Urban Farm provides campuses with sustainability students can see and taste

The discussion of sustainability on campuses revolved around structural changes campuses can make, such as solar panels, electric car charging stations, and LED lights. While all of these items are important, rarely do students closely work together or think about these sustainable measures. Across campuses nationwide, urban farms are encouraging students to not only know about sustainable food but to grow it themselves as well.

“It’s a garden that is run by students and for students,” said Benjamin Warner, the advisor for the Towson University Urban Farm. “Students can choose what they want to grow and tend to it themselves.”

The urban farm is located behind the parking lot of the Administration building, where students can visit at any time. The farm is 100 square feet, but is expanding as the popularity of students growing their own food increases.

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Photos provided by Towson University Urban Farm

The urban farm teaches students about sustainability as well as where there food comes from, and the differences in organic farming compared to factory produce. The farm itself is also completely sustainable.

“We use compost from the university, we have no electricity or water source so we use hand tools and catch all of our water with rain barrels, and are completely organic,” Warner said. “We teach students about food systems, local food, and healthy eating. Students need to get in touch with what’s on their plate.”

Urban farms are not uncommon on college campuses. University of Maryland has a farm on campus that not only grows food but also contains animals such as cows and sheep to teach students about farm life they otherwise would not experience. Other schools such as Loyola and MICA also tend to their own urban gardens.

The Urban Farm group meets every Thursday and tends to the garden, growing whatever fruits or vegetables are in season. Students can then take the food they grow back to their dorms or apartments and prepare it themselves. The Real Food Challenge, a movement on campuses that push for sustainable eating, originated from the presence of urban farms and gardens on campus.

Urban farming continues to promote the conversation of sustainability, not in the structure of buildings but through the structure of food systems and students’ health.

“Solar panels, electric cars, recycled materials; though they’re all great, but they pale in comparison to the weight of what you eat everyday,” Warner said. “There’s no larger impact you can have in terms of sustainability than what you eat on a daily basis.”

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Photos provided by Towson University Urban Farm 

Eco-Representatives Promote Sustainability on Towson Campus

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Photo: Towson University Eco Reps Facebook Page

 

At Towson University, a student-led organization called Eco-Reps are pushing to make campus more sustainable and students more eco-friendly. These students give speeches to student organizations, come up with ideas to make campus more sustainable, and plan campus-wide events to have students more involved.

“[One of our eco-reps] is working with art students to make sculptures out of recycled material,” said Marra Angelica, an Eco-Representative “right now I’m doing waste audits and doing compost data education outreach, which spans into the Office of Engagement and the Office of Sustainability.”

Eco-Reps have also teamed up with other organizations, such as the Real Food Challenge, to bring more sustainable food and food education to campus.

Eco-Reps organize events such as Recyclemania, Envirofest, and events on Earth Day.

While Eco-Reps is less known on campus then other organizations, as sustainability becomes a more popular topic, they hope to expand and connect with all students.

“I definitely believe that there is the potential to expand,” said Angelica. “the real issue is commitment and time and I think if they make it a paid position it definitely has room to expand.”

As the conversation about sustainability continues, the voice of students will play an important role in what universities construct or conserve on their campuses.

 

 

Green Building becomes the norm at college campuses

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Photo credit: Towson University Sustainability site

Colleges and Universities across the country are increasing their standards for sustainability in construction. At Towson University, all new construction products since 2007 are considered environmentally stable according to the Towson University sustainability site.

This increase is due to the policies set forth by the United States Green Building Council, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in the construction and design of buildings. Through the USGBC, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system was created, which verifies is a building is environmentally sustainable.

Towson University, aside from its new construction, has two LEED Gold certified buildings. These buildings, West Village Commons and the SECU arena, are the most sustainable among the university’s five other LEED Silver certified buildings. Each building contains water-efficient fixtures, recycling, environmental landscaping, and green roofs that reduce carbon dioxide emitted according to the site.

Towson University isn’t the only campus pushing for environmental sustainability. At MIT, their Sloan School of Management building has the highest energy performance possible according to the MIT energy initiative site.

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Photo credit: MIT Energy Initiative site

“We tried hard, and I think succeeded, to get a building where the sustainability is baked in,” Walter Henry, director of the Systems Engineering Group in the Department of Facilities, told the site. “It isn’t the frosting but a fundamental part of how we designed the building.”

Cost is one of the biggest questions when colleges consider building green. But according to the MIT site, the design team found that constructing the Sloan building with energy-efficient features did not have any additional expense and instead saved MIT money.

Environmental construction has many benefits besides saving colleges money. Studies show that the presence of improved sustainable lighting have a 27% reduction of headaches on the people who occupy the building according to Wow.com. The decrease of headaches leads to a higher level of academic achievement according to the site.

Through sustainable construction, college campuses will have benefits that exceed simple monetary spending. As green building increases its presence, many hope that the push for green building will extend beyond the campus and to the community.

Towson University holds ‘real food’ dinner and discusses food sustainability

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The Real Food Challenge chapter at Towson University hosted a dinner while discussing on campus food sustainability with students, last Wednesday.  The dinner, which had been prepared for three days prior to the event, was 100 percent vegan and zero percent waste which embodies the goal of the Real Food Challenge.

Real Food Challenge is a national campaign with the goal of uniting students across campuses to rally for ethically sound and sustainable food. They hope to empower college students and universities to create healthy, sound and green food systems within their campuses. They hope to reallocate $1 billion of existing university food budgets from industrial farms towards local and community-based food sources by 2020.

“We have the power now to make a positive and active change,” Haley Molnar, a member of the Real Food Chapter at Towson University, said.

Before the dinner, a panel discussed food sustainability with students and debated several issues within university food sources. Their main focus was discussing how Towson University can become more sustainable.

“It’s all about the ways you individually reduce waste,” Evan Lutz, the CEO and co-founder of Hungry Harvest, said. The Hungry Harvest is a company that takes surplus produce and delivers it to customers to promote food security. “It takes a lot of collaboration with urban farming and farmer’s markets.”

Several on the panel agreed that farmer’s markets are an excellent way for students to buy locally, including Ned Atwater, the owner of the bakery Atwater’s that sells organic and local ingredients.

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Unanimously, the panel agreed that awareness and empowerment are the two greatest sources in achieving food sustainability on campuses.

“The biggest problem on college campuses is that we’re not aware, and changing the viewpoint so people become knowledgeable is the main goal,” Clarissa Chen, a student at Johns Hopkins University and part of their Real Food Challenge team, said. “I think in terms of getting a college to change is a change in policy, and this change shows how much power universities have in the food market and system.”

After the panel discussion, students were served a vegan dinner with options that also included gluten-free meals. A ratatouille dish was served, as well as soup, salad, mango cake and bread provided by Atwater’s. The dinner served over 30 students, and produced zero percent waste including the silverware and dishes.

“We should all feel empowered to have a real say in the food system,” Allison Boyd said, the coordinator for the Farm Alliance in Baltimore City. The alliance increases urban farming and access to urban grown foods.

“Make shifts in supply through shifts in your demands by voting with your dollars,” Boyd said. “The more you know, the more you can change.”

 

 

Over 200 Colleges and Universities Commit to Climate Action in 2016

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Photo credit: Community College Sustainability Collaborative

Weeks prior to the Paris Climate Change Conference, 218 campuses nationally pledged to support climate action and increase campus sustainability. 

These colleges, representing over 3 million students and spanning over 40 states, signed the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge to show their support of climate action by world leaders and President Barack Obama in Paris during the COP 21. These institutions have also pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, incorporate environmental action into academic curriculum and become carbon neutral within the next decades according to the White House press release

Several colleges in Maryland, including Towson University and Johns Hopkins University have already begun taking the necessary steps towards promoting climate action. 

“It was a very fast-moving process, so it’s exciting that President Daniels took the time to review the pledge and ensure that we added our voices to the national-and global-conversation,” said Ashley Pennington, Program Manager for the JHU Office of Sustainability to Hub

Johns Hopkins’ main initiatives are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent by 2025, foster sustainability education programs, conduct research on the impact of climate change and sustainability, and many more. Several student groups on campus have also signed similar pledges for sustainability and efficiency. 

Towson University has taken similar steps to promote sustainability across their campus of more than 20,000 students. Towson University has invested $8 million in installing new lighting fixtures to reduce energy costs, and reduced their consumption of energy by 30 percent and have an annual savings of $26,000 in transformers according to the Towson University Office of Sustainability

The pledge for sustainability across college campuses is a progressive new advancement in the fight for climate action, inspiring the next generation to continue making strives in education paired with environmental awareness and sustainability. 

Voters in South Carolina and Nevada turn out to vote in the primary

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In South Carolina and Nevada, voters line up to vote for their prospective candidates, with each party having several decisions to make on who will receive their vote.

Despite the voting having merely begun, Donald Trump is already expected to win the primary in South Carolina, according to the Washington Post. While Trump is expected hold the lead, the race of the final four will be determined by this election, and either Gov. John Kasich or Gov. Jeb Bush will be pushed out of the race.

“For all practical purposes, there’s no path forward for Governor Bush,” Katich’s chief strategist John Weaver told the New York Times. “We’ve already won there, at least in my sense, because however we do, it’s going to help drive somebody else out of the race” referring to Bush.

Tim Miller, a spokesman for Bush responded that Kasich is “running a zombie campaign that only exists in three states in the hopes that he can gain some cache in the vice-presidential sweepstakes” to the New York Times.

While the race between five candidates in the Republican Party continue, it is down to two in the Democratic Party, with the stakes high for both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. According to the Democratic Nevada Caucus, Clinton is in the lead with 51.76%, but by only a margin of 3.6% compared to Sanders’ 48.16%.

Nevada was expected to be an easy win for Clinton according to USA Today, but her lead has decreased significantly within the past couple weeks, and Sanders’ campaign is feeling the momentum of a Nevada win already.

Minority votes are expected to be the key factor in who will win Nevada for democrats. According to an Edison Research entrance poll, Sanders holds the lead over Hispanic voters and white voters. Clinton still holds the lead over non-white voters, but only by less than 10 percent.

As polls, reports, and votes keep pouring in, it is expected to be a tight race on both sides of the primary election.

 

Towson University Grad has Passion for Helping Children of the World

Angie Hong has always known that her passion lay in helping others around the world.

So it came as no surprise to family and friends when the 23-year-old Baltimore native went to Uganda after college and helped reunite children in an orphanage there with their biological parents and relatives.

“I’ve always had an interest in living in a community in the developing world and serving alongside them,” Hong said. “We ran the first successful transition for children from orphanages to families in Uganda.”

Hong was able to help find the families through the children, who explained where they came from and where their biological families were, and the help of local people.

“It is important to take notes and listen to every little detail and thing that was being said by the Ugandans I was working with at the time,” said Hong, who graduated from Towson with a degree in philosophy. “I want to be clear that no decision was made on my own. We listened first.” Continue reading “Towson University Grad has Passion for Helping Children of the World”

One in 22 Thousand: Andres Negro, Martial Artist

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(Photos by: Theresa Schempp)

Out of 22 thousand students on Towson University’s campus, Andres Negro is one the few who has received his second-degree black belt in karate and martial arts. In this article, Andres discusses his achievements in martial arts and how he maintains his skills while juggling five classes and two jobs.

Continue reading “One in 22 Thousand: Andres Negro, Martial Artist”

Voting Among College Students

Photo by Theresa Schempp

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Across the nation, the voter turnout for midterm elections among college students has continued to decrease in recent years. While the locations of election polls play a part in lower turnout, many students feel that their vote doesn’t matter. Listen to this story about the opinion of some Towson students on voting.

How to Study Abroad as a College Student

When Towson University senior Amy Procaccini studied abroad in Australia in the fall of 2013, it was love at first sight. “While I was in Australia, we also traveled to Fiji and New Zealand,” said Procaccini. “I was so in awe of the beauty.” Procaccini, like so many other people, had caught the travel bug, and was already planning her next adventure.

But if you’re in college, there are a few obstacles before the next big expedition: money, money, and money. College students have spent many a night eating ramen noodles and thinking about the debts they need to pay off and questioning if they’ll ever go on another adventure again.

However, it is possible to satisfy your inner wanderlust without breaking the bank. According to NAFSA, in the 2011-2012 academic year, only 283,332 students studied abroad. It represents about 1% of all U.S. students enrolled in higher education. Here are a few ways that you can be a part of the adventurous 1% without skyrocketing your debts or bursting your budget.

Continue reading “How to Study Abroad as a College Student”