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/
Jordan, Tom, and Julie here. When sorting though this weeks recycling we noted that there were a lot of coffee cups and Doritos bags in the recycling bags – these items are not recyclable. Common issues also include containers not being emptied and rinsed of food and/or drinks. PLEASE RINSE CONTAINERS OUT BEFORE YOU RECYCLE THEM. We also did not appreciate the dead animal left by the dumpster. If you are a hunter, please properly dispose of any animals carcasses.
Thank you and happy recycling!
This semester, we have hired a new Farm to Table Assistant for our staff. We welcome Andrew Cassata, who will be supporting us with our local food initiatives on campus and in our community.
Andrew is from Hilton, NY, and is currently a freshman in the Sustainable Communities and Working Landscapes B.S. program. In 2012, Andrew started his own organic produce business, called Twin Hill Farms LLC. After graduating from Paul Smith’s with his degree, Andrew plans to continue working with his farm. When he’s not busy with school, the farm, or working in our office, Andrew enjoys hiking and skiing on the VIC trails.
Welcome Andrew- We’re very excited to have you on the team!
The Wild Center in Tupper Lake hosts an annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. This year the summit was hosted on November 3 and 4. Each year, students from around the Northeast come together to learn about climate change, and what they can do in their own lives and school to combat the effects. The theme of the 2016 Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was “Branching out.” This years summit team consisted of five student attendees: Jack Gallagher, Erika Ochs, Josh Staquet, Dan Stevener and myself, Valerie Hoffman. Also our Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn, this was her sixth Youth Climate Summit. The summit was broken into plenary sessions, when everyone attends, and workshops, where students chose an area they are interested in to learn more about.
I am always inspired to help the environment and human race when I leave the summit. This being my third year attending was very exciting. I find it really exciting to see what schools (high school and colleges) did in the past year and to see their growth. There were so many cool presenters like The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), which is an organization that has perfected presenting information in a fun and informative way. Also Rob Carr, who will be teaching Environmental Communication with Curt Stager this spring semester, gave a presentation on giving a presentation. For a fantastic presentation you need to know your audience, why it matters to them, have a main message, and use minimal words on the slides. My eyes were opened to how many opportunities are out there if you really put your mind to it. Alizé Carrère is a cultural ecologist who was able to become a National Geographic Explorer. She received a grant from National Geographic and went to Madagascar to study erosion gullies. To get a grant from National Geographic all you have to do is be between the ages of 18 and 26 and have an idea. Alizé Carrère is hosting a series on how the world is adapting to climate change. One of my favorite presenters are farmers, Mark and Kristin Kimball from Essex Farm always plan an exciting session. This year we had to find Captain Carbon, tie him up and bury him. This was to show carbon sequestration. Every year is a new and exciting skit. After all of these sessions you get to gather as a school team and draft a climate action plan. This is later discussed with every participating school at the end of the second day. Right before lunch on the second day a poster session is held for each school to show what they do to reduce their carbon footprint or promote sustainability. Each school decorated a cardboard tree with leafs covered in candy wrappers. On the leaf they wrote how their school was going to branch out about climate change. The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will always be one of the best memories I have from Paul Smith’s College. I am proud that Paul Smith’s College has opportunities like this to share with their students.
This was my third year attending the youth climate summit however it was my first time not being involved in the planning process before going. I was very inspired as always and have a few projects i’d like to work with the sustainability office to carry out. It was great to see schools there with their first environmental clubs and to see the program is growing. Being team captain I got to sit in a lunch meeting where I learned that the program was year round and offers funding to the high schools that need it for their future projects like the sustainability office here on campus. The speakers were very informative and different than years before. I am excited to see what will happen in future summits as the program continues to expand around the world.
The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was a great educational experience; I learned a lot and had fun. It was really impressive to see high school students full of climate change knowledge. Watching students work with each other and enjoy learning was so refreshing. These students care about the environment and want to make change, it was awesome! We got the privilege to meet Alizé Carrère a National Geographic Explorer, she spoke about her journey around the world making small changes in their communities and studying people’s culture. We also were given the opportunity to attend workshops with professors from Paul Smith’s. I personally attended Curt Stager’s seminar, we got to work together to make charts based off studies Curt has done for years. We looked at everything from salamanders, to Lake Champlain freezing over completely. Students were shocked for some of the results. The power of students coming together to make a difference is empowering itself to watch. We are the future; we can make change if we come together. I’m proud to be a Smitty, and to have been a part of The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.
What I have to say about the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was that it was an awesome experience. It was very informative and inspirational on what to do to reduce the issues of our climate. It was also for entertaining with the fun activities offered there as well. It is definitely worth going to for those who are into supporting the environment and reducing climate issues.
The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was a good opportunity for students to both learn and address the problems of climate change. It is incredibly important for the younger generation to be ever increasingly aware about the dangers caused by climate change because the younger generation are the ones who will ultimately feel the most effect from it in their lifetime. The biggest key takeaway from the Climate Summit was there are lots of people around the world who haven’t given up hope and are fighting on reversing this issue even though it will be an incredible uphill battle, especially given the current political climate. I was the age of these kids just shy of a decade ago, and I don’t remember anybody in my high school taking a stand like these kids did. This alone gives me hope for the future.
Paul Smith’s College was well represented the speakers and workshop presenters. Paul Smiths alumni Larry Montague is an eco-hip-hop artist performed and ran a workshop on how hip hop can save the planet. Curt Stager also ran a workshop titled “Bringing Climate Change Down to Where You Live.” Bethany Garretson presented during a workshop called “How to Make Social Change a Reality.” Kate Glenn and I ran a workshop last year on “Community Mapping and Climate Action planning”, the worksheet and pre-summit maters every summit group used for this years summit came from that workshop.
Special THANKS to the WILD CENTER for putting on and Inviting us to such an amazing event.
From early June to November, the Center for Campus Sustainability and the students of the St. Regis Cafe have been raising pigs behind the horse barn. Black and Tan were two four legged additions to the area behind the horse barn. They spent an idyllic summer living behind the barn, eating the delectable food scraps from the St. Regis Restaurant and the Lakeside dining hall. Never as tame as the horses, one time they stampeded though the electric fence and were found rooting around Curt Stagers front yard.
Black and Tan were slaughtered last week at the Adirondack Meat Company in Ticonderoga NY. Chef Kevin McCarthy (seen above with culinary students) will be processing the 400 lbs of pork this Thursday and Friday with his students. Black and Tan may have touched many hearts of many students and been the celebrities of many Instagram posts and Snapchat stories. However their days at Paul Smith’s College were numbered, now they will be making an appearance in the St. Regis Cafe! Stop by the cafe this semester or next for some delicious hyper local pork!
Sodexo and the Center for Campus Sustainability has been working hard to incorporate local food into the PSC student diet. This week, table tents were displayed on multiple tables in the Lakeside dining hall featuring apples from Red Jacket Orchards and milk from Byrne Dairy.
Red jacket Orchards has been in the Nicholson family for three generations. At the orchard, they have grown apples and summer fruits including berries, currants, cherries, peaches, and plums. The orchard is also home to the largest Apricot orchard on the East Coast.
Byrne Dairy, a company that dates back to 1933 – where they once delivered milk with horse and buggies – has expanded beyond milk to many more dairy products as the years progress. They strive to help organizations who are in need of financial support.