This article was written by PSC Student and Sustainability Assistant Hannah Rion
Do you ever think about the amount of food you produce in a day, a week, or a month? How about the amount of food that doesn’t even see a fork or spoon, but just gets tossed in the trash? That has been the sad story for the food scraps that are produced in our culinary labs here at Paul Smith’s College. In fact, three years ago there was a campus-wide program known as “Food Scraps for Pigs” where pre-consumer food waste from Cantwell, as well as the dining hall was being used by Atlas Hoofed It Farm, in Vermontville, NY, to feed pigs. There were challenges with pickup and consistent collection of scraps, so the program wasn’t continued, but recently Emily Sommer’s Farm to Table class has partnered with Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn and Jake Vennie-Vollrath of Moonstone Farm, to collect and donate our food scraps to Moonstone Farm for animal feed and compost.
The Farm to Table culinary class, part of the new two-year accelerated culinary program, was visiting Moonstone Farm on a monthly basis, “to get their hands dirty and learn more about the ins and outs of running a small farm in the Adirondacks”, as Jake explained to me. The class also started to brainstorm ideas on how to solve some of the problems the farm was facing. One of these lurking issues happened to be “inputs” and soil health, which Jake was currently sourcing compost from Vermont to solve. Thus caused Emily and the class to start thinking they could have a real potential impact if they were to start diverting the pre-consumer waste from the culinary labs here on campus to Moonstone Farm. Emily then mentioned the project to Kate Glenn, Sustainability Coordinator for the college, and so the wheels began to turn. Kate Glenn then organized a planning meeting with the facilities department, Sodexo, and Emily to develop and establish a written plan and procedures for the project. During the meeting it was discussed who would collect the buckets, how they would be delivered and other remaining logistics. With the purchase of five gallon buckets, funded by the Sustainability Grant, the project was officially up-and-running. Additionally, Kate brought in the support from Sodexo to have the dining hall’s pre-consumer food waste also be diverted to the farm.
“Moonstone Farm specializes in growing heirloom vegetables organically and healthy soils grow tastier vegetables”, says Jake. The food waste serves a variety of purposes on the farm, such as feeding chickens directly, feeding mealworms and black soldier flies which eventually feed the chickens, while the rest is “…composted to create organic matter for our greenhouses, hopyard, fruit trees/bushes, and vegetable fields.” In the short time of a month, the dining hall has collected 218.2 pounds of pre-consumer food waste thanks to the help of Sodexo employees. Meanwhile, the Culinary Department has gathered 251.2 pounds with the help of students and instructors. Evidently, this diversion of food waste is serving an extremely more purposeful objective than it would sitting in a landfill spewing off methane gas Furthermore, this practice allows for a decrease in the heavy food waste facilities has to dispose of, and can be reflected on the college’s Greenhouse Gas Report, which tracks the production of methane.
Pre-consumer food waste is often overlooked when discussing composting practices, causing it to become a growing problem. This type of composting specifically focuses on the scraps that are a byproduct of food preparation. Food loss and waste accounts for about 4.4 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per year. To put this in perspective, if food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest GHG emitter – surpassed only by China and the United States” (“Food Waste Facts”). A large portion of this food waste could be gold for many farmers in helping them restore nutrients to their soil. Jake shares that, “Not only is reducing food waste (or redirecting it to better uses) economically smart, it might be the easiest thing that we can do to address global warming.” The implementation of more programs like these across the United States is essential to help combat the negative effects of food waste. This project serves as a perfect example of discovering an issue and developing a working solution.
Both Emily and Jake believe the program is working extremely well, however, they share high hopes for the future. Jake shared with me that this partnership has inspired him to “think bigger” and someday he hopes “…to soon obtain all of PSC’s food waste for composting and assist the college in making it completely food waste free.” The farm is also currently working on plans for a larger drum composter that could handle more volume and produce compost more efficiently than the existing compost piles. As for Emily and her Farm to Table class, she says, “The main reason for our Farm to Table class was so that the students can appreciate more where their food is coming from, how much work goes into getting it in their fridges and on their tables. So adding the composting buckets was just another step into appreciating our food that much more.”
The Smitty Sustainability Committee fully supports the efforts of all the people involved in this project, especially the students who are filling the buckets with proper pre-consumer food scraps. The committee is currently working with the dining hall to design an effective program to tackle post-consumer food waste on campus. We will be implementing a separate bin labeled compost and providing signage that educates students on what they can scrape into the bin later in the spring semester. Combating food waste is an extremely critical issue that needs action sooner, rather than later. By keeping the conversation and programs like this going, everyone involved hopes to have a significant positive impact.
Would you like to make a difference on campus? You can learn more about the possibility of funding from the Sustainability Grant by reaching out to Hannah Rion, Sustainability Grant and Office Assistant, at email@example.com or by visiting https://www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability/campus-sustainability-fund/
On November 8th and 9th Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn will lead a team of students from Paul Smith’s College including, Jessie McCarty, Matthew Philips, Hannah Rion, Val Hoffman and Sebastian Huber, will be attending the 9th annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The summit began in 2008 after a student from a local area high school contacted the Director of Programs, Jen Kretzer, with the idea hold a conference for high school students to learn about climate change and strategies to lower their carbon footprint. What started as a small conference with about 5 schools, has now blossomed in to a huge event with over 200 students from 30 high schools and colleges.
The summit consists of two days of plenary speakers, hands on workshops, and some motivational activities. Using the information from those workshops, along with goals the schools set before going to the event, each school develops a Climate Action Plan. The climate action plan is a well developed plan for each school to take steps towards carbon neutrality. In a CAP each school sets Climate Neutrality goals for this year, next year, and the years to come. Since the first AYSC at the Wild Center, Youth Summits have since popped up all across the country and even the world. The Wild centers climate action program has even received recognition from the Whitehouse during the Obama administration.
Paul Smith’s college has attended and sponsored the AYCS since it started. Over the past few years the college has even sent plenary speakers as well as faculty that have hosted workshops. Curt Stager will be a plenary speaker at this years summit. Valarie Hoffman and Kate Glenn will be hosting a workshop. This year the Paul Smiths team hopes to accomplish several things, including the update our current Climate Action Plan so it better suits our school’s current sustainability needs. Including to sync the goals of the STARS reporting system with the updated CAP. This year’s team will also be focusing on plans to redesign a new food waste management system. Since the North Elba biodigester project was canceled, we need a new plan for our organic waste. We’re looking forward to another Adirondack Youth Climate Summit!!
Congratulations to Currier hall for winning week 3!!!! Upper St Regis Hall has won the 2017 Energy Competition!! Overall we saved 2,095 kWh of electricity. How awesome is that?! Behavioral changes can make a huge impact on electricity bills. Have a wonderful summer and keep saving energy!!!
You can borrow more than just books from the PSC Library now! Kill-A-Watt Meters are now available at the PSC Library. So, are you low on beer money? Is your beer fridge empty and still plugged in? Have you ever wondered how much electricity your fridge uses? Or charging your phone takes? What about how much electricity is being used to sit back and watch Netflix all day? We have the solution to your questions. You can now borrow a Watt-Meter from the Paul Smith’s College Library and find out just how much electricity it takes to charge your phone! See how much beer money you could have if you just unplugged the fridge while it was empty! Watt meters are made available through the Library right from the front desk. We challenge you to save as much energy as you can and send us your results!
Check out the display on the flat screen in the Student Center this month- April 1st to April 22nd. We are running our fifth annual Energy Conservation Competition. Electric meters were purchased and installed in all 15 residence halls on campus in 2013 by student Jon Buyl. The goal of the energy meters was to show that changes in behavior can make a big difference in how much electricity is used on campus. This was a $43,000 project that was funded by the Campus Sustainability Fund. Below is a description of what the colors represent. All color changes are based on BASELINE data that has been collected throughout the semester.
Red: Legend will read “Worst Energy Use.” This value is a KW/sqft value which is above the “High Energy Use” value (yellow). This boils down to the worst performing buildings at any current time. Students should react to this by working to shut off devices to lower their present demand and move them into the “yellow”
Yellow: Legend will read “High Energy Use.” This value is a KW/sqft value which is above the neutral building load value (Brown) but not as high as those in red. To summarize, these buildings are use more energy than the neutral and students should be working to move these buildings back down into the “Neutral Building Load” range.
Brown: Legend will read “Neutral Building Load.” This value is a KW/sqft value which falls in an acceptable range (tbd) of energy use. Students in this range should be concerned that they possibly could jump into the Yellow if additional load occurs. They should be working to get below this range and turn their background Blue which would show low energy use in their building.
Blue: Legend will read “Low Energy Use.” This value is a KW/sqft value which demonstrates the building is performing better than the average (Brown) building. Students who live here, should be excited that they are doing their part in conserving energy, but should continue to push forward to get their building into the Green.
Green: Legend will read “Best Energy Use.” This value is a KW/sqft value which demonstrates the building is performing in the best range possible. Students who live in these buildings should continue to do what they are doing in their conservation efforts and should be proud that their buildings are in this range. The buildings that spend the most time in this Green range will have the best chances to win the overall prize.
Total KWH- This value is Total KWH for the building. This is a value that is accumulated continually.
KWH/sq/ft – This value is Total KWH divided by sq/ft per building. This is a value that is accumulated continually. This gives an overall equal playing field no matter the size of the building. This will be the value which will continue to be accumulated over the month to award the overall winner of the Green Games Contest.
KW/sq/ft- This value is based off of present demand. This value is the driver for the changing colors throughout the day. This value is changed in intervals of every 15 minutes. To sum this up, if the colors are going to change, the changes will occur once every 15 minutes based on the current usage in each building.