In a month of sustainability activities, the students who run the Kenyon Farm invite the community to help plant several hundred pounds of potatoes and to try guiding an old-fashioned plow pulled by draft horses.
At the spring planting day Saturday, April 18, from noon to 4 p.m., local resident Karen Gruner will lead the plow demonstration with her team of horses to show how farmers used to till their fields.
“She plows a field for us and children and adults are welcome to take hold of the plow under her supervision. That’s just fun. People enjoy coming down to see her horses,” said Lisa Schott ’80, who directs the farm and is managing director of Kenyon’s Philander Chase Corporation, which preserves agricultural land and undeveloped spaces around campus.
Campus groups with environmental interests teamed up to coordinate events throughout April, expanding on the Sustainability Week started by the student group Environmental Campus Organization, known as ECO.
Other projects include pansy planting and trash pickup for Middle Path Day on Sunday, April 26, and speeches by David Scott, the president of the Sierra Club’s board of directors. He’ll give two talks on Tuesday, April 21, addressing fracking, rollbacks to Ohio’s clean energy legislation and hurdles to reaching an international climate agreement.
Whit’s Frozen Custard will be served at 3:30 p.m., and volunteers can help build a chicken coop and other construction projects. “It’s an important work day for us,” Schott said.
Getting all the groups together to coordinate this month’s events supports President Sean Decatur’s goal in the Kenyon 2020 draft strategic plan to make sustainability efforts more collaborative, Schott said.
Decatur and Provost Joe Klesner visited the group coordinating April’s events to hear about the plans. “I think the fact that the president took the time to meet with them and show that he cares about this meant a lot to the students,” Schott said.
For the Sierra Club talks April 21, Scott will focus on Ohio policy in an intimate discussion at 11:10 a.m. at the Kenyon Bookstore, and he’ll address U.S. policy at 7 p.m. in the Community Foundation Theater in Gund Gallery.
Schott said the robust schedule of sustainability activities this year was helped by strong student leadership. She praised the work by ECO and its co‐director Lauren Johnstone ’15, an international studies major from Newton, Massachusetts, to attract a prominent speaker and do the behind‐the‐scenes planning. Johnstone invited Scott to campus after reading an article in which he discussed Ohio’s energy laws.
For Middle Path Day on April 26, volunteers will plant pansies around the town area, Gund Commons, Horwitz House and the chapel, ECO member Erin Keleske ’18 said. People also will work in the new hoop house that ECO built as a community garden space. A staple of the event is raking gravel out of the grass back onto Middle Path.
“We all take pride in Middle Path, and Middle Path Day is really about taking that pride into our own hands and appreciating our campus on a more personal level,” said Keleske, of Racine, Wisconsin. Alumni participate in Middle Path Day service projects across the country in April.
The first Middle Path Day in 1971 was a true community effort, College Historian Tom Stamp said. The Collegian reported that 600 people from the College and the community helped that year. Keleske said students, employees and community members are welcome, and ECO is trying to increase student participation by offering online preregistration.
Other events this month focusing on sustainability include an Earth Day Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19, at the Kenyon Athletic Center, where more than 90 exhibitors will provide free activities and sell local goods. An art show featuring large mural illustrations by Beehive Design Collective, a nonprofit activist art group from Maine, will examine the true cost of coal. The exhibit runs 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at the Horn Gallery.