Conference on Food and Faith to be held at Hartford Seminary

HARTFORD — Feeding ourselves is the most basic work of the human community. We are in a reciprocal relationship with the earth.  When we grow and prepare food, we create reciprocal relationships with each other as well.  Today, our connection to the mystery and nurture of our vital human food system is all but lost. Many efficiencies and some benefits can be claimed for modern means of producing food. And many environmental consequences can be found in our food systems as well.

The Interreligious Eco-Justice Network and Hartford Seminary will present a conference on food and faith on Jan. 26 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street. Snow date is Jan. 28.

In this conference, we will begin to explore with other people of faith what it might mean to reclaim the benefits of smaller scale and local food production and distribution.  We will learn with pioneers of this work who are reclaiming farming and gardening for religious education, better food, stronger local economies and for social justice.

The conference will include presentations, panel discussion, and table conversations.

Panelists will be:

Community Gardening Models with Melina Rudman: Melina is a spiritual director, leadership coach, and long-time gardener. Melina has a shared garden in the backyard of her home in Rocky Hill and is an active member of St Patrick-St Anthony Church in Hartford.

Community Supported Agriculture with Monique Bosch: Monique is founder and a member of Westport Green Village Initiative and chair of the Environmental Action group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Westport. Through GVI, Monique has developed a number of sustainability measures, including an edible school garden and Community Supported Agriculture.

Educating for Sustainability with Janet Heller and Ellen Castaldini: Janet is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester and of Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Connecticut Chapter (CTNOFA).  Janet helped her congregation become an accredited Green Sanctuary in 2006, and has helped coordinate the Religious Education’s organic vegetable garden program for several years. Ellen Castaldini is on a Sustainable Living Committee and does children’s religious education.  She provides environmental education programs to children and adults through her roles as a Connecticut Master Wildlife Conservationist and a volunteer with the Connecticut Audubon Society Center in Glastonbury.

Food Systems for Job Training and Social Justice with Susan Pronovost: Susan is founder and Executive Director of Brass City Harvest, Inc., a non-profit agricultural and human services organization in Waterbury.  Susan has experiences with non-profit faith-based hunger relief work and is a retired supervisor for Waterbury whose duties included management of all municipal land use boards including zoning, inland wetlands, and conservation.

After the presentations, table conversations will engage the question: “How do I really get this going in my community?”

They will be facilitated by a skilled group of experts in their fields including Bob Halstead of Bridgeport Community Gardens, Ron Pitz of Knox Parks Foundation, BettyLou Sandy of BettyLou’s Gardening, and Jerica Sandiford, who is Grow Hartford Youth Coordinator.

Cost is $20 per person; $10 for students, seniors and those with economic need; and $40 for Seed Starters to support future gardens. The conference includes dinner.

For further information, please contact Andrea Cohen Kiener, executive director of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, at 860-231-8554 or


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