College Green

Exploring environmental news in Southeast Ohio

Archive for October, 2009

Students waste more food during no-tray meal

Posted by collegegreenou on October 30, 2009

By Gabriel Weinstein
CG News Staff
gw711008@ohio.edu

While results from the Oct. 5-8 Nelson Dining Hall food audits showed that student waste habits have slightly improved, the results from the “no-tray” meal at Nelson Dining Hall last night did not reflect this trend.

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Appalachian Regional Commission wraps up conference

Posted by collegegreenou on October 29, 2009

By Lisa Gumerman
CG Lifestyles and People Editor

The Athens-hosted Appalachian Regional Conference wrapped up today with a closing reception and lunch in Walter Hall. Those in charge considered the conference, whose attendees totaled over 450 during its three-day span, a success.

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Representatives from Appalachian colleges and universities meet to discuss the future of green energy

Posted by collegegreenou on October 29, 2009

By Elyse McConnell
For CG News

Representatives from several Appalachian universities discussed the prospects, implications and funding for developing sustainable energy projects in a roundtable discussion Wednesday at Ohio University’s Baker University Center.

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ARC Conference keynote speaker voices Duke Energy’s sustainability objectives

Posted by collegegreenou on October 28, 2009

By Gabriel Weinstein
CG News

Duke Energy Corporation President and CEO James Rogers affirmed his company’s commitment to energy efficiency and addressed Appalachia’s future challenges in switching to clean energy technology in his keynote address Tuesday at the 2009 Appalachian Regional Commission Conference at Ohio University’s Baker University Center.

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OU program, area school chosen for ARC grants

Posted by collegegreenou on October 28, 2009

ARC_Day2_Snyder_04

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and ARC Co-Chair Anne Pope stand with a check for Appalachian development programs. Of that money the Voinovich School will receive $100,000 and West Elementary will receive $45,000. Photo by Alex Snyder

By Erich Hiner
CG News Editor
eh146106@ohio.edu

Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and an area elementary school are among the 18 recipients of this year’s grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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Developing, promoting local level renewable resources are the topic of ARC panel

Posted by collegegreenou on October 28, 2009

By Meghan Ventura
CG Web Manager
mv256706@ohio.edu

The sun, wood chips, cooking oil, wind and garbage might seem unrelated, but local leaders across Appalachia are finding ways to turn all of those things into clean, renewable energy.

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Industry executives look at the future of coal in ARC panel

Posted by collegegreenou on October 28, 2009

By Katherine Bercik
For CG News
kb128005@ohio.edu

Representatives from the energy and agriculture industries discussed coal’s future as a source of energy in a panel discussion Tuesday in Baker University Center.

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ARC event brings regional leaders to Athens, OU

Posted by collegegreenou on October 27, 2009

ARC_Day1_Snyder_06

Anne Pope, Federal Co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, spoke at the opening ceremony of ARC's annual conference. Photo by Alex Snyder.

By Lisa Gumerman,
CG Lifestyles and People Editor
lg677106@ohio.edu

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International student reflects on Hope Garden’s positive influence on Athens youth

Posted by collegegreenou on October 23, 2009

Volunteer Diana Stafford demonstrates beekeeping to local children at Hope Garden. Provided by Liz Shaw.

Volunteer Diana Stafford demonstrates beekeeping to local children at Hope Garden. Provided by Liz Shaw.


By Swati Ramanathan
CG Commentary
swati.ramanathan@gmail.com

As an international student, I am sometimes shocked that processed food in this country is cheaper and more readily available than raw, unprocessed food. American consumers, and in recent years consumers all over the developing world, value the convenience of processed food. However, the rise in juvenile diabetes and other lifestyle diseases has led many doctors to conclude that such convenience comes at a high price. Doctors now recommend consuming fresh produce and limiting the intake of processed foods.

I first heard of Community Food Initiatives (CFI) and the Westside Community Gardens last summer. Bordered by cheerful giant sunflowers, this garden lies conveniently along the Athens bike path. Before I knew it, I’d signed myself up for a plot.

I had never felt a sense of community like that before — certainly not in my big city hometown in India. There’s something about pottering about in the soil that connects you to the local land, and potter away I did.

The first step in growing my own food was turning over the soil, and Liz Shaw, who manages the gardens, reflects with amusement that I did this in dainty heels. In my defense, I wasn’t planning to turn over the soil that very day! My somewhat messy little garden was my pride. The tomatoes were lovely, sweet and organic. I had squash, cucumbers, mint and peppers. I was excited and spread the word in my graduate department. My garden-less graduate student friends eagerly signed up, and to this day, many continue maintaining their gardens. A friend now grows exotic medicinal herbs that are hard to procure outside of China.

The benefits are obvious: nutritious, local, organic vegetables, and you get to keep 90 percent of what you grow. The remaining 10 percent is donated either to CFI, or to a family or organization of your choice.

I was most impressed, however, with CFI’s other garden, the very aptly named Hope Garden. Hope Garden, situated off East State Street, is part of Hope Drive Apartments, a community for lower-income families. This 3-year-old program is intended to help children between ages 5 to 18 learn about sustainability, nutrition and the importance of growing locally. Other groups can easily replicate the gardening model adopted by Hope Garden. It also ensures that its own band of about thirty young gardeners is able to take on the bulk of the gardening under adult supervision.

The young gardeners prepare the soil with compost and mulch, and handle everything from planting, weeding, trellising and harvesting. They are even involved in the design process and decorate their gardens with recycled or donated art supplies. Not only is it a highly creative endeavor it also doubles as a hands-on learning experience for language, arts, science and multicultural studies. At every stage, CFI emphasizes the use of basic materials with very impressive results.

The slightly older kids, ages 11 to 16, are encouraged to participate in the Young Entrepreneurs at Hope (YEAH) program. There are currently seven participants who grow and make products such as jelly that are then sold at the Athens Farmers Market. These young entrepreneurs are paid based on the hours they put into the garden or kitchen. Besides the valuable life-lessons they learn from earning and managing an extra allowance, this has also made them good marketers.

All the evidence both locally and nationally seems to suggest that this program is achieving its goal of changing mindsets and educating communities. The documented benefits of gardening include a positive attitude toward learning, stronger interpersonal skills and, believe it or not, increased property values and lower crime rates.

Although there have been no studies yet on the positive effect Hope Garden is having on local youth, we know for certain that the program has already impacted the lives of local residents. Shaw tells me that her young gardeners are sent home with nutritious recipes and free produce, and their families often send requests for specific vegetables after successfully trying a recipe. She also notes that the kids are frequently heard discussing the value of eating fresh, unprocessed foods, a lesson that we adults often find so difficult to implement.

Perhaps it is Hope Garden’s unique combination of simplicity and effectiveness that helped our young gardeners win the 2008 Healthy Sprouts Award from the National Gardening Association, beating 359 other entries. Or perhaps it is the dynamism with which CFI operates that has determined its success.

Either way, the end result is an increased awareness of nutritional dietary choices, organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices. More importantly, it helps develop not just healthy ideas about agriculture but healthy children who enjoy spending time in a hands-on learning environment.

The picnic that was held to celebrate the award gave me a chance to interact with the kids and see firsthand the pride they felt in their garden. I toured their lovely garden amid enthusiastic chatter about giant tomatoes and future dreams of becoming neurosurgeons. I can’t help but get the impression that their experiences with Hope Garden will open doors and help them achieve their ambitious goals.

I left the picnic that day with a party favor: a charming handcrafted planter with soil and ready-to-grow thyme. I’m sure you’re familiar with the oft-heard and gratuitously used phrase, “it makes the world a better place.” Along with my little planter, I came away with a sense that Hope Garden was one of the rare things that actually does just that.

Related story: Garden attracts a young crop

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Program energizes Athens area students

Posted by collegegreenou on October 22, 2009

By Gabriel Weinstein
CG News
gw711008@ohio.edu

Athens students learned about energy conservation this week during Energy Days 2009, an annual series of workshops for local schools hosted by the Ohio University Office of Sustainability to educate children about how people make and use energy.

Students grades three through six participated in several hands-on experiments Tuesday and Wednesday at Baker University Center to learn about topics such as energy and sustainability. The lessons were run by Office of Sustainability employees and local environmental leaders.

The workshops brought students and experts together to help students realize they are part of a larger global environmental system, said Energy Days organizer Erin Sykes.

“I really think the kids get a lot out of Energy Days,” said volunteer Matt Peters, who led the Energy Days workshop on biofuels.

Students rotated between stations learning about different energy and environmental issues in Southeast Ohio. To see the effects of acid mine drainage, students mixed acids and bases and tested the acidity of different substances. Students learned about electrical power generation by riding an “energy bike,” a bicycle modified to generate power when pedaled. At the hydroelectric power station, students observed a model stream to see how water can be used to make electricity.

The older the students were, the more advanced their lessons became. Those in higher grades learned about kinetic and potential energy, chemical reactions, circuitry and solar power.

Tom Parsons, director of curriculum and development for Athens City School District, said Energy Days is very educational for students because they can apply what they learn from the program to life outside the classroom.

Heather Skinner, a sixth grade teacher at The Plains Elementary, said she notices that some students use their new knowledge in classroom discussions and in their lives at home.

Joseph, one of Skinner’s students, said he plans to use what he learned from the Energy Days lessons at home.

“I will now try to use power saver plugs and try and turn things off more often,” Joseph said.

This year marks the ninth annual Energy Days series. The program has enjoyed wide support from students and teachers alike. Since its start, the program has been officially incorporated into the Athens City Schools’ curriculum. All students, grades three through six, from Athens’ five elementary schools now attend the program each year.

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