Focus on sustainability

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On Sept. 17 from 1-6 p.m., the Student Sustainability Council (SCC) hosted their annual Farm Harvest Festival, a tradition since 2010. According to Heather Eby, secretary of the SCC and a second-year chemical engineering student, “the group’s goals were to educate Case Western Reserve University students, staff, faculty and community members about the University Farm, campus sustainability initiatives, the merits of eating locally and to get everyone outside and thinking about environmental sustainability.”   

The event started off a little slow and gloomy, though that probably had more to do with the cloudy weather than anything else. The buses arrived promptly and were continuously running on a great schedule, which made going to and leaving the farm a breeze.

Almost everyone who arrived on the first round of buses gravitated towards the food. While the selection had little variety, the idea behind it was cool. All of the vegetables, apples and various other ingredients in the food came from University Farm, playing into the event’s theme on sustainability. Also, the utensils, bowls and plates were compostable, limiting the event’s carbon footprint. In fact, the only part of the meal that could not be composted were the cups, but even then, those were recyclable.

There were several events held across the farm, giving its attendees options for how they wanted to spend their time. Many people spent their time in the central hub of the event located in the November Meeting Center. That was where the info desk, food, henna, herbs and other activities were, as well as performances from various groups.

The performances ranged from a local band called “Sasha and the Midnight” to on campus student performance groups including Solstice, IMPROVment, Case Men’s Glee Club, Speakeasy, Nritya, Voices of Glory, Spartan Bhangra, Dhamakapella, CWRU Juggling Club and Case in Point. The performances definitely attracted most of the attendees, with an especially large crowd for IMPROVment, CWRU’s comedy improvisation group.

Outside of the November Meeting Center was the lawn,where s’mores, a corn hole tournament and a petting zoo, among other things, could be found. I have never seen so many people happy to go pet a pony, goats, lambs and pigs before. It was almost like animal therapy before diving into midterms in the upcoming weeks.

Some of the more interesting events held at the festival were the making of lip balm and facial scrubs that contained no microbeads. It was interesting to learn from the “Advocates for Cleveland Health” group the effects of microbeads on not only the environment and wildlife, but humans too, and how something as simple as olive oil and sugar can be used as an environmentally conscious facial scrub instead of the consumer ones that contain microbeads.

Overall, I felt like the event probably could have been better had it not been rainy. I learned a bit about sustainability, though not as much as I anticipated. Nevertheless, it was nice to get off campus and see what University Farm had to offer as well as learn something new about sustainability.

After the event, I caught up with Eby, who thought “the event turned out well. Everyone seemed to enjoy the local apples, vegetarian food, great performances and activities while still learning about being more environmentally conscious.” Eby said she believes everyone enjoyed themselves—as she knows she did—and her favorite part of the festival was volunteering and helping with the corn hole tournament.

Looking forward, she said, “Next year, hopefully it doesn’t rain so we can spread events over the farm, so people can explore more of the farm.” As a final thought, she added, “[I] would like to thank everyone who came out to the festival and hope that they learned something about how to be a bit more sustainable and carry that into their daily lives.”

Event: Farm Harvest Festival

Group: SCC

When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 1–6 p.m.

Where: University Farm

Rating: 3 ½ Stars