by Aksinya Kichigina
The college’s Center of Sustainability is holding the Harvest Days event that lasts throughout the week, beginning on Sept. 28 and concluding on Oct. 2 in an effort to raise and spread awareness of sustainability and the work that the center does on campus. Kristy Howell, the sustainability education and engagement coordinator, talked about the purpose and importance of the event for the campus.
“Harvest Days helps us celebrate the bounty of our campus farm, and it also helps us out to reach a communication with the campus community since most people do not know that we have a campus farm where we harvest fruits and vegetables,” Howell said.
The event that took place on Sept. 29 was at the COM Plaza from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and had some activities such as bike-blending smoothies, solar-roasting s’mores and more. The Center of Sustainability is now focusing on reaching out and having conversations with students.
“Harvest Days is a way for us to have conversations with students all over campus about what we do in our sustainability, and also about good food we have,” Howell said. “We are just talking to as many students as we can, whether they are making a smoothie or whether they are just asking questions about why and how we recycle on campus, for instance,” Howell said.
The importance of the events held by the Center of Sustainability is two-fold. First of all, outreach is the most effective way to spread awareness about the Center of Sustainability. Also, the work they do on campus, starting from funding the small projects like solar tables to outreach events like this (Harvest Days), and larger projects — developing solar on campus, and so forth.
Besides planting all the vegetables and fruit on the campus farm, there is also an opportunity to see and even taste the harvest during special occasions or find it in the Diner Down Under.
“The farm produces enough for us to put food for special events. For example … we have Campus Farm Lunch. And we try to tie that food in the other events, like last Friday’s lunch with a nationally recognized sustainable agriculture expert, Salvador. We may occasionally serve food from the campus farm for Dining Down Under,” Howell said.
Howell mentioned that kids in the Child Development Center that’s located on campus are learning about food by making it themselves, eating it and learning where it comes from. In addition, the Center of Sustainability leads many other projects that have a great impact on the community.
“We do tons of other projects from supporting curriculum. We have Sunflower Grants, which are small mini-grants for faculty who are doing curriculum development for sustainability, to the solar-powered charging stations, supporting more efficient and alternative energy transportation on campus with EV charging stations,” Howell said. “Also, these outreach events help us to start the conversation with students. So they can see the opportunity in the Student Sustainability Committee and get involved.”
Other Harvest Days events this week include the campus farm lunch, walking tour with members of the Student Environmental Alliance and Student Sustainability Committee and the enlightening discussion of four brief articles on food, food ways and farmers that is led by Dr. Jay Antle.