This Saturday, Oct. 6 from noon until 6 p.m., the Squire Valleevue Farm will be hosting the Student Sustainability Council’s (SSC) third annual Farm Harvest Festival, the organization’s largest community-gathering event of the year.
Over the past few years, the festival has become a beloved welcome back event of the first semester, where students can find their off-campus fall adventure right in their own backyard.
“Every year is more and more popular. It is our third year and we keep adding more activities,” said Dr. Ana Locci, farm director. The Farm Harvest Festival began as a joint initiative between the farm and the SSC, the premier environmental organization on campus.
Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, their guests, and outside community members can get a chance to see what the farm food program has produced for Bon Appétit and all of the cafés on campus and enjoy fresh food straight from the farm.
This year’s activities will mix traditional and new, including hayrides, bonfires, s’mores, a tall grass maze, music, hiking, cookie decorating, cooking demonstrations, and outdoor games, as well as exploring bee-keeping, berry farming, and herb planting.
“The farm is like a verdant oasis away from the city, yet only about 10 miles away,” said Chris Bond, a horticulturist at the farm. “It is a great place for the Case Western community to come and both learn and recreate.”
Fresh food will be available for free for students with a CWRU ID and guests will be charged a five dollar fee for food and drinks, with proceeds going to the SSC. The menu will include vegetarian chili, apples, apple cider, roasted vegetables, and fresh salads made with farm produce.
“This year we will have a small farmer’s market selling some seasonal produce, including honey, inside the sheep barn…We will have pumpkins available for sale at the market, as well as some that can be picked,” Bond said. “For the first time, we will have yoga and Zumba classes,” he continued. Yoga and Zumba will be provided by 1-2-1 Fitness, and the farm will also be displaying its new honey house for honey extraction.
CWRU student performers will include Case in Point, the Spartan Tappers, Speakeasy, Juggling Club, Case Ballroom Dance Society, Solstice, Voices of Glory, the Case Men’s Glee Club, and Dhamakapella. Members of Greek Life and Center for Civic Engagement and Learning will be participating as volunteers, and certain activities will be run by the SSC and various Residence Hall Association Community Councils.
The SSC will be putting their trademark “zero waste” stamp on the event, promoting the Office for Sustainability’s “Green your Event” campaign. “Zero waste basically means just getting the event to send the lowest possible amount of materials to the landfills,” said Abby Dwornik, SSC Vice Chair. Volunteers will be running the waste stations to ensure correct composting and disposal.
“For us it’s really about getting people out to the farm to realize it exists and to realize we have local food in our backyard…it’s an important part of sustainability at Case Western,” she said. “The Farm Harvest Festival is special [for the SSC] because it’s an event where everyone can get involved and have fun as a community.”
The festival is also a great way for first-time visitors to explore the academic and volunteer opportunities the farm has to offer. “[The farm] is the university’s outdoor classroom. It serves all the university schools,” she said. “[The Farm Harvest Festival] really showcases the farm food program and the farm’s facilities.”
The farm food program is a new initiative to provide local and healthy food to the CWRU dining halls. The farm has provided over 18,000 pounds of fresh food to the campus dining halls, and student volunteers provide 25 percent of the labor. So far this year, the farm has had 289 student volunteers with a total of 1430 hours.
In addition, the farm has provided over 10,000 hours of teaching instruction to undergraduate, graduate, local schools, and continuing education programs in 2012.
“I would like to have a many freshmen as possible get to visit the farm very early in their time at Case Western,” said Locci. “As several students have pointed out to me, their time at the farm has made their Case Western experience an unforgettable one.”
Complimentary transportation to and from the farm will begin at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Thwing Center.