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Farm to Institution Summit at Ohio University 2021

Explore 2021 Summit Information Below


Post-Summit Information

Farm to OHIO White Paper by Theresa Moran

Summit Session Recordings


screen capture of Teams presentation showing two speakers and a farmers market
Keynote Address: Strengthening Regional Agriculture Through Institutional Procurement
Fresh local corn being delivered to Ohio University's Central Food Facility
​ Session #2: Making it Happen: Institutional Procurement of Local Food ​ ​



Chesterhill Produce Auction with lots of vegetables and customers
Session #3: Planning for Strong Community/Institution Partnerships
Four people behind containers of fresh produce
Session #4: Triple Bottom Line Benefits of Local Food Procurement


Pre-Summit Information

The Farm to Institution Summit at Ohio University seeks to bring together farmers, universities, and community members to promote greater collaboration on the project of local food procurement. Higher education institutions have the potential to become transformational players in local food economies, but the path to making this a reality can be challenging. In the belief that sharing knowledge and experience is the best way to achieve real progress, the Farm to OHIO Working Group – an association of Ohio University administrators and representatives from local organizations in Athens County – has put together this virtual summit, which will take place from May 11 to 13. Our hope is to build new connections between individuals working on their own local procurement projects, as well as generate greater awareness of what local procurement can accomplish.

You can meet fellow attendees, as well as our presenters, on our Discord. Note: if you have already made a Discord account, do not fill in the "What should people call you?" box. Instead, click the "Already have an account?" link.


Strengthening Regional Agriculture Through Institutional Procurement: the Farm to OHIO Working Group

Presenters: Theresa Moran (Ohio University); Gwyn Scott (Ohio University); President Duane Nellis (Ohio University); Hylie Voss (Sugar Bush Foundation)

Date: Tues, May 11, 1-2:30pm

The keynote session will address the overall purpose of the summit, speak to the importance of local procurement in creating more just and sustainable communities, and inspire participants to act and collaborate. Using examples from existing programs, the speaker will provide an overview of the topics covered throughout the conference, including the impact that local procurement can have on the regional economy and the challenges that institutions and farmers face when attempting to implement local procurement practices.  The keynote will kick-off a summit-wide dialogue between institutions from across the region to review and discuss what works, what doesn’t, and how we can better cooperate to build a healthier and more equitable future. 

After the session: facilitated "meet-and-greet" break-out rooms will be available to mingle with summit attendees.

Making it Happen: Institutional Procurement of Local Food

Presenters: Lilian Brislen (University of Kentucky) Erin Robb (Ohio University), Brian Snyder (Ohio State University) 

Host/Moderator: Kent Scott (Ohio University)

Date: Wed, May 12, 1-2:30pm

Corn piled high on a pallet

The roadblocks to sourcing food locally vary from one case to another, and there is no “silver bullet” that makes it work for everyone at the same time. This session will include three back-to-back presentations from three universities - University of Kentucky, Ohio University, and the Ohio State University - that have successfully implemented some form of local procurement. This presentation will feature key terms/concepts of purchasing locally and tips on how to grow a new program. These presenters will also focus on how the institutions in question built partnerships with local farmers; the impact that local procurement has had on the school, the students, and the community; and what the next steps are for expanding the reach of the program and the future of farm to institution. Directly following the presentations, a virtual tour will be given of OHIO’s Student Farm by Tiffany Harvey, graduate student in Environmental Studies (Ohio University).

This session will be immediately followed by a question-and-answer period.

Planning for Strong Community/Institution Partnerships  

Presenters: Tom Redfern (Rural Action), Susie Huser (Community Food Initiatives), Mary Nally (Ohio University), Larry Cowdery (Cowdery Farms)

Moderator: Joy Kostansek (Creation Gardens)

Date: Thurs, May 13, 9-10:30am

Successful community-university partnerships require collaborative planning, implementation, and evaluation to ensure mutual benefit. In this session, community organizations share how they develop partnerships with higher education institutions to impact the triple bottom line, benefiting the local economy, the community, and the environment. 

A man kneels to inspect pumpkins at the Produce Auction.

Rural Action, a local nonprofit organization using asset-based models to expand markets for local farmers, will discuss strategies for helping farmers reach new markets including assisting with GAP certification and creating aggregation through the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA). A local farmer will offer his perspective on the cooperative planning that occurs at the CPA to support farmers and institutions alike. Community Food Initiatives, whose mission is to foster communities where everyone has equitable access to healthy, local food, will provide strategies for engaging community members and students on and off campus through educational workshops promoting local/seasonal diets. They will also share their experience working with local food access to increase student engagement beyond campus.  

After the presentations: Question and answer period moderated by Joy Kostansek.

Triple Bottom Line Benefits of Local Food Procurement

Presenters: Susie Huser (Community Food Initiatives); Elizabeth Douglass (Ohio Department of Education); Chris Chmiel (Athens County Commissioner, Integration Acres); Abbey Rodjom (Ohio University alumna)

Moderator: Mary Nally (Ohio University)

Date: Thurs, May 13th, 1-2:30pm

This session focuses on the triple bottom line benefits of procurement of local foods.  Local and state representatives will answer questions about the benefits of purchasing local food, how to measure those benefits, and what policies and practices are in place locally and statewide to promote local food procurement and its benefits.

After the presentations:  The panelists will be followed by an interactive workshop demonstration of a new triple bottom line cost benefit analysis tool being developed at Ohio University.

Affiliations of Farm to Institution at Ohio University Summit registrants

Athens City School District 

Case Western Reserve University 

Central State University 

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University 

Community Food Initiatives 

Federal Hocking schools 

Food Literacy Project 

Franklinton Farms 

Kids Care Elementary 

Live Healthy Appalachia 

Marietta College 

Methodist Theological School in Ohio 

Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission 

Ohio State University 

Ohio University 

Oklahoma State University 

Rural Action 

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 

Stark-Portage Area Computer Consortium 

Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique 

University of Dayton 

Vanderbilt University 


Presenter Biographies

Lilian Brislen is director of the University of Kentucky’s Food Connection, a local food systems center at the University of Kentucky. The work of the Food Connection focuses on the study and development of regional food systems, and best practices in developing farm to campus value chains. Dr. Brislen holds a PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Kentucky, and her primary interests are sociology of agriculture, political ecology, and diverse economies. She is the land grant lead on a multi-year initiative with the USDA to develop and disseminate harmonized local food metrics. Other current research includes a second cooperative initiative with USDA AMS focused on the impacts of COVID on local and regional food systems, a Southern SARE funded project looking at the development of non-commodity small grain value chains, and a pilot initiative to build equitable and inclusive healthy food hubs with health care facilities in Appalachian Kentucky. In her spare time Lilian enjoys working to restore a 115 year old home in downtown Lexington and walking her dog Crowder Pea.

Tom Redfern has been with Rural Action since 2004 and serves as Sustainable Agriculture Director. Prior to that he spent 20 years working in commercial and public horticulture, including managing a $1 million nursery in Dayton, Ohio, and working as a Horticulturist for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As Program Director, Tom leads a team of 10 staff and national service members to implement programming that builds economic opportunities for under-resourced farmers in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties. This includes farmer identified educational and technical assistance needs, beginning farmer support, development and management of the Chesterhill Produce Auction, and regional food access initiatives for food desert remediation. His work has been featured in the Appalachian Regional Commission Magazine, YES! Magazine, Civil Eats, Nonprofit Quarterly, and in a Central Appalachian Network Case History of the Chesterhill Produce Auction. He is a graduate of Hocking College and Ohio University, where he studied Natural Resources Management, Botany, and Environmental Geography.

Tiffany Harvey is the Farm to OHIO Rural Action and Culinary Services Certification Coordinator Graduate Assistant and this summer she is an intern at the OHIO Student Farm. Her role with the Farm to Ohio Initiative includes collaborating with Rural Action to expand GAP certification acres through outreach to local farmers maintaining and pursuing GAP certification. She is also responsible for maintaining GAP certification at the OHIO Student Farm which contributes to the total local produce procurement by Ohio University Culinary Services and provides a GAP certified example for farmers interested in obtaining GAP certification on their farms. Tiffany holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education and Extension from West Virginia University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from Ohio University. Her graduate leadership practicum includes locating land of high conservation value with GIS for Athens Conservancy. Her hobbies include thrifting, canoeing, and hiking, and goats are her favorite animal because she raised them as a kid.

Susie Huser is Communications and Donation Station Program Director at Community Food Initiatives, and moved to Athens in summer of 2018 specifically to join Community Food Initiatives after learning about their multi-faceted approach to building community resilience through the foundation of an equitable local food system.  Her work at CFI along with other life experiences has clearly illustrated the impact that institutions can have on a local food system, and the necessity of thriving local food systems if we hope to work for climate, food, and social justice.  She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University and an MS in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College.  She spends as much time as possible outside, usually with her two wonder-mutts.

Mary Nally is a native of Southeast Ohio, and has a personal interest in contributing to the sustainability of the region by developing strong community resiliency. Mary holds a Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies and a Bachelors of Arts in Social Work from Ohio University. Social justice issues have been the driving force for her career; for ten years she worked with people experiencing homelessness, chemical dependency and brain disorders, before returning to Ohio to focus on community health policy and food justice issues. Mary serves on the Athens Regional Food Policy Council, Athens Healthy Community Coalition, and is a board President at the Athens Metropolitan Housing Authority and board chair member at Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action.

Joy Kostansek is a Local Food Advocate at a regional food distributor, What Chefs Want. As a member of the local food sourcing division, she works closely with farms and institutions of developing local food purchasing programs. Joy has two degrees from Ohio University, a BA in Sociology from 2018 and a MA in Sociology from 2020. As a student, she was actively engaged in many parts of the Southeast Ohio food system and served as the Sugar Bush Foundation graduate assistant for the Farm to OHIO Working Group from 2018 to 2020. Additionally, she worked as the Food Studies Program assistant, interned with Community Food Initiatives, had a procurement internship with Culinary Services, and was actively engaged with food-focused initiatives on campus. In her free time, Joy is always hiking, biking, and tracking down the newest coffee shops and restaurants in Columbus and Cincinnati.

Elizabeth Douglass (MPA, RD, LD) is the Child Nutrition Program Specialist at the Ohio Department of Education working with schools, child care centers, and summer meal sponsors to serve local foods in school meals, provide nutrition education, and promote school gardens in support of the Whole Child. A passionate advocate for equitable access to healthy foods, she also serves as a 4-H Advisor and is Board Chair of Common Greens, a Columbus based nonprofit operating three producer-only farmers’ markets in the central Ohio region.

Abbey Rodjom is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Environmental Studies program whose research focused on renewable energy and organic waste management. She worked with the Ohio University Office of Sustainability to create a Triple Bottom Line Cost Benefit Analysis tool for evaluating decision making and project proposals, with a lens of environmental and social value in addition to economic value.