Friday, March 27, 2009

Meeting with Representative Jerry Stern regarding CSA and Care for Creation Initiative

This morning Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, Br. John Kerr, Master Gardener Pat Trimble, and myself met with State Representative Jerry Stern and his legislative aid, Julie Nelson, regarding our community's proposal to launch a community garden and care for creation "pilot project" this summer. The meeting was arranged by Tim Beresnyak, our new Development Director. Representative Stern is the State Representative for the 80th district of Blair County and expressed interest in finding out more information about our proposal. The meeting began by discussing our respective concerns regarding the environment. Rep. Stern talked about the steps he has taken to care for the natural heritage of Blair County. The environmental areas that he has focused on in particular are conservation, watershed issues, and environmental management. His legislative aid, Julie, has a degree in Environmental Science and shares his concerns for the environment, especially in the area of watershed issues. After hearing about the short term goals of our community's proposal (to move forward with a community supported garden and care for creation program) and the long term goals (to develop up to a 4 acre CSA and Care for Creation Center) he pledged whatever support he could give us. We told him that right now we simply need to "get the word out" about our proposal and any help he could assist us with would be greatly appreciated. Julie said that she would contact some key persons in the area and ask if they would attend our informational session on March 31st @ 7 pm at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Altoona. Julie also said she would attend and remarked that the proposal is a wonderful idea. Depending on how well attended that meeting is, we may look to Rep. Stern and Julie to help us promote another informational session at the end of April or the beginning of May. Rep. Stern mentioned the possibility of having a press conference about the initiative at St. Bernardine's (next to the Blair County Extension Community Garden plot). It appears that there is growing support for our proposal both at the "grass-roots" level and levels higher up! Thanks to Tim for arranging this meeting, to Christopher for hosting and providing hospitality, to Rep. Stern and Julie for taking time out of their busy schedules, to Pat Trimble for her expertise and support, and to our membership for being open to the possibilities that this project holds for our community. Peace! Pat, TOR