Weedy and exhausted from a bountiful year, the organic vegetable garden at Franklin & Marshall College's Baker Campus produced a plethora of produce -- zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant and more.
This fall, students, staff and faculty will get to taste that bounty in the soups sold at F&M's Fair Trade Café, thanks to sophomore Briana Krewson, who grew the crop this summer in the roughly 22-foot-by-11-foot garden, just one example of the College's dedication to a sustainable lifestyle on campus. The College celebrates that commitment to environmental stewardship Sept. 22-26 with Sustainability Week, an annual tradition at F&M. The theme is "good food," and the dining hall will provide a variety of nutritious, healthy foods, from meatless to organic, throughout the week.
"Sodexo is working hard with us to incorporate locally produced, sustainable food options for our campus constituents," said Sarah Dawson, the director of F&M's Carolyn W. & Robert S. Wohlsen Center for the Sustainable Environment.
F&M students have been growing food in the garden since at least 2009, but the College made a policy decision in 2013, with its Sustainability Master Plan, to actively promote a more sustainable campus. For example, as of 2013, the College no longer sells disposable plastic water bottles. Members of the community, each of whom received a reusable water bottle, now get their water from water stations around campus.
The College also instituted single-stream recycling to allow recyclable plastics, paper, cardboard, aluminum and glass to be placed in the same container, and installed two BigBelly Solar trash compactors -- one near Old Main and one by the Wohlsen Center -- that operate on solar power and transmit messages via a wireless network to the facilities department when they are full.
The initiatives have significantly reduced waste, said Nic Auwaerter '11, sustainability coordinator in the Facilities & Operations Department. "We reduced our waste load -- trash -- by 12.4 percent from the pervious fiscal year," he said.
Since November 2013, the College has been collecting food waste from the campus dining facilities and events such as Common Hour and turning it into compost for plants and lawns -- 32.26 tons of compost to date, Auwaerter said.
This past summer, the College's maintenance crew used the compost to fertilize Sponaugle-Williamson Field. Ted Schmid, director of grounds at Facilities and Operations, called it "an opportunity to close the composting circle."
In addition, throughout the year, F&M's Sustainability Committee conducts workshops on how to be sustainable at home and has invited to campus several speakers to discuss some not-so-obvious sustainable resources.
Doug Fine, author of "Hemp Bound," will lecture at noon Friday, Sept. 19, in Room 119 of the Hackman Physical Sciences building about what he calls "a coming agriculture revolution." He says that 10 states already have legalized growing hemp, and the federal government this year lifted its prohibition for research purposes.
"North Dakotans, Coloradans and Kentuckians [three of the 10 states where growing hemp is legal] will be growing our food, fuel, industrial components and clothing," said Fine, writing on his website. "This has been simply an amazing project to investigate."
To help kick off "Sustainability Week" on Monday, Sept. 22, journalist Adam Minter, who blogs at Shanghai Scrap and has written the book "Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade," will examine the global recycling industry. The talk begins at 7 p.m. in Bonchek Auditorium of the Ann and Richard Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building.
"The most important thing to know about low-grade scrap is this: It'd end up in a landfill if it weren’t exported," Minter writes in his book.
Here is a complete list of Sustainability Week events:
Workshop: Composting Food Waste, led by Lisa Sanchez, Lancaster County Park naturalist, 5-7 p.m., Wohlsen Center Café
Lecture: Junkyard Planet, by Adam Minter, author and blogger, 7-9 p.m., Bonchek Auditorium, Life Sciences and Philosophy Building
Lecture: A Fair Trade Food Economy, by Billy Goldsmith, national coordinator for Fair Trade Campaigns, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Wohlsen Center seminar room
Discussion and dinner: Buy Fresh, Buy Local and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at F&M, by Professor Linda Aleci, 5-7 p.m., Wohlsen Center Café
Free Fair Trade Café, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Wohlsen Center Café
Food Tasting: Wild Foods, led by Lisa Sanchez, Lancaster County Parks naturalist, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Wohlsen Center Café
Common Hour: Organic Solutions to a Broken Food System, by Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute farm manager, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Mayser Gymnasium
Organic foods reception for Jeff Moyer, 12:30-2 p.m., New College House
Annual Trashion Show, featuring fashions crafted from garbage and recycled material, 6-8 p.m., Steinman College Center
Special events in Benjamin Franklin Dining Hall
Monday: Meatless Monday
Tuesday: Local Foods
Wednesday: Fair Trade Food
Thursday: Organic Foods
Friday: Composting Food Waste