First-ever Farm Harvest Festival kicks off tomorrow

Rachel Craft, Staff Reporter

Tomorrow, the Student Sustainability Council (SSC) and Case Western Reserve University Farm will be co-hosting the first-ever Fall Harvest Festival at Squire Valleevue Farm. Much like past years’ Halloween at the Farm, the festival will expose students to goings-on at the University Farm, of which few people are aware.

“Not a lot of people get a chance to get out to the farm,” says Eric Hamilton, a third-year SSC member who has been helping organize the event since July. Hamilton has volunteered at the farm since last spring, and he says it has much to offer CWRU students. Besides gaining experience with tasks like planting and harvesting, students may also take advantage of hiking trails, facilities for rent, and even opportunities for overnight stays. It’s a great place for outings, he says; “it’s 389 acres and it’s all available for students, or anyone in the community.” Hamilton hopes that the festival will give students a better idea of what the University Farm is and does, and will encourage them to visit more often.

The festival is also intended to raise awareness of the Farm Food Program, a new initiative to use locally grown produce in campus eateries. The project, which just took off last spring, is a cooperative effort between farm staff, Bon Appétit, and SAGES faculty. It was designed to support local farming in every way possible—for instance, the program purchases seeds from local vendors and pots made of locally manufactured plastics. The project aims to not only put fresh, local produce on campus, but to study local food production and create new educational opportunities. It has been hugely successful so far, according to Hamilton; produce planted in the spring is now being harvested at up to 1000 pounds a week.

Ideas are also being tossed around regarding ways to integrate the program, and the farm in general, into CWRU education, possibly in the form of a new SAGES course. Mary Holmes, of CWRU’s SAGES department, and Chris Bond, the farm’s horticulturalist and a leader of the Farm Food Program, will be presenting some of these ideas at the festival. It should be a great opportunity for students to learn more about the Farm Food Program and other more recent developments at the farm.

Attendees will also get a chance to get their hands dirty, if so inclined, planting herbs to take home with them or vegetables that will eventually end up in the dining halls. Other activities include hayrides, a tall grass maze, bonfires (complete with s’mores), and hikes led by the Case Outing Club. Musical performances from several campus a cappella groups, including Speakeasy and Case in Point, as well as live music from student pop group Bending August and numerous CIM students will be featured. The Juggling Club, Ballroom Dance Society, and Spartan Tappers will also provide entertainment. Food, provided by Bon Appétit, will include vegetarian chili, hot dogs, apple cider, and farm-fresh salads.

The event, which will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. at Squire Valleevue Farm, is free for students with a CWRU ID and $3 for other guests. Parking will be available, but there will also be buses taking students to and from the farm regularly. The first bus will depart Thwing at 1:30 p.m. and the last will leave for the farm at 5 p.m.