Written by Kelly Stenger
I am working towards sustainability by supporting a local farm in Cleveland through service learning volunteer hours. For my service learning project, I volunteered at the Blue Pike Farm, which is located just off of the exit of 72nd street if you are heading into Cleveland from the east. I visited Blue Pike Farm five Wednesdays this past summer and contributed five hours each day as a part of my education for a Service Learning Credit. While at the farm, I participated in weeding, picking berries, transplanting, laying grass seed, harvesting, and sewing seeds.
Blue Pike Farm – Photo by Kelly Stenger
I became interested in service learning at Ursuline because I was missing a credit hour to be able to graduate. I then searched and searched for a location that would fit into my schedule and was of interest to me. I knew I wanted to do something with urban agriculture because it involves the environment and relates to the outlook of philosophers in the Eco Philosophy course I am taking. I have a garden in my backyard and have always been conscientious about what I eat. Urban farms grow plant based foods which are nutrient dense products that meet the needs of the systems within our bodies. I became interested in Blue Pike Farm because it would be a hands-on experience producing foods that I enjoy and the hours worked with my schedule.
Urban agriculture benefits communities in many ways such as providing healthy, affordable food and green space for residents. It is important to me to support local farms because they play a big part in creating a sustainable community, and provide healthy foods we all can benefit from. My experience at Blue Pike Farm taught me a lot about the importance of making healthy foods available to everyone. More than one third of the United States is obese. Urban Farms provide education on healthy foods and where they can be found to surrounding communities.
By volunteering at Blue Pike Farm I learned a few farming techniques and skills that I can use in my backyard. This experience allowed me to see the process from the seed to the harvest. I also have a reference now if I have any questions about different foods or gardening techniques. I like to know what I am eating and where the foods I eat come from. I am now aware of the importance of local farms and food markets in our area and have developed an interest in how they produce and sell their crop. I also learned about Community Supported Agriculture programs. As I finish up my undergraduate education, I will be searching to find places to buy my groceries and this farm could be an option.
I will continue to buy healthy foods that are plant based because it is a part of my support towards conserving, recycling, and sustaining our environment. One acre of land is all it takes to produce an abundance of foods we can enjoy and helps the environment, and it doesn’t get much better than that!