Office of Sustainability Embarks on Fall Projects

Even amidst Colgate’s many environmental initiatives such as becoming carbon neutral, the Office of Sustainability continues to work year-round to ensure the sustainability of the campus. One of their sustainability projects for Colgate students is the farm stand in the O’Connor Campus Center (the Coop), which sells produce from the Colgate Community Garden. The garden doesn’t just sell food to Colgate students, though; it donates to local food pantries, has rentable plots for community members to grow fruits and vegetables and has a dedicated staff that educates both students and the Hamilton community about farming and sustainability. 

Although the Community Garden does need to sell food to cover costs for buying seeds, they don’t run a stand at the Saturday farmer’s market. Garden Manager Beth Roy explains why this is.

 “We’re not really here to compete with local farmers,” Roy said. “We’re here to educate people about how hard of a job they do have.”

The Community Garden was originally a donation from the class of 2010 and is run seasonally by Roy, student interns, and members of the Green Thumbs and Beekeeping clubs. The garden stays open through October and will reopen in the spring. Students and community members interested in learning more about the garden can find more information on the Colgate website’s Community Garden page.

The garden is one of many projects that the Office of Sustainability runs. The office is made up of professional staff, over a dozen student interns, and works closely with student clubs and organizations. The Sustainability Office also works closely with Greek Life organizations, and last year installed compost bins in some Greek Life houses. 

“We’re doing that composting program again, and we looked at more houses on Broad Street,” sustainability intern Becca Kornblau said. “But we don’t have enough compost bins and stuff for that.”

Senior Haylie Spain, another sustainability intern, says that the office isn’t discouraged by this. 

“That’s something we will develop over time,” Spain said. “Sustainability is a long game.”

The Office of Sustainability works with departments on campus as well. The greenhouse gas committee, one of eleven committees within the Office of Sustainability, makes sure that the university isn’t producing too many emissions. 

 “I had been working with other interns and John Pumilio and Julia Sparks [The Director and Assistant Director of Sustainability] to reach out to a whole bunch of different groups on campus to understand what their carbon emissions were for the 2022 fiscal year. [For example] We’re reaching out to the who’s in charge of the refrigerants and the fertilizers and the southern oaks golf course,” said Junior Anna Donovan, one of the sustainability interns on the greenhouse gas committee. 

Students who potentially don’t have time to join clubs or take environmental sustainability courses can get involved in sustainability with the PE course Climate Conversations, according to Donovan.

“It is so amazing, I did it my first year, and you get PE credit,” Donovan said. “You just go to a meeting, I think it’s once or twice a week, and there’s facilitators who are interns who talk about current events and what sustainability is, what it means to us, and what it could possibly mean to you. So if you’re, for example, pre-med, and you really don’t have time to fit an environmental studies class in your course load, climate conversations are an amazing way to learn more about sustainability on and off campus.”

Climate conversations aren’t the only way students can get involved. Clubs such as Students for Environmental Action are great opportunities for students to meet new people while getting involved. 

“In addition to the climate conversations, you could take sustainability 101, which gives you one passport hour if you’re doing the passport for your credit,” Kornblau said. 

Though Colgate and the Office of Sustainability should be proud of Colgate’s achievements for sustainability, it is important to keep in mind how privileged Colgate is to be able to maintain so many sustainability initiatives.

 “I think that it’s really important to keep in mind all the people that maybe can’t practice sustainability to the measure that we can because we’re such a privileged institution here that we have the opportunity to reduce our impact on the world,” Spain said. 

Donovan emphasized the importance of sustainability on campus and individually.

“It’s intersectional,” Donovan said. “If you want to live a sustainable life, you have to make sure the environment you’re living in, you’re treating it well. You have to make sure you’re sustaining relationships, you have to make sure you’re sustaining well-being, you have to make sure you’re sustaining the food you’re having and whether it’s healthy or not. So to me, I think sustainability is really important because it’s all-encompassing and relates to every area of your life and all draws back to taking care of the environment.”