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Campus Garden - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Campus Garden

Campus Garden

Love gardening? Want a hands-on service experience? Volunteer in the Campus Garden; we welcome students, faculty, staff, and community members. The garden is located at the corner of Polo Road and Student Drive and can always use an extra set of hands. All are welcome, no gardening experience is required.

See below for some frequently asked questions about the Campus Garden.

When can I volunteer at the Campus Garden? 

For the spring of 2018, Campus Garden hours will be hosted every Sunday and Wednesday from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. Note that volunteer hours will not occur on set Wake Forest holidays.

What should I wear?

  • Clothes that you do not mind getting dirty
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Pants or shorts/ weather appropriate
  • Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses on sunny days

What do I need to bring when I volunteer?

We recommend that you bring a reusable water bottle. Additionally, make sure you are dressed appropriately for gardening. Feel free to bring garden gloves of your own, but we have plenty available for volunteers to use.

What types of activities do volunteers participate in?

  • Building structures for the garden– such as hoop houses or garden beds
  • Planting seeds and seedlings
  • Harvesting produce
  • Turning the compost
  • Watering and weeding

What is grown on the Campus Garden? 

In mid-to-late spring, the garden focus on summer crops such as eggplant, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, and strawberries. In the fall, mostly leafy plants that can withstand the unpredictable weather patterns of the fall and early winter months are planted.

Where does the produce go?

A portion of the produce grown at the Campus Garden is distributed to families in need in the community through our partner organization, Campus Kitchen. Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University is part of a growing network of university organizations called The Campus Kitchens Project. Each school affiliated with CKP operates a little differently, but they all have the common goal of reducing food waste in their university and community, as well as, combating food insecurity by addressing its root causes. Additionally, garden volunteers are welcome to enjoy the organic produce.

For more information, or to schedule a service event for your organization in the garden, send an e-mail to campusgarden@wfu.edu. You can also sign up for the campus garden listserv and follow the campus garden on Facebook, for regular updates. 

For the spring of 2018, Campus Garden hours will be hosted every Sunday and Wednesday from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. Note that volunteer hours will not occur on set Wake Forest holidays.

Sowing Seeds of Sustainability at the Campus Garden

December 8th, 2016

Suzanne Mullins, OoS News Intern: How has the garden evolved during your time as an intern?  

Akua Maat: As a Campus Garden intern for the past two years, I’ve spent a lot of time getting comfortable with the physical garden space and certain agricultural practices—there’s definitely a learning curve. The garden is constantly changing—we’ve added new growing spaces, expanded plots, incorporated honeybees into the ecosystem, and even conducted some planting and growing experiments with heirloom seeds.

Suzanne Mullins: What do volunteers learn when they visit the garden?

Akua Maat:  As the garden changes, volunteers are invited to witness and enjoy its transformation. As garden interns, our personal goal is to make local, ethical, and sustainably-sourced food the norm.
Nick Judd: We want to educate volunteers about how sustainable produce is grown and distributed so they are empowered to incorporate more sustainable purchasing practices into their lives.
Megan Blackstock: We inform Campus Garden volunteers about the issues surrounding the differences between industrial and small-scale farming, and how they can influence these practices with their own habits. Through firsthand exposure to organic, small-scale farming and articulated learning outcomes on normalizing sustainable agriculture, we hope to enlighten volunteers on their degree of options in choosing environmentally and socially conscientious foods.

Suzanne Mullins:  What is growing in the garden right now?

Megan Blackstock:  Right now, our garden is mainly directed at producing heirloom variety crops; these are at risk of going extinct due to our world’s heavy dependence on a small number of hybrid seeds for farming. In mid-to-late spring, we mainly focus on summer crops such as eggplant, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, and strawberries. In the fall, we plant mostly leafy plants that can withstand the unpredictable weather patterns of the fall and early winter months.
Nick Judd: During this particular semester, we have made efforts to maximize space and expand growing potential by extending a plot, building a second strawberry box—out of recycled wood, I might add—and we are even planning to implement a trellised bean patch.

Suzanne Mullins: The Campus Garden gives first-hand experience with sustainable practices. How do Wake Forest students, particularly those who volunteer at the garden, perceive their relationship to sustainability?

Akua Maat:
Watching the garden grow these past few years, and learning about food alongside volunteers, has offered us a rare opportunity to connect with food origins in novel ways. When you regularly interact with something, you start to understand it as valid, worthy, and important; our hope for volunteers is that they experience this understanding. We invite them to ask questions about seeds, crop growth, and the weather. On the other hand, we share our knowledge about soil nutrients, food seasonality, crop rotation, and organic growing.  We also like to extend these conversations to a larger audience through events. For example, we have held Spring Equinox celebrations where we partnered with the local community to have a pop-up farmer’s market, live music, and a celebration of wheat. We have screened documentaries during the fall season and had samples from local breweries and eateries for volunteers to enjoy as they painted pumpkins and crop signs. These events have provided an avenue for students to engage in sustainability and find ways to fit sustainable practices into their lifestyles.

Suzanne Mullins: Lastly, what does sustainability mean to you?

Akua Maat: 
For me, living sustainably means living a life and making choices that take the environment and all of its inhabitants into deep consideration.
Megan Blackstock:  Sustainability for me is defined as the environmental, economic, and social development of the world into a more future-friendly society.  Personally, I love teaching people about small-scale farming, as it helps to cut down on the purchase of the environmentally-damaging industrial produce that we see in most—if not all—of our grocery stores. In addition, I try to make an effort to live what I teach. I am constantly thinking about where my food came from and whether or not I am making smart, local food choices.
Nick Judd:  Sustainability is a big part of my life here. On campus in particular, it extends to my home life at the Sustainability Theme house where we discuss, participate in, and hold events focused on sustainable initiatives.

To receive regular information about the Campus Garden join the garden mailing list.  To learn more about the campus garden, visit the Office of Sustainability website.

Congratulations Class of 2015 Interns

July 6th, 2015

Bridge_EmilyWe sent off our graduating interns from the Class of 2015 with hearty congratulations on their outstanding achievements.

Bridget Keeler graduated with a major in economics with a minor in environmental studies. After working as the campus dining intern for ARAMARK her sophomore year, Bridget studied sustainability abroad and returned to serve as a Greeks Go Green intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She is working at Aramark headquarters in a one-year management program, Accelerate to Leadership.

Her reflection on her internship: My time with the office allowed me to further explore my interest in sustainability, and made me realize that my career path points toward the sustainable business sector. Working in the office provided me with invaluable information and experience, and I am very grateful for the guidance that was provided by Dedee and Hannah.

Araceli Morales-Santos graduated Cum Laude with a major in biology with a minor in Spanish. Araceli served as a Campus Garden intern in fall 2014 before going abroad in spring 2015.  She earned a Fulbright Scholarship and will be an English teaching assistant in Brazil.

Her reflection on her internship: As an intern with the Office of Sustainability I gained valuable work experience and career tools that I will carry with me everywhere I go. Moreover, I was impressed at the level of professionalism that this internship offered and expected from each of the interns. What I most appreciate from my experience with the Office of Sustainability is the regular check-ins…[the] constructive criticism was helpful for me because professionally, it has helped me grow. As an intern, I also enjoyed all work and time spent in the garden. There is nothing more special than heading to the garden on a warm afternoon with a nice breeze and getting your hands and feet dirty harvesting and talking to the volunteers about their day and interest in gardening. I can’t thank the Office of Sustainability enough for offering me the opportunity to have this wonderful experience. 

Emily Pence graduated Cum Laude with a major in mathematical business and minor in French. Emily served as a Greeks Go Green Intern for five consecutive semesters.

Her reflection on her internship: I am so thankful to have been able serve as an intern for the Office of Sustainability over the past few years. My internship has helped me grow into a more thoughtful, dynamic and professional individual, and has provided me with an opportunity to learn from and work alongside some of the most passionate and devoted members of the community. It has been such a rewarding experience to have been on a team with students who come from such diverse backgrounds, yet who share a similar commitment to stewardship and environmental sustainability. Looking back on my time at Wake Forest, my internship has been one of the most valuable and formative experiences I have been fortunate enough to have; it will be one that will stay with me as I enter the next chapter of my life. 

mcMacaela Seward graduated with a major in biology and was commissioned with distinction as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Chemical Corps. Macaela served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She will begin training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In the fall she will be moving to South Korea to be the Chemical Officer for an Assault Helicopter Battalion.

Her reflection on her internship: My experience as the Sustainability in Dining Intern was eye-opening. Being sustainable as an individual is very different than at a corporate level, and it was incredibly interesting to learn how sustainable practices are implemented. In my internship I learned all about what food purchases are made and how we select vendors, as well as being able to run a project of my choosing and helping to prepare the STARS 2.0 review. It has been a great experience being the Dining Intern, and I will certainly be able to apply the skills I’ve learned in this internship – time management skills, creativity, resilience, tenacity – to the future.

Natalie Solomon graduated with a double major in psychology and religious studies with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement. Natalie served as a Campus Garden Intern in the spring of 2015. She will begin a five year journey to earn a Doctorate in Psychology from Stanford Consortium in the fall.

Her reflection on her internship: Recently in the garden, the strawberries came up and I felt a profound sense of fulfillment and happiness. My internship has deepened my understanding of therapeutic resources. I have really loved that my internship included a physical component, that of literally gardening, and that my internship in the garden highlighted that the body and mind are the vehicles for pain, pleasure, and prayer. I have completed my Religion and Public Engagement Concentration on this fluidity of the inner and outer components of a person, much informed and influenced by my work in the garden. The garden has helped me to literally ground what I am learning in class and intern meetings, as well as provide a therapeutic outlet.  This is a resource that was very rewarding to share with others. I honestly felt like my work in the garden reconnected me with the therapeutic resources of the outdoors that were central to my childhood in rural Southern Africa. My internship in the garden has provided me with a wider perspective and deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, components of education, stewardship to the Earth, and benefits of the outdoors.

We wish all of our former interns who graduated with the Class of 2015 a fond farewell:

Jack Sypek, energy conservation intern with Facilities and Campus Services, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in biology.

Elena Dolman, staff writer, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in English.

Shoshanna Goldin, former Sustainable Community Development intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in interdisciplinary studies – global health.

Maegan Olmstead, former Communications and Outreach intern, graduated with a major in communications.

David Song, former Campus Garden intern, graduated with a major in biology.

Nicky Vogt, former Campus Garden intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in politics and international affairs with double minors in Spanish and psychology.

Call for 2015 Sustainability Interns

March 17th, 2015

sustainabilityinternAre you a student interested in making a difference and gaining professional development experience? The following paid internships are available to all Wake Forest University students for fall 2015. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability. Please note, interns are required to attend an on-campus sustainability orientation August 19th – 21st.

Internship applications are due by Friday, April 10th at 5:00pm.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with expert garden mentors, faculty, staff, student, and community volunteers to manage the campus garden across from Spry Soccer Stadium on Polo Road. Management entails all aspects of growing seasonally appropriate crops including, but not limited to, developing and maintaining rotation and cover cropping plans, starting and transplanting crops, watering, mulching, and composting food/yard waste.  The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty, and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will co-lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a recognized Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
Learn more about the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining intern on ARAMARK’s website.

Facilities & Campus Services – Energy Management

The intern will assist Facilities and Campus Services with communications, energy competitions, monitoring energy usage on the campus through computer programs and by physically walking around the campus, occasionally during late hours. Other responsibilities include gathering, compiling, and analyzing data from various WFU departments, coordinating with the Office of Sustainability and attending meetings as necessary. The intern must have experience using Excel and a passion for reducing energy usage.

Propose a Unique Internship
Have a great idea for an internship, but don’t see it on our list? Feel free to submit a unique internship proposal. We are always looking for new, innovative ways to promote sustainability on campus. Your proposal should include an articulation of the need for the proposed project and the landscape of issues surrounding the project.

Fall 2014 Internships in Sustainability

April 2nd, 2014

Aramark_Meeting_1_30_14Are you a student interested in making a difference? The following paid internships are available to Wake Forest students for fall 2014. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Applications are due by Thursday, April 17th at 5pm.  Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with faculty, staff, and student volunteers to manage the campus garden at 1141 Polo Road. The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Communications and Outreach 
The intern will work with staff in the Office of Sustainability to develop content for the campus sustainability website including, but not limited to, news stories, calendar contributions, and social media posts. The intern will contribute to the production of a monthly electronic newsletter, based on the news stories written for the website.  Strong writing skills required, sustainability literacy preferred.  Applications from both graduate and undergraduate students will be accepted.  In addition to the application form, please submit two news-writing samples.

Gameday Recycling 
During the fall semester, the intern will recruit for and manage a volunteer game day recycling program for the home football season. Volunteers recruited for the effort will interface with fans, work with the athletic department to manage demand for recycling collection, prepare communication materials for the program, and promote the program to tailgating fans. This intern must be available to work on the program during the summer months, but does not have to be physically located on campus until the fall.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a registered Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required. Familiarity with and knowledge of Prezi is a plus.

The intern will attend and photograph Office of Sustainability events and maintain an active photostream on the office Flickr account. Events will range from high profile speakers to weekly community engagement events. Attendance at weekly intern meetings is required. The intern must have his or her own photography equipment and some photo editing skills. Familiarity with Flickr is a plus.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
View the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining Intern.


Update: Sustainability Theme House

September 25th, 2013

Susty_Spaghetti_5This summer, Wake Forest had to say goodbye to a beloved campus home.  Due to structural damage in the basement, there was no alternative to demolishing the Sustainability theme house, a house which a group of students had formerly called “home.”

The Sustainability house was one of the handful of theme houses owned by Wake Forest and operated by Residence Life & Housing. In this house, students who embraced a sustainable lifestyle could live together and share their common interests and passions. On any given day, these students were biking to and from the house, composting, volunteering at the campus garden located in the backyard, and hosting events such as spaghetti dinner night.  During the four short years of its existence, the Sustainability House residents developed a network of students throughout campus that all came together to enjoy different facets of the Wake Forest experience. Although the only visible remnant of the former “Sust’y” house, as it was known, is now an empty gravel lot, the Susty community continues to thrive.

Logan Healy-Tuke, the theme program assistant for the house, says that although the demolition is a setback, it allows the community to grow in different ways. The house right next door to the now empty lot—what would have been an annex to the Sustainability theme house—is now the flagship house for these students. Additionally, the community has expanded to the North Campus Apartments and the Ahuva theme house, where the displaced students now live. Logan says “Though we are bummed, we believe with full faith that this shift will make us more appreciative of what we do have, and look forward to keeping a tight-knit, sustainability-based community inclusive to all.”

The sustainability student community is continuing their traditions, including spaghetti dinner night on Thursdays (which is open to all students), volunteering at the Campus Garden on Sundays, riding their bicycles all over campus, and attending different events on campus as a group. With or without the former home, the Susty community will continue to flourish and promote sustainable living on campus.

As it turns out, 1141 Polo housed important memories for another Wake Forest family as well. The Susty House history dates back to its construction in June of 1923, when it was built as part of the Oak Crest neighborhood. For most of its existence, the Susty House belonged to the Hauser family. Gena Hauser, the granddaughter of the original owner says, “It’s where my dad grew up and our family enjoyed a whole lot of good memories—including my grandma’s amazing cooking on many Sunday afternoons.”

In addition to great dinners and family memories, this home will be missed for its beauty. According to local historian Kent Strupe, several people have referred to it as one of the prettiest homes along Polo Road, and he adds, “With its coordinating two-tone green color, beautiful mature trees, and well-manicured lawn, I have to agree. Oak Crest has truly lost a treasure.”

By Andrea Becker (’16), Staff Writer

How Can We Afford It?

September 5th, 2013
Joel Salatin

Photo courtesy of Sarah Moran/Old Gold & Black

Joel Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer” lived up to every aspect of his reputation in his lecture to the incoming class of 2017, during their fall orientation. The lecture, which was open to all members of the Wake Forest community, was the denouement in the summer academic project on food access and food justice.

Salatin is undoubtedly the most recognizable, and arguably one of the most successful, sustainable farmers in the United States today. His alternative farming practices have drawn him into contentious battles with government regulators and have contributed to his unique views on food justice.  He has captured the attention of food activists, environmentalists, libertarians, and government regulators, in equal measure, illustrating why he named his Virginia farm Polyface – the farm of many faces.

“We have become disconnected from our ecological umbilical,” he remarked. Most of us have little idea where our food comes from, how it is grown, and why either of those things matter. We have done our best to insulate ourselves from the consequences of those realities. Our society has divorced itself from food production. Farming is done by people we don’t know and in places we can’t see or smell, and for good reason: industrial food production is an unsightly and hazardous business. We make decisions about how to expend our monthly budgets based on a disconnection from the real cost of food or its importance in our lives. The question of how we can afford a sustainable food system must be turned around to ask how we can afford the system we have now – one that promotes health crises, ecological crises, and ultimately economic crises.

It is this disintegration that has allowed the industrial food system to flourish. With the bluster of a preacher on a pulpit, Salatin exclaimed, “Injustice thrives in secrecy and opaqueness, justice thrives in openness and accountability.” He suggests that transparency and accountability to consumers is the best form of regulation for safety, quality, and price; he proposes that regulation be modified to allow small farms equal market access.

According to Salatin, if we want to change our food system, if we want to see food access in our communities, we must re-integrate our food system. Food production must be localized and consumers must make the sometimes difficult choice to purchase locally and seasonally grown food. He challenged students to imagine the university covered with an edible landscape, to substitute meal-plan reliance with whole foods preparation, and to imagine adjusting the academic calendar to coincide with seasons of peak local food production.

Salatin reiterated again and again that our human cleverness – our desire to outrun nature– is getting us into trouble. He urges us to exercise more humility and less hubris. He suggests that personal responsibility is the starting point for change – that each of us must take up what Dr. Miles Silman, director of the WFU Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, described as the “hard and happy labor of change,” during his introduction to the lecture.

As a final take-away, Salatin emphasized the need to start somewhere and not be afraid of failure. He challenged the old saying that anything worth doing is worth doing right by suggesting that, “anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly first!”

By Jamie Sims, Campus Garden Intern

Garden Intern WWOOFs it in Hawaii

August 5th, 2013
David Song ('15) at Dragon's Eye Learning Center.

David Song (’15) at Dragon’s Eye Learning Center.

Snorkeling with sea turtles and hiking volcanoes may sound like amazing vacation highlights all on their own, but for David Song (‘15) these experiences were part of a 45-day Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF-USA) internship to learn about sustainable agriculture. It was just an added bonus that the practicum was located on the easternmost point on the big island of Hawaii, at Dragon’s Eye Learning Center.

As an EcoRep and incoming 2013 garden intern, Song looked for a unique summer opportunity that would allow him to experience sustainable living on a different level and “fully appreciate the value of food.” WWOOF-USA provided just that for him: a program that is part of the global WWOOF network, which connects volunteers with organic farmers in exchange for room and board and the opportunity to study ecologically sound farming practices.

The diversity of agriculture Song worked with on the rural, 32-acre farm near Pahoa, ranged from jaboticaba to jackfruit and everything in between including breadfruit, noni, and macadamia. Part of the information exchange consisted of learning about the aquaponic tilapia and greens system and about the Cornish hens and Dexter Cows that live on the hearty landscape.

When Song committed to the internship, he was focused on the agricultural component of the program and didn’t anticipate the culinary knowledge he would gain too. “I helped make cheese, yogurt, ice cream, scratch-flour cake, and a variety of meat dishes, starting with hunting, to butchering, and cooking the animal.” Another sustainable component he experienced was living “off the grid,” as the farm relies on solar power for both water access and electricity.

It is this full-systems approach to sustainability that he plans to bring back to campus this fall. Eager to apply his new skills, he envisions testing an aquaponics operation, increasing attention to soil composition at the campus garden, and “…on a more abstract level, promoting and explaining the value of sustainable living as a sustainability intern.”

Through the internship Song gained an understanding of what it meant to participate in a culture of sustainability outside of his previous realm and is an advocate of the program: “I would recommend it to anyone interested in agriculture, livestock, and sustainability or just to people who would like to experience something completely different, culturally.”

By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability

Congratulations Class of 2013 Interns

May 24th, 2013

GroupOn May 20th, the Office of Sustainability wished farewell and good luck to six graduating interns.  We are proud of their work on behalf of our office and on behalf of our campus partners.  Their undergraduate accomplishments are just the beginning of many contributions they will make as members of the Wake Forest community.

Sanders McNair graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a minor in Politics and International Affairs.  He earned honors in History and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta, an honor society for exceptional history students.  Sanders worked for the Office of Sustainability, as the Campus Garden intern, from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2013.  He plans to seek employment at a renewable energy company or in the environmental/energy policy sector after traveling internationally to work on organic farms through the WOOF network.

His reflection on his internship: I can say without a doubt that my experience as an intern with the Office of Sustainability was one of my favorite parts of my time at Wake Forest. I learned a great amount about environmental issues and sustainable agriculture and improved the social and professional skills that I will use in my future career. Most of all, I made connections with students, staff, faculty and administrators through this internship that I hope will not be lost after graduation.

Joey Matt graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.  This year he served as the Energy Intern for the Office on Energy Management.  He is currently considering his post-graduation options.

His reflection on his internship: I’m fortunate to have had this internship. The position provided an outlet to learn from some of the brightest and most passionate members of this university. My experiences shaped my understanding of the diligence, patience, and commitment required to induce environmental changes. Going forward, I feel confident that my internship sharpened my professional and people skills that will aid me in my future endeavors.

Erin Murphy graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and minors in Environmental Studies and Politics and International Affairs.  She was also a member of Lambda Pi Eta Communications Honors Society.  Erin joined the Office in the fall of 2011 as a Game Day Recycling Intern, served as the RecycleMania Intern in the spring on 2012 and spent her senior year serving as one of two interns leading the Greeks Go Green initiative.  This summer, Erin will head to New York City for an internship at an advertising and marketing agency.

Her reflection on her internship: My internship with the Office of Sustainability has been an amazing experience that has led me to grow personally and professionally. I got the opportunity to work on many different projects over my two years as an intern and each of them taught me something extremely valuable that I will take with me when I leave Wake Forest. Being an intern helped me realize the value of hard work and dedication and how you can really make a difference in the community you are a part of. It was so rewarding to work with such an amazing group of people at the Office of Sustainability, and it is an experience I will remember forever.

Dedee and KianaKiana Courtney graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and minors in both Sociology and Environmental Studies.  She joined the Office of Sustainability in the spring of 2013 to serve as the Communications and Outreach Intern.  After graduation she will return to her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to serve with Teach for America for two years.

Her reflection on her internship:   I truly enjoyed working with the Office of Sustainability this semester.  It was a wonderful learning opportunity, in that I met some of the great people on our campus and in our community working towards making the world a more sustainable place.  These experiences have affirmed that I want to pursue a career in environmental justice.

Austin Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English with a minor in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies.  He is also the recent recipient of the Excellence in Entrepreneurship award.  Austin joined the Office of Sustainability as the Game-day Recycling Intern in the fall of 2012 and stayed on as the Earth Day Planning Intern in the spring of 2013.   In September, he will move to the Philippines to produce a documentary film and multimedia web project that examines Filipino life and culture through the stories and messages of street artists.

His reflection on his internship: Working with the Office and the other interns was the highlight of my last year at Wake. Everyone was so friendly and funny and got along really well. These are the superstars on campus. They are great, passionate people who care about their community. I had a blast working on my projects and will definitely take this experience with me as I go on to the next stage in my life.

De'Noia and DedeeDe’Noia Woods graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Studio Art.  She was also the recipient of the Ted and Nancy Meredith Art Scholarship for art majors.  De’Noia has served as the Photography Intern for the Office of Sustainability since the fall of 2010 and also served as the Community Grassroots Coalition Intern in the fall of 2011.  Before pursuing graduate studies, she will take the next year to explore employment opportunities.

Her reflection on her internship: I learned so much as an intern under Dedee’s supervision.  I grew as a professional and an environmental artist.  I was able to merge my passions for art and sustainability to produce meaningful products that have a lasting impression.  By allowing the addition of artistic creativity to come into the campus sustainability realm, it gave another dimension to the great work that the office is currently doing.  I am grateful for this tremendous opportunity to work with the office and I see sustainability being a part of my life for the future ahead.

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the  Office of Sustainability

Compost in Action

September 27th, 2012

In May 2011, agriculturalist-entrepreneurs Pete Gallins and cousin Rucker Sewell began an innovative program in Winston-Salem. The pair began collecting food waste from local businesses and restaurants to compost at the nearby Gallins Family Farm. In the fall of 2011, the university got on board by diverting the Pit’s pre-consumer food waste (food scraps that never leave the kitchen, like potato peels) from local landfills and redirecting them into the Gallins composting facility.

According to Megan Anderson, the manager of Waste Reduction, Recycling, & Surplus at the university, “We have reduced our waste pick-ups by one-third at the Reynolda trash compactor that services the Pit.” This reduction in pick-ups equates to economic savings by way of lowered waste-handling costs and reduced “tipping fees,” levied on trash processed at the landfill.

The reduction in landfill pick-ups has also lessened social and environmental costs associated with waste management. Ms. Anderson told us that rerouting the, “wet, heavy, smelly, messy food waste,” from the Reynolda trash compactor helped eliminate the all-too-familiar odor that attracted pests while repelling passersby.

The program also reduces landfill impacts, including the generation of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. Reduced hauls to the landfill also equate to fuel savings and reduced vehicle exhaust. Through the composting process, Gallins is able to accelerate the conversion of the food scraps to a valuable nutrient-rich soil amendment, the final product of the composting process.

The university’s nascent composting program came full circle this summer when we returned several bags of the compost, marketed as “Carolina Dynamite,” to our Wake Forest campus garden. The compost is produced with the area’s iron-rich soil in mind.

The current boundaries of the composting program are under evaluation for expansion by Ms. Anderson and the countless others involved with the project. She shared plans to begin, collecting from Starbucks and other dining venues on campus. “We would also like to eventually [incorporate] post-consumer food waste collection.” Although we hope that those who eat on campus take only what they intend to eat, there are bound to be scraps and peels that are not consumed. A post-consumer collection program would even allow us to compost paper napkins, creating possibilities for zero-landfill meals at the Fresh Food Company.

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

Faces of Sustainability: Nathan Peifer

August 13th, 2012

Photo courtesy of Nathan Peifer

Nathan Peifer is a competent and capable person; that’s why it was extremely disconcerting when, one year ago, he realized, in the most basic way, he did not know how to feed himself.  Thus began Nathan’s study of gardening, a journey of self-directed learning he describes as “chasing ignorance.”  This summer his chase landed him in the Wake Forest Campus Garden, where he works for the Office of Sustainability as the Campus Garden intern.  If you have been to the garden lately, you will find it difficult to believe that just one year ago Nathan’s entire gardening experience amounted to trying (unsuccessfully) to grow grass out of a Styrofoam cup for a grade school craft project.  Over this past week alone, the garden produced 74.09 lbs of produce and the harvest has just begun; the fruits of Nathan’s labor will be ripe for picking all the way into the fall.

One of the secrets of Nathan’s success is extensive research.  In order to best manage the campus garden, Nathan does a good bit of reading and seeks advice from his gardening mentors.  He takes inspiration from other gardens as well. Through these visits he has he has learned that every community and campus garden has its own unique strengths and challenges, so “you should never try to become someone else’s garden.”

Nathan identifies a strong partnership with Facilities and Campus Services as one of our campus garden’s unique strengths.  This summer Nathan worked out an arrangement with Megan Anderson, the campus recycling manager, to divert extra cardboard to the garden.  Nathan uses the cardboard to keep weeds down between rows of plants and the cardboard improves the quality of the soil as it degrades.

To Nathan, who is entering his third year in the Wake Forest Divinity School this fall, gardening is an art not a science (although, he points out, there is plenty of science happening in our garden).  He likes to garden because there are no right or wrong answers and you have to think creatively to solve problems that arise.  After two rigorous academic years in the Divinity school, the hands-on, outdoor work of the garden is a welcome change and he finds his work in the garden and his education to be “mutually informative.”

One of Nathan’s favorite aspects of his internship is working with different groups who volunteer their service in the garden.  So far this summer has hosted The Benjamin Franklin Scholars, the LENS program, StudentLife, and 4Good volunteers.  Nathan sees the garden as an opportunity for service learning and hopes faculty will take advantage of the garden as an unconventional classroom with the potential to “bring cultural assumptions [about farming and growing food] into high relief.”

This summer in the garden has helped Nathan shape his plans for the future.  He is seriously considering bivocational ministry, which combines traditional pastoral duties with other work, such as managing a community garden.  To anyone who now stands where he stood one year ago, in a place of ignorance about the source of their food, he offers this advice: “Find someone who knows what they are doing, befriend them, and rely on them as a resource. And remember, there is no one right way to do anything. You just have to try.”

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow