Empty Bowls to join Grailville’s Local Fest: A Celebration of Local Food, Local Art & Local Music

Empty Bowls is a local initiative that aims to bring awareness to the many families withEmpty Bowls empty bowls on their tables and raise money for the organizations that support those families. Whistle Stop ClayWorks, a local Loveland business, is bringing Empty Bowls to Grailville’s Local Fest as a way to bring  support from the community to aid local food pantries, specifically the L. I. F. E. Food Pantry.

“It’s really great to be helping out with such a good cause,” says Kay Bolin O’Grady, co-owner of Whistle Stop ClayWorks. “We are excited to be involved in this new venture for ClayWorks.”

Clayworks logo

Tim O’Grady, co-owner Whistle Stop ClayWorks says: ”the event would not be possible without the support of our community and the local clay artists. We anticipate hundreds to turn out to attend Empty Bowls during Grailville’s ‘Local Fest’, local artists as well as our students helped make bowls for this event. It’s gratifying to see that kind of teamwork.”

100 % of all proceeds made from the Empty Bowls initiative will go directly to the LIFE Food Pantry.

O’Grady says “We are happy to partner with the Empty Bowls event this year and are looking forward to seeing the extra support from the community. To use a quote from the FOE, Fraternal Order of Eagles, ‘People helping people’ is what it is all about”.

Grailville’s Local Fest: A Celebration of Local Food, Local Art & Local Music
When: 12 – 5 p.m., Saturday, May 24th
Where: Grailville Retreat & Program Center, Loveland, OH
Cost: Event is free.
Bowls are $12 each – 100% of proceeds go to Loveland Inter-faith Efforts (L.I.F.E.) a food pantry to feed the hungry.

For more information about Whistle Stop Clayworks, the L.I.F.E. Food Pantry or Empty Bowls, please see the information below.
Whistle Stop ClayWorks 119 Harrison, Loveland, OH 45140
513-683-CLAY (2529) www.whistlestopclayworks.com
L.I.F.E. Food Pantry: http://www.lovelandinterfaith.org
Empty Bowls: http://www.emptybowls.net
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Grailville to host the Creating Sustainable Communities: A EarthSpirit Rising Conference

Grailville is so excited to be a part of a very unique and inspiring conference called Creating Sustainable Communities: An EarthSpirit Rising Conference. Grailville knows that a sustainable community is a healthy community—one that is resilient, socially and economically, as well as responsible, ecologically and culturally. When we look around at our urban and suburban neighborhoods today, we see the potential to create healthy, sustainable places to live, but what is often missing is that sense of community needed to make the possible a reality. Find out more about this wonderful experience below.

An EarthSpirit Rising Conference
July 25-27, 2014
at Grailville Retreat Center, Loveland, Ohio

The 8th EarthSpirit Rising conference sponsored by Imago is an invitation to you to help create a sustainable world, community by community. Speakers and workshop sessions will look at the many ways we can approach constructing sustainable communities, both purpose-built and retrofitted, as a way to change the culture. The focus of the conference will be on adapting urban and suburban neighborhoods, using existing buildings, to create places for people to live that place Earth and ecology first by limiting human impact and by honoring the diversity of life and cultures within a community for the benefit of future generations.

The conference promotes intentional communities, and you will have the chance to experience the creation process as speaker Peter Block leads us in establishing a conference community. Many kinds of sustainable communities will be featured in presentations and discussions during the conference, which is also a call for action. You will come away with a sense of urgency and hope, ready to act to achieve sustainable, intentional communities in our neighborhoods, cities, and towns.

Keynote Speakers:

Diana Leafe Christian, author of Creating a Life Together and Finding Community

Peter Block, author of The Abundant Community and The Structure of Belonging

Jim Schenk, co-founder of Enright Ridge Urban Eco-village

Sr. Marya Grathwohl, OSF, ecology and spirituality teacher and founder of Earth Hope

To find out more about the conference or for registration information, visit www.imagoearth.org or call 513-921-5124.


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The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio bring an exclusive Badge to Grailville!

girl scoutsGrailville is happy to offer the exclusive “Science of Happiness” badge to  the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.  This is a new Girl Scouts badge and we are very happy to be partnering with Girl Scouts of Western Ohio to offer the badge to the region.  This meaningful badge encourages scouts to examine the roots of true happiness and to establish practices that help them to cultivate joy in their lives.  Through a combination of art, music, group webwork, dance, and yoga, scouts will explore all elements of this 5 step badge.  This experience is very fitting for us here at Grailville!  We love to explore transformation through the arts.  So, this badge is a great mission fit for us!

This is a 3 hour badge located at Grailville.  The fee is $15/scout or call to bring your whole troop.


Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturday, June, 21st, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturday, September 20th, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturday, November 8th, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

For more information or to sign up your Girl Scout or troop, please click here.

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Get your Hands Dirty in Grailville’s Organic Kitchen Garden!

Transition 11

Join Grailville & the Transition Food Group as we help to care for  Grailville’s  organic kitchen garden. The kitchen garden provides produce for meals in the dining hall with surplus sold at the Loveland Farmers’ market each Tuesday. Activities follow the natural cycle of each plant and will include soil preparation, planting, continue care and harvest. This is a great opportunity to learn more about organic growing and to bring some great gardening tips to your own gardens. Please bring: gloves, sun hat, and water bottle. This activity is free and open to the public.

Transition 111Starting April 7th, please join us every Monday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Grailville’s Gazebo. If Mondays are not convenient will we also  be in the garden on the following Saturdays below. Please note that every Saturday gathering will have a Potluck Lunch at 12 pm, so plan to bring your favorite dish to share.



March 15th 10:00 am-2:00 pm  April 26th 10:00 am-2:00 pm
May 17th 10:00 am-2:00 pm
June 28th 9:00 am-12:00 pm
July 19th 9:00 am-12:00 pm
August 17th 9:00 am-12:00 pm
September 20th 9:00 am-12:00 pm
October 18th 9:00 am-12:00 pm
November 15th 10:00 am-2:00 pm

To find out more about the Transition Food Group or to register to attend these Garden Volunteer Days, please contact Caroline Deters at maramine@yahoo.com.

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Earn money for Grailville when you Shop at Kroger!

KrogerGrailville has been accepted into Kroger’s Community Rewards program.  That means that you can now earn money for Grailville when you shop at Krogers!  We would really appreciate your help – this simple step can create a significant source of revenue for Grailville!

To do this, you need to link your Kroger Plus card to Grailville’s Community Rewards Account number:

  • Go to www.krogercommunityrewards.com and click the green ‘enroll now’ button
  • Create a user account (you will need to enter your Kroger Plus card number)
  • Confirm your account by replying to the email from Krogers
  • Link your account to Grailville by editing your profile – Grailville’s account number is 83541.

This is a great and simple way to support Grailville. If you would like more information or need some help registering your please do not hesitate to contact Grailville’s Offices at 513.683.2340 and ask for Morgan Lyn.



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Volunteering at Grailville

Why  Volunteer at Grailville?

Below are a list of the Top 5 Reasons why it is a great idea to become a volunteer at Grailville.

#5: It’s good for you.


Volunteering at Grailville provides physical and mental rewards. We here at Grailville are stewards to 315 acres of land that promote serenity, simplicity and enlightenment. After spending some time at Grailville you will leave with less stress and a renewed sense of self.


#4: You are a resource.

Trail webVolunteering provides valuable help and resources to Grailville’s dedicated staff. Your time and skills will make a world of assistance that only another set of hands and skill set can provide. The estimated value of a volunteer’s time is $15.39 per hour. Volunteering for just one hour a week is the equivalent to giving an annual gift of $800 to Grailville!

#3: It brings the community together.

As a volunteer you will be able to work with and beside a diverse group of people all working for the common goal of making Grailville better. Not only is there a sense of teamwork, it is also a fellowship of those who share in this sacred place and our mission. 

#2: You get a chance to give back.

earthsharesWe all strive to walk in the Grailville mission. By volunteering you create an opportunity to schedule and plan for time to actively support the Grailville community and be a benefit by being a supportive and caring resource to the mission and the place.

#1: You believe in Grailville.

At Grailville, our volunteer opportunities are unique, varied and designed to help our community, teach our volunteers new skills and to inspire their everyday lives.  Projects encompass one-day, short-term and long-term schedules and cross many areas of interest.

As stewards of 315 acres, Grailville relies on a community of volunteers to help us maintain a beautiful, accessible, and mindful space. This year, Grailville will host two Grailville Volunteer Days (April 26 and July 12) ideal for: families who want to spend together-time; students and youth groups needing service projects hours; and businesses that support employee volunteering.  All are WELCOME!

Grailville is also currently scheduling group volunteer dates for schools, team building activities and conferences throughout the year.  Grailville group volunteer activities see the best results with 15-20 individuals for a 3-hour block between April and October.  If you are in need of a group volunteer site for your organization, contact us today to discuss dates and options.

To become a volunteer at Grailville, contact Grailville’s Volunteer Coordinator, Terrie Puckett, at tpuckett@grailville.org or 513.683.2340.

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Grailville receives the 2014 Salute to Leaders Award!

Salute to LeadersGrailville was recently chosen as the recipient for the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce 2014 Salute to Leaders award. This award honors non-elected individuals or organizations that have made a major contribution to the quality of life in Clermont County in 2013.

Grailville's Farm Manager, Mary Lu Lageman in the fields.

Grailville’s Farm Manager, Mary Lu Lageman in the fields.

Grailville was granted the award in the “Environmental” class.  Originally, this was part of the Environment/Parks/Recreation category, but it was divided into three awards because there were so many nominees.  The overall category is defined as:

An individual or organization that has made an impact on improving preservation, development of green space, the environmental quality of life in Clermont County, or providing recreational opportunities for the citizens of our county.

Grailville also won The Salute to Leaders in 2001 for the 2000 year. The award was in the same category, but came before we built the constructed wetlands.

The awards dinner will be held on March 11th at the Oasis Conference Center in Loveland. If anyone would like to attend the event, please contact Terrie Puckett at tpuckett@grailville.org for further information.

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Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

The 6 women farmers that  were celebrated at this year's Farm to Fork II: A Celebration of Women Farmers; Gayla Fritzhand, Cindy Cassell, Sandy Ashmore, Trudy Chambers, Debora Schak and Sandra Murphy.

Farm to Fork II: A Celebration of Women Farmers celebrants; Gayla Fritzhand, Cindy Cassell, Sandy Ashmore, Trudy Chambers, Debora Schak and Sandra Murphy.

As 2013 comes to a close, we would like to say “Thank You!” for being a part of the Grailville community. Your contribution —be it financial, or gifts of time and energy—have enabled us to achieve many things this year including: the installation of a deer fence to protect our organic kitchen garden; celebrating women farmers at Farm to Fork; and caring for this 315 acres so important to all of us. If you have been to Grailville this fall you may have noticed carpenters hard at work at the House of Joy, or the roofers working diligently to put the new roof on The Oratory before the snow flew.

Grailville 70th Anniversary logo, created by John Robinson of John Robinson Designs.

Grailville’s 70th Anniversary logo, created by John Robinson of John Robinson Designs.

In 2014, we will celebrate Grailville’s 70th Anniversary with programs and activities designed to reflect, rejoice, inspire and give back.  We will be working with the Girl Scouts on their brand new (and unique to Grailville) Science of Happiness badge and with University of Cincinnati students on a multidisciplinary capstone project to explore the feasibility of making Grailville a more “green” retreat center.

We will also be collecting stories – your story! We hear all the time how Grailville has changed people’s lives and we want to hear YOUR story. Was it the people you met, the best version of yourself that you found, a spiritual experience, the ideas that came to life for you, what you ate, grew, wrote, created, sang, saw, felt or heard while at Grailville? Please let us know how Grailville changed your life, how your connection to this powerful place began, why Grailville still holds a place in your heart! You can share your story by emailing them to Morgan Lyn at mlyn@grailville.org or simply leaving them in the comments to this blog post.


“Growing at Grailville” by Grail Staff member, Becky Hill.

We know that Grailville matters to you. If you would like to give a donation, please click here. Donors who contribute $500 by December 31, 2013 will  be entered into a drawing to win the fabric landscape “Growing  Grailville,”  by Grailville staff member and artist, Becky Hill.


Grailville Staff

Dec Appeal Signatures

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Holistic Hiking at Grailville

TrailOne foot in front of the other, I make my way along the South Trail at Grailville.  The absence of city noise, traffic, pollution- is thoroughly refreshing.  My breath falls naturally into a deep pattern.  Breathing in, I welcome peace.  Breathing out, I let go of my stress.  I enjoy the inclines and challenges that this trail offers.  My legs feel strong and capable!

As I turn the corner, I take a moment to absorb the beautiful art that is in front of me.  A stunning owl sculpture, beautiful fabric installations, and an artistic bench highlight the natural beauty of this place.  Further along the trail, I stop to play the musical instruments on the “upper loop.”  The singing birds compliment the sounds of the tree xylophone.  This trail offers me exercise, time to reflect, beauty, and holistic well-being.

Hiking is an incredible sport full of adventure and physical benefit.  Weight loss, decreased hypertension, and improved mental health are some of the many physical benefits that hiking offers.  Hiking also helps folks to connect to the natural world.  Hikers become familiar with various plant and animal species, weather patterns, and natural flows of the land.

At Grailville, we have enhanced the beauty of our trailways with nature-inspired art.  The installations provide spaces along the trail to stop and reflect, such as the Meditation Garden on the South Trail and the “Hope” space on the North Trail.  Musical instruments, sculptures, mosaics, bird houses, hanging mobiles, art benches, tree sweaters, and other art forms infuse the Trail 2trailways with creativity!

Grailville offers hikers a holistic experience, full of inspiration.  The trails are both physically challenging and thought provoking.

Since its launch in Fall 2011, the Grailville Trail Project has engaged over 300 individuals in trail art projects and maintenance. The project is propelled by quarterly Trail Volunteer Days, which provide opportunities for the community to beautify the land at Grailville. Trail Volunteer Days are geared towards people of all ages, interests and levels of experience, and a great way to meet interesting folks from the community and spend time in the great outdoors! They are family friendly and volunteers consistently comment that Trail Volunteer Days are “full of fun” and “a great way to build community.”

Please join us for a hike, volunteer day, and/or natural art installation!

Amy Tuttle

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Xavier University welcomes Sustainability into it’s course load!

One of our sponsors for Grailville’s upcoming Farm to Fork: A Celebration of Women Farmers event and a long time supporter and collaborator is Xavier University. This year Xavier University announced the addition of 3 new sustainability degrees. Find out more about Xavier’s unique programs and philosophy of agricultural based programs in a liberal arts educational framework from Xavier’s own Kathleen Smythe, a professor in the program.


Xavier 1Xavier University has just launched three new undergraduate sustainability degrees. The most unusual in terms of our current course offerings is our LAND Bachelor of Arts degree. The full title is the Land, Farming and Community degree and it is inspired by a number of perspectives. Most obvious, perhaps, is Aldo Leopold’s idea of “land community,” a notion that calls humans to membership in, not simply stewardship of, the land or ecological communities of which they are a part. Second, increasing popularity of farmers’ markets, restaurants that serve local food, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs all suggest a shift in human consciousness, perhaps a return to a human truth, that food is an essential element in our humanity. The role of the sacred meal in all human societies suggests how far we have strayed from a meaningful connection to the sustenance our bodies require.

We have commodified food and its production, reducing our connection to it in ways that, as Wendell Berry eloquently argues, have done violence to our families, bodies, and communities. We are beginning to realize that such a distorted relationship to food impacts far more than what we eat; it affects our health and longevity, our social relationships, our communities’ vitality and resilience, our educational aspirations, and our spiritual well-being.  Thus, many at Xavier (and elsewhere) are acting on the belief that a more humane future requires a very different relationship to our food and the way it is grown, processed and distributed.

XavierIn this view, agriculture is the ultimate foundation for a liberal arts degree in that it suggests a well-rounded, multidisciplinary perspective on human history. This is in contrast to the dominant interpretation in the United States since the middle of the twentieth century, that agriculture is primarily a science. While it is important to understand the science of soils, plants, and climates, it is just as important to know the art of agriculture–the historical, economic, theological, literary and folk traditions that have been part of our collective journey to this point in time.

While the LAND degree obviously seeks graduates, the course and degree work in agriculture are essential to Xavier’s position as an important regional educational institution in the early 21st century. Recognizing the far-reaching impact of our agricultural and food policy and choices, Xavier graduates now have the opportunity to take a course related to agriculture in a number of disciplines. In particular, as Xavier seeks to educate for societal engagement, an agricultural degree and its component courses, are an important part of a well-educated public.  There is a need to bridge the divide between the private and scientific interests in agriculture (heavily invested in production and increasing production) and public interest in agriculture (increasingly interested in quality and environmental sustainability). Creating a public capable of such work is part of the objective of  Xavier’s LAND major.

Correcting a long-standing urban bias in college education is another objective. Our education has given little attention to the quality and work of rural living and has contributed to a global unsustainable trend of rural “brain drain.” Industrialized agriculture is capital intensive but not labor intensive. Therefore, what in the early twentieth century were diversified rural economies in Iowa and Indiana, for example, have become primary economies in corn or soybeans, commodities for industry and export, not local consumption. Rural exodus has been the result, not just in the United States, but across the globe.

What is even more insidious is the impact this has had on youth in farming areas. For, as sociologists Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas show in their book, Hollowing Out the Middle: Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America, parents and educators alike in rural America are encouraging their best and brightest to leave town for greater opportunities, sealing the fate of their own hometown in the process. If we seek meaningful employment for the greatest numbers, as well as ready access to healthy food across the country, the trend toward glorifying urban living (as Richard Florida does) must be balanced with an understanding of the aggregate costs of such choices.

I have encountered a number of students from rural areas who were encouraged to leave for better opportunities elsewhere and who find the study of agriculture a surprising lens through which to examine their own experience and family history.  In a class in Spring 2012, two students from rural backgrounds indicated that the course deeply impacted the way they thought about their future. Prior to the course, each assumed that they would have to build a life in an urban area, a lesson they had imbibed in their hometown growing up. Both realized that their choices were wider than they had realized and included living in a rural area, if not their hometown.

Xavier’s LAND degree integrates the Jesuit tradition and education of the whole person with sustainability, and aims to produce liberal arts farmers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, etc. grounded in practical experience, scientific inquiry, questions of ethics, morality and spirituality while suffusing our university with discussions about food and agriculture from a holistic perspective.

For more information about our degrees or to visit our campus to see some of our onsite initiatives, please click here.

Dr. Kathleen Smythe
Xavier University



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