Farm Club harvests crops

GVL / Ellie Phillips
Youssef Darwich, President of the Farm Club, sorting vegetables harvested for the party.

GVL / Ellie Phillips Youssef Darwich, President of the Farm Club, sorting vegetables harvested for the party.

Ellie Phillips

Nearly 40 people gathered Friday at the Grand Valley State University Sustainable Agriculture Project
for three hours of volunteer work that culminated in the sixth annual Farm Club Harvest Party.

“I’d definitely consider this a success,” said Youssef Darwich, president of the GVSU Farm Club. “We
have so many great people out here, great food—we actually have an abundance of food, which is
good and bad, but it’s all wonderful.”

Vases of Swiss chard decorated the tables set up in the yard as the guests sat down to an entirely
vegetarian, mostly vegan meal, including salad, tomato soup, turnips, sweet potatoes, pesto and

“Most of the food here we grew ourselves, and the people who grew it took part in harvesting it,
preparing it, cooking it and eating it,” Darwich said. “We got to bring all these different people
together who have been involved and who haven’t been involved. It’s just a wonderful atmosphere.”

The day leading up to the party involved hours of preparation, from set-up to cooking, and even some
‘regular’ work for the Farm Club; planting spinach sprouts in the hoop house and trees in the field.

“They’re planting trees today, fruit trees, and we’re going to plant a lot more,” Darwich said. “There’s
so much room for growth and that is really exciting.”

With the SAP still being relatively new, events like this are still sprouting.

“We haven’t done this many sort of events,” said Levi Gardner, Sustainable Agriculture Project
manager. “It’s only been around five years but in its full expression that it is now, so this is kind of the
first of its kind.”

The SAP is a collaborative effort between GVSU students, faculty and staff to promote sustainable
agriculture on the Allendale Campus. Since it began in 2008, it has expanded to include two hoop
houses, a greenhouse, a community garden and a variety of sustainability-related initiatives
demonstrating the SAP’s dedication to sustainable food systems and organic farming practices.

“When I was working here four years ago, it was often just me,” Gardner said. “There would be weeks
when I was working here just me, and this week we will have had over 150 students here, so it was a
tremendous success.”

Dana Eardley, a GVSU student and active member in the Farm Club, said she was pleased with the

“This is an event that we’ve been wanting to do on this sort of scale for quite a while, but we just
never have the planning to go into it,” she said. “I think it was really nice to get some new faces out
there, and I think a lot of students when they come together and meet the people at the farm realize
what a warm and inviting community it is, so they are more eager and wanting to help out and
volunteer with us.”

Though she felt this year’s party was a success, Eardley is already thinking about planning for next

“To improve, I would have found a way to advertise a little bit more heavily,” she said. “I think as far as
the food and the planning, as far as that goes, it went really well, but it would be nice to see some
more faces.”

Gardner said the planning for next year’s party will probably start soon, but he wants to encourage
more involvement throughout the entire year.

“Every time we have an event, it’s kind of like—how can we put enough effort into it so that it’s
meaningful for people to attend?” he said. “Quite frankly, I think every Friday afternoon when we have
volunteers—that’s an event. So, it means that we’re going to keep doing that, too.”

Volunteer hours are between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. The SAP Farm is located
at 4539 Luce St. near the Allendale Campus.

For more information, visit or contact Levi Gardner at
[email protected].

[email protected]