Constantine Faller approached me to work with him at Athens’ Own through Facebook. He informed me that Alyse his liaison/public information officer would email me. I later received an email from Alyse and was told that there are internship positions available. I contacted Constantine through Facebook messaging and told him that I was not interested in working for free. He assured me that I would be paid and that Alyse was a paid intern. Constantine then asked me what my full attention would cost per week. This question was intimidating for me because I did not know who he was or what working with him full time would entail. I proceeded to avoid him and the question to the point of being at the Athens Farmers Market on a Saturday; I greeted him in the parking lot while he was away from his booth carrying a banana box of apples on his way to distribute them to Seaman’s grocery store. I did not recognizing him as a potential employer or the owner of Athens’ Own. Constantine is connected to many businesses in Athens and yet I still had no idea of what kind of man he is, the work he does, all the products he sells, or the wisdom that he practices. My knowledge was limited to my distant observations which were that he was kind and engaging and that I once bought coffee from him at the Athens Farmers Market.
Alyse informed me that there is a certificate of training with Athens’ Own but there is not an outline or specified timeline for the Workers Readiness Certification. She has been working at Athens’ Own for eight months and she is still an intern without the certificate. Alyse has an undergraduate and masters degree from Ohio University and is the only paid worker at Athens’ Own. My first day, I showed up at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, ACEnet, located on Columbus Road in Athens, Ohio. ACEnet is where Athens’ Own and Faller Foods is stored, packaged, and distributed. Constantine was not present at my first meeting, he had left prior to my arrival and I was a half an hour early. Alyse gave me the marketing material that they are distributing and told me to go home and read it and come back the next day.
What I learned is that Athens’ Own Collaborative Business Network was established in 2001, which is the same year that Dawn Chorus Coffee was sold at the C & E Market on Richland Avenue in Athens, Ohio. The business focus has always been to create community resiliency, sustainability, teamwork, education, and local foods. Resiliency and sustainability are closely linked; sustainability is the ability for an economy and the ecosystems supporting the environment of that society to be able to meet all the needs of all its inhabitants for the foreseeable future. Resiliency is the ability of an economy and the ecosystems that support the environment of the society to respond to change with symbiosis. In the event of a catastrophe the community could continue operating during and after the effects of a catastrophe.
I was surprised to learn that Constantine has many Athens’ Own products such as: Dawn Chorus Coffee, Hot Spiced Cashews, Pickled Peppers, Pancake and Waffle Mix, Aged Wisconsin Cheese, Dry Aged Beef, Sweet Beef Bologna, and Worm Castings. Constantine Faller is the creator, manager, distributer and steward of Athens’ Own. Faller Foods is the product logo that encompasses Constantine’s products and other producers that do not have their own name brand. Therefore the Pure Ohio Maple Syrup is from River Sugar Camp in Stockport, Ohio and the Ohio Honey is from either Gillogly Orchard or Washington County. Everything with the Athens’ Own logo is a product of Constantine’s efforts. Faller Foods is the logo that represents the standard to which Constantine lives and works. The product is thereby guaranteed to be high-quality, locally grown or raised, and/or value is added to the product locally.