The agriculture and natural resources team, one of three groups in the Communiversity Relations internship program, recently took a trip to eastern Pennsylvania to gather ideas and that could be used in Clarion.
The team, comprised of students Halee Kephart, Jasmine Gilliam and community partner Elise Dietz, visited a couple of co-ops in Swarthmore and Weaver’s Way. Kephart explained a co-op is a member-owned market, where the members get a certain percentage discount on whatever is sold there. The co-op usually focuses on locally grown food, but can outsource its goods. The food is usually sustainable and organic. The group also visited the Yorkitchen, a shared kitchen facility where people sell their food, have it inspected by the Department of Agriculture, or host private dinners or parties, and the York Central Market, which is similar to a farmer’s market but contains embellishments such as a butcher’s or pastry stands. Other stops on the trip included the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Reading Terminal.
Kephart said the trip focused on looking at co-op models “to see which one would fit best in Clarion and see how all of the businesses would work.”
There was also a brewery located in the York Central Market. Kephart said her team is interested in trying to incorporate the establishment of a microbrewery, to be operated by a local business person, in the development plan for a food co-op.
If this project were to be successful, then the brewery would be combined with a shared kitchen facility to bring an even more diverse experience to the Clarion community. Along with the shared kitchen facility and the brewery, the Communiversity team wants to create a community garden where elementary school students can learn about gardening and assist with taking care of the garden.
Kephart said these ideas could be beneficial to the community in multiple ways and could offer a new way for people to acquire food and sell their wares.