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First-ever Farm Harvest Festival kicks off tomorrow

Rachel Craft

Issue date: 9/24/10 Section: Focus
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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; up to 1000 pounds of produce planted in the spring is now being harvested every 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 the 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.
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