April 14, 2011

Like Blueberries and Fresh Fruit? Cast Your Vote for CWRU in Communities Take Root

Stephanie Liscio
This empty field can be turned into a blueberry patch
with your vote, according to Horticulturalist Christopher
Bond and University Farm Director Ana Locci. Photo
by Susan Griffith.

How many blueberries are on a bush? You can find out by voting in the 2011 Communities Take Root competition, sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars. More importantly, your vote could help Case Western Reserve University’s Farm Food Program plant an orchard of blueberry bushes at its Hunting Valley farms, which, in turn, could supply the berries to the Bon Appétit kitchens on campus.

In order for the orchard to become a reality, the university must be among the top 20 vote-getting organizations (of the 120 invited to compete) in the online contest, open April 15-Aug. 31.

Your vote counts, but only one a day during the competition—online at www.CommunitiesTakeRoot.com.

Christopher Bond, the University Farms’ horticulturalist, envisions a fallow field filled with bushes next to the farm’s small vineyard, and votes are needed to make it a reality.

This is the second year of the competition. Last year, Edy’s Fruit Bars helped establish 25 orchards across the United States. This year they hope to add another 20. Winners will be selected monthly during the competition and also at the end.

Bond believes the Farm Food Program exemplifies the concept of sustainability, and that it’s the program’s commitment to locally grown food that earned it a place in the competition.

Growing produce on the 389 acres at the Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms took hold last year and is expanding. In 2010, the inaugural year of the sustainable garden program to supply fresh produce for campus, 7,261.8 pounds of vegetables were gathered at 48 separate harvests.

That yield came from a half-acre plot. University Farm Director Ana Locci and Bond plan to expand to 2.5 acres this summer with plots at both farms.

Even after snows covered the farms’ fields, fresh produce—a variety of peppers, cucumbers, green bean and herbs grown in the farm’s Debra Ann November Research Greenhouse—continued to enhance the healthy, organic offerings. So far this year, the farm has had 10 harvests, with a total of 150 pounds of food grown. Some 73 volunteers donated 269 hours by April 8 to help.

It’s no small task to prepare, maintain and harvest the produce, and volunteers have made it possible. In 2010, a total of 3,329.5 hours by 186 volunteers, mostly students, were devoted to the Farm Food Program. That volunteer labor represents almost 20 percent of total hours, Bond said.

The food production will get a sweet boost with the new endeavor of keeping bees for pollination. The byproduct of that busy bee work means plenty of honey for the table, too.

Growing food on the farm has also provided educational experiences for several undergraduate and graduate classes in SAGES, nutrition and engineering.

Bond encourages all to cast a daily vote to bring blueberry bushes to the farm.

Posted by: Emily Mayock, April 14, 2011 09:29 AM | News Topics:

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