Good Earth Farm

Volunteers working at the Good Earth Farm

Good Earth Farm's Keith Ray

Student Keith Ray holding a basket of green peppers from the farm

Good Earth Farm workers

Workers tending to the crops

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Good Earth Farm provides volunteer opportunities

Local farm provides food for 25 food shelters


Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Good Works, and Kids on Campus are just a few of the ways students can get involved with community service at Ohio University.

But how involved do you get? A couple of hours a week? One day on the weekend? That is all that is typically expected of student volunteers who have courses, homework and other extracurricular activities to worry about during the academic year.

This summer, however, sophomore Kelley McArthur took it a step further. She doesn’t just spend a couple of hours a week planting, watering and harvesting vegetables at Good Earth Farm, she is an intern and resident – living there 24/7.

Good Earth Farm is a community farm at 10011 Armitage Rd. in Athens located at mile marker 5 1/2 on the Hockhocking bike path that provides food to local food pantries and soup kitchens.

The Good Earth Farm provides 5,000 pounds of produce to 25 food pantries, women’s shelters and other centers of need in the region, according to the farm’s Facebook page. 

This year, in the farm’s third growing season, the goal is 25,000 pounds. Several students volunteer at Good Earth Farm during the school year and a couple of them have continued to do so during the summer. However, McArthur is the only student who has made volunteering at the farm a fulltime commitment.

A summer internship of this kind seems unusual for a public relations major, but McArthur’s goal was to learn more about herself than to get a job.

“I have realized that becoming a hard worker does not happen the moment I am handed hard work to do,” McArthur wrote in her blog. “I wanted to come here and work hard, but working hard isn’t something that just happens – it’s a decision.”

Besides learning about herself and the art of growing a vegetable field, McArthur’s volunteer time has given her a new experience with Christianity as well. A group called the Common Friars, a religious order through the Episcopal Church, operates Good Earth Farm.

“It’s really interesting to experience a different type of worship,” McArthur said. This includes waking up at 6:30 a.m. for morning prayer and celebrating the Eucharist on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.

For the typical volunteer, however, Good Earth Farm is no more than getting dirty for a good cause.

Another volunteer, senior Keith Ray, said the environment at the farm is welcoming. For Ray, volunteering at the farm is as much of a reward for himself, mentally and physically, as it is for the people who benefit of his work.

“I never realized how much I enjoy manual labor,” Ray said. “It’s good to see people doing something they believe in and not for their financial gain."
       
Good Earth Farm has volunteer days on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch provided. Some of their volunteer needs include construction and carpentry, farming and gardening and cooking.

E-mail Good Earth Farm at goodearthfarm@commonfriars.org to join their weekly newsletter and volunteer database to receive updates on volunteer projects.