Education News – Students make Atlantic campuses greener

ANTIGONISH (CUP) ? Student-led green initiatives are taking root on campuses across Atlantic Canada.

A community farm and a sustainable residence are just some of the ways students are aiming to reduce their carbon footprints while raising awareness about environmentalism.

Alex Redfield is one of the organizers of the Community Sustainable Farm project at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The project was created to educate students about sustainability. The group intends to achieve this by growing produce to be sold to the university’s cafeteria, as well as offering small individual plots of land to community members who wish to cultivate their own produce.

?Our mandate is to create a shared space for students, faculty, and the Wolfville community to engage in positive interaction and to serve as an educational resource for folks around town and campus to learn about the practical methods and strategy of food security and environmental sensibility,? said Redfield.

?By engaging so many kinds of people, we hope to generate a consensus throughout Wolfville and Acadia that not only are the environment, the vitality of our community, and the way we eat important, but that anyone can contribute to strengthening . . . those vital components of our lives, simply by chucking a few seeds into some dirt,? he said.

Growing the vegetables on campus will help bring responsible, local, organic food directly to students, Redfield says.

After months of drafting policy and approaching university and community leaders for support, Redfield and his fellow students finally planted seeds in mid-June. Despite planting two months later than they hoped to, the farm has enjoyed a good first season.

Redfield believes the trend of environmentalism is growing among students because the movement is inherently inclusive.

?Not everyone is going to be elected to office or get famous or whatever, but everyone can make tangible contributions to a growing movement of environmental awareness and responsibility ? and it feels good to do something good,? he said.

At Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, nine students have chosen to live sustainably in an on-campus residence.

Fourth-year student Nico Dube, the house’s residence assistant, says it was the project that first attracted him to the residence. Having lived there in his second year, he was anxious to come back, this time with a leadership role.

In the fall of 2004, an existing residence opened its doors to students who were committed to an eco-friendly lifestyle. The students decide together how they are going to live, make conscious decisions to conserve heat, perform selective flushing, air-dry dishes, and collect shower water to later use for washing dishes.

The students also purchase locally grown organic food to cook communally, says Dube.

The university has been supportive of the students? initiative, from providing funding and support for environmental workshops, to helping the students purchase necessities, like a dining room table big enough for everyone, and a deep-freeze for storing produce for the winter.

Dube thinks the environmental movement is well rooted in today’s students.

?I don’t think it’s possible to truly appreciate the environmental impacts of one’s behaviour and not to be an environmentalist,? he said.

?I think environmentalism is a form of compassion, and compassion stems from understanding. Thus, promoting understanding of environmental issues is promoting compassion and simply making the world a more wonderful place in which to live.?

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