Mar 142013

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Mar 132013

Yesterday was the first day that  I did any serious work (besides the work at the Farmers Market) for Athens Own. I worked with Alyse and Matt at ACEnet bagging coffee, cashews, marinated olives and we started a new batch of olives. As expected, I saw a new side of Athens Own. I see most of the products at the market and I have even in the past helped packaged some of the stuff at the market itself, but I hadn’t yet  participated in this process to this extent. Seeing as how I had done some this before, I already knew how do most of it, but I had forgotten some of it. I quickly re-learned what I had forgotten about the coffee bagging process and of course learned new things throughout. The same goes for the cashews: I re-learned some things and learned some new things. As for the olives, I didn’t really remember that AO even did olives, but as soon as I saw them I remembered. That was all learning, both the packaging process and the making/starting of the new batch.

I also learned things about ACEnet itself.  I learned more about the contents of the AO cage and the freezer/cooler. I learned more about the layout of ACEnet and where things are like the sinks and which sink is for what and where utensils are. I also saw more of that local community mindset because there were other people there at ACEnet doing things too. It seemed like everybody was everybody else’s friend. Even the people I hadn’t met before were really nice and accommodating.

All in all, this internship is full of learning and new experiences and I expect it to remain that way. It’s also more learning and experience than I could get from the market alone.

Mar 112013

Today I went into ACEnet to help Miles bag some coffee for the week. Alyse handed the torch to us as we went over a new checklist of items needed for coffee packaging. The main goal of today was to introduce how to begin coffee bagging without help from a supervisor. I was pleased that Miles and I knew most of the ropes, but we still need more practice to improve our efficiency and teamwork strategies.

I think the only portion of today that still leaves me confused is labeling the coffee bags before final packaging. The next improvement for Athens’ Own intern duties would be to create a visual aid for this labeling technique.

I’ll be sending an environmental impact report of Dawn Chorus coffee from my Environmental Geography class assignment. While its not extensive as Alyse’s piece, this can help us as interns understand possible shortcomings of classroom expectations, my personal mistakes as a student working on these assignments, and current perceptions and/or motives of the general student body.



Feb 252013

Athens’ Own meeting 2/24 -Reported by Mathew Roberts, Edited by Alyse Carter

Meeting time/place: Baker Center, 5pm


  • Reflection on articles
  • Recall Top Passion: systems-thinking exercise
  • Introduce PR project

How what we are doing impacts your passions~ we want to generate excitement!

>My Top thing I am passionate for: Sustainable Agriculture (permaculture), local food production, CSA programs

“Creating strong local food systems has potential to be the greatest force in the fight against climate change. Animal agriculture is the greatest factor in human-induced climate change; 40 % more emissions than all transportation combined. CSA programs create an attitude shift towards eating with natural seasons, while also creating jobs and keeping economy localized. Finally, by following natural, ecological design and promoting biodiversity, sustainable agricultural practices keep the environment healthy.”

Alyse: Preserving wilderness areas. Connected to writing press releases about Vermicompost.

Anna: Animal Rights. Connected to social media posting.

Miles: Community building, local market emphasis. Connected to cooking at the Farmer’s market.


>Systems-thinking brainstorming

My Question: How does buying cashews help the global climate crisis?

  • Local family recipe adds to artisan value, thus potentially preventing a purchase from a mass producer
  • Nutritional value: Cashews provide protein, fiber, fat — A great meat substitute to personally impact factory farming footprint
  • Potential of bags to be used for other storage, resealable;  extending bag life


>>PR Project

Consumer Interest Survey – We want to know what the customers want us to do with our funds.

Outlets: Farmer’s Market, Seaman’s, online

Possible Incentive: $1.00 off coupon for coffee, %10 off, etc


— Social Media monitoring


— Advertising or Reporting of final steps, conclusions back to community (Chain of command to Constantine)

— QR code (and/or) Check-box survey to slip in comment box


First steps/ assignments:

Team Work: Each intern compile 2-3 questions for survey

Deadline: Monday 7 p.m, via online message board, to be put into place by Alyse, by noon Monday. Secondary form of communication: email.

Next steps to be discussed at online meeting.


Alyse concluded the meeting with a scheduling discussion. Meeting adjourned at 6:45pm.



Feb 152013

Ohio EPA Seeks Athens County Vermiculture Expertise

Columbus, Ohio (February 12, 2013) – The Ohio EPA Food Scraps and Organics Recovery Initiative is part of a national movement to divert such items from landfills but numerous barriers are slowing the success of their efforts. They are investigating Vermiculture as a solution; it is an earthworm livestock operation that transforms huge amounts of food scraps and other organics into an extremely valuable soil amendment called vermicompost. The process also manifests numerous other social, economic and environmental benefits and has proven highly effective in homes, businesses, institutions and other commercial enterprises around the country.

This week’s 2013 Ohio EPA Food Scraps and Organics Recovery Stakeholders Summit in Columbus featured Vermiculture as a legitimate waste management alternative with Rhonda Sherman, a global vermiculture expert, and Kathy Jacobson, an Athens County earthworm farmer for 33 years, among the presenters.

Kathy Jacobson is the owner/operator of the Broadwell Hill Learning Center and Sustainable Tree Farm near Stewart, Ohio. She is also a member of the Athens’ Own Collaborative Business Network. Athens’ Own, established in 2001, is a community service enterprise manifesting systems of greater sustainability and resilience; distributing products and helping to weave local resources to meet community needs. In this case, the Athens’ Own Public Information Officer was dispatched to the event to help with documentation and produce video footage for Kathy and all stakeholders.

But, the collaborative efforts go further than that as many within the Athens’ Own Business Network also participate as food scraps and organic recovery team members. Jackie O’s, 9 Tables, Stewart MacDonald’s, Silverbridge Coffee, The Red Bird Ranch and others work together toward solutions; transforming 2,750 pounds per week into valuable resources instead of throwing these products into the landfill where they will add to the greenhouse gases building up in our atmosphere.

The attendees were smiling and laughing during Kathy’s entertaining presentation about her successful, off-grid vermiculture operation. Some expressed interest in pursuing vermiculture and others said that the way people in the Hills of Appalachia work together toward solutions inspired them with a sense of hope!

The Broadwell Hill Learning Center sells Ohio bred Eisenia fetida vermicomposting earthworms, hosts workshops, sustainable living tours, and wilderness retreats. Visit for more info.

Feb 112013

Members of local food scraps recovery team to attend and speak at EPA Food Scraps Initiative Stakeholders Summit

Kathy Jacobson, a local vermiculture expert and steward of the Broadwell Hill Learning Center in Amesville, Ohio, will be one of many presenters in the “Ohio Projects Lightning Round” session of the 6th annual Food Scraps Recovery Stakeholders Summit at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium next Tuesday, February 12th.

Ms. Jacobson is one of several partners involved in a network of local businesses who facilitate food scraps recovery and promote earthworm composting education and practice in Athens’ County.

Athens’ Own, a local business responsible for the organizing and hauling of food scraps from restaurants such as Jackie O’s and 9 Tables, will also be in attendance to record and report on the event to these businesses and the Athens community.


What: Ohio Food Scraps Recovery Initiative Stakeholders Summit

When: February 12, 2013

Where: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell, OH

Sponsors: Athens’ Own, The Broadwell Hill Learning Center

For more information please contact Athens’ Own Liaison/ Public Information Officer, Alyse Carter at 740-651-1222


Jan 282013
I am a junior at Ohio University and knew it was about time I began searching for an internship that would help me gain knowledge in how a professional business works. I searched the Scripps School of Journalism website for an internship that would help expand my talents in my major, Strategic Communication. I came across Athens’ Own and learned quickly that this internship would be an eye opening and rewarding experience. The description Athens’ Own’s website offered was unique and I wanted to learn more. I met with Alyse, the intern coordinator over my winter break where she explained to me about the local company and how their main goals consist of resilience and sustainability within the Athens community. I left the interview pleased and excited to embark on this new journey.
When I was home I studied what Athens’ Own is all about and completed the Incident Command System. I tried to tie together why that specific system is used for this company, and realized once I met with Alyse again that we are currently facing problems where working together to solve them in this manner is necessary.
On Thursday, January 24th I made my way to ACEnet for the very first time to begin my orientation as an Athens’ Own intern. I was very excited and was not expecting to learn what I did in just two short hours. I met with Alyse and also got the chance to speak with Constantine for the first time. Alyse and I got to work immediately. At first she gave me a tour and helped me understand more what Athens’ Own does at ACEnet. I found it very interesting that several companies use this warehouse but they do different tasks for their different jobs. Everyone was extremely friendly and I felt welcomed. We then went to stamp coffee bags. While Alyse did the stamping, I brainstormed what I believed the problems in this world are at this time. I wrote down a lot more than I expected, which is sad to think about how many people struggle in this world. Alyse and I discussed the major problems people face including health, education, money, air, food, and water. I learned that as well as working with other companies and selling products, this company tries to help fix these main problems we face. I found this to be very warming and unlike any other company I have been a part of.
After stamping, sorting, and placing stickers which label the coffees on the eco friendly coffee bags, Alyse showed me the different coffee beans. I worked in a coffee shop for years, and I love everything about coffee. I got to smell the hazelnut flavored beans and immediately fell in love. I learned that the people working at ACEnet always bring their own coffee mug in to drink some of Constantine’s favorite roast, which I will have to do next time. I love how they do not just use cups and throw them away.
Overall my first day was very information packed and it opened my mind more than I was expecting. I am interested for my next task and I cannot wait to see what else Athens’ Own has in store for me.
Jan 262013

I came to the farmer’s market today with the mission to help those interested in working at the Athens’ Own booth. Today the booth experimented with a new alignment that allows the cook (Miles) to be away from the natural flow of traffic of selling the products. I recorded the entire set-up from the AO workers’ point of view. We will be creating a visual map of this set-up if this new strategy becomes the norm; if not then we will create a map of the previous set-up.

I have a few notes that I have found to be interesting from my visit today.

Peppers                            Quart Jar                                    $10.00

Cashews                                 4oz                                          $2.50

”                                            12oz                                       $7.50

*Cashews are a secret family recipe of Constantine’s family. These spiced nuts are made every holiday gathering and has traveled generations to reach the Athens’ Own business.

Constantine’s On State

Oatmeal                          Bowl                               $2.00

Cheezy Grits                 Bowl                               $3.00

Coffee                             Cup                                  $2.50/3.00

Greens                            Bowl                                $2.00

Hamburgers                 Platter                            $6.00

w/Chips and Pickles

Worm Castings          Bag                                      $7.00

*Cheezy Grits and Greens can be a combined dish sold for $4.00. Hamburgers are made with Dry-aged local Angus beef. Sorry to burst your bubble, but “worm castings” aren’t some special dish from the food gods. Kathy essentially collects worm poop for you to have the most AMAZING garden! This process has good potential to become a multimedia piece/ feature story/ workshop.

Coffee (Packaged) *Specialty

$8.30        Bean              Full City, Vienna Roast

$8.60        Ground        French Roast, Espresso Blend

$8.90        Bean              Decaf FR, Hazelnut, Highlander Grogg (Butterscotch, Nut, Caramel)

$9.20        Ground         Decaf FR, Turkish (ground only)

*Alyse taught me a neat trick for remembering coffee prices: The price of all packaged coffee starts at $8.30 and increases by $.30 for ground, additional $.30 for Bean Specialty and an additional $.30 for ground Specialty.

To work at the AO booth  a few quick notes on booth duties should help you jump right:

Washing Dishes

  • Wipe off dry food with towel (Near Trash)
  • Wash dish in “wash water” — wash water is made with hot water and a few drops of Dawn
  • Rinse in cold bath — cold water needs a few drops of bleach
  • Air dry on rack

Running the Register

  • Working knowledge of product prices
  • From cash start at price of product and gather change up to amount of cash given to you.Count needed change first. For example someone buys a 12 oz bag of cashews and they give you a $20. Grab two quarters to get to $8. Then, grab cash to add up to $20 and this is the customer’s change.


This quick log will help you understand a glimpse of the AO booth, but to understand all the aspects you will have to get out in the field. Hope this has helped!


Jan 232013

It’s great to be logged in again. The best surprise of the winter break was hearing that Athens’ Own welcomed new members to the team. Hello Emma Buchanan, my fellow blogger. It’s a pleasure to this point to read your insights and discover new perspectives from your eyes.  The spark of the new semester was challenging, but I feel prepared for new action and activities.

I went to the Farmers’ Market with Gracie, a prospective intern and my best friend to visit the AO booth. One of the first things I noticed besides the absense of the usual overhanging tents were the newly designed price/info tags for the food. And more surprisingly the creative work of Alyse to organize the strength of the  morning brew by color coding. As usual, Miles sizzled curiousness from the crowd and I attempted to hold myself back from the cheesy grits.

Gracie’s mother Chris, an assistant professor in the school of nursing, stopped by the market last weekend. She told me that she experienced her first taste of steel-cut oats. ” I got oatmeal with steel-cut oats. It had raisins and was on a table with many different types of coffee. Immediately I knew that she had stopped by the Athens’ Own table. Although it was a first for Chris, I was pleased to hear the Athens’ Own name outside of the home boundaries.

It has been some time since I have been this excited about starting a new term. Half of my classes directly connect to concepts of the Athens’ Own mission. These classes are topics that include climate change, writing  in environmental sustainability, and environmental geography. These topics are important components of a sustainability education because the Earth cannot be environmentally sustainable if humans cause massive climate change and if advocates don’t understand their  home region.

Getting to know the Athens natural area will take extra time on my part. A few visits to the Broadwell Hill Learning Center could help if I do find the time to do so. My personal goal however is to get back to the basics. If I am going to be a strong advocate for sustainability I want to understand its literature and writing style. Planning this last semester was tricky, but my writing course should complement well with my commitment to College Green magazine. For them, I will read 4-5 books this semester and write book reviews for them.

It’s great to be back in Athens. I’ll be sure to fill everyone in project by project.

Jan 112013

Today I headed out to the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, otherwise known as ACEnet, to help Constantine and Alyse package Athens’ Own products. Alyse explained that ACEnet is a business incubator; in other words, they help support and assist other businesses in their endeavors. There are multiple ways in which they accomplish this goal, and one such way is to provide each business with a storage area, should they choose to rent one. They also provide an expansive community kitchen where local businesses can prepare, package, and create products. Athens’ Own’s involvement with ACEnet did not surprise me; it was, after all, yet another way Athens’ Own and other local businesses helped support one another, creating an expansive web of community connections along the way.


When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the multitude of people present in the building. Welcoming smiles, containers of supplies, an array of domestic and exotic smells, and the quiet buzz of conversation filled the room. I was eager to get started. Alyse showed me our storage area, and we began to transport needed materials into the kitchen. We were sharing the kitchen that day with Crumbs Bakery, whose employees were both boisterous and high-spirited. That, paired with the delicious smells wafting from the oven, created an enjoyable working environment. As the Crumbs workers continued to create crackers and other baked goods, Alyse and I began to stamp Athens’ Own coffee bags. One of the great things about these bags, Alyse explained, is that they are recyclable and the inside plastic liner is compostable. This, of course, is yet another example of Constantine’s ability to maximize the life of his products while additionally preserving the environment itself.


After stamping all two hundred-sum bags (with minor hand cramps along the way) we then turned our attention to labeling them. While we were working, Alyse and Constantine spoke briefly about the price of different labels in relation to their effectiveness, among many other business-related topics. Because I am a public health and communication major, it is seldom that I gain first-hand knowledge of how the business world operates. Thus, it was interesting to see how public health, communication, and business have the ability to merge together to create a single entity like Athens’ Own.


After labeling the bags, Alyse and I then proceeded to weigh and fill them with both ground and whole bean coffee.  As we ground the coffee, Alyse explained the difference between the variety of coffees we sell. She showed me the differences in color; the dark coffee (French Roast) is a much darker color than the light coffee (Full City Roast), due to the greasiness of the bean itself. This is why, she explained, Athens’ Own always grinds the lightest coffee first, so as to avoid mixing this grease in with the lighter beans. She also explained that Athens’ Own only sells their flavored coffee, Highlander Grogg and Hazelnut, in bean form, as grinding and packaging them takes away from their overall flavor. By both understanding and harnessing the flavors of the beans, Athens’ Own works to always serve up the best cup of coffee to customers.


By the end of the day, Alyse and I had packaged coffee, hot spiced cashews, and Constantine’s pancake and waffle mix. In only a matter of hours, I learned an incredible amount of information in regards to Athens’ Own products and the business as a whole. To me, one of the impressive aspects of my internship with Athens’ Own is having the ability to learn about a different aspect of the business every day. I had now experienced and gained knowledge about Jackie O’s grain process, the Broadwell Learning Center, the Athens Farmers Market, and ACEnet in only a few days, and I look forward to learning much more in the future.


– Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern