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Sustainable Shepherdstown hosts ‘Transition Talks’

By Staff | Oct 28, 2011

Climate change, global oil shortages and the economic crisis are some of the issues that Sustainable Shepherdstown has decided to tackle on a local level. One of the most important parts of solving these issues, according to the group, may surprise you sustainable, local food.

On Friday, Oct. 21, Sustainable Shepherdstown hosted its Transition Talks at Shepherd University’s Byrd Center for Legislative Studies. The presentation focused on the importance of sustainable, local food in economic security for Shepherdstown and other communities.

The evening featured lectures from group members, local farmers and even some Shepherdstown Elementary School students.

Ellen Smith of the Sustainable Shepherdstown said that she felt the night went over very well. At the event, Smith spoke about the community garden located at Morgan’s Grove Park.

“The Community Garden plays a big role in Sustainable Shepherdstown’s mission,” Bill Tchakirides, of the group, said.

Tchakirides felt that the event went over well and that the groups message was made very clear.

Smith admitted that the last transition talks drew significantly more people. She attributed the drop in attendance not to waning interest but instead to the number of events happening that same night, including Shepherd University’s homecoming festivities.

Other speakers, like John Gonano of Hedgesville’s Back Creek Bend Farm, spoke about local agriculture.

Smith was particularly happy to see the presentation by the Shepherdstown Elementary students who have been participating in the Roots and Shoots program. The program allows young students participating in maintaining a garden.

“One of the most important aspects of local foods is the educational factor,” Smith said.

Smith felt that it was important to see these children learning to garden and eat right at a young age. The children had an opportunity to share some of the things they have learned through gardening by showing a slideshow of pictures of the program.

Sustainable Shepherdstown, formed in early 2010, has multiple working groups, which handle different aspects of the transition movement. Issues range from local food and waste to transportation. The group has also expressed the need to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy resources. The group also tries to build awareness of local environmental events like the upcoming American Conservation Film Festival.

According to the group, local food is incredibly important in the green lifestyle, which has been a growing national issue. Since local foods do not need to be shipped very far, they require far less fossil fuels to deliver than imported foods, though overall carbon footprint differences between local and imported foods have been a heated topic of debate for several years.

Outside of environmental reasons, the group argued that local food makes good economic sense for communities. Local foods support area farmers that ultimately can help the local economy.

Another argument made is that local food just tastes better. With less shipping time the food has far less time to deteriorate before making it to the dinner table.

For more information on upcoming Sustainable Shepherdstown events, visit sustainableshepherdstown.org.