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Earthkeepers: Eastern’s Environmental Stewards

Genesis 2:15 reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (NASB). This theme of humanity’s responsibility to care for creation persists throughout the Bible. As such, the notion of stewardship, in which humanity does not just live in nature but participates in it, has become widely recognized as a central aspect of Christianity. The Earthkeepers Club embraces this calling as it exists to promote environmental sustainability on Eastern’s campus.

Davin Sheaffer, president of Earthkeepers, elaborates, “There is just so much beauty and wonder in [the environment], and tending to it is important, because I…want to live in a world of diversity and health, and I also want future generations to be able to experience the splendor of God’s creation.”

Earthkeepers pursues this goal through several means, including educational events and on-campus resources, one of which is the community garden. The garden, located behind Doane Hall, was initiated by Dr. Socci and SIFE (now Enactus), and thanks to grants and labor from Home Depot, it was established in 2012. Though it was originally intended to serve as an educational tool for students and to supply fresh produce to the surrounding community, members of Earthkeepers are still seeking to find the best use for a garden on campus as they are currently growing kale, spinach and lettuce.

Another on-campus initiative of Earthkeepers, begun in 2012, is the apiary, established and led by Austin Martin. It initially consisted of two hives, which struggled in early years, likely due to colony collapse disorder (CCD). Even so, the apiary has expanded and now includes three hives. In October, members of Earthkeepers harvested honey from the hives, accumulating roughly 35 pounds, which was then jarred and sold to the Eastern community.

In addition to maintaining the garden and apiary, the club has also hosted educational events on campus, one of which was a presentation by Rachel Atcheson from the Humane League, the leading national farm animal protection nonprofit. In November, she shared facts about factory farming, relaying that the world food system is the root cause of essentially all environmental problems. Furthermore, she discussed how meat is produced in factory farms–animals are forced to remain indoors for their entire lives, crammed closely together, without any individual attention from veterinarians. Due to this unfortunate reality, she encouraged students to reduce their meat consumption, pushing “Meatless Monday,” a growing trend in America in which people fast from meat on Mondays.

Also in November, Earthkeepers showed the documentary “The Vanishing of the Bees,” which looks at CCD, the phenomenon occurring throughout the United States and Europe in which honeybee colonies abruptly disappear. The documentary explains that CCD is one of the largest problems of the 21st century, as bees are necessary for pollinating most fruits, vegetables and legumes. Afterwards, Martin spoke about CCD and experiences he has had beekeeping both at the Eastern garden and in Philadelphia.

Overall, the fall semester was extremely successful for Earthkeepers. Be sure to get involved in the spring by coming out to the club’s events or becoming a member. All are welcome! Meetings take place on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Walton 2 (next to Baird Library). Contact Davin Sheaffer at dsheaff1@eastern.edu for more information.

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