Members of the SSC at the 2018 Festival
At the end of September, students visited the University Farm for the ninth annual Farm Harvest Festival. The University Farm - Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms - is made up of two large parcels, one willed to the Case Western Reserve University College for Women (later renamed the Flora Stone Mather Women’s College) in 1937 and another by Jeptha Homer Wade II in 1977, as well as three smaller parcels, two donated by the Hollister family, and one purchased with funds contributed by an anonymous donor. The festival is the second most attended event put on at Case Western Reserve University each year and the most attended event that is organized by students.
Those who attend have the opportunity to partake in a variety of activities like planting basil or taking a hay ride or learning about the research and programs at the farm such as growing produce that is used in the dining halls, beekeeping, and composting the waste from campus.
The festival was born when longtime Farm Director Dr. Ana Locci realized that more members of the CWRU Community needed to connect with the land in order for it to be preserved. In 2010, the university considered leasing the land for gas drilling. It was saved this fate in part by research done by Locci and then Vice President for Institutional Planning Kenneth Kutina PhD, a version of which was later published in Planning for Higher Education Journal. The article suggested that the possible profit from leasing the land was minimal and the environmental costs, especially water pollution, severe. But, just as important was the support of the Alumnae of the Flora Stone Mather College for preserving the farm for conservation, education, and recreation. With this in mind, Dr. Locci and Eric Hamilton, a student leader with the Student Sustainability Council set out to connect each new generation of students to this land that the University is lucky to have. The result is nearly a decade of successful Farm Harvest Festivals.
Besides helping students and other CWRU community members appreciate the outdoors, it also teaches participants about sustainability. I have already mentioned the composting and locally grown food program. What is more, for several years now each event has been zero waste (all waste is either recycled or composted) and all food has been vegetarian, with the exception of chocolate covered crickets, crickets being the least resource-intensive option for animal protein.
Staring in 2017, the Fowler Center has supported the event through co-sponsorship or volunteering time each year. We are glad to be helping to sustain this CWRU tradition.
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