Our Local Food System

YearofMeadville-logo-no-opacityBuilding a sustainable and just future means that we carry on our region’s agricultural heritage and work together to develop a strong food system that supports both people and natural resources.

We will hear from other communities that have strengthened their economies through food and made healthy, local eating accessible for more people. As consumers, farmers, growers, distributors, chefs, and teachers, we will develop plans for how to best “grow” our community together.

Ben Hewitt

Author of The Town That Food Saved
Public Presentation
Friday, February 19, 7 pm
Ford Memorial Chapel, Allegheny College

ben-hewitt“Author of the critically acclaimed “The Town That Food Saved”, Ben Hewitt , a diversified, small-scale farmer, shows how regionalized agriculture and food production holds the potential to reinvigorate our bodies, communities, and economies. It is not merely a sense of physical well-being that emerges from a healthy food system, but a durable prosperity that does not depend on easy credit or cheap energy.

As the global economy continues to limp toward a future that can sometimes seem bleak and dispiriting, Hewitt delivers a message that is at once sobering and profoundly inspirational. We can heal our communities and the citizens within them; we have the power to put them on a path toward long-term health and stability. We know we need to change course. Ben Hewitt shows us how.”

– verbatimlectures.com/hewitt

Regional Food System Panel and Discussion

Saturday, February 20, 10:30am – 12pm
Lew Davies Community Center, 1034 Park Ave.

During this panel discussion, we will hear from leaders throughout the region who are working to make their own local food systems more sustainable, building their local economy through the agricultural industry, and making local and healthy foods more accessible. In addition to Ben Hewitt, we are excited to welcome the following panelists:


Emily BestEmily Best

Emily is the General Manager at Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative,  a farmer-owned co-op of over 45 certified organic family farmers in central PA. Prior to coming to Tuscarora, Emily apprenticed at New Morning Farm for four seasons, where she worked in the greenhouse, oversaw several crops from planting to harvest, and managed the stand at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market. In the three seasons of managing the market, she increased sales over 30% in that period. Emily went to undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh and has an MA in Environmental Policy from American University.

unnamedSophia Buggs

Sophia L. Buggs is the owner and operator of Lady Buggs Farm. She is reclaiming the sacred roots of farming through sustainable living in Youngstown, Ohio. Her mission is to Restore, Revamp and Revitalize her community while creating a loving urban homestead with her daughter, Passion. She has been sharing her wellness and farming information through gardening and cooking classes. Sophia holds a Masters of Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction from American InterContinental University, a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from Bethune Cookman University and a year of OJT Specialty Crop Apprenticeship through Goodness Grows.


Gianna Cioffigianna cioffi

Gianna works with the Lake to River Food Hub initiative in Youngstown, Ohio as General Manager for the Coop’s Online Market which showcases small farms and food-makers throughout the Northeast Ohio region. The main goal of this service is to connect consumers and institutions to the producers in a way that is convenient, consistent, and fair. Lake to River’s main message is to kindly reject the passive, anonymous consumption of processed food that large corporations routinely encourage.

mem headshotMolly McHolme ’11

After graduating from Allegheny College in 2011, Molly moved to Pittsburgh and started in the Masters of Food Studies program at Chatham University. She joined Grow Pittsburgh in 2012 as a Garden Educator through AmeriCorps. Now a full-time staff member at Grow Pittsburgh, Molly is responsible for teaching gardening and cooking lessons and tending to the school gardens. While she entered this field with a deep love for Nature and was inspired by the potential for environmental healing from growing food sustainably, she is now most passionate about using agriculture as a means for self-sufficiency, empowerment, community-building, and dismantling deeply-rooted institutionalized injustices.


Register for the Year of Meadville Community Reading Series!

Leading up to Ben Hewitt’s visit, folks from all over the community will be reading The Town that Food Saved in small resident-led reading groups. Groups will run from January 18th to Ben’s visit on February 19th. Books will be provided free of charge to our first 30 registered participants. Interested? Sign up for a group here!