Weddings, gardening and internships are back at Crown Point Ecology Center

by Wendy Turrell

After the pandemic year of 2020 – during which most weddings, events, and large-scale celebrations were canceled or postponed – Crown Point Ecology Center is again hosting seasonal activities and picturesque weddings at its historic farm on Ira Road.


Crown Point’s Interim Executive Director Carolyn Kean said 2020 was really hard on wedding couples. Crown Point held some small, socially distanced and masked outdoor weddings last year, but stringent health department guidelines, like allowing only the bride and groom to dance, discouraged most. This summer, Crown Point is busy with postponed and newly booked weddings, and dates are filling up well into 2022.

The facility’s spacious barn can be configured several ways for weddings or other special events. The barn doors can be open or shut and the ceremony can be held outside with the dinner inside the barn or vice versa. Kean said most couples that marry at Crown Point are attuned to nature and often want the wedding ceremony on the grounds instead of inside.

She explained, “Each bride has a unique way of decorating the venue, allowing their personalities to shine through.” The ecology center’s historic house also has a room designated for the bridal party to dress. Special event holders can use the ponds, prairie and woods for pictures, and use the bonfire site near the house, if they desire.

A history of harvesting

Crown Point Ecology Center is a working farm with deep historical roots. Kean said the Hammon family, cousins to the Hales of neighboring Hale Farm, owned the land.

The Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron purchased the property in 1967 from its last owners, the Stollers, and began its present mission of sustainable organic agriculture. Although the order maintains an interest in its mission and a board seat, Crown Point’s management has passed into the hands of the nonprofit entity, Crown Point Ecology Center.

With eight acres dedicated to sustainable and organic regenerative farming, Crown Point Ecology Center relies on volunteers for all the seeding, transplanting and harvesting. Volunteer Verna Vander Kooi maintains the children’s garden, where young campers explore how vegetables are grown and then sample the harvest. In addition to Vander Kooi, many others help in the fields and greenhouses, where produce is raised from organic seed.

A large part of Crown Point’s mission is providing healthy food for those who are in need. Kean said they donate 30% of their harvest to the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank. The Bath Community Foundation has donated raised beds to grow produce specifically for this cause.

Crown Point also provides fresh vegetables to the Haven of Rest shelter, whose residents can volunteer to work in its designated garden. This year, the Center also gave over 2,000 plants to Akron’s community garden program and received a first-time grant to make container gardens to donate to residents of city neighborhoods.

Kean estimates over 20,000 pounds of produce are produced each year. The Community Supported Agriculture program is another popular community offering. Anyone can pre-purchase a share of various produce harvested throughout the growing season. Kean said the farm has added “pick your own” strawberries and raspberries to the produce offered.


Crown Point also sponsors a farm internship program. Kean explained the interns are usually college students who are studying biology, ecology or agriculture. The internship gives them hands-on experience while learning sustainable methods for growing over 100 different vegetables, tilling techniques, mulching materials, how and when to harvest, and organic pest control.

Carly Zimmerman, a Revere High School graduate, is the farm’s field manager. Zimmerman is a product of Crown Point’s farm internship program, where she first learned the basics of organic sustainable agriculture. She then was promoted to assistant farm manager. As the field manager, Zimmerman is now responsible for the overall plan of everything that is grown at Crown Point, overseeing the work and the harvests, including dedicated fields of beehives for pollination.

Zimmerman said the farm is moving toward an even more sustainable, earth-friendly policy of “no-till” gardening, where the farmer walks behind an individual tiller instead of using a tractor, which compacts the soil.

As if Crown Point was not as busy as one of its beehives already, it is open to the public all summer for trail hiking, and hosts yoga on Mondays, Tai Chi on Wednesdays, and meditation sessions on Saturday mornings.

The center will also be hosting a harvest dinner to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the “Taste of Earth” on Aug. 21. A silent auction will be held inside the center’s 1910 Century Barn with the dinner being served under a tent on the lawn outside.

Information on these programs is available from Crown Point Center’s website or Facebook page. Even more pre-COVID activities at the center will return soon. Kean said, “As restrictions are lifted, we expect to bring back our popular jazz program and cultural awareness dinners.” ∞