St. John’s Students Get a Taste of Local
Family Farm Produce While Furthering Sustainability
August 2, 2010
Environmentally-concerned St. John’ students broadened their
knowledge of sustainable gardening by returning to the two local
farms they first visited last year.
The visit took place on July 14 at the family-owned and operated
Fox Hollow and Deer Run farms — two local sources for the food
served in the University’s dining rooms. The students were
shown a cross-section of planting, cultivation and harvesting
practices that will help them in tending their “organic campus” on
the Queens campus.
“The visit was a success,” said Earth Club President Erin Chalmers.
“We were able to pick up some tips we can incorporate in our next
planting. We also sampled freshly-picked produce and got first-hand
accounts of what it’s like to run a family-owned farm.”
The visit helped them appreciate the growing trend in nutrition
emphasizing the benefits of eating ‘farm to table’ produce. They
were shown how crop rotation, bee pollination, thinning crops and
composting contribute to sustainability. “While all of this was
very helpful,” said Erin, “learning how small farmer-owners live
was a bonus.” She noted that insights like these reflect the
University’s focus on exposing students to other cultures whenever
The event was organized by Tom Goldsmith, Facilities Services
Director of Environmental and Energy Conservation, with the
cooperation of the University’s food provider, Chartwells Dining
Services and its food distributor, J. Kings Food Service
Professionals, Inc. Students tasted freshly picked cabbage,
lettuce, tomatoes and corn. “I can honestly say I have never tasted
anything as good as the cabbage I ate that day,” reported Student
Government Vice President Tami Telford. Student Government has also
teamed up with the Earth Club to help get the word out about the
University’s sustainability efforts.
“Buying locally not only enables St. John’s to provide students
with fresh food that can be delivered within a 24 –hour timeframe,”
said Mr. Goldsmith, “but it also reduces fuel emissions. In
addition, using local food providers is consistent with St. John’s
dedication to helping the greater community,” he added.
Mr. Goldsmith also observed that the University’s sustainability
projects extend beyond gardening and reducing St. John’s carbon
footprint. “However,” he added, “all our initiatives are
interconnected.” That is why Earth Club and Student Government
members were joined this year by Film Club representatives as well.
“We are partnering with the Earth Club to promote campus
sustainability,” said Film Club Production Manager Chris de Court.
“In fact, we are in the process of preparing a video that will
record all of the University’s sustainability initiatives and
resources. Our goal is to put this information on the ‘front page,’
to raise student awareness that they have the tools to make an
environmental difference.” The video is slated for completion at
the end of August and will then be posted on You Tube.
Gratified that student clubs and organizations are increasingly
teaming up with the Earth Club to publicize campus sustainability,
Erin stated, “We are all starting to realize that University-wide
sustainability can only be achieved when everyone on campus is
involved. For example, thanks to a Homecoming poll taken by Student
Government, plans are underway to have more student-run farmers
markets during the upcoming academic year.