Rooted and Grounded—Immersion Experiences

September 18-20, 2014

On Friday afternoon, conference attendees will visit one of these local (within one hour drive) sites. Transportation will be provided. On the registration form, please list your first and second choices.

  • Camp Friedenswald Visit Camp Friedenswald near Union, Mich., home to a variety of landforms, including two prairie fens (unique, glacier-formed wetlands). One of the fens, with a boardwalk through it, is habitat for the endangered Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly. The camp is working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to create a land bridge between the fens, hoping to extend the habitat range of the butterfly.
  • Canoe Trip on Elkhart River (FULL) Take a guided four-hour canoe trip on the Elkhart River between Shanklin Park in Goshen and Oxbow Park near Elkhart. Along the way participants will see both developed and undeveloped areas of land, as well as the new facility that stores run-off from the combined sewer overflow of Goshen, keeping it from polluting the river.
  • Elkhart County Landfill and Soil Solutions Visit the county landfill near Elkhart to learn the ways they are working to protect soil and groundwater, as well as how they use methane as a power source. Participants also will visit Soil Solutions in Goshen, which makes mulch and compost out of tree and yard waste from the city of Goshen, diverting huge amounts of organic material from the landfill.
  • Green Bridge Growers Visit Green Bridge Growers, an urban organic aquaponics venture in South Bend. They seek to grow sustainable local food (fish and vegetables) while providing jobs for people on the autism spectrum.
  • Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center (FULL) Merry Lea, a co-sponsor of the Rooted and Grounded conference, is a nature sanctuary and learning center owned by Goshen College, with almost 1200 acres of wetland, prairie, savanna, and sustainable agriculture. This tour will include a visit to Rieth Village, a small-scale sustainable farm (a teaching and producing farm) and ecological restoration projects. Note: Rieth Village buildings at Merry Lea achieved a Platinum rating in The LEED® ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.
  • People’s History of Elkhart Explore some of the local history of Elkhart, especially its racial and economic divisions. Learn about an urban permaculture experiment as well as other sustainability projects in south central Elkhart.
  • Reel Green is a zero-pollution lawn care and landscaping service whose mission is to protect and cultivate biodiversity and beauty in the St. Joseph Valley Watershed.
  •  Rich and Brenda Meyer Farm (FULL) Hear about Potawatomi history and displacement from Ron Chupp, learn about solar power at Benton Mennonite Church and Blue Heron Farm from John Buschert, hear Brenda Meyer tell how experiences in Africa led Brenda and Rich to live off the grid, and explore the roots and ground of the farming at Blue Heron Farm (meat CSA) today from Tom Stinson.
  • Rise Up Farms (FULL) Rise Up Farms is a permaculture cooperative three miles east of Elkhart. They provide fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, and maple syrup to the 50 members of their CSA as well as to area restaurants and grocers. This visit will include time to help with the work of the farm.
  • Seed to Feed Program The Seed to Feed Program uses community volunteers to grow fresh produce on donated land for the food bank at Church Community Services in Elkhart. Participants will visit several gardens where food is grown as well as the center where produce is distributed.
  • Sunrise Hydroponics Travel to Topeka, Ind., in the heart of Amish country to see and learn how Amish farmers use hydroponics to grow market vegetables without soil. The group will also make a short visit to Yoder Popcorn.