Waste visibility and being conscious of how much we are throwing away is a critical step in the waste reduction process. Here at UMass, the majority of the to-go containers, plates, bowls, cups, lids, napkins, straws, and utensils are compostable, yet most of these items end up in a garbage can rather than a compost due to convenience.
Our dear friend the trash monster is retiring, and we need your help to design a replacement! Lurking in Blue Wall Cafe near the dish return, the trash monster has stood as a reminder to students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus that the waste we create does not disappear – it simply ends up somewhere else.
While it is important to “think before you throw,” it is even more essential to “think before you take.” This means considering how much food you are actually going to eat (rather than how much you think you want) and whether or not you really need to take it in a to-go container. Ceramic plates and bowls and metal utensils are always available in the Campus Center. Think carefully and choose wisely; the trash monster is watching all of us.
In order to continue to spread waste awareness, we are looking for a new group of students who want to participate in a unique campaign to reduce waste with their own creation. If you have an idea for a new trash monster design, check out the entry details here. Entries are due Tuesday, October 2nd, and the winning concept will receive $500 to use towards building the project! The winning design will be announced on Thursday, October 12th
Joe Czajkowski's farm operates on over 400 acres of land in Hadley, MA and is so close to campus that you can see the UMass Graduate Research Center from his fields. In comparison to conventional produce, which uses hundreds of gallons of fuel to travel from California to Massachusetts, vegetables from Joe Czajkowski's farm use less than a quart of gas to get to campus. Not only is this much more environmentally sound, but as Joe points out, local food is simply “fresher and better.”
Joe also has a close relationship with many farmers in the Valley, and acts as a central point or aggregate for many of them. Farmers who work with Joe will drop their products off at his farm, which he then delivers to UMass and other customers. Joe's ability to fulfill the role of both farmer and aggregator allows UMass the ability to support a wide network of local producers in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Another amazing perk of Joe's close ties with the local farming community, is that whenever we at UMass are in need of a specific local item, we know who to go to - no matter what it is, we can count on Joe to know if that item is produced locally, and if so, by whom.
Through this ongoing and ever-growing partnership, UMass Dining has a trusted source of local products, and Joe Czajkowski has a trusted buyer with a reliable customer base, as there will always be hungry students! Together with other local institutions and producers, UMass Dining and Joe Czajkowski have the amazing opportunity to enact real and lasting change in the Pioneer Valley.
“I love to see things grow. It's one of the things I like best.” - Joe Czajkowski
Thanks so much, Joe, for working so hard with UMass Dining to make our campus a more sustainable place!
Photo credits to Keith Toffling.
The UMass Permaculture Initiative is a cutting-edge sustainability program managed by Xochiquetzal Salazar that provides empowering hands-on education for students to learn about local, sustainable food systems. Now in its sixth growing season, UMass Permaculture has five gardens on campus that are home to nearly 300 different species of plants and supplies over 2,600 pounds of fresh food to the Dining Commons each year. The UMass Permaculture herbs and veggies can be found in all four Dining Commons and the University Club throughout the growing season.
Conventional agriculture is extremely resource intensive, produces immense amounts of waste, and is one of the leading contributors to climate change. Permaculture is a set of design principles used to create resilient systems that mimic natural ecosystems. Permaculture can be used for any system, not just agricultural ones, including businesses, communities, or even households. UMass Permaculture works to combat these harmful forms of agriculture to transition our campus beyond sustainability and toward regeneration and resilience while producing food and medicine. The UMass Permaculture gardens help the environment by preventing soil erosion, providing habitat and forage for pollinators, remediating the soil, and sequestering carbon. Additionally, the gardens are helpful to people by providing organic, affordable, and accessible medicinal plants and produce to the community.
Teaching the 1 credit Permaculture Practicum at UMass is Xochi’s favorite part of her job. “I love providing [people] with a platform to make meaningful connections with their food and change the way they think about where our food comes from.” UMass Permaculture engages over 2,000 people every year through volunteer hours, tours, workshops, and academic credit. As Xochi likes to say, “Education is our greatest yield.” The gardens have been designed to be a replicable model for institutions around the world to educate people about food and agriculture.
Xochi works tirelessly to make an impact on our campus community. What keeps Xochi going is the fate of future generations and being able to act as a role model in higher education for young women of color. Xochi explained that this is especially important because permaculture is largely considered a "white and affluent movement, even though a number of the practices that permaculture finds its basis in are from the practices of indigenous peoples from around the world."
Xochi’s advice for for people that want to start a home or school permaculture garden “is the Permaculture Principle to ‘Use Small and Slow Solutions.’" She explained that, "Permaculture by its very nature is something that requires us to be patient. The best, most productive ‘you’ is one that is nourished and not worn thin. By taking small steps, appreciating their impact, and waiting for that bigger pay off later, you won't run yourself into the ground.”
If you would like to get involved with UMass Permaculture, attend volunteer hours every Thursday and Friday from 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM. You can also request a tour of the Franklin Permaculture garden for classes, local groups, or interested individuals. For students interested in taking the Permaculture Practicum in the Fall or Spring, search for STOCKSCH 198P on Spire! Visit the UMass Permaculture website for more information about their program, how to get involved, or to reach out for resources.
Thank you so much Xochi, for spreading your knowledge, wisdom, and love to the UMass community. You are an inspiring woman and leader and UMass Dining is so lucky to have you on our Sustainability Team!
Start the semester off right and treat yourself to some free healthy snacks, herbal infusions, and spin-to-win prizes for our Welcome Back Wellness Market. Let us all celebrate and support the well-being of our community in this hectic, yet exciting time of year.
Join UMass Permaculture and the UMass Student Farm for the first Student Farmers' Market of the season this Friday, September 15th from 12-4 PM on the Goodell Lawn! At each market you will find veggies from the UMass Student Farm, tea blends and assorted perrenials from UMass Permaculture, as well as live music, jewelry, art, various other homemade goods from UMass students and community members.
If you have a CSA share from the UMass Student Farm, this will be the first pick up date! You can pick up your share anytime from 12-4, and they will provide you with a bag. Stay tuned for a detailed email from them about the process.
Are you interested in tabling or performing at Farmers' Markets this fall? Apply here! All performers and entertainers will receive a $10 voucher to use at the market for each date that you perform!
We will be hosting 10 markets this Fall Semester every Friday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the Goodell lawn from September 15th - November 17th. *Our 10/13 market will be held on the Student Union North Lawn. Be sure to follow the UMass Student Farmers' Market Facebook page for updates about each week's market.
We look forward to seeing you this Friday to celebrate autumn and share in the abundant harvest!
Fungi Ally grows fresh, organic mushrooms year round in Hadley, MA and provides a sustainable, medicinal, and nutrient dense protein source for our local community. Fungi Ally is owned and operated by Willie Crosby, an alum of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst. Fungi Ally grows Oyster, Lion's Mane, and Shiitake mushrooms, which all have vibrant colors, ranging from blues and greys to reds and yellows.
Fungi Ally mushrooms are grown indoors in individual plastic bags filled with a mixture of organic agricultural by-products such as soybean hulls, wheat bran, and oak sawdust. These organic materials would normally be considered agricultural waste, so using them for production creates a circular and sustainable model. The next step to the growing process is to colonize each bag with the desired type of fungus. Once the fungi has eaten all the organic material, it will begin fruiting beautiful mushrooms that are ready for harvest.
Willie Crosby graduated from UMass Amherst in 2012 with a degree in Plant and Soil Science. After graduation, he worked at multiple vegetable farms but “put so much energy into someone else’s dream” that he decided to cultivate his own. “There was not much knowledge about mushrooms [when Willie started his business], and they were not popular yet in the Pioneer Valley,” Willie explained, which gave him a unique opportunity to learn and educate others. What Willie enjoys even more than growing mushrooms is returning to UMass as a Professor to teach students to cultivate mushrooms themselves.
UMass Dining serves Fungi Ally mushrooms in all four Dining Commons on campus. You can find his mushrooms in menu items such as Red Fish with Mushrooms and Scallions or Traditional Korean Hot Pot. Fungi Ally mushrooms are sold fresh at Whole Foods, Red Fire Farm, and local Co-ops and Farmers’ Markets. To learn more about mushrooms, visit Fungi Ally’s website. For students interested in Willie’s class at UMass, search on SPIRE for STOCKSCH 198M: Mushroom Practicum.
"Mushrooms play an integral role as recyclers. They create life from death.”
- Willie Crosby, Fungi Ally
A genuine thanks to Willie Crosby for your inspiring leadership to nourish people and the planet!
Thank you Keith Toffling for photography.
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.