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The College’s composting initiative and organic garden project are spotlighted

Jennifer Bell ’11 (geology; Purcellville, Va.) and Christina Chen ’11 (biology; Westfield, N.J.) presented their work on the College’s food waste composting program and organic garden project at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in Austin, Texas. The conference brings together hundreds of students from colleges and universities around the world to discuss issues surrounding education, climate change, and human rights. The students have been working on the research with David Brandes and Art Kney, associate professors of civil and environmental engineering.
Jennifer Bell ’11 Receives Grant to Continue Sustainability Efforts

Bell writes:

On Feb. 13, Christina Chen and I flew to Austin, Texas, for a three-day conference with the Clinton Foundation. It was a conference for college and university students from all over the world who have made a commitment to action about something they are passionate about. Whether the commitment was for global health, education, human rights, poverty alleviation, or energy and climate change, it was a time for students to share ideas and talk about their successes. It was a truly inspiring experience.

Christina and I were invited to the conference because of an Outstanding Commitment Award we won this summer. Our commitment falls under the energy and climate category and includes the two sustainability projects that are ongoing on campus. Our project is called “A Locally Sustainable Food Loop for Lafayette College,” and includes both our food waste composting initiative and the new organic garden project.

My involvement in this started when I became a student leader for the College’s composting team in my second semester freshman year. During that time was our “Live Green Lafayette” first-year student orientation and the Corn on the Quad project. While working in the corn plots, we started discussing how great it would be to continue this project into something larger-scale and more permanent. Professor Brandes and I decided to apply for the Clinton Commitment Award.

We received funding to support an organic vegetable garden located at Metzger Fields with two sections; one large plot for students to tend together and a community garden section for the Lafayette community to lease smaller plots. Together with Lafayette’s Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists headed by Steve Mylon, assistant professor of chemistry, and the college composting program, this garden will complete our loop. We’ll grow our own vegetables, compost the waste, and use the compost in our gardens. This idea was a major focus at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, and I hope our project has inspired others to work on creating a food loop for their own campuses.

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