Stratford Ecological Center: A Delaware First Story

“What an amazing facility and program!”

image That is all I could think to say when my family and I attended the Stratford Harvest Fair on Saturday.

Once a year, the Center hosts a magnificent gathering of family activities centered on exploring nature, creating sustainable agriculture, and having a blast image doing it. The activities and experience made for a very busy day.

The Center itself is a non-profit educational organic farm and nature preserve on 236 acres. While the Harvest Fair is an annual event, the Center has plenty of activities, classes and events the entire year to keep you coming back. Visitors to the center can explore 4 miles of nature trails, visit livestock, tour the gardens and greenhouses, and explore the creek, pond, prairie, and swamps of the State Nature Preserve. Check out the website for more specifics (

image Saturday was a gorgeous day weather-wise, so we had the perfect opportunity to explore the Center. We were greeted by live music covering some Johnny Cash, which set the right tone immediately. We took a minute to get our bearings, because the place was jumping! After deciding to sample as much as we could, we were draw immediately into the Center’s calming and positive atmosphere.

image My family had a blast! We took advantage of the hayride to see some of the further parts of the farm, checked out the pear trees and strawberries in the Children’s Garden, sat on Mocha the donkey and learned about pressing apples. Nothing beats seeing your husband chase and attempt to feed chickens! Kids could also safely climb on several tractors on the farm, and this alone delighted my son to no end!

image The areas geared toward different age groups was a great touch. Toddlers had their own area to play with age-appropriate toys and older kids had a great time climbing on the giant hay bales and playing with a parachute and kites. They really did think of everything!

I spoke with several of the volunteers helping with the event, and they were forthcoming about not only the mission of the Center, but also on the importance of community education and participation. From the woman taking admissions, to the gentleman shooing the yellow jackets out of my son’s just-made apple cider, like most non-profits, the people involved at Stratford have serious passion for their work.

I plan on taking full advantage of this amazing facility. Upcoming events can be found here ( and include standouts such as Family Chore Time at the Farm, Myths & Misconceptions about Honey Bees, and an awesome opportunity called Farm to Fork. This class will teach you the skills and recipes to use local seasonal ingredients. I have been very interested in the slow food ( and locavore ( movements gathering steam across Central Ohio, and Stratford is at the heart of education and participation in the sustainable agriculture of Delaware. As a resource and as a fun place to be, they are truly top notch!

Have you been to Stratford in the past? What keeps you going back?


Buen Provecho! A Delaware First Story

I love Mexican food.

beansI love the different textures and the fresh ingredients; it is my ultimate comfort food. Growing up it was also the one food my family would agree on. No one complained when Mom made tacos or when we celebrated at Chi’s-Chi’s, (conveniently situated at the local mall.)
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A Delaware First Story, My First Time To Delaware Lake and Dam,


A Family Adventure At The Delaware Dam.


The View From the Top of Delaware Dam.

When was the last time you went to Delaware Lake? I went for the first time last week.

As a working mom, I miss out on some of the adventures my husband and son have during the day. They discover some awesome sites and last week brought to my attention their latest find: Delaware Lake and Dam.

Last week, on a much needed day off, we explored as a family (and dog!).

The park itself has two main entrances of Rt. 23. We had been to the beach earlier this summer, so we decided to enter the park right by the Dam. On a gorgeous, cool, and sunny Friday, we were off to walk up the big hilled path first, then to skip stones in the lake, and then the most essential part- the playground!

IMG_20130823_105740The Park is about four miles north of the city of Delaware. The dam was built and the lake filled by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1951. There is ample opportunity for hiking, fishing, picnics and rock skipping! We had a great time, just walking through the wooded paths, watching the fishermen and looking & smelling every leaf, pebble and ant. Ok, maybe only my toddler and the dog enjoyed that last part.

I See Water!

The top of the Delaware Dam has a metal grate to walk across. Not for the squeamish.

The top of the Delaware Dam has a metal grate to walk across. Not for the squeamish.

I managed to even cross over the metal bridge across the top of the dam, with the lake rushing below, without losing my lunch. I have never been a fan of heights, and this was no exception. But, for my son’s sake, I had to put on my Rational Person Hat, and I tentatively made it across in flip flops! Of course the extra heart palpitations& sweaty palms made it extra exciting. But it was worth it when Sam, who is (hopefully) still unaware of my fears, looked back at me when I came slowly across the bridge and yelled “You Did It!” Even the Basset Hound was wary of crossing the metal bridge, but she did a great job too, huffing her way on the side pathway that was a little more solid for her paws.

Taking It All In From The Top.

Taking It All In From The Top.

Once we got to the top, the views were amazing. Check out some of the pictures and you will see what I mean. The Lake and Dam are a great and quiet place to visit. I highly recommend it for healthy family bonding and if necessary, conquering your fear of heights! Check out this link for even more details about the history and activities at the Park .

Do you have any good Delaware Lake memories or stories?

A Better Delaware

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach”

One of the greatest things about Delaware is the sense of community; a smaller town with hardworking citizens, who really care about each other. Maybe it is because I have lived in a larger city for years, but saying Hi to people while I take a lunch break on Sandusky, or seeing co-workers at Beuhlers, is just so refreshing! People have legitimately welcomed my family to this town!

Especially because of my job, I have the opportunity to collaborate with many caring and smart people who live and work right here in Delaware.

We had the opportunity to sit down informally a few times this summer to talk about what we would do to solve the problems we see every day. When you work in the court system, you see people who are literally having the worst day of their lives. You see child abuse, drop-outs, drug abuse and extreme poverty, up close and personal. The common thread to all of this lately-people want to help but don’t know where to begin. We all have big questions: How can the system fix things? How do things get better? What does it mean to be a “better Delaware”?

Our quick answers were the obvious ones: good schools, maybe more police, a drug task force, stronger penalties for criminals, etc.

But then we got to thinking that maybe the individuals and families that make up our community are the real answer. Maybe we have the resources here, within our own people, which can reach out to mend the parts of the world within our reach.

It is natural to blame other folks for problems we see as external, or happening to someone else, or “the system.” We can blame drugs coming in from other communities, we can blame violence stemming from our neighbor to the south, we can blame the economy. But is that something we have the power to control?

Mr. McNamara, my health teacher in middle school, liked to say “Drugs are not a Kid Problem; Drugs are a People Problem.” He stressed to us that everyone has an individual responsibility to look out for those we care about.

I am sure we can agree that most folks reading this blog love this town and want it to continue to be a great place to raise a family. So maybe it is OUR responsibility to take care of OUR community. It is OUR responsibility to look out for at-risk kids, and to help those in need.

Do you remember that 1980′s televangelist Robert Schuller? ”Dont just sit there! Doooo something!”

The good news is this: there are so many wonderful resources right here in Delaware that can help! We have caring organizations that need volunteers, need financial resources, that need YOU. I challenge our readers to get involved and become part of making A Better Delaware. It is within your reach!

Check out some of the links below for local groups that would love your support.

Delaware County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program.

The CASA Program needs you to be a child’s advocate! CASA recruits, screens, trains and supports community volunteers to advocate in court for child victims of abuse and neglect. CASA believes that every child deserves a powerful and consistent voice in court, and a safe and permanent home.

HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties

The mission of HelpLine is to address the emotional, financial, and information needs of the community.

People In Need: Serving all of Delaware County, Ohio

Assisting families and individuals of Delaware County in a collaborative effort by providing personal emergency assistance with dignity and respect in their time of need.


United Way of Delaware County

The mission of United Way of Delaware County is to improve the quality of life in our community.


Know another great Delaware organization? Please let me know!

Stingrays, and Goats, and Splashpads, Oh My

A Delaware First Story

IMAG0533As duly conscientious parents, of course my husband and I try and come up with fun and educational activities for our young son. And basically, if we are stuck inside all weekend, we will most certainly go insane! Let’s face it; the steamy weather the past few weeks has wreaked havoc on our toddler-centric lives. Daily park visits and dog walks get old, and there is really only so much PBS Kids I can take!

So, as new residents of Delaware we sought out a fantastic family bargain- a Columbus Zoo and Aquarium season pass! Now I am sure most of you have been to the zoo. There is usually a long walk to the front gates, it can be crowded and you have to carry all sorts of kid supplies to make it through the day. You have to physically drag your kid to see all the animals and if they are anything like my son, they want to be carried about half way through it all. Of course, you can bring a wagon, but you gotta pull that sucker the whole time too! And inevitably someone ends up crying before you go home. [Read more…] Welcomes Writing Staff.

You want writers? We got Writers!

Last month we put out the call for writers, and wow did we get them. We are excited to announce our first class writing staff. With no further adieu here the are!

wpid-Nicole.jpgNicole Fowles

Nicole loves her community. She is a Communications Specialist for the Delaware County District Library and Vice President to Main Street Delaware’s Board of Directors. She and her husband moved to Delaware in 2009 and immediately felt comfortable calling it home. You’ll most likely find them eating or drinking at any of the downtown establishments if they’re not at home brewing a beer of their own. Nicole has also dabbled in community theater and has a fervent love and appreciation for the arts. She is excited to translate that all that to the written word for DelawareO.

Alice J. Drew-Yoder wpid-Alice.jpg

Alice comes to us with a wide and varied, from bar/ restaurant management to Lactation consultant as well as an extensive volunteer resume. She has worked in the fitness industry as an avocation for 25 years. For the past fifteen as a Small Business /Owner Fitness Instructor/Yoga Teacher. Delicately balancing career, family and ever-changing roles has been her great honor. The quest to live fully, wholly and spiritually in her always active, wonderfully warm, fabulously fun, frequently fragile life has been a gift. The mom of three outstanding, lovely daughters, and “Mimi” to two adorable grandsons keeps her busy. Alice lives with the man of her dreams ’til death do ’em part” in Delaware’s Historic Northwest Neighborhood along with their two rescue dogs and a revolving cast of characters. Alice is excited and humbled to be a part of the DelawareO Blog staff.

wpid-Anne.jpgAnne K. Anderson

Anne is a recent transplant to Delaware. A graduate of The Ohio State University and Capital University Law School, she now coordinates a volunteer advocacy program for abused kids. Anne loves to try new recipes, read fiction, move furniture around the house, listen to indie music, and find fun things to do in Delaware. Her patient and dedicated husband Victor stays home and takes care of two very stubborn creatures- their toddler Samuel and the saddest-looking-basset-hound-ever Lola.

Tara Salsmanwpid-Tara.jpg

Tara was born and raised in Alabama, living on every border the state has, before leaving to study psychology at Berry College in Rome, GA. After receiving a Master’s in Education from the University of Kansas, she moved to Atlanta and met fun her husband, Scott. The two moved to Saratoga Springs, New York and after 2 1/2 years and 28 weeks of a twin pregnancy, they moved into the Northwest Neighborhood of Delaware. Tara now stays home occupying their two girls with visits to local spots and crayons while running a small business, Swallowtail Calligraphy, during nap time. Tara also loves Auburn football, New York City and ice cream.


Brianna Lawcock

Brianna grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, moving to Delaware when she was nine. At twenty seven, the city has become a hometown for her. Always a heavy reader, that developed into writing, she helped on her college’s literary journal, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Engaged for a year now to a Delaware native, she is close to her two younger brothers, and aims to one day publish a book.