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Author: Beth Bridgeman

Beth Bridgeman / Author

Beth Bridgeman is an Assistant Professor of Cooperative Education at Antioch College. Her professional practice areas are informed by community engagement and student-centered experiential learning pedagogy. She teaches courses in co-constructed learning, agrarian systems, reskilling and resilience, plant medicine, seed-saving, and harvest preservation, utilizing the Antioch Farm and campus as a learning laboratory. From 2013-2015 she led the Ohio Agrarian Trade Partnership at Antioch College, developing fifty-two cooperative education partnerships in sustainable food production throughout Ohio. Bridgeman previously served for twelve years as a county extension educator with The Ohio State University, focusing on sustainable agriculture and experiential learning opportunities for youth and adults.



Beth develops partnerships and field-based agro-ecology, Japanese cultural immersion and experiential education opportunities for Antioch students. She has led two student trips to the Seed-Saver Exchange conference in Iowa. In 2015 she created Antioch Seed School, a seven day seed-sovereignty intensive, and in 2016 offered Ohayo-Ohio: an eight day Japanese symposium of 30 workshops, presentations, and films. In 2017, she designed a four-college residency with the Rich Earth Institute, during which students built a prototype urine-diverting compost toilet and learned about human nutrient recapture. She maintains relationships with alumni and partners in New England, California, Japan and Colorado.



       Recent Presentations:

Decolonizing Herbalism, Community Solutions' Pathways for Rengeneration: Soil, Food and Plant Medicine conference, November, 2019. 

Food, Forage, Farm, Feast: Teaching Reskilling, Sustainability and Commensality at Antioch College,  Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Educaction, Spokane, WA, October, 2019.

Decolonizing Herbalism, School of the Alternative, Black Mountain, North Carolina. May 24-29, 2019. 

The Antioch College Apothecary: Place-Based Experiential Learning, Society of Ethnobiology conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 4, 2019.

The Outdoor Apothecary: Teas and Tinctures, Syrups and Salves, Environmental Education Council of Ohio Annual Conference, Perrysville, OH. April 5, 2019. 

How to Save Seed and Why You Should, Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association, Dayton, Ohio, February 16, 2019

Seedsaving and Community ResilienceCollege of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University, February 2, 2019.

History of Seed Patent Law in the United States Since 1930, InFACT Seed to Sustainability, Antioch College, October 21, 2017

Community Efforts and Environmentalism, Chatham College Food and Climate Change conference October 14, 2017

Seed-saving Teaching Methods for School Gardening, OSU Extension Annual School Gardening Conference, October 13, 2017

Saving Heritage Seed, Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden, August 24, 2017




Beth Bridgeman Re-establishing a Seed Commons through Oral History Methodology: Capturing the Story of Seed

Nov 24, 2019

“Re-establishing a Seed Commons through Oral History Methodology:  Capturing the Story of Seed ” is a research project that provides a venue for preserving knowledge of the nearly lost art of saving seed while grounding students in an epistemology of hope as they document change-makers who are charting a course forward into the great uncertainty of the Anthropocene. It highlights storytelling and mindful listening as a means of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next, and engages students in a high-impact pedagogy within a community of practice.

In fall of 2019, Beth Bridgeman, assistant professor of cooperative education,  offered  “Seed Sovereignty and Citizen Action”, an advanced level eleven-week course into which this project was incorporated.

When we save seed, we are saving the important germplasm, or genetic material, within that seed. But it is critical also, to save the story of that seed.  Who are those working at the forefront of seed sovereignty today? How are they saving seed, and why? What are their stories?  Why do they save this particular seed? Where did it come from? Was it passed down through their family? Which ancestor passed it down?  What mattered to those ancestors? What did they hope for? For how many generations has it been saved? How far back can the seed be traced? What are the memories associated with the saving of this seed?

Students identified, interviewed and archived the stories of seed-savers and those who are working to re-establish a new seed commons, thereby utilizing oral history and experiential methodology in their own learning, and making available to the public these impactful strategies of seed mentors and seed elders who are “fighting the good fight”.

Interviewees were identified through partnerships with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm AssociationRocky Mountain Seed Alliance, and Seed Savers Exchange.

“[But] someone needs to keep up an old method if it’s not to be lost; some young person needs to get interested and begin the life’s work of mastering the craft; be it botanical art or baking salt-raising bread or making saddles. Like lifeforms themselves, human crafts must be continually renewed, regrown inside a living person, or they become obsolete, extinct, within a generation”.[i]

[i] Howsare, Erika. “The Magnificence of Seeing.” Taproot, 14 Nov. 2017.

Listen to the Student Interviews:





The Antioch Apothecary: Teas and Tinctures, Syrups and Salves – Beth Bridgeman Faculty Spotlight

Apr 18, 2018

With uncertainty over health insurance coverage and out-of-control medical costs, including pharmaceuticals, there is a renewed interest today in taking control of one’s own health care and in relearning about herbal medicines and folk remedies. Herbal and plant medicines have been documented back to 5000 years. Until the mid 20th century, natural cures and herbs were common among many Americans. Many doctors utilized these older remedies, and today, a number of modern prescription drugs in the Global North are still directly plant-based.

In this hands-on course taught by Antioch faculty member Beth Bridgeman, students made teas, tinctures, balms, vinegars, tonics, syrups, salves and poultices for treating many common ailments and gained a basic understanding of the four major herbal-medicine traditions; Chinese, Ayurvedic, European and Native American, and commonalities of each. They explored the role that women have played in healing traditions throughout history; who, from ancient times and still today, provide much of the world’s primary care. The course also covered the history of medical plants, from aromatic magic to mainstream medicine, from Hildegaard of Bingen to Nicholas Culpepper, from the 19th Century Ohio Eclectics to the current work of the Ohio United Plant Savers, and walk away with a variety of remedies made from common plants.


Global Seminar: Reskilling, Sustainability and Community Engagement-Fall 2017

Apr 18, 2018

This is a course, in the words of David Foster Wallace, about “adjusting our default setting”; using reskilling as a tool for mindfulness and community-building. One of the consequences of increasing specialization and monetization of the economy is that skills that were once common among the general population, skills that by their nature contributed to a sense of community, skills that could not be accomplished without thought and intention, are now shared by few.

What is reskilling and why is it important? Phillip Barnes describes it as “the acquisition of skills essential to satisfy basic needs in a localized and carbon-constrained future… Reskilling is a process, ongoing and never-ending, that evolves as conditions change and contexts change. It is first and foremost a community-oriented method….While one can learn reskilling by watching a video or reading a book, it is the face-to-face interactions that build community….where a talented and knowledgeable individual or group teaches other people what they know.”[i]

Together with essays and reflections on the nature of home-based work, presentations by innovators tackling difficult problems we face as we move in to a time of uncertainty, and hands on skill-building in each session, this course offered tools for increasing awareness, self-agency and community-building.  Skills learned included herbal medicines, acorn bread, soap-making, canning, mending, basic wiring,  felting/repurposing wool. Other skills were determined by the interests of the classroom community awere student-taught. These included bagel-making, knitting, fire-starting, atole, walnut ink, making cordage from nettle, and potato candy.

[i] Barnes, Phillip, “What is Reskilling Anyway?” Transition US. Web. October 13, 2014.



Integrative Learning on the Antioch Farm: Global Seminar in Food, Farming and Resilience

Apr 18, 2018

Students in Beth Bridgeman’s Global Seminar spent spring of 2017 learning about biochar, wildcrafting, beekeeping, goatmilking, regenerative agriculture, horsedrawn plowing, culture and the power of food memories, culminating in an all day cooking session and feast.


Faculty Spotlight: Beth Bridgeman

Sep 29, 2017

Beth Bridgeman was the invited guest speaker at the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden on August 23 where she spoke on the history of U.S. seed patent legislation since 1930, gene trait and utility patent law and seed sovereignty. She is an invited speaker at the Ohio School Garden conference on October 13 and a panelist on “Community Efforts and Environmentalism”  at the Chatham College Food and Climate Change conference October 14.  On October 21, she is co-presenting  at the InFACT Seed to Sustainability Workshop at Antioch College with Dr David Francis,  geneticist and tomato plant breeder from the Ohio Agriculture and Research Development Center. Second in a series of four statewide workshops, the InFACT series provides professional training for seedsavers, grower and plant breeders. Bridgeman and Francis will speak on seed policy law for small-scale commercial seed production.


Student Spotlight: Valerie Benedict ’18

May 19, 2017
Valerie Benedict, Class of 2018, completed her most recent co-op at NorthShore University HealthSystems, in Evanston, IL last Fall. She worked in a hospital where she was stationed in the cardiology department. During her time at NorthShore, Valerie  says she primarily worked in data entry, and she also shadowed surgeons in various surgeries, which she says was her favorite part of the co-op.
She also had the opportunity to participate in the development of a research project on childhood consumption of high-sugar drinks, and its effects on children’s health at large. This manifested in educational programs in Evanston and Chicago area schools, and her team visited students to present “sugar shows,” as Valerie called them. In these presentations, the researchers would demonstrate the sugar content of various drinks to students. The goal was to empower students to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which contribute to various health problems such as obesity and cardiac disease. Ultimately, over the year during which the presentations and studies were conducted, Valerie’s team found positive effects in the schools they visited, although she says that schools in lower socioeconomic districts were less likely to have the positive results seen in the high-income area schools. The research team also compiled a paper on the findings of the study.
Since Valerie’s co-op in the Fall of 2016, the article has gone through an extensive process of peer-review. Now, the article has been approved for publication in a formal academic journal later this year, and Valerie is a credited co-author! Congratulations Valerie, on this outstanding accomplishment!
Text quoted from an interview with Valerie Benedict ’18 on May 18, 2017.


Reskilling and Resilience class – Winter 2017

Apr 18, 2017

Reskilling and Resilience

One of the consequences of increasing specialization and monetization of the economy is that skills that were once common among the general population are now shared by few. This course  introduced students to multiple arts and crafts of daily living and resilience practices that can reduce their footprint. With hands on skill-building in each session, Reskilling and Resilience offered tools for increasing student agency and confidence to become artists of their own lives.  Skills include urine-diverted compost toilet, basic wiring, home maintenance and repair, seed-saving, spinning, warmth on the homestead, basic tools, felting/repurposing wool, wildcrafting/herbal medicines, soap-making, canning, sewing and mending, living on a very small budget, and baking.



Faculty Spotlight: Beth Bridgeman

Apr 17, 2017
This March, co-op faculty member Beth Bridgeman facilitated a visit to campus from Kim Nace, the executive director of the Rich Earth Insitute.
The Rich Earth Institute is an organization that is doing cutting-edge research to develop methods of urine compost with funding from various national organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the USDA, the EPA, as well as the Water Environment and Reuse Foundation.
Kim spoke to various groups on campus and in the community to share information about the work of the Rich Earth Institute, and led a design-build session on campus to create a urine diversion dry composting outhouse.
Beth Bridgeman, who organized Kim’s visit, shared the following about the various activities offered over the course of the visit: “The Rich Earth Institute presented to 131 students in seven different classrooms, worked with 24 students on the design-build prototype toilet, and did a community-wide presentation to the Yellow Springs public to which 23 people attended. In addition, a conversation was opened with the Ohio Department of Health for future research opportunities on this project to benefit the Yellow Springs and greater surrounding public. It opened up an important conversation on a critical issue of dealing with water shortages, river and lake contamination, coming phosphorus shortages, and wastewater treatment nutrient overloads. It placed Antioch College, and Yellow Springs, in the vanguard of innovative thinking in this area and secured our spot as leaders in this conversation. Other organizations, such as Community Solutions, are seeking our additional input on their own research efforts. Antioch College had a unique opportunity, due to the generosity of YSCF, of being a regional higher education leader in sustainability.”
Originally published in the “What’s Happening in Co-op This Week” newsletter on April 14th, 2017.


Student Spotlight: Julia Bates ’17 and Meridian Howes ’17

Feb 23, 2017
Having completed the rigorous, three-year Japanese language track, Julia Bates ’17 and Meridian Howes ’17 were awarded the Lloyd Family Fellowship and traveled to Osaka, Japan. While in Osaka, Julia and Meridian worked at Suisen Fukushukai, a social services organization providing a variety of services and care for both children, adults, and seniors.
Coop faculty and advisor, Beth Bridgeman worked alongside former Antioch College Japanese teaching assistant, Haruna Tomura, to establish this partnership. Julia and Meridian were the first Antioch College students to work at Suisen Fukushukai. The organization was thrilled with the work that Julia and Meridian contributed in their time there and look forward to continuing the partnership and hosting many more Antioch College students. Much of their work revolved around childcare, assisting adults with intellectual disabilities, providing services to senior citizens.
Check out a post featured on the Suisen Fukushikai webpage about Julia and Meridian’s time in Japan! For the Japanese version, click here. For the English version, click here.
For more information on Suisen Fukushukai, visit their site here.


Faculty Spotlight: Beth Bridgeman, Toyoko Miwa, and Louise Smith

Jan 11, 2017
Japan Foundation Grant Announced
Three Antioch College faculty members have received a $24,000 grant from the Japan Foundation. The grant is offered to support institutions “that execute proposals designed to maintain and advance the infrastructural scale of Japanese Studies at their institution.”
Building on the success of the Antioch College Ohayo-Ohio Japanese Symposium in 2016, Toyoko Miwa Osborne, instructor of Japanese, Beth Bridgeman, Instructor of Cooperative Education, and Louise Smith, Associate Professor of Performance, Antioch College will offer Ohayo-Ohio II: New Opportunities for Cultural Engagement, Building Foundation, “HIYAKU”. It will include Japanese cultural workshops and lectures for our students, faculty, and the community and highlight the work of Antioch College alumni working in the fields of kyogen, butoh, washi and sado (chado).
Miwa-Osborne will offer an “Orizuru” symposium, bringing the film’s director and a panel of collaborators to discuss the making of this film, which tells the story behind Sadako and the Paper Cranes, and the bombing of Hiroshima. Smith will bring visiting artists and alumni Abel Coehlo, Butoh performer, and Dr. Julie Iezzi, theatre professor and kyogen performer, to offer a variety of workshops and performances. Bridgeman will bring several additional Antioch alumni and artists from Japan and the U.S. whose careers in Japan or Japanese culture were informed by the experiential education they received at Antioch College.  Kyoto-based Richard Milgrim, a tea ceramicist and tea master, will perform a tea ceremony and lead a discussion and demonstration of his tea ceramics process. Chiba, Japan-based Everett Brown, a photojournalist, organic farmer and inn-keeper, will offer a lecture from his upcoming book on the “37,000 Year History of How the Japanese Do Things Special.” and will lead a session on the Farm to Table movement in Japan. He will exhibit his work in collaboration with Milgrim and University of Iowa-based alumnus and washi expert Timothy Barrett. Other alumni whose careers focus on Japanese culture and arts will be invited to participate as well.