possible. It also provided ideas for leftovers.
“No matter what they’re learning, they’re practicing it,” Bruce said of the classes. She added that the mentors who led them were “sharing years of tips.”
Bruce said this year’s feedback will be “very influential” on any future plans for Ground Swell.
She also said that, even though the Ground Swell program ended in September, the Freedom Farm Market offers its own unrelated classes. Those typically involve material on essential oils, diet, and health, Bruce added.
To learn more, Bruce recommended “stay(ing) updated with Freedom Farm Market,” either at www.freedomfarmmkt.com. or on Facebook by searching “Freedom Farm Market & Organic Grocery.” The store is located at 405 W. Main St. in Hillsboro.
RECIPES FROM THE GROUND SWELL CREW
1 bunch kale, washed, stripped from stems and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 red pepper
3/4 cup soaked raw cashews
1 Tbsp. soy (Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup Tahini
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Toss with kale and then work in by hand. Dehydrate until crispy, rotating and turning trays regularly for about 7 hours. Alternatively, bake the chips at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes, checking a few times and rotating because they can burn easily.
A Summer Salad
Violet leaves (Yes, they’re edible and delicious in a salad. They’re also an herb. The purple flowers that bloom in the spring are edible as well.)
Nasturtium leaves (I prefer the small, inner leaves. The flowers are edible as well.)
Sugarsnaps (usually available through mid-July)
Radishes (usually available until the end of June/early July)
Garlic Bread Spread
1/4 cup of good olive oil
1/4 cup of softened, room-temperature butter
1/2 tsp. salt
Basil or parsley leaves
Several cloves of garlic
Makes 2 cups.
1 cup mayo
1 cup yogurt or buttermilk
2 Tbsps. green onion tops or chives, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh onion, minced
2 tsps. parsley, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
For dip, use sour cream.
Sweet Tarragon Dressing
1 and 1/2 tsps. salt
3/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
Whisk together all ingredients. Keep in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Feta Herb and Garlic Dressing
Combine and blend:
2 cups mayo
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1/4 cup canola or salad oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup feta cheese
Sarah is a reporter for The Times-Gazette in Hillsboro. Reach her at 937-393-3456 or at [email protected]