Sustainability leads Xavier to Grailville

By: Sarris Balcerzak ~Staff Writer~

Xavier students, faculty, staff and alumni visit Grailville farm for annual sustainability tour

Xavier students, faculty, staff and alumni drove 20 miles off campus to Loveland, Ohio, for the Grailville Sustainability Tour.
Grailville’s farm manager, Mary Lu Lageman, led the tour around the green landscape of the rural site’s sustainability features on Jan. 24.

“I got to see an alternative way to reuse water. People talk about being sustainable all the time but never really act on it. Grailville has taken the initiative to try to make this world a better place,” sophomore Patrick Bellman said.

During the tour, Bellman and other students learned that humans use water faster than it can be cleaned and replenished. Some of the focus at Grailville is to divert used water back to the earth.

The tour group saw how the restrooms by the House of Joy move through the system, opening cisterns and control boxes. Sustainability director Ann Dougherty remarked on the importance of hand-on learning.

“I like tours because everything I read and see in books makes more sense once I see it in real time,” Dougherty said.

Grailville is a part of a larger women’s organization called The Grail in the United States. The group is concerned with peace, justice and renewal of the earth through social transformation and ecological sustainability.

“I really liked learning about the community and what they stand for. They have a strong passion for the environment,” Bellman said.
Visitors of Grailville are quick to see it as a way of life rather than a sustainability site. The women who run the organization have designed it to actively pursues a more ecological world.

“I am starting to get it: they work on physical projects like wetland treatment systems and organic farming to show examples of how we can renew the earth. Tending to the earth leads one back to tending to relationships – economic, personal, family, neighborhoods – and when our relationships are fair and good for all that is justice. And this all leads back to peace. But it’s not just a concept – you have to practice it. And Grailville is about practice,” Dougherty said.

“The purpose of hosting field trips like these is to give students experiential learning opportunities that supplement the information students will learn in class about environmental topics and in turn enhance their knowledge about sustainability on a deeper level,” sustainability intern Taylor Roberts said.

The Grailville Sustainability Tour is a part of the Spring 2015 Xavier University Sustainability Field Trips, which are opened to anyone in the Xavier community interested in sustainability.

“These field trips also help connect students to the sustainable community within Cincinnati and introduce them to the different ways Cincinnati is trying to go green. Plus, they are a fun way to meet new people who hold similar perspectives about the environmental issues,” Roberts said.
People can get involved by joining the Sustainability Club. Students can contact club president Nikki Bell by emailing her at
Students can also find other updates and field trip opportunities by visiting