Expanding Local Farm Fresh Produce Available on Campus

PSC Center for Sustainability Partners with Campus Bookstore on Local Food Access.

By Ariah Mitchell, Casella Climate Resilience Fellow

On campus at PSC, there are few options to purchase farm fresh or local grocery products. The Packbasket Bookstore has acted as a sort of convenience store on campus for quite some time, selling prepackaged snacks and drinks. Since our campus is 12 miles from town and about 6 miles from the closest market (Brighton Mini-Mart) and not all students have cars, access to fresh and affordable food can be an issue. According to a survey designed by Kevin McCarthy’s Fall 2022 class, students, faculty, and staff would like to be able to purchase organic, local food in the Packbasket. Mary Haskell, our new Bookstore Manager, is planning on a rebrand to do a better job of meeting the needs of the community both on-campus and off. The Bookstore will be partnering with the Center for Sustainability to make these goals a reality. 

The A.P. Smith’s Bakery started offering local grocery items on campus last year, a switch which has been wildly successful. However, their hours are limited, which is where the bookstore comes in. Mary Haskell envisions a type of local food market on campus. “We want to support the farmers, local economy and the community, rather than importing food from across the country,” she says, describing her vision of the Packbasket rebrand as a general store. “I visit the farmer’s market every week, scouting for fresh, organic food that’s in season.” This fresh food will include local grains, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, beef, and other staples.

As of two weeks ago, the Bookstore is offering apples, carrots, eggs, potatoes, radishes, microgreens, and local meat such as sausage and beef. The produce is from Juniper Hills Farm, and the meat is from Harmony Hills Farm, just 15 miles down the road. The potatoes are Tuckers Taters, sourced just 3 miles from the college. With the new discounts for Paul Smith’s students and employees, these healthier and more sustainable options will be more accessible than ever. The hope is that students will enjoy their 10% discount on the local foods in the bookstore. Staff and faculty get a 5% discount. We’re looking forward to this sustainable change on campus, and hope you are, too. 

The Center for Sustainability will be helping in this shift and ensuring the program is available for all by helping to identify local food vendors/farmers and partnering on a Sustainability Grant application. The proposed grant project is being written by Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn, Bookstore Manager Mary Haskell, and PSC student Josh Vetter. This will support the bookstore’s switch to a new POS system that will support SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), as well as funding a new refrigerator to store these delicious food items.  Vote for this over 500 grant next week (March 13 to the 17th) during the campus-wide vote! 

Approved Spring 2023 Sustainability Grant Projects

Congratulations to our Spring 2023 Sustainability Grant Applicants! For details on approved projects see below. For more information on the college’s Sustainability Grant program check out www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability. 

Solar for Mohawk Cultural Center

Total Amount: $1,868

Project Summary

Over the past few years, Paul Smith’s College students have partnered with the Akwesasne Mohawk community on several projects such as research on environmental issues and building of structures such as tiny free libraries.  In 2020, professor Deb Naybor was approached by Akat Ransom, the director of Nia’s Tiny Free Libraries (NTFL), a Mohawk NGO focused on improving literacy in the Akwesasne community, to partner on a grant to create a mobile cultural center for the Mohawk tribe.  Unfortunately, the grant was put on hold due to the Covid pandemic until 2022.   Ransom and Naybor reapplied for the $25,000 (Canadian dollars) in March 2022 and funding for the cultural center was approved and funds were received by NTFL in August 2022.

Unfortunately due to Covid prices of materials increased in price and because of related supply chain issues, the proposed 8’ x 16’ trailer included in the budget was backordered for months and would prevent meeting the project deadline.  Luckily, a previously owned 8’ x 24’ trailer was purchased and construction began on schedule.  During the fall 2022 semester, PSC Sustainability Capstone students nearly completed the exterior shell of the cultural center.  The 50% increase in size and rising costs of lumber strained the budget but by using repurposed materials, lumber from the PSC sawmill, and materials donated, the project remained on track with budget constraints. The electrical budget for the project included wiring for connection to a gas powered generator (owned by NTFL) as the source of power.  However, because of the focus on sustainability, students proposed the use of a solar power station and solar panels to power the trailer. Unfortunately, there is not enough money remaining in the budget to purchase such a system.

24 Hour Room Sustainability Upgrade

Total Amount: $4000

Project Summary:
One time energy efficient lighting/temperature improvements and sustainably procured furniture
updates to the 24-hour room/Hutchinson café.
To make energy efficient and resource conscious improvements to the 24-hour room/Hutchinson Café
space attached to the library based on student feedback while maintaining the building’s past principles
of sustainability.
Our improvements to space will be through procuring materials that are post-consumer recycled, adding
green plants for student interactions, and adding energy efficient blinds and LED lights to improve the
space’s energy efficiency and temperature regulation.
This space is used for 24-hour study space and is centrally located at the heart of campus, these onetime improvements will positively impact student learning experience on campus. This project will
address Stars certification OP: 11 Sustainable Procurement, AC: 08 Campus as Living Laboratory, and
most relevantly: OC: 05 Building Energy Efficiency.

Expanding Local Food Access on Campus

Total Amount: $3,827


Our goal for this project is to increase the amount of available local and fresh food options available on Paul Smith’s College campus and in the town of Paul Smiths. We are requesting funds to purchase a standing cooler and new Point Of Sales (POS) system for the Paul Smith’s College Pack Basket Bookstore. This project will provide the bookstore with the upgraded infrastructure it needs to store local produce for resale and allow low-income residents (campus or town) to qualify for SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The fridge will be used as back up storage for perishable items and can be used as a display case in the future.