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Sustainability at Wake Forest

Reimagining How the World is Fed

News

Reimagining How the World is Fed

November 19th, 2014

shiva-news-release-header“Rejuvenating the earth should be the outcome of the food system.” Vandana Shiva made this call for awareness and action last week during her visit to Wake Forest University. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, Shiva lectured as a part of the “Make Every Bite Count” speaker series, organized by the university’s Office of Sustainability and co-sponsored by the School of Divinity’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative. On Wednesday, Nov. 5, Shiva led a community forum with students, faculty, and staff at the School of Divinity.

The “Make Every Bite Count” series featured other events including a panel discussion and film screening of GMO OMG with filmmaker Jeremy Seifert. The series aimed to investigate the role of agricultural biodiversity in our local, regional, and global food systems. The final keynote lecture by Shiva highlighted the challenges and opportunities of feeding the world with sustainable agriculture.

Shiva is the author of Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development and the founder of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote sustainable farming and fair trade. Her newest book, Who Really Feeds the World?, will be available next year.

During her lecture and in the community forum, Shiva consistently referred to the “patenting of life,” in relation to the patents held on seeds by industrial food producers. “Ecosystems produce food, not companies,” she said. “Destroying seeds destroys life. Saving seeds is an ethical duty.” The world is at a point where the diversity of creation needs to be reclaimed and valued for that diversity.  Saving seeds is one way to preserve and continue the variety of life forms around us.

“We are not masters of the earth, we are a part of the earth family,” Shiva said during Tuesday’s lecture. “The process of commercial agriculture displaces diversity and people. There is a division in labor and knowledge.”

Shiva has concerns not only for the production methods of agriculture, but also the impact of food on health and wellbeing. “How we grow food is related to disease,” she said. She gave examples on how malnutrition occurs because food lacks essential minerals and the ways toxins from the chemicals used impact bodies in negative and life-threatening ways.

“Rejuvenating the earth should be the outcome of the food system.” This call echoed as Shiva gave glimpses of hope about the work that is being done and the work religious leaders are called to do on food issues. She recalled the abolition movements in the U.S. and India as a historical framework of resistance movements that changed social practices. She encouraged faith communities to plant “gardens of hope” as a beginning point of resistance. “Faith communities throughout the world already are responsible for feeding communities through soup kitchens and food pantries,” Shiva said. “Let’s link the feeding and outreach to the growing of food.”

Shiva’s call to action resounded with many. Fred Bahnson, director of the School of Divinity’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, said it was encouraging to have her on campus. “She inspired us, challenged us, and made us laugh. To hear this global food leader talk about the importance of faith communities working to create food justice and ecological healing was especially encouraging, because it means we’re on the right track.”

Second-year divinity student Pia Diggs is interested in learning more about holistic health and how the food industry is impacting the food she consumes. “After hearing Shiva speak, I have an increased awareness to be more cognizant about my intake of food and a greater concern for how it is being produced,” she said. Diggs worked in a community health center last summer in a low-income area of Greensboro, NC that has been designated as a food desert. “What you eat effects your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional states, so if you are not eating well-prepared food, it will directly affect your entire being.”

Links of Interest

Focus on food in the forest – WFU News Center

(http://news.wfu.edu/2014/11/05/focus-on-food-in-the-forest/)

Make Every Bite Count Fall Speaker Series

(http://sustainability.wfu.edu/make-every-bite-count/)

Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative)

(http://divinity.wfu.edu/food-and-faith/

Thrive: Well-Being at Wake Forest University

(http://thrive.wfu.edu/)

About Wake Forest University School of Divinity

The Wake Forest University School of Divinity is a growing, dynamic and ecumenical theological institution that prepares men and women to be religious leaders in a changing world. The School currently offers the Master of Divinity degree and several dual degrees in law, bioethics, counseling, education, and sustainability offered jointly with other schools of the University. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.

By Mark Batten, School of Divinity

Shiva at the Forest: In Review

November 19th, 2014
Busby

Molly Dutmers/Old Gold & Black

I was introduced to the work of Vandana Shiva only a year ago.  It was a hot, spring day in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Pro Humanitate Institute’s Shelley Sizemore and I were unwinding with other Wake Alternative Break participants after a day on an urban farm.  Needless to say, food justice and food security were already on the brain, making the introduction of Shiva’s work impeccably timed.  The introduction, and resulting insatiable intrigue, were facilitated by none other than Shelley herself.  She was reading Shiva’s “Staying Alive” at the time, and shared several quotes from the book’s opening pages.  Each quote was poignant, unapologetic, and pointed to the various ways in which some human practices have corroded balance, both ecological and otherwise. For me, the handful of quotes demonstrated Shiva’s deep understanding of nuanced need, and prompted my interest in her work.  Additionally, and importantly, I desired to better understand my own role in contributing to the sustainable, conscious agricultural and ecological practices our world so desperately needs.

When I learned that Shiva was visiting Wake Forest, I was overjoyed.  The opportunity to attend her keynote, and engage further with her writing through book clubs hosted on Wake’s campus, was immensely appealing.  In truth, neither engagement disappointed.  At the “Staying Alive” book club, I was surrounded by members of the Wake Forest community and of the broader, all-encompassing Winston-Salem community.  My book club co-host was a former member of Forsyth Local Food, a local consortium that works to further program development and food policy within the existing Forsyth community food system.  Another group participant was a student like myself, whose work developing local food related entrepreneurial ventures opened his eyes to matters of accessibility and convenience in the world of local food.  Yet another participant was the owner of a local composting center, and thus provided interesting insights with regard to waste, costs, and sustainability.  Surrounded by a myriad of rich perspectives, my understanding of Shiva’s text, and of the needs of our community, deepened. Each book club participant hailed from a different place and had experienced different things where food and agriculture were concerned.  Despite these differences, we all agreed on the importance of looking to the future, and prioritizing the various facets of food justice and food security.

Like the book club, Shiva’s keynote was enriching.  Her fiery support of local, diverse, sustainable agriculture, and equally fiery denouncement of genetically modified foods and destructive industrial practices, probed me.  As an audience member, I was forced to, again, reexamine my own practices in honest ways, and think holistically about the impacts I create, both long and short term.  I found myself agreeing with Shiva’s words in some areas, and pushing back in others.  I  thought about the ways in which her proposed policies would impact those whose hunger needs were satiated by  industrially produced aid, and what support these communities might require during transitions from larger scale production to smaller scale, sustainable practices.   My ruminations were many, but importantly, my gratitude and appreciation for Vandana Shiva were reinforced. Her work is renowned for its emphasis on sustainability, consciousness, and demonstrated appreciation of local knowledge—a practice all but forgotten in many corners of the world.  As a student, I am encouraged and inspired to do my part, daily.  As a community, we should all be inspired.

Contributed by Elizabeth Busby (’15)

Purchasing at Campus Grounds

November 17th, 2014

Q. Why doesn’t Campus Grounds take Food Dollars?

A. Food Dollars are exclusively accepted at ARAMARK-managed food outlets on campus, as part of the meal plan. Since Campus Grounds is an independent, student-managed outlet, they cannot accept Food Dollars. Students can, however, use Deacon Dollars at Campus Grounds. It’s worth remembering that when you make a purchase at Campus Grounds, the money spent there stays in circulation locally – in the form of locally roasted Krankies Coffee, Be Nice Bagels, Gigi’s Cupcakes, and any of the other local favorites the student managers of Campus Grounds bring in.

New Academic Year Brings New Opportunities for the Sustainability House

November 13th, 2014
A few members of the Sust'y House dress up for their "First Day of School" photo, that also hangs in the house.

A few members of the Sust’y House dress up for a funny “First Day of School” photo.

The sustainability house, most commonly referred to as the “Sust’y House,” has experienced a revival this year and it is truly better than ever. This eclectic community of environmentally conscious students once called 1141 Polo Road “home,” but sadly had to part ways with the beautiful house due to structural damage in the basement. Last year, the Sust’y Community experienced a bit of a diaspora, spread out between a tiny four-person house, a north campus apartment, and a room in the Ahuva house.

This year, however, Sust’y is officially back, with everyone under one roof. Equipped with two porches and ample room for 10 students, the Sustainability House has found a gracious new home at 1157 Polo Road. Over the years, this theme living community has become an integral part of life at Wake Forest, most prominently known for its delicious spaghetti dinner nights and its always-welcoming environment. Alyshah Aziz, a junior living in the house, says “It’s a place where students from all different pockets of campus come together.” It is one of the few communities at Wake Forest where you can find true diversity of interests and social circles; membership ranges from the Cycling Club, to Gender Equality Allies, computer science, Office of Sustainability interns, and even members of Greek life.

Despite the diversity among the members, there is a palpable feeling of unity within the house. “This house has gone beyond a residential area, it has become a place where we find family,” says Ann Nguyen, a new house member this year.  The Sustainability House is a reminder of the importance of exploring life outside the comfortable realms of our small social circles, and of finding common ground and friendship as Demon Deacons.  As theme program assistant David Hughes reflects, “For me, Sust’y means making the world a more habitable place, both ecologically and socially.  It is a place that strives to be a welcoming sanctuary, and a hub to promote sustainability through engaging the community.”

This year, the Sust’y House is rich with old and new faces, as well as old and new traditions. In addition to the regular homemade spaghetti dinner nights, residents and friends are also enjoying Quesadilla Nights on Thursdays.  Both house members and regular visitors are very excited for this academic year and renewed community at the Sustainability House.

By Andrea Becker (’16)

Faces of Sustainability: John Shenette

November 7th, 2014

shenette2Strike up a conversation with John Shenette, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services, and along with that genuine smile and deep Bostonian accent you will find a wealth of knowledge and passion about the role of facilities in higher education. Shenette joined Wake Forest University in March and has been a prominent figure on campus ever since. Facilities and Campus Services plays an important role in our effort to transform the campus, bringing strategic sustainability goals to fruition and providing metrics for continuous improvement.

What attracted you to Wake Forest?

I toured the university in 1997 and was struck by the uniqueness of the campus. However, the more research I did, the more I learned about the quality of education Wake provides and the presence Wake Forest has in the US and internationally. It was also evident to me that at Wake I would have the opportunity to engage with faculty and staff and continue to grow and learn in the profession, both of which were important to me.

Why are you interested in sustainability?

Sustainability in its definition is integral to facilitates. When you’re in facilities, it’s all about being a good steward. If you’re replacing equipment and buildings, everything hinges on the right materials. Awareness and adaptability is important. Technology changes and student lifestyles change and we must embrace that changing mindset. Facilities is no longer viewed as just a “physical plant,” it is now much more broad and engaging. It’s important for facilities to be a financial steward and support the mission and vision of the institution, which includes staying modern and incorporating sustainability.

What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to embracing the Wake Forest culture and bringing Facilities and Campus Services from the background to the forefront so we’re seen as part of the fabric of the university. We can and should use our physical structures and lands as living, learning laboratories.

Faces of Sustainability is a regular feature on our website. You can read about past Faces of Sustainability here.

Spencer Finch: color / temperature

November 6th, 2014
Spencer Finch: Sky; Over Franz Josef glacier April 8, 2008, 10:40 am, 2008, commercial ice machine and related elements, water, dye. photo: Paul Bright

Spencer Finch: Sky; Over Franz Josef glacier April 8, 2008, 10:40 am, 2008, commercial ice machine and related elements, water, dye. photo: Paul Bright

On October 21st, the exhibition Spencer Finch: color / temperature, at the Hanes Gallery, culminated with a talk by the artist in the Kulynych Auditorium. Finch engages in a close observation of nature and natural systems, tying the natural world to that of art, literature, and philosophy, expressed particularly in the properties and perception of light. He filters his fundamentally empirical approach through a poetic, eccentric sensibility that owes much to American transcendentalism and the uncanny awareness evident in the work of writers like Emily Dickinson (in his talk, Finch admitted to being a “groupie” of Dickinson and her work). Pragmatic, but also idealist and romantic, his work is in part a summation of 19th century sensibility brought into what is now being called the Anthropocene, a geological period reflecting the impact of human influence.

In his talk, Spencer Finch emphasized, with characteristic modesty and humor, the provisional nature of his research and process, even though he employs the tools and techniques of scientific measurement and observation. The centerpiece of the exhibition at Wake Forest was an ice machine adjusted to cycle water that has been color-calibrated to match that of the sky above the Franz Josef glacier (New Zealand) at a precise date and time. It then “calves” as ice into a basin, melts into a sky-blue pool, and is recycled.

Finch’s work posits us in a fraught relationship with the nature he observes and records the workings of. His creative process transforms and reinterprets those observations and experiences; his work helps us understand our position vis a vis “nature” (and its phenomena), even as we alter it.

Two things in particular stand out from Spencer Finch’s talk: his work (like Dickinson’s) takes the natural, the intimate, and the particular and creates a metaphor for our being in the universe; and he -repeatedly and knowingly, despite his assiduous methods- demonstrates the futility of quantifying the hue of human experience.

By Paul Bright, Director, Hanes Art Gallery

True Value Meals

November 4th, 2014
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Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry

My family and I live on a 22-acre farm in Stokes County.  We are serious gardeners. I can’t remember the last time I bought a tomato at the store and I have saved my own okra and basil seeds each year for over a decade.  Now late October, we have over 60 garlic heads up in the garden and have put the cold frame in place.  We also raise Shetland sheep, a very hardy heritage wool breed.  For a few years we raised heritage turkeys (Bourbon Reds) and maintain a flock of about 30 free-range laying hens and sell their eggs to wonderful people on campus.  Sometimes I go to meetings and people say, “Oh, you are the egg lady.”  All of this effort supplies fabulous, fresh and taste-laden ingredients to cook with.  At my house, we eat very well.

But all of these farming endeavors do not pay the mortgage.  My husband and I are both faculty in the Department of Chemistry, and Bruce currently serves as Associate Provost of Research.  In the Chemistry Department, teaching slots are a common topic of discussion.  We never have enough faculty members to meet demand for all the courses required for our majors and pre-med students.  We run out of faculty teaching slots every semester and work hard to fill the needs of our students.  Because of this, we are truly limited in the number of First Year Seminars (FYS) we can offer each year.  Faculty who have developed FYS offerings offer them on a rotating basis.

I have taught the FYS True Value Meals several times in the past.  According to the syllabus, True Value Meals “has been designed to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills of students, and their ability to express in writing and aloud their opinions and ideas, in a setting that focuses on the production, processing distribution and eating of food.”  It is an ideal topic for the FYS, and a topic that I am passionate about.  Luckily, my turn in the rotation came during the fall 2014 semester.

By coincidence, the semester I was offering a food-centered FYS class, the Office of Sustainability organized Make Every Bite Count, a speaker series about the food we grow and eat that challenges us to imagine how we can sustainably feed the world.  Students are required to attend the events and we sit together as a group. In the following class meeting, the discussion is centered on frank analysis of each event and how it compares with other course material.  In twenty years of teaching at Wake, I have never seen students as fired up as they were the day after viewing the documentary GMO OMG.  I have no doubt that the talk by Vandana Shiva on the challenges of feeding a growing world population will be just as powerful, if not more so.

Since I taught True Value Meals last, the sustainability movement on campus has blossomed.  I was able to participate in the Magnolias Project, which strives to integrate sustainability across the curriculum.  The campus garden has grown both in size and organization. Campus Kitchen now has dedicated space on campus and has expanded its programming. All of these have combined for wonderful service-learning opportunities for my students.  Each student is required to complete 18 hours of food-related service with community partners to enhance their readings for the course and aid class discussion.  What have they been doing? The mid-term logs of service hours showed that they have been gleaning food from the Cobblestone Farmers Market for redistribution to food-insecure families; repackaging food from the on-campus dining hall for delivery to persons in need; making sandwiches for homeless individuals on Saturday mornings; turning plots, compost and planting fall crops.  All of this effort has helped the partner agencies AND the students’ learning.  Our class discussions are livelier because they are all experiencing different aspects of food culture in their work outside of class. And the students actually enjoy their service learning hours.  It’s a nice break from reading and writing and gives them time to reflect on course material and try to integrate all the different pieces. Some students have found a “niche” at the university through their service learning partners. I am astounded by the number of students who want to become shift leaders for Campus Kitchen or interns with the campus garden. It’s helped me realize how important extra-curricular activities are to students’ overall wellness.

I can say with confidence that this semester students are the most engaged in my FYS material, thinking more deeply and broadly.  I encourage all faculty to find a topic they are passionate about and use the plentiful teaching resources here at Wake to develop a class that will impact students.  From teaching workshops on community engagement and sustainability to on-campus service learning opportunities, our university has a bounty of support for engaged learning.

By Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry

The Importance of Eating Ugly Fruit

September 24th, 2014

15055500370_1a1b2ed4c1_k“Be skeptical and curious. Go beyond reading labels…really know your producer.” This final piece of advice from panelist April McGreger was just one response to the overarching question: if every dollar we spend is a vote for the world we want, how can we make every bite count?

During September 10th’s panel, Make Every Bite Count, heritage and heirloom food experts Eric Hallman, Executive Director of the Livestock Conservancy; Eliza Greenman, orchardist at Foggy Ridge Cider; April McGreger, founder of Farmer’s Daughter Brand; and Janette Wesley, Slow Food USA Regional Governor, provided insights into the importance of biodiversity and sustainable land and water use to a resilient food system.

Orchardist and charismatic agri-entrepreneur Eliza Greenman left a lasting impression with her parting advice: eat ugly apples. Our tendency to buy fruits and vegetables that are perfectly symmetrical, with no creases or pimples, discourages markets from carrying heirloom varieties, many of which are as unique on the outside as they are uniquely delicious on the inside. Following the panel, Greenman was mobbed by requests to visit her orchards; several Wake Forest families and groups have since made the trek and have returned energized by the possibility of expanding their relationship with new and interesting foods.

To view photos from the event and learn more about the two remaining events in our fall speaker series, visit our website and follow us on Twitter to view live tweets from the event.

Members of the audience stayed to talk more with the speakers and one another about the opportunities we have to think differently about the impacts of our food choices:

“A big take away is that there’s this tremendous variety of food, and it’s sustenance but it’s also beautiful, and it’s beautiful in the way that it preserves diversity; it’s beautiful in how it shows how we’ve done agriculture through the years. I hope that it becomes perpetuated and expanded in the future.” -Dr. Miles Silman, Professor of Biology and Director of CEES

“I was fascinated by the orchardist, she was incredible. But I also appreciated the comments by the panelists in their respective fields: what they have to contribute to sustainability and the need of diversity and the role that that plays. I’ve never thought about the diversity in meat and the importance of that; I have heard about the importance of diversity in apples; I’ve been to some markets in Virginia and there have been several varieties but I have not heard about the variety of meats. I heard my parents and their generation talk about how the meat tasted different, and I never really thought about it. But tonight it really made sense. I come away challenged to explore more of the local markets and to modify my eating habits.” – Staci Kyle (‘15), Master of Arts in Sustainability Graduate Student

“I really appreciated Eliza’s perspective, especially her combining the idea of preserving history and using story as a powerful way to change the way we eat, and, thus, change the way we look and take care of the environment. I think that’s one of the most powerful things to connect people to how we’re living.”       – Sarah Millsaps (‘16), Anthropology Major

 

Apply Today: Earth Day Internship

September 22nd, 2014

sustainabilityinternAre you interested in planning a campus wide event? Do you want to work with a highly collaborative team of peers? If you answered yes to both of these questions, apply for the WFU Earth Day Planning internship. The intern will work with the Office of Sustainability, community stakeholders, and campus organizations to plan and execute the Earth Day 2015 celebration at Wake Forest. From organizing stakeholder meetings, planning the entertainment line-up, developing outreach materials, securing community support, and managing marketing, this paid internship will provide resume building experiences.

Previous experience with campus-wide event planning is preferred. Note: this internship will start in November and carry through the spring semester. All enrolled students are encouraged to apply including undergraduate, graduate, part-time, and full time students.

In order to apply, please fill out this form. Applications are due Friday, October 10th at 5:00pm.

North Dining Hall Compost Campaign

September 22nd, 2014

“Did you know, only food and paper go in the North Dining Hall dish return? All wrappers, lids, and caps must be thrown away.” Thanks to a robust outreach campaign and a great story in the Old Gold & Black, Deacons are making history with the first post-consumer composting program on campus. During the span of the nine-day campaign, 3,600 pounds of food and paper waste was collected by Gallins Family Farm and transported to their offsite facility for composting.

Macaela_Compost_Outreach

Although this diversion is something to celebrate, we can never take our eye off the ball. Turning the same 9-day campaign, 900 pounds of food waste was turned away and sent to the landfill due to contamination. One milk carton, or a couple of plastic wrappers, can render a whole container of food waste unusable.

As a campus community, we have the opportunity to turn North Dining Hall (NDH) into a near zero-waste facility. Aside from making sure you follow the collection rules, tell a friend about composting at NDH and remind them, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Also check out this compost bulletin board kit and post it around your residence hall or in your departmental lounge.

Still confused about what to compost or why it matters? Reference the compost FAQs below and email with any further questions.

North Dining Hall Compost FAQs

What happens if something other than food and paper go in the dish return?

All of the food and paper must be thrown away. If anything that can’t break down naturally in a three month time period enters the dish return, all of the waste in that batch is landfilled.

What should I do if I’m not sure whether something can be composted?

When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to throw something small away than to ruin a whole batch of compostable waste.

What is compost?

Compost is organic waste which, over time, breaks down to become nutrient-rich soil.

Where do the food scraps and paper go?

Gallins Family Farm picks up food and paper waste collection bins from campus. They turn the organic waste into rich compost called Carolina Dynamite that nearby farms, gardeners, and landscapers purchase. Some of it comes back to our own campus garden on Polo Road.

Why does Wake Forest compost?

Composting helps reduce the amount of waste Wake Forest sends to the landfill. Not only does aerobic composting reduce the amount of methane that enters the atmosphere; it also reduces the cost of the waste we pay to be landfilled.