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  Public Programs

    In its public programs, Food for Thought promotes the value of buying local foods and raises consciousness about the importance of consumers’ food choices, not only for themselves as individuals but also for the community. Kenyon’s Rural Life Center has sponsored a variety of presentations, exhibits, publications, radio series, and films exploring food, farming, and rural life in central Ohio.

    Through our participation at conferences and media attention, Food for Thought has captured the interest of others nationwide. Many colleges, communities, and other organizations have adopted our work as a model for their own local food initiatives.

  What's for Dinner? (2006-2007)
    This nine-cube tabletop exhibit explores the implications of our food choices for us as individuals and for our community. Each cube explores a different implication of our choices—for nutrition, health, food production, economics, politics, and the environment. Materials presented include discussion of a food product and biographies of people related to the local food system. Copies are currently on display in restaurants, libraries, school cafeterias, medical offices, and assisted living centers. To receive a set of cubes comprising the display, contact the Rural Life Center.
  Key Ingredients: America by Food (2007)
    Produced by the Smithsonian Museum, Key Ingredients explores the connection between Americans and the foods they produce, prepare, preserve, and present at the table, through a look at the historical, regional, and social traditions surrounding food. This touring exhibition traveled to the Mount Vernon Public Library in September 2007. A series of public events held throughout the month highlighted Knox County food traditions.
  Where Does Our Food Come From? (2005–2006)
    This twenty-two-panel exhibit traces Knox County’s food system from farm to table. Drawing on interviews and fieldwork with dozens of local residents, including farmers, food processors, truckers, restaurant owners, and consumers, the exhibit consists of photographs and text that provide a unique perspective on the food we eat and the character of rural communities. The exhibit debuted at Kenyon College in May 2006 and has been featured at the Knox County Fair and the Centerburg (Ohio) Oldtime Farming Festival. Contact the Rural Life Center if you are interested in hosting this exhibit in your community. "Where does our food come from?" is also the title of a seven-minute film that explores the many reasons for buying locally.

County residents gathered throughout the day for the debut of Where Does Our Food Come From? at Kenyon College.
  Fresh: Food and Culture (2006)
    Many area residents have recollections of the Buckeye Candy & Tobacco Company building, which will be transformed into an outlet for local foods. Since the business closed, this historic Mount Vernon building has not been open for public view for several years. Students in an advanced art course mounted a public art exhibit in the building. Fresh: Food and Culture featured more than thirty class artworks plus an exhibit recounting the facility’s history and describing plans for its future. Over two hundred people attended the opening, sharing stories about the building and discussing art, food, and local culture.   
A Kenyon student art exhibit in Mount Vernon on food and culture prompted visitors to consider the many ways food affects us as individuals and as a community.

  Foodways (2000–2001)
    This series features essays, biographical sketches, photographs, and recipes exploring food and community life in Knox County. Topics include gardening, hunting and trapping, food markets, the economics of food, new farmers, feeding the hungry, eating out, ritual food, cooking, canning and preserving, food and healing, and food choices. Based on extensive field research, Foodways first   
Sam Gilardi displays fresh local meat for sale at Lanning’s Foods in Mount Vernon
appeared as a series of articles in the Mount Vernon News in 2001. Bound copies are available for $12 from the Rural Life Center.

Where does our food come from? - the reasons for buying locally.
  Visits (1999– )
    Each year, the Rural Life Center presents Visits, a series of conversations with area residents exploring the character of rural life. Many presentations focus on agriculture. These events attract a broad audience from the College and surrounding communities, stimulating lively, informative discussions. Video recordings of Visits sessions are maintained at Kenyon College’s Olin Library; phone 740-427-5694 for viewing information.
   Family Farm Project (1995-1996)
    This website explores family farming and community life in Knox County, Ohio, and was based on extensive field research. The site is organized around five themes: what is family farming, life on a family farm, farm economy, farm organizations and community life, and farming and the environment. The site also includes information on the Family Farm Project (1994–1997) and teaching materials used in the coursework for that project. Awards: Ohio Academy of History Public History Award, Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Multimedia Project, Education Index Top Site.
  Farm School (1996–1997)
    This website is an interactive curricular unit exploring family farming and community life. Designed for middle-school students, the materials and exercises were selected to develop skills required for Ohio’s ninth-grade proficiency examination. The site is organized around six questions: What is family farming? How do farmers relate to their environment? Where does food come from? What is life like in a farm community? How has farming changed through history? What will shape farming in the future? The site also includes teacher resources. Award: Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Educational Project.   
Small family farms dominate Knox County agriculture; the average farm size is less than 200 acres.
  Rural Delivery: Family Farming in Knox County, Ohio (1994–1995)
    Rural Delivery is a thirteen-part series featuring visits with central Ohio farm families, presented in an audiotape and a booklet. The audio programs were aired nationally as a series of five-minute radio broadcasts. Topics include historical changes in family farming, agricultural technology, women’s roles, farm aesthetics, organic farming, and spirituality. The booklet presents an essay on the history of family farming in central Ohio, photographs, and biographical information on each of the families in the series. Awards: American Farm Bureau Federation Community Award, Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Audiovisual Project.