Skip to main content


News & Events

If you want to be in the know about what’s going on at our organization, you’ve come to the right place.

Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest blog updates. 

The second week of May, CFI hosted a workshop to plant a pollinator garden at the Eastside Community Gardens. CFI Board member and gardening extraordinaire, Kira Slepchenko, ran the workshop. When I arrived to the workshop, Kira was talking about how to plan where to put different pollinator plants based on their height, size, and direction of the sun so that you don’t have certain plants shading others.

Get ready to kick down some doors. Before you put on your shoes, not real ones. Just … culinary ones. Food doors. We are kicking down food doors together here at Affordable + Fresh.

June is here, and most of us already have things planted in our garden. Sometimes a lot of things (how do I always end up with more plants after each farmers market or visit to White’s Mill?). It all looks good and nice, with perfect rows and weedless plots. Until, one day you wake up, and your garden is chaos (ask me how I know). There must be a weed fairy out there, and please don’t let me meet her, because I do not have nice things to say. The best way to keep everything in check is to do maintenance-obvious, I know. But I am not going to leave you hanging. Below are some things you can start doing today, to keep weeds in check, to keep your flowers flowering and your veggies producing and your sanity intact.

Loraine McCosker, a sustainability driven Athens resident and CFI member, sees organizations like CFI as critical to community-based development and resilience in the southeast Ohio region. Loraine believes our ‘bottom up’ approach – and our inclusion of children with the Yeah! Kids program – will aid in the betterment of the region for years to come. Read more of Loraine’s thoughts in the interview below!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Although belated, the sentiment is well intended in celebration of those moms out there who sacrifice for the benefit of their families and communities to put food on the table while juggling careers, social commitments, and countless other tasks.

Nancy Manring, Ohio University’s Sustainability Studies Theme Director and CFI member, enjoys gardening with our community in her spare time. Not only does she see seed-saving as critical for enriching local food security, Nancy also appreciates seed-saving for its enhancement of global crop diversity – a homegrown climate change adaptation strategy. Read more of Nancy’s CFI experience, and her thoughts on social and environmental sustainability, in the interview below!

Sarita Khadka Karki, a recent Athens citizen and garden enthusiast from Nepal is looking forward to the opportunity to garden with CFI in the Southside Community Garden this planting season. Her oldest daughter has already shown the same enthusiasm as Sarita for planting tomatoes – we can’t wait to see what new gardening skills Sarita and her family will gain this year! Read more of Sarita’s thoughts in the interview below.

There is something about butterflies that captivates us, ignites our imagination, and excites us. Children and adults alike are fascinated with these colorful creatures.

But our human activities are causing harm to these fascinating creatures. Their habitat, their food, and the places for them to reproduce are all being destroyed and poisoned as we speak (or as you read this).

Ruth Dudding, community volunteer and CFI Board member, understands the importance of healthy food access for improving public health – and the resilience of local communities. She continues to assist CFI in its local food access efforts, and has enjoyed watching the organization evolve over the years and improve its community impact. Read more of Ruth’s thoughts on “Why CFI?” in the interview below!

Did you know we can make fuel out of our own food waste, grass clippings, and really, well anything that’s organic?

I went to a CFI workshop in early April 2017 that taught us how to create fuel from waste we would otherwise throw away. Kyle and Erin from Squeaky Duck Farm were kind enough to host and lead this workshop.

Mathew Roberts, Athens community member and previous COMCorps volunteer for CFI, sees CFI as an access point for greater volunteer service and community engagement – and local food. Mathew calls the work of CFI “building bridges” to engage people in the healthy, fresh, and local food economy for the long-term. His favorite memories with CFI are always at the Harvest Dinners. Read more of Mathew’s thoughts on “Why CFI?” in the interview below!

Megan Almeida, CFI community member and summer service corps member (2016 and 2017), admires the work of CFI – especially the children-centered YEAH Kids! program. She feels that by investing in our children, we commit to a healthier community overall. Read more of Megan’s thoughts on “Why CFI?” in the interview below!

Welcome back to Affordable & Fresh! This month, we’ll continue our quest to create a great food experience by combining affordable, shelf-stable items with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Imagine a small farm set within the rolling hills of the countryside far removed from any major metropolis. A vegetable stall at the end of the driveway serves as a makeshift marketplace for neighbors and others to acquire what has been freshly picked that morning. “Come in, we’re open” proclaims the hand-painted sign. No need to tend to it—payment is on the honor system.

On a sunny spring day, I found myself standing in the middle of the garden, a tomato plant in my dirty hands. I already got the plant out of the container, when I realized that I forgot to look into my garden plan to see where to put the said tomato.

Kerrigan Boyd, CFI member, loves working in the gardens! She sees CFI as a “really interactive” organization, and a resource for future community empowerment. Kerrigan has a few wonderful memories, like saving seeds and experiencing what she calls community ‘flow’ work, that she shares with us in the interview below.

Linda Parsons, CFI member and a retired special-education teacher, believes in the power of healthy food access for all, and thinks the world would be “a whole different place to live” if everyone had that kind of food access. We’re working with members like Linda to make that a reality in our community! Read more of Linda’s thoughts on the power of community engagement and the impact she’s having in her very own garden, in the interview below.

Joelle Hopkins is a junior in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in dietetics at Ohio University. Getting involved with the Athens community through her work with CFI has enriched her time here as a student and has given Joelle a new perspective on what fresh, healthy food access looks like. Now, she only wishes her friends knew about volunteering with CFI, too!

Dandelion Duff, CFI member, loves the hands-on experience volunteering for her community and thinks CFI is a “really inspirational organization.” After seeing friends attend CFI workshops and hearing about the Summer Service Corp, Dandelion decided to give CFI a try – and we are sure glad she did! “CFI is here to solve a problem,” Dandelion said in a recent interview. “We do what we say, and we make great improvements every year.” Read more of Dandelion’s thoughts on “Why CFI?” in the interview below!

Eric Long, CFI member, enjoys coming to many of our workshops and really believes “in the entire mission of what CFI does.” As an Ohio University alumnus, Eric first heard about CFI through his Geography major and as a summer counselor at Camp Oty’ Okwa – “But that was like 12 years ago!” What’s now become ‘trendy’ to work in food issues, Eric sees CFI as an organization dedicated to ensuring greater food security for all before the popularity of the issue hit the rest of the country. Read more of Eric’s thoughts on “Why CFI?” in the interview below!

Caitlin Garrity, CFI member, calls the work of CFI “creative, different, and innovative” – a service that’s “filling niches” other organizations in the area don’t or otherwise cannot fill.

Here at Community Food Initiatives, we’re grateful to ‘Grow and Share the Harvest’ with our staff, volunteers and our community members year-round.

Things are finally winding down around here. We had a good hard frost recently, and have been hurriedly helping everyone get the gardens ready to sleep for the winter, and making what improvements we can while the weather is still nice.

We’ve been hosting a bunch of workshops lately, with lots of wonderfully inquisitive attendees. Half of our workshops have been covering different food preservation techniques such as dehydrating, freezing, and fermenting vegetables and other foods.

We’ve been hard at work getting our gardeners set up for the fall growing season. As part of our work with Grow Appalachia, our participating gardeners have received the tools and equipment to construct their own miniature unheated greenhouses (called “midtunnels”) to use as a way to extend the useful growing season.

Kevin Fletcher here, your regional garden specialist! Let’s take a look at how things have been going at some of our community gardens around the area:

This time of year things get a little crazy here at CFI, so we need a few extra hands to keep all of our plates moving.

Community Food Initiatives (CFI) is very pleased to invite local community members to join one of our several community gardens in Athens County for the 2015 growing season starting now!

Bekky, CFI’s Donation Station & Discovery Kitchen Coordinator, shares a day in the life at CFI: “I knew it was...

It’s official: Community Food Initiatives has published a Seed Saving Guide! Purchase your copy online now!

WHITE PINE: The cold weather often leads to sneezing and coughing. I really enjoy a warm cup of tea when it’s snowing outside.

Wild Chickweed, grows in patches and can provide much substance. It is one of the hardiest greens, even growing in the winter.

CFI is excited to be offering a whole series of workshops related to seed saving, starting and more in addition to our seed swaps this year!

There are many foods in the wilderness that require no care in growing; finding them is the tricky part. Wintercress, Barbarea vulgaris, is one food that grows even during the winter months.

Community Food Initiatives represents Ohio as one of 51 finalists in the running to earn $50,000 for a community project that will increase access to healthy fresh foods for food pantries, and offer cooking and nutrition classes to food pantry patrons.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a CFI sponsored workshop at Greenfire Farm in New Marshfield. Though I had heard about a number of intriguing CFI workshops in the past, this one was the first I had managed to attend.

This is the second installment of our series looking behind the scenes of the Donation Station, investigating where all the local food from the Athens Farmers Market and area community gardeners goes when it is distributed to area pantries and social service agencies. Under the microscope this time is Athens County Children Services’ Peanut Butter & Jelly Project.

It has been fascinating to watch our community move through the crisis brought about by July’s particularly wild storms. I remember stepping outside of my house on the city’s westside shortly after the sky had cleared to find good number of my neighbors out in the street talking with a bit of anxiousness, but in good spirits.

Have you ever wondered where the fresh local foods from the Donation Station go? In order to better tell the Donation Station story, I went behind the scenes, tracking the food from start to finish with Good Works, as they use fresh foods to serve free lunches in The Plains this summer.

On Sunday, Executive Director Mary Nally and CFI board member Barbara Fisher spoke with Milena Miller on her WOUB radio program, Conversations from Studio B.

If you shop at Kroger, you probably have a Kroger Rewards card. But, did you know that Kroger Rewards card holders can choose to register every year to have a percentage of what they spend at Kroger given to a charitable organization, school, or other non-profit?

Lindsey Rose, who just graduated from OU with a doctorate in communication studies, followed the CFI for the past year, studying our effects on the local community. “CFI is doing remarkable things to make up for what food pantries and food stamps aren’t getting at,” she said. “I was drawn to them because of some of the really positive impacts they’ve been having in the community.”

Apparently, this blogger is the squarest square in squaresville. I didn’t know what all the cool kids know: this weekend is the Athens Community Arts Smorgasbord, which is a benefit for the CFI.

Although sometimes it seems that way, not everyone in the CFI is a vegetarian or vegan. Some of us really like our animal protein, be it meat, eggs or milk. However, it is important to us that these come from ethical sources, and that means applying some thought to what one eats and where it comes from.

Mary Nally, our new Executive Director, was recently the subject of a well done article in the OU Post, titled Southeast Ohio native, OU grad returns to roots to help region battle hunger. The article discusses Mary’s history, offers some perspectives from other CFI officers, and ends with this great quote from Mary:

I just learned from the Community Food Security Coalition that the Senate Agriculture Committee has approved the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 with a bipartisan 16-5 vote. Here’s more info from the CFSC:

The new Eastside Community Gardens are springing up fast. For years, folks in this town have wanted more space to grow their own food. When the city cut a deal with the CFI for some land and water, we didn’t even have to advertise; people were banging down our doors to get a piece of the action!

Our Sponsors and Partners