Category Archives: Sustainability

Pantry Produce Plot: More than Honors Work

To complete an A with Honors project for her Hospitality degree, Parkland College sophomore Del Jacobs has been working with Parkland Horticulture faculty this summer to plant a garden for the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland.  She shares the process and her progress below. As a student, Del’s exemplary efforts in sustainability and feeding the hungry are well documented; the garden project is a continuation of her drive to serve. Parkland is proud to train those with a heart to help.

 

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I approached Theresa mid-spring about getting help from the Horticulture students to plan and plant a garden to feed 30 families. The Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland feeds an average of 30 families at each distribution.

Theresa’s class ran the numbers and figured out what to plant and how much to plant. In May, before my trip to Morocco, I helped Theresa and her staff plant the garden. Unfortunately, I was unable to monitor the garden for the first six weeks, and the weeds got very large and deep. Therefore, the garden doesn’t look pretty, which is why there are no pictures of it.

I began to coordinate volunteers to help me weed. We began by meeting every Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to pull weeds. We weren’t making much progress, so I added another day. We now also meet on Tuesdays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.  So far, I have had nine volunteers; most have joined me once. My most faithful volunteer is Thor Peterson, sustainability coordinator at Parkland.

In spite of the problems, I have been able to harvest approximately 450 pounds of produce!

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I am also providing recipes to the pantry clients. I try to furnish recipes that use more than one vegetable from the garden along with nonperishable
items available at the pantry.

As the season moves on and the summer vegetables are harvested, we will be planting vegetables to harvest in the fall.

Lastly, I began working with Dawn Longfellow, Wesley Food Pantry’s operations manager, on a name and graphic for the garden. Dawn is still working on the graphic, but we have decided on the name: “Parkland’s Pantry Produce Plot.” I’m hoping this project will continue for many years, and I plan to be involved past the end of my A w/Honors project.

[Theresa  Meers is an associate professor of ag/horticulture at Parkland.]

 

Celebrate Earth Week at Parkland College

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Parkland College has celebrated Earth Day, Earth Week, and even Earth Month each April for a number of years, with activities planned and organized by members of the Sustainable Campus Committee. But this year, we celebrate this week with activities planned by Parkland students, in a group so newly formed, they are just undergoing approval for official student club status!

Read on to see how the upcoming Parkland Students for Sustainability Club hit the ground running. Students, staff, and community members are welcome to attend these events, all held in the Student Union, room U142, by the cafeteria stage.

Tuesday, April 19: Focus on Sustainable Transportation

As a commuter campus, a significant portion of Parkland’s carbon footprint is attributed to transportation impacts, primarily from car commuting. Learn about ways to lower your pollution contribution, and how Parkland can plan and build to reduce transportation impacts. Mass transit and bicycling are also good for you; learn about the health benefits of sustainable transportation alternatives.

9am-10am: Join Ben Leroy, associate planner with the City of Champaign, to learn about how Parkland connects to Champaign’s transportation infrastructure and what we can do to support both better connectivity and a larger percentage of bicycle and bus commuters.

11am-1pm:

  • Come provide your ideas and input on how Parkland’s campus can be more connected, accessible, and encouraging of outdoor activity for people of all ages and abilities. We’ll have a big map and idea board.
  • Bike maintenance and cycling safety demonstration with Neutral Cycle (12:30pm start time)
  • Strategies and financial implications of car-free living
  • Mapping out existing and desired campus features for fitness, access to nature, and universal design
  • Resources from CU-MTD to make bus riding to campus easy and economical.

Wednesday, April 20: Eat Local!

11am-1pm:

  • Try samples and browse a pop-up mini grocery store of local foods including produce, bread, cheese, and coffee from Prairie Fruits Farm, Blue Moon Farm, Sola Gratia Farm, Great Harvest Bread, and Columbia Street Roastery.
  • Learn how to make great seasonal meals with pointers and recipes from Community-Supported Agriculture businesses in our region.
  • Find out about the Champaign Farmers Market’s double-your-money purchasing incentive program for individuals and families who qualify for SNAP benefits.
  • Hear how the Wesley Food Pantry helps reduce food insecurity right here in Chambana, and about opportunities to both use this community resource and volunteer to support its mission.
  • Check out the sun using a solar telescope, and learn about the science of the seasons from the Parkland Astronomy Club.

Thursday, April 21: DIY Green

How can you make your day-to-day activities healthier and more environmentally responsible? Join us for a series of activities that will save you money, reduce your exposure to chemicals, and lighten your environmental impact all at the same time.

11am-1pm:

  • Green cleaning: learn about the simple, low-toxic products that can be used instead of commercial cleaning products. They’re effective and safer for family and pets.
  • Natural personal care products: store-bought personal care products and cosmetics can contain chemical toxins and hormone-disruptors. Find out how to make your own personal care products to save both money and the environment!
  • Receive a small dose of toxicology! Learn about the health impacts of home cleaning and personal care products from the Parkland Science Club.
  • Paper or plastic? Neither! Bring a used T-shirt and we’ll help make it into a one-of-a-kind reusable shopping tote!
  • Become water-wise at home: learn how to check your toilet tank for silent leaks that could be costing your household hundreds of dollars a year in unneeded water and sewer charges. And bring home water-saving faucet aerators and shower heads (while supplies last) that will lower your utility bills the minute you install them. We’ll give demonstrations on how to easily install these money- and resource-saving devices.

Attend these events to learn about living more sustainably, and if you are interested in learning more or joining the student club, please email tpeterson@parkland.edu.

 

[Thor Peterson is the sustainability coordinator for Parkland College.]

Feeding the Hungry on Campus, Sustainably

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, including 52 percent of all fruits and vegetables and half of all seafood. Meanwhile, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank reports that one in four children in our region struggles with hunger.

Parkland Hospitality Program student Del Jacobs saw direct opportunity to connect the food waste and hunger dots when she enrolled in cooking classes and observed the amount of food ending up in the trash.

“I have been interested in sustainability for several years,” Del says, “and I decided to create a system at Parkland to reduce food waste while helping the hungry in our community.”

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Student Del Jacobs with baked goods for Parkland’s Wesley Food Pantry

Del worked with Hospitality, Horticulture, the Wesley Food Pantry and Chartwells (the contractor running Parkland’s cafeteria food service) to develop these food-security strategies:

  • Three times this semester, Hospitality’s baking class will bake goods to supply the food pantry. “The pantry’s clients love the food,” says Del, “and the students have the satisfaction of knowing their baked goods are reducing hunger in the community.”
  • Next spring, Horticulture students plan to plant a garden outside the pantry food to supply 30 families with fresh seasonal produce.
  • Chartwells agreed to divert vegetable scraps from its waste stream to create compost to enrich the soil in Horticulture’s garden.

In addition, Del is working with the Wesley Food Pantry to raise awareness among Parkland’s student body that the pantry can supplement their food needs.

“Parkland’s Hospitality Club will also focus its efforts on sustainability and community outreach,” says Del.

Student-led initiatives like Del’s show the power of sustainability and systems thinking: waste is often a resource that happens to find itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Creating connections between people and programs can capture these neglected resources and not only put them to productive use, but also help weave together more resilient and humane communities.

[Thor Peterson is the Sustainability coordinator at Parkland College.]

T Building Tour: Come Celebrate LEED Smart Design!

Did you know that buildings consume nearly half the energy consumed in the United States—almost as much as industry and all forms of transportation combined? Smart design and technology choices can drastically reduce a building’s energy demand, however, and we have an example of such a building right here on campus.

The Parkhill Applied Technology Center (building T) is the first building on the Parkland campus to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the leading green building rating system in the marketplace. Join us on October 29 at 11 a.m. to see a dedication of the T Building’s LEED plaque, followed by a building tour.

Jeff Johnson from BLDD Architects will lead a tour of the T Building to point out the features that make this a high-performance building. These include:

  • Extensive daylighting (access to natural light), which both lowers energy costs associated with artificial lighting and has been shown to increase worker productivity and raise student test scores
  • High-efficiency lighting to supplement the building’s daylighting scheme
  • A highly efficient geothermal heating system, which uses the naturally tempering thermal characteristics of the earth beneath the building to both heat and cool the building

T Building’s features represent the sort of energy efficiency improvements Parkland will implement over time to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2060 as outlined in the President’s Carbon Commitment. The commitment was signed by President Ramage in 2009.

October is Campus Sustainability Month at Parkland and activities were organized by the Sustainable Campus Committee. This tour is the main event for our final week of activities and focuses on the power of design to support sustainability goals. Look for Parkland’s Sustainability coordinator Thor Peterson from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28 outside the café in the union to learn more about how you can support sustainability activities at Parkland.

EVENT DETAILS
Parkhill Applied Technology Center LEED Dedication Ceremony and Green Building Tour
Date: October 29, 2015
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Building T, main entrance