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College is about more than a degree


Posted on June 9, 2014 by Annmarie Ely, Delaware Valley College media relations and publications coordinator .

Students come to Delaware Valley University’s campus to earn degrees in a wide-range of fields, but that’s not the only reason they’re here. Many of our students are here because they see something in the world that they want to change-something they want to improve.

Zach Gihorski ’12, was one of those students as an undergraduate. He learned how many people right in Bucks County were facing hunger and the statistics didn’t sit well with him. Zach asked Russell Redding, dean of agriculture and environmental sciences, for five minutes of his time, to talk about what “we are going to do about hunger.”

That conversation turned into a lot longer than five minutes, and led to a partnership that as of October 2013 had produced 51,298 pounds of fresh, healthy food for people in need.

Courtesy: Delaware Valley College Zach Gihorski ’12

In 2012, Zach and a group of concerned DelVal students announced a project that would use college land to grow food for people in need. The project, Hope of the Harvest, is a partnership between Delaware Valley University, Philabundance, the Bucks County Opportunity Council, The United Way of Bucks County, The Land O'Lakes Foundation, The Reinvestment Fund and The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation/ Pharo Family Fund. 

It started with just one acre on DelVal’s main campus in Doylestown. In 2013, the project tripled in size to three acres, which are split between the Roth Center For Sustainable Agriculture in North Wales, Pa., and the College’s main campus. In 2014, thanks to grant support, DelVal will harvest the first produce grown indoors in campus greenhouses. Growing food indoors allows Hope of the Harvest to provide pantries with fresh food after the traditional growing season ends, a time when it is difficult to get fresh food donated.

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”

At Delaware Valley University, that kind of thinking is at the core of who we are. Hope of the Harvest is one teaching tool that we use to reinforce the idea that our students can and should be part of improving their communities.

"We want to have the students understand that they're part of something bigger and that their energy, knowledge, and relationships are helping us all with a contemporary pressing issue, which is hunger," said Russell Redding, DelVal's dean of agriculture and environmental sciences.

We have big goals for Hope of the Harvest and it is a project that people both on and off campus believe in. Our alumni like Tom Wakefield ’72, of Land O’Lakes and Jamie Haddon ’95, president and CEO of the United Way of Bucks County, are helping us get grants, and making the case that it’s something worth investing in. Those two people believing in Hope of the Harvest and making the case for it helped us get $99,000 in grant support so far.

Our goal is to reach 100,000 pounds of production per year by 2017. Help us get there! Spend a few hours of your time volunteering in the garden at Bucks Knocks Out Hunger on June 20 and, if you like it come back and see us again. With every person who decides to support this project we plant just a little more hope for those in need.

Courtesy: Delaware Valley College A Hope of the Harvest volunteer