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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.


Community Garden Update

By Sustainability Office on September 1, 2014

Garden Open House 2014The past few weeks at the Colgate Community Garden have been busy and jam packed with projects and events.  On the evening of Thursday, August 21 we held an open house for Colgate faculty and staff.  We gave tours to visitors who were also able to explore the garden, eat cookies, and purchase vegetables at a farm stand packed with produce picked that afternoon.

The next morning we were graced with a visit from first year volunteers participating in a pre-orienation program led by the Cove.  For two hours they helped us add on to the main pathway of the garden and weed the flower bed.  They also painted some of the rocks that line the pathway of the flower bed.  We look forward to adding more art into the space as more visitors drop by. The Community Garden team was happy to see so many new faces around the garden, and with the arrival of students for the coming semester we look forward to seeing many more visitors!


Join the fun at the Garden

By Sustainability Office on August 2, 2014

If you have been following our blog, then you know that Colgate’s Community Garden has a new location.  This spring, we moved from College Street (near the Newell Apartments) to Broad Street, just south of the Townhouses and Community Hospital.  The garden team including interns Alex Schaff ‘16 and Quincy Pierce ‘16 and our garden manager, Beth Roy, have literally built the garden from the ground up!  The team tilled the field, built a compost bin, formed garden rows, weeded, planted seedlings, and are now harvesting our first vegetables (including zucchini, squash, peas, cucumbers, and spinach).

The garden team is working closely with the Hamilton Food Cupboard and Hamilton Central Schools to grow, share, and donate food.  We also offer fresh produce from our garden through a farm stand at 104 Broad Street every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.

From left to right: Beth Roy, Quincy Pierce '16, Alex Schaff '16, and Prof. Christopher Henke

From left to right: Beth Roy, Quincy Pierce ’16, Alex Schaff ’16, and Prof. Christopher Henke at the new garden.

The garden team has been thrilled with all of the support and enthusiasm from community members throughout this summer.  A lot of new faces have stopped by to attend work parties, movie nights, and volunteer hours.  Others stop by to care for their own personal raised bed garden.

So, please, stop by to get your hands dirty or just to say hello and get a tour of the garden. All are welcome!  Check the Colgate Calendar for upcoming events.  Also, volunteer hours are on Monday and Friday from 2:00-3:00 p.m. and on Wednesday from 4:00-5:00 p.m.

For more information, email communitygarden@colgate.edu.


Apply to be a garden intern!

By Sustainability Office on July 31, 2014

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Hours per Week: 6 hrs during fall semester

Job Description:
The Sustainability Office is offering a paid Garden Internship to a qualified student starting in late-August 2014 until November 2014 (the end of the growing season). The garden intern will help manage and promote the one-half acre vegetable/herb garden and greenhouse on campus. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding job. Work includes exposure to outdoor elements (e.g., heat, sun, rain, etc.). The student intern is expected to coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties. The Garden Intern will report directly to our garden manager (Beth Roy) and work in close collaboration with another garden intern and other Colgate students, faculty, and staff. The student intern will gain life-long skills and knowledge in harvesting and maintaining a garden, organizing events, and supervising volunteer workers.

Required Skills and Experience

Key Responsibilities:

  • Work with garden manager (Beth Roy) to plan and manage the garden during the fall season. Specific tasks may 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 (usually for harvest, the day before pick-up), and be at the garden during those scheduled times to supervise those work parties.

  • Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2013 growing season.

  • Prepare for and run a weekly Farm Stand to sell produce from the garden.

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
The garden internship position is rewarding but demanding work that involves physical exertion and exposure to the outdoor elements.

Starting Hourly Rate: Fall semester – $8.50/hour (estimated because Financial Aid determines pay rate)

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

To apply, send a resume and one page cover letter to the Garden Manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu) and fill out an application on the Colgate Portal.

The application deadline is August 15. Employment will begin on or around August 25.


Community garden hosts first farm stand of the summer

By Sustainability Office on July 17, 2014

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We held our first fabulous farm stand of the season on the evening of Tuesday, July 15th! The Colgate Community Garden Team as a whole would like to give a huge thanks to everyone who stopped by our stand on the porch of 104 Broad to take a taste of our chocolate chip zucchini bread and buy a few fresh veggies and herbs.  We are extremely grateful to have the privilege to connect the community to fresh produce from our garden.  The farm stand selection included zucchini, squash, peppers, radishes, peas, exactly one cucumber, and a few bunches of herbs.  We are happy to report every piece of produce sold.  Again, thank you to those who stopped by and gave their support.  We are looking forward to having community members over to the garden this fall to help harvest! Happy gardening!

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Thank you from the community garden!

By Sustainability Office on July 14, 2014

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The Colgate Community Garden team would like to give a huge thanks to all the volunteers who have been coming by to visit and lend a hand in the garden.  On July 1st, interns and professors from the SOAN department spent the morning helping us paint the greenhouse and plant a flower bed next to our herb garden.  The extra sets of hands made the work fly by like a breeze, and we were happy to be able to give a tour of the space and show how its grown in the past few weeks. A huge thanks to department head Professor Chris Henke for putting the work party together!

We’d also like to thank Kathy Harold from the Hamilton Center for the Arts for reaching out to us to do a vertical garden project with the kids at the HCA summer camp!  We had a lot of fun teaching the kids about gardening in a small space, and loved hearing about their gardens at home. We used a pallet, landscaping fabric, and chicken wire to create a standing-up space where plant’s roots can roam.

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This summer we are enjoying being able to connect with the surrounding community.  If you’re interested in visiting the Colgate Community Garden, keep an eye out for volunteer hours or send an e-mail to communitygarden@colgate.edu. Happy gardening!


Community garden hosts work party

By Sustainability Office on July 7, 2014

With a new herb garden installed, plants in the ground, and a cover crop of buckwheat successfully sprouting in the back corner, the community garden has been progressing beautifully.  On June 18th, we held our first work party of the season.  Approximately 30 attendees helped plant herbs including chives, oregano, mint, and creeping thyme among others.  After an hour of work, we had nearly all of our paths mulched, the rows of tomatoes prepared with straw to hold in moisture, and the rock floor of the greenhouse weeded.  The event finished with a dinner including Oliveris pizza and a “potluck” salad to which community members added their own veggies and dressings.  We are so grateful for the assistance and enthusiasm provided by the volunteers and look forward to inviting them back to the garden for another event in the near future!

Click here to learn more about this event.

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Let the gardening begin!

By Sustainability Office on June 10, 2014

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Colgate’s Community Garden has officially changed locations this summer and is looking forward to the growing season! The new garden is now located on Broad Street, just South of the Colgate townhouses and Community Hospital.  Colgate Community Garden interns Alex Schaff ‘16 and Quincy Pierce ‘16 are starting from the ground up, forming rows, building a compost bin, planting seedlings, and adapting to the new site.  Long-time friend of the garden, Sam Stradling from the Hamilton Food Cupboard, recently dropped off a plentiful load of plants ready to be planted in the garden.  This is the second year in a row Sam and the Food Cupboard have donated seedlings in exchange for produce to be harvested and donated by the Community Garden later in the season.

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We hope to hold events in the near future, and can’t wait to have visitors..stop by and have a look at all the work being done.  Or even better, come on down and get your hands dirty by helping out!  See you soon!


The New and Improved Colgate Community Garden

By Sustainability Office on March 24, 2014

rsz_greenhouse_snow_removalSpring is officially here and the Colgate Community Garden is getting a major face lift! Flooding at the current Newell apartment site last year proved to be too much to fully overcome. Over the winter the garden team and Green Thumbs members worked hard to put together a proposal to move the garden to a new location.

We are pleased to announce that, with the support of the University, the Colgate Community Garden will be relocating to a new (and flood-free) location for 2014! The new garden will be located just past the townhouses on Broad Street as you head south from campus. There is currently a greenhouse that was utilized in part by the garden team last year and plenty of land that does not flood on a regular basis, which could not be said for the Newell location!

Over the next few months, the garden team will be hard at work setting into action all of the plans that were made over the winter. First up is a major overhaul of the current greenhouse. The greenhouse will get a new covering and several new raised garden beds installed inside of it. Re-covering a greenhouse of this size (30 feet wide by 60 feet long) is much easier to do with lots of helping hands. Stay tuned for our announcements about how YOU can help with this project!

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Once the snow melts (thank you Upstate New York for yet another long winter…), there will be plenty more happening at the new garden site. Tasks will include tilling the grass, moving the garden fence from the old location, moving the shed, forming garden rows, moving plants, and of course planting seeds. Anyone who is interested can come down and lend a helping hand. The more help we get, the quicker we can be on our way to a successful garden this year!

Thanks to all who have helped with the garden so far, and we look forward to many more exciting times to come!

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