Earth Day harvests campus interest in local food
Everyone eats, and NC State’s week of Earth Day events showed students, faculty and staff how to eat healthier, fresher and more sustainably.
The weeklong menu of Earth Day events started with an April 13 planting day at NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm, where about 100 students, faculty and staff planted several rows of seedlings. When harvested later in the summer, campus-grown produce will be served in University Dining halls for the first time.
“We know that it will be good stuff because we grew it,” said volunteer and mechanical engineering student Nathan Albertson, one of nearly 1,000 who signed an Earth Day pledge of support for more seasonal campus-grown food to be served in dining halls.
On April 18 as an expression of its ongoing commitment to provide more local food, University Dining hosted Farm Feast, an Earth Day local food picnic featuring a concert by Mandolin Orange and presentation of the university’s Green Brick Awards to student Carlos Vega, staff member Rick Gardner and faculty member Dr. Jonathan Casper.
In addition to celebrating sustainable actions of the NC State community, Earth Day was also about celebrating the planet, including an April 17 eco-festival where students competed for prizes, connected with environmental organizations, and learned more about why sustainable food matters.
“Local and sustainable food systems are more and more important as we address the impact food has on our bodies and the planet as well as the challenge of sustaining food supply for growing populations,” said Dr. Danesha Seth Carley, who coordinates the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences sustainability program and led this year’s Earth Day planning committee.
Growing populations and food supply needs are part of the challenge faced by international foresters, according to Frances Seymour, former director of Center for International Forestry Research, who spoke at the Earth Day Borlaug Lecture Series on April 16.
“People underestimate [forests’] value,” said Seymour, who described the benefits of forests on curbing climate change and providing food for local communities.
Also at the lecture, NC State entomology professor Dr. Fred Gould was presented with the Borlaug Service to Society and the Environment Award.
Coordinated by the University Sustainability Office and numerous campus-wide partners, Earth Day is an annual week-long emphasis to educate the campus community on environmentally responsible and sustainable principles and practices.