North Residential Village students visiting the Coffee House before attending their first class may notice more than residence halls when they look across Juniper Rd. Currently in its second year of operation, The Garden@Case is continuing to add a dose of green to the campus while offering volunteer opportunities to the university and nutritious produce to the local community.
The garden became a reality in 2011 following the simultaneous desires of Kathleen Dowdell, senior administrator in the Department of Anthropology and Christopher Thornton, former head of serials for the Kelvin Smith Library (KSL).
“We hope to get more people involved in this endeavor,” Kathleen Dowdell, co-chair of The Garden@Case explained. “We’re not in this to take food home…we’re in it to partner with the Cory Hunger Center on East 105th St. in Cleveland.”
The Cory Hunger Center is operated by the Cory Methodist Church and is located just minutes away from the Case Western Reserve University campus.
Although formed by CWRU staff, the garden committee welcomes all prospective volunteers in order to fulfill this purpose. “We’re open to students, faculty, staff, and people who live in the neighborhood and want to help out,” Dowdell said. “The only [prerequisite] is feeling passionate and wanting to give back to the local community.”
According to Dowdell, volunteering is made easy and is not a strenuous task. “Volunteers help us with weeding, watering, and the upkeep of the garden,” she explained. “We have a garden log where we post anything that we’ve done, from turning on the water to harvesting.”
However, the garden is not just capturing the attention of university volunteers; in fact, it has attracted assistance as far away as New England this summer. Dowdell’s committee was contacted by members of a New England Church of Christ who wanted to volunteer their time to support the garden. On July 9, students and adults from the church worked at the garden for half of a day, pulling weeds and laying straw, before continuing on to the University Farm.
Students with the ELS Learning Center, located in Stone Commons on the CWRU campus, also volunteered at the garden over the summer months. “The international students were able to work on campus and have interaction with English-speaking people so their language skills could be reinforced,” Dowdell noted.
For members of the university community interested in volunteering or learning more about The Garden@Case, committee representatives will be on hand at the Eco-Showcase on Sept. 6 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The event will be held on the KSL oval and is part of the Inamori Ethic Prize celebration.
The garden committee generally meets on the first Thursday of every month, and during the winter months they will use this time to strategize for the year ahead and discuss marketing plans. Individuals interested in volunteering with the committee can contact Dowdell at firstname.lastname@example.org or her co-chair, Brian Gray at email@example.com.