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Colgate’s Community Garden Partners with Dining Services & Hamilton Food Cupboard

By Sustainability Office on June 22, 2015

Student in the Community Garden

The Colgate Community Garden is once again partnering with Dining Services to bring more local food into the dining facilities at Colgate.  At the beginning of each week, members of the Community Garden sends a list of the fresh vegetables and herbs to Dining Services.  Dining Services then places their order. Veggies and herbs are then harvested by the garden team and transported to Frank Dining Hall that same day.  So far this year, six different varieties of herbs and several early season greens have been utilized in various campus dining events. This partnership will continue as Chartwells takes over Colgate’s Dining Services.

The Colgate Community Garden continues to maintain a close relationship with the Hamilton Food Cupboard.  Approximately half of what is harvested each week at the garden is donated to the Food Cupboard.  Once again in early 2015, Sam Stradling and the folks at the Food Cupboard  started and tended to several different varieties of vegetables in their small heated greenhouse.  These seedlings were donated to the Colgate Community Garden, in exchange for the fresh veggies that will come from the plants later in the season.

Stay tuned for how you can obtain some of the garden’s fresh produce- a summer Farm Stand is in the works!


The Colgate Community Garden Finds a Positive Purpose For Beer

By Sustainability Office on June 16, 2015

Slug beer canThe Colgate Community Garden uses organic practices, and this means traditional fertilizers and pesticides are off limits. So sometimes we have to get creative when pests come knocking on our garden gates. Our first pest encounter this season has been the dreaded slug.  These particular slugs have developed a taste for our cabbage and brussels sprout seedlings.  One morning we noticed that our once beautiful, leafy cabbage was getting chewed up.  The culprit had left behind a shimmering, slimy residue- our first hint that slugs were the problem.

Luckily it turns out that in addition to cabbage and brussel sprouts, slugs are also fond of yeast. Some plastic cups of beer planted among the rows of cabbage provides an organic, cheap and easy answer to a slug problem. The slugs are attracted to the yeast in the beer, then when they go to get a refreshing drink, they fall into the beer and drown! Not a happy story for the slugs, but effective pest control. Add the fact that cheap beer is easily accessible for free at the end of a semester at Colgate and you’ve got a perfect solution!

Every couple of days we change out the beer and find thirty or forty slugs at a time. After less than a week, our cabbage plants are looking much happier, which in turn makes for a happy garden team!


Greenhouse Recovering Project 2015

By Sustainability Office on May 27, 2015

Student under greenhouse plastic

It was 6:00am on Monday, May 4 and the sun was just peeking above the horizon.  Most of Colgate was still sound asleep…but the garden team was busy at work with the final major project on their To Do list since the garden relocation began in 2014. The greenhouse that is a part of the Colgate Community Garden’s new location was finally get the facelift it needed.
A crew of about 15 students, faculty and staff were led by local farmers Brendan O’Connor and Colin Nevison in replacing the cover of the garden’s greenhouse.  The old cover was made of a white plastic, common in businesses such as Snyders Nursery, the previous owner of the greenhouse. But for the community garden’s operations, a clear plastic covering will be more effective. The clear plastic will allow more light to penetrate, raising temperatures within and allowing the community garden to extend their growing season both earlier in the spring and later into the fall.

The crew of volunteers and workers were able to take off the old cover and install the new one in about 5 hours.  The effects of the new cover are already evident- the temperatures inside the greenhouse are significantly higher and spring greens are growing nicely!
Thank you to all who helped with this latest garden project.  We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Greenhouse with new covering


Get ready for the 13 Days of Green!

By Sustainability Office on March 25, 2015

By Ben Schick ’17

As March comes to a close and Hamilton begins to thaw out of the frozen tundra that has engulfed campus for four months, Colgate prepares for the coming of its annual 13 Days of Green.  13 Days of Green is a campus wide event lasting from April 10-April 22 that aims at raising environmental awareness on campus.  The event offers educational programming, events, and competitions that engage students in sustainability on campus and give them the tools necessary to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

This year’s 13 Days of Green consists of a variety of events that highlight different ways organizations around campus are working to make Colgate more sustainable. The full schedule for the 13 Days of Green will be available on the Colgate mobile app starting next week. However, here are some events to look out for:

  • Ongoing:  Window sticker design competition.  Colgate wastes large amounts of heat every winter due to open windows in residence halls.  Students can help Colgate save heat and energy by designing a window sticker reminding students to keep their windows shut during the winter.  The artist of the winning design will win a gift card to a restaurant in downtown Hamilton.
  • April 11:  Head down to the Community Garden at 1pm to get a tour of the garden and learn about sustainable gardening practices.  Food from Hamilton Whole Foods will be provided.
  • April 14:  Sustainable and local food brownbag.  Led by Environmental Studies Professor April Baptiste and Director of Sustainability John Pumilio, this brown bag will look at Colgate’s initiatives to incorporate sustainably grown and local foods into our dining halls.  We will also explore the emerging local food market network in Hamilton, NY.
  • April 16:  Vegetarian dietician appointments.  Led by the Shaw Wellness center, students have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with a vegetarian dietician to learn how to adopt a nutritious and balanced plant-based diet.  Sign up for a one hour slot from 4-8pm by emailing rhangley@colgate.edu.
  • April 18:  Tree planting with COVE Sidekicks from 1-3pm.  Sidekicks will be celebrating Earth Day by planting saplings at the top of the old ski hill.  There will also be tours of the Darwin Thinking Path and environmentally friendly snacks. All are invited!
  • April 22 (Earth Day):  The 13 Days of Green culminates with the Oak Awards.  Formerly known as the Green Awards, the “Oakies” recognize individuals and groups on campus that have made a positive impact on Colgate’s campus through sustainability-related efforts.  Come join us for the award ceremony and free dinner from Hamilton Whole Foods.  In addition, if you wish to nominate an individual or group for an Oakie, please fill out this form:https://docs.google.com/a/colgate.edu/forms/d/1zaYwaqVmhvylk0CEKCvKMbAqOxiQyHUukiaEI6fzWy0/viewform.

While the 13 Days of Green is a fantastic event that engages students in sustainable living at Colgate, it is by no means the only opportunity students have to get involved in sustainability on campus.  There are countless ways students can immerse themselves in sustainability on campus.  The events, workshops and competitions of the 13 Days of Green is meant to serve as a starting point for students on their road to living a sustainable life now and in the future.  For more information, on how you can get involved beyond the 13 Days, visit colgate.edu/green.


Colgate Community Garden Plot Program Launches

By Sustainability Office on March 13, 2015

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The Colgate Community Garden is now accepting applications for its 2015 Garden Plot Program. This is an exciting opportunity for individuals in the community to be able to tend their own garden plot within the Colgate Community Garden. The garden team hopes for the Colgate Community Garden to become a place where community members can come together to enjoy learning about gardening and sustainable living.

Each of the garden plots offered are approximately 4 ft. W x 8 ft. L x 10 in. H.  Plots are constructed using rot-resistant, untreated lumber.  Program participants will have access to the garden and garden tools but must provide their own seeds and plants.  A $25 annual fee per plot and $5 annual refundable deposit is required for use of one of the garden plots. A Garden Plot Agreement must also be signed by participants, showing agreement to following the rules and guidelines established by the Colgate Community Garden.

Community Garden Plot space is limited and applications will be accepted first-come, first-served. For more information about this program or to apply for a garden plot,  please contact Community Garden Manager Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu, 315-335-1433).

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2014 Community Garden Annual Report

By Sustainability Office on February 11, 2015

Thanks to support from the Dean of the Faculty’s office along with faculty, students, and staff, last year was an exciting season for the Colgate Community Garden.  Last spring, the garden was moved from College Street to a new location on Broad Street south of the Townhouses called the Snyder Property.  Through lots of hard work and determination, the new 1⁄2 acre garden produced over 2000 pounds of food last growing season – the most we have had since the garden project started in 2010!

The garden team was led by garden consultant, Beth Roy and student interns Alex Schaff ’16, Quincy Pierce ’16, Brett Christensen ’16, and Glenna Thomas ’17. The Garden Interns were assisted in the spring and fall semesters by the student club, Green Thumbs, along dozens of student volunteers.

More than 100 individuals came to the garden throughout the season for visits or to volunteer their time. We are also grateful to all the Facilities’ staff who helped at the garden with tasks such as delivering wood chips and mowing, and were instrumental in the garden relocation process.

Approximately half of the produce that was harvested at the Colgate Community Garden was sold to students, faculty, staff and community members at a farm stand in the COOP. farm stand_opt The Farm Stand was constructed by intern Alex Schaff ’16 and was opened and filled with vegetables every Thursday.  Students were able to pay for their produce in cash or by using their ‘Gate Card.  Any produce that was not sold was donated to the Hamilton Food Cupboard.

For the 2014 growing season, approximately 60-70% of all produce that was grown was donated to the Hamilton Food Cupboard. For the second year in a row, Sam Stradling and the Food Cupboard donated several plants to the Garden in exchange for the donation of fresh produce later in the season.

The Garden also contained a number of raised bed garden plots available to Colgate community members who planted, managed, and harvested some of their own food.  For the 2015 growing season, we hope to expand the number of raised beds available to our community.

In 2015, we will also create a new “demonstration area.” This area of the garden will focus on new and innovative ideas in vegetable gardening (e.g., straw bale gardens, potato towers, and others).

Cooking classes or demonstrations will continue to be a goal of the garden. The team hopes to continue to work with Susan Weitz of the Chapel House, and perhaps even team up with Dining Services and the Shaw Wellness Institute to have cooking demonstrations on campus at the COOP.

If you have ideas on how to make the garden even more successful and/or want to get involved in any way, please contact Green Thumbs (greenthumbs@colgate.edu) for more information.


A More Sustainable Sodexo at Colgate University

By Sustainability Office on January 23, 2015

Update: January 23, 2015
During spring semester 2015, Sodexo introduced local burgers every Tuesday during lunch and Thursday during dinner at Frank Dining Hall.  They are also introducing a new local quesadilla to the COOP in February!  These are popular items for students who want to support sustainability and our local economy.

By Emily Adams ‘15, Sodexo sustainability intern & Environmental Geography major and Peace and Conflict Studies minor

I am very passionate about advancing sustainability on campus by sourcing more fresh, local and sustainable foods at Colgate. YUM! For this reason, I was very excited when I became Sodexo’s new sustainability intern on campus. I can’t imagine a more exciting opportunity at this stage in my Colgate experience! Additionally, Sodexo is in the process of hiring a Food Service Manager of Sustainability Programs.  Together, we will be working to make positive changes to the dining services here at Colgate.

Colgate’s Sustainable Food Systems Advisory Group – a group of students, faculty, and staff – in partnership with Sodexo are already working together on exciting new initiatives to make food more sustainable on campus. We are working towards goals of enhanced transparency surrounding the sourcing of our food, larger amounts of local and sustainably grown food, increased interaction with and purchasing from local farmers, and reduced food and overall waste.

Sodexo already sources some local foods.  However, in the past students had no way of knowing which foods were locally produced.  Because it is important to know who is growing our food, we have begun to label local foods throughout our dining facilities. These foods are now being displayed with specific references to the New York town or farm where they are coming from. Additionally, a large map of New York State, which shows where we are obtaining different local foods, now greets students as they enter Frank Dining Hall.

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Map of foods produced in New York and served in Frank Dining Hall.

In addition to increased labeling, Frank Dining Hall has started a new weekly Farm-to-Table Sunday dinner in which the entire meal consists of only locally sourced foods. In conjunction with this local dinner, the area farmers who source these meals will be highlighted in weekly fact sheets posted alongside the menus. This will increase knowledge about who is growing Colgate’s food and how it is being produced. Stay tuned as we are also working on developing local burger and quesadilla options for the Coop.

Reducing food waste is another important way to advance sustainability in dining services.  For this reason, we will be providing tasting samples of food so that students do not have to take a full portion of a meal to determine whether or not they will eat it. There is also a new “Spotted” reusable mug program where coupons for free 16 oz. hot drinks at any dining location will be rewarded to people seen using reusable mugs on campus.

We are really excited about the future of sustainable dining at Colgate.  By sourcing more local and sustainable foods and by reducing our overall waste, we hope to be able to make significant positive changes in every students’ dining experience while also reducing our ecological and carbon footprints. With your help, we know we can reduce energy usage and waste from production, transportation, and storage; support our local economy; and obtain fresher, more nutrient-rich food.


Now accepting applications for spring/summer garden interns!

By Sustainability Office on January 21, 2015

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Job Title:

2015 Community Vegetable Garden – Student Interns

Department: Sustainability Office

Hours per Week: 6 hrs in spring; 40 hrs in summer

Job Description:

The Sustainability Office is offering two paid Garden Internship positions to students starting in late-April 2015 until late-August 2015. Garden interns will help manage and promote the organic community vegetable/herb garden on campus. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding job.  Work includes long days and exposure to outdoor elements (e.g., heat, sun, rain, etc.).  The student interns are expected to coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties, as well as carry out an independent garden project from conception to completion.  The Garden Interns will report directly to garden manager Beth Roy, and should expect weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings as well as an end of season performance review.  Interns will work in close collaboration with other Colgate students, faculty, and staff to plan and manage the garden. The student interns will gain life-long skills and knowledge in planting and maintaining an organic garden, organizing events, and supervising volunteer workers.

To apply, send a resume and one page cover letter to garden manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu). The application deadline is March 3.

Required Skills and Experience:

Key Responsibilities

  • Work with garden manager Beth Roy to plan and manage the garden during the spring and summer seasons. Specific tasks include preparing soil, cultivating, planting, weeding, and harvesting.
  • Organize and supervise volunteer work parties.
  • Coordinate with Green Thumbs presidents to schedule a weekly time for volunteer work parties, and be at the garden during those scheduled times to supervise those work parties.
  • Manage an individual garden project, from conception to completion.
  • Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2015 growing season.

Recommended Qualifications and Skills

  • Strong work ethic and self-motivated.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Preference will be given to those with experience and firsthand knowledge in farming and/or gardening with vegetable crops; though previous garden experience is not required.
  • Experience organizing and supervising the work of others.
  • Tolerance for hard work and exposure to outdoor elements.
  • Excitement about promoting local farming and local food production.

Work Requirements and Benefits

Student interns will begin planning for the garden in late-March and will begin field work in late-April, working 6 hours per week. In May interns will begin to work 40 hours per week until the internship ends in August—the exact starting and ending dates will be set in consultation with Beth Roy.  The two interns will also be able to take two weeks (non-overlapping) of vacation during the summer; again, this schedule will be set in consultation with Beth Roy.

To apply, send resume and one page cover letter to garden manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu). The application deadline is March 3.

Starting Hourly Rate: spring semester – $9.30 (estimated because Financial Aid determines pay rate); summer – $10.00

Supervisor: Beth Roy, Garden Manager

Key Contacts: John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability;  Christopher Henke, Associate Professor and faculty advisor to the garden;  Beth Roy, Colgate Community Garden Consultant


Bees: where would we be without them?

By Sustainability Office on November 19, 2014

By Grace Dennis ’15

Have you ever thought of bees when you bit into an apple? Probably not, unless a swarm of bees was disrupting your picnic. Bees are much more than a buzzing nuisance; according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), they are responsible for pollinating 35% of the food we eat. Many foods, from apples to avocados and almonds, wouldn’t be available without the help of bee colonies who pollinate the crops each year. Pollination is carried out by both wild bee colonies and farmed colonies raised by beekeepers that are “rented” by farmers each season.

In the past 10 years bees in the United States and across the globe have been spontaneously leaving their colonies and abandoning their pollination duty. This problem, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), has already affected about one-third of bee colonies in the US (NRDC). CCD affects both wild bee colonies and farmed colonies and the exact cause is somewhat unknown. One possible cause of CCD is global warming, which is causing the bloom of flowers to come at different times, out of sync with bee hibernation cycles. Blooming flowers provide the food needed by the bees after they come out of hibernation. Another possible cause of CCD, primarily in wild colonies, is habitat destruction. Development has caused a loss of traditional honeybee habitats, which has decreased colony numbers. Pesticides are believed to be the primary cause of CCD, especially a type of widely used pesticides called neonicotinoids. Pesticides used on nearby crops and by beekeepers to control mites in the colonies harm the honeybees and may lead to CCD over time. Neonicotinoids have been banned for two years in many European countries in an effort to determine their effect on honeybee colonies.

Efforts at multiple scales are needed to help reverse the bee decline. Farmers can have the biggest impact on efforts to bring back bees. Farming practices that help preserve the natural habitat of bees could help bee colonies return to areas affected by CCD. Another major way farmers can help bring bee colonies back is to decrease pesticide use. The National Resources Defense Council recommends Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods to decrease the need of toxic pesticides near bee colonies.

On a smaller scale bee colonies can be restored through the planting of household gardens. By growing plants that bloom at different times of the year, bees species that come out of hibernation at different times will have a source of food and a great habitat to colonize. The Colgate Community Garden grows a variety of plants that help create a healthy habitat for bees. Another way to support bee communities in Hamilton is through the planting of gardens around Broad Street houses. If you don’t have the most green thumb, another way to help restore bee colonies is to buy organic produce. Through supporting organic practices you can ensure toxic pesticides that could harm bee colonies were not used.

Global bee decline is estimated to cost $5.7 billion each year (NRDC). While actions taken by farmers to reverse this decline are extremely important, consumers can also make a big impact. Planting household gardens to increase bee habitats is an option reserved mostly for more suburban dwellers, but anyone who buys groceries can opt for organic in an effort to save the bees. By taking steps to bring back the bees we can all help avoid a world without the delicious produce we consume every day.


Give peas a chance

By Sustainability Office on November 5, 2014

By Rachel Hangley ’15

When people hear that I don’t eat meat, their first reaction is to ask “why?” and oftentimes, “do you miss it?”. I reply simply saying that no, I don’t miss meat and that it really wasn’t that hard to give up at all. Society is changing so that a person can easily find vegetarian options in the grocery store and at any restaurant, and they are just as tasty as anything else on the menu. The response to the first question of why I am a vegetarian has changed over the years, but as I get older I only come across more and more reasons that support my choice to give up meat.

I would have become a vegetarian much sooner if it weren’t for my parents fearing that I would not get enough protein (a myth about vegetarianism that people still believe despite having been proven false over and over). I have always loved animals and couldn’t stand to think about how they were so cruelly and inhumanely treated in order to get on my plate. When an argumentation essay was assigned in my English class in high school, I took the opportunity to thoroughly research why vegetarianism was a positive life choice and I used the paper to convince my parents on the subject. I finally decided to take control of my diet and personal choices and gave up eating meat, regardless of the push-back I faced from my family. This step was perhaps the first tangible way in which I became an activist for what I believe in. This choice originated in a desire to boycott an industry that grossly tortures billions of animals a year and neglects the value of life. As I learned more about sustainability and environmentalism, I found out that my choice to become a vegetarian also had myriad environmental benefits.

If you Google “vegetarianism,” you can find hundreds of facts and statistics about how much environmental harm is avoided by becoming a vegetarian. On average, the dietary greenhouse gas emissions for vegetarians are 50-54% lower than the mean, and for vegans they are a full 99-102% lower. If all Americans forewent meat, the environmental impact would be equal to removing 46 million cars from the road. Not to mention all of the direct environmental harms other than climate change that meat production contributes to, such as overuse of water and pollution of ecosystems.

The facts are staggering, but people do not have to completely give up animal products to have a significant positive impact on the environment. Meatless Mondays is a great program that is being implemented by individuals, families, schools, and companies all over the world in order to decrease meat consumption and its environmental impacts. For example, not eating simply one pound of beef per week, an individual can save the equivalent amount of water as they would by not showering for a full year. This shows that little steps can have a huge impact on the environment, especially when adopted by many people. Furthermore, giving up meat one day a week not only benefits the environment; it is better for one’s health. A primary goal of the Meatless Mondays campaign is also to educate people about the personal benefits of skipping on meat. Meals can be delicious, nutritious, and protein-packed without any animal products, and this is what Meatless Mondays is trying to show, one meal at a time. This is especially relevant in public schools, where young kids are beginning to form their lifelong conceptions of what their diet should consist of.

At Colgate, I’m hoping that Meatless Mondays will have the same effects. By implementing Meatless Mondays at Frank Dining Hall in just the main entree stations, it gives people the opportunity to try new, meat-free foods and maybe decide that they enjoy those options. We are not trying to completely overturn anyone’s lifestyle, but rather introduce students to different ways of living that incorporate the bigger picture. What one decides to eat is not a self-contained decision as it has a huge impact on both the environment and the lives of billions of animals, and one should at least take these into consideration when choosing what to have for lunch. Rather than seeing people who don’t eat meat as crazy, animal-loving tree-huggers (but what’s so bad about that, anyway?), it is my hope that the public will begin to appreciate the value and benefits of limiting the meat that they eat, even if it is only once a week.

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