Recently, there have been incidents of vandalism at the campus farm, which led to destruction of farm supplies and a lost harvest.
Shippensburg University’s campus farm is located off Britton Road near Burd Run stream and offers educational experiences, volunteering opportunities and fresh produce to both the university and surrounding community. During the last snow, a folding table was used as a sled and returned to the shed bent, with no legs. Additionally, a shovel and supply shed door handle were broken, and the greenhouse door was left open overnight. “We have a lot of green vegetables like swiss chard and spinach and stuff in there, and they just left the door open, so it got really really cold,” said Sean Cornell, a Shippensburg University professor and campus farm director. “Of course, the greenhouse is supposed to keep things warm, so it froze out a lot of our vegetables and we weren’t able to make our delivery to Shippensburg Produce Outreach.”
“I don’t want people to think they can be destructive. If you want to go there and get food, go get food, but certainly don’t destroy the hard work that other people have put into this project,” Cornell continued. This act was detrimental to both the farm’s initiatives to reduce waste and their hand in the surrounding community. Shippensburg’s campus farm is in its third year of growing crops nonstop. In the winter, it focus on cold crops like swiss chard and kale, but also have plants growing under covers to be used in March. This constant process takes many hands, but it is invaluable.
The farm is constantly expanding and doing research to improve Shippensburg’s ecological footprint. For example, internally, they are starting to set up fences for goats, which should be added to the farm in the spring. It currently houses chickens and is also looking to add rabbits. “They do all have a role to play there. They do a lot of maintaining weeds and things, so every animal there will have a big purpose,” Cornell said.
They are also looking into a possible research project at Reisner Dining Hall involving the addition of tasting spoons. These spoons would allow students to try dishes before taking large portions, thus eliminating unnecessary food waste. “We have a really high number of pounds per student in terms of our waste, so that’s something we have to start working on,” Cornell said, “We’ll try to figure out if this starts helping with our waste tally.”
One of the newest project’s is the Ship Compost project. Students from Enactus a year and a half ago carried out a project discussing the benefits of large-scale campus composting efforts. After their work got the project started, they received two grants to help put it into action with the help of the Environmental Club and Center for Land Use and Sustainability. These will go toward a food pulper for Reisner that will collect and remove excess water from food waste to create a pulp. The pulp will be mixed with leaf and plant debris from around campus to produce compost for the farm and other parts of campus in a closed loop system.
The only thing missing from this initiative is a tractor to transport the material and resulting compost. The Green League has been tabling on campus in the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) every other Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to fundraise for the tractor. “We want to emphasize the importance of the campus farm to Shippensburg’s students and community,” Mavis Anderson, the president of the Green League said. Anderson is also head of Students for Environmental Action and Sustainability (SEAS) and is passionate about promoting respect for the environment. She explained that their group works closely with the campus farm and plans workdays where members and others help plant seeds, pick weeds, harvest fresh produce and help maintain the chickens. They also supply the campus farm with materials and budgeting. All of these organizations make efforts towards enhancing sustainability on campus through events and fundraising and help to implement research projects.
The environmental groups on campus do a great deal of work to help not only keep the campus farm up but also to improve other facets of campus. The vandalism the farm recently faced is disrespectful to that effort.
Students interested in learning more about the Green League, Ship Compost or any current sustainability projects on campus can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.