Posted by: NCC Poverty Initiative Director | August 15, 2011

Sustainable Pathways Conference for Camp and Retreat Centers

Last week, the National Council of Churches staff went on retreat at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center just outside Philadelphia. A major highlight of the experience was mealtimes. I was so encouraged by Pendle Hill’s farming, cooking, eating, and composting practices I wanted to share it with you.

Too often, I have been to dining facilities where food producers/distributors, cooks, cleaning crews, and administrators believe ethical and faithful food service is too time consuming or not financially possible. Not so at Pendle Hill. (Click here to read Pendle Hill’s awesome food philosophy.) Not only was the food at Pendle Hill delicious, it was organic, fair trade and local – I mean really local – like from the on-site garden! We shared a silent moment of prayer together before entering the buffet line. We met the cooks as we went through the line and they proudly explained what the more exotic items were. (I enjoyed the wide variety of bean sprouts!) At the tray return, a compost bin sat beside the garbage, so nutrients could be returned to God’s good earth. The hospitality team on staff was gracious about cleaning up as well as asking us to help clean up.

I left the experience thinking how much Pendle Hill could share with peer camps, retreat centers, and conference centers about how they do sustainable and ethical food. I asked one of the staff whether they would like to teach others about what they do.  She answered, “Yes, we could teach about food, but we would also like to learn more about integrating other sustainability practices into our lifestyle.”

A group of camp and conference centers will be having this wider sustainability conversation this September 19-23 at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas. Endorsed by the Presbyterian (PCCCA), United Methodist (NCRC), and Evangelical Lutheran (LOM) camp and retreat ministry networks, this conference will offer a framework, practical tools, and real world examples to make a camp/retreat center significantly more sustainable. Topics covered include green cleaning, water conservation, recycling, resource management, sourcing local, building cooperatives, composting, food service, eco-eternity forest, and creating a competitive advantage by going green. Click here to see the conference flyer.

Click here to go to Ferncliff’s website to register online, or call 1-888-563-5167 to register.

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