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Citizenship class submits sustainability proposals

February 6, 2015

Compost Piles give food a second life

Every day the Monmouth College cafeteria prepares food for over 1,000 students. Ever wonder what happens to all the left over scraps (egg shells, potato peelings, etc.) from that preparation? Many of those scraps are put into containers and used for compost in the Educational Garden here on campus.

Compost. Isn’t that the stinky pile of garbage my grandparents have in their back yard? Probably, yes. Compost is a combination of green (vegetables, fruits, egg shells) and brown (leaves, grass clippings, pulled weeds) waste that is combined, and with the right care and appropriate time, can turn into wonderful, nutrient rich soil that can be used in many ways to replace artificial fertilizers. The college uses this waste from the cafeteria and places it on their Educational Garden to help produce healthy fruits and vegetables!

In Integrated Studies 414, where we have been learning about sustainable practices, we got to thinking, ‘the café isn’t the only place that has a bunch of waste.’ What about restaurants and businesses around town? Why not compost that waste as well!
Lucky for us, the city of Monmouth has already been thinking along the same lines. At the city waste management facility, several large rows of managed compost already exist, but they are only composed of the brown waste. That’s where our idea comes in. Add the green waste from McDonald’s coffee grounds and egg shells, as well as County Market’s fruit and vegetable waste, and we could a greatly enriched commercial-grade organic compost.

So what does that mean for Monmouth College? We are proposing that students (by volunteer or through work-study) will be the ones to pick up the waste from the local businesses and bring it back to the city waste management facility. They will be able to assist as the waste becomes a healthy top soil; then, they can be involved in the process of selling the soil to the community, businesses, and family gardens.

By agreement, the college will receive all the free compost we can handle for our garden, mini-farm and other campus projects. We will be using waste that is currently filling land-fills to produce a wonderful product. Local businesses will cut waste costs and students will learn and receive hands on experience. We imagine this town and gown collaboration can place Monmouth College and the community on the map for action in the field of sustainability.

This proposal was submitted by Aaron Klemm, Alex Kemmer, Carolyn Stowe, Chad Thompson and Jesse Brucker of professor Craig Watson’s Integrated Studies course: Land, Food, and Sustainable Agriculture.

Sweet potatoes and honey: Enriching lives of Warren County’s food insecure

Food insecurity, defined as not having access to adequately nutritious foods or displaying unacceptable behaviors in the presence of food, is a problem that is currently plaguing many of America’s children and this problem is prevalent in rural counties like Warren County.

In response to this problem, our group in the Citizenship: Land, Food, and Sustainable Agriculture class has created a proposal that teams Monmouth College with the 1st Street Armory. The Armory currently provides backpacks full of food for the food insecure students in the elementary school in the Monmouth-Roseville school district.

Each of the 243 children currently in the program get a weekend’s worth of food each Friday and return the backpacks the following Monday. These backpacks are also sent home during long school breaks, such as Christmas and spring break. The backpack program tries to work on the assumption that the child getting the backpack may also have siblings at home who may need food as well, and so the program provides a few extra meals.

The backpacks have foods that are nutritionally adequate, but we saw an opportunity to better the students’ nutrition, health and lives. We are proposing that Monmouth College sell, at wholesale cost, sweet potatoes and honey from the mini-farm that would be added to the backpack program.

Sweet potatoes are considered a “super food” because they have high levels of protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A, B and C. In addition to being a natural sweetener, honey also provides health benefits; it contains catalase enzymes that help strengthen the body’s immune system.

Another benefit for the children is that eating honey produced locally can reduce their allergies to the pollen in the area, making them healthier. This proposal will benefit both communities; it will provide Monmouth College with additional income and will benefit the children of the backpack program by providing fresh, locally grown produce.

Our finished proposal, once implemented, supports the possibility of expanding in the future to provide more of the children in the local community with freshly grown produce from the college mini- farm.

This proposal was submitted by Monet Marzette, Emma Ring, Kaitlynn Lemke and Sarina Alexander of professor Craig Watson’s Integrated Studies course: Land, Food, and Sustainable Agriculture.

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