Growing Green Never Tasted So Good!
by Sakid Ahmed
SBU Office of Sustainability and EcoLeader students planted an organic vegetable garden this summer 2013 adjacent to the Research & Development Park Greenhouse. With assistance from the Division of Facilities & Services, students Tom Bruno, Seamus Petterson and others supply fresh organically grown produce to dining facilities on west campus.
The vegetables are grown on 13 raised planting beds, which are 8 feet by 4 feet wooden rectangles with 2 neat rows of plantings in each bed – with each bed growing an average of 12 plants each. A variety of vegetables and herbs are organically grown in the garden, including lettuce, spinach, zucchini, squash, string beans, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and cilantro. The vegetables were chosen in collaboration with Campus Dining Services Chef John Hutchison and are used for sampling in the Student Activities Center and to craft delicious meals for the University community to enjoy.
The vegetable garden is maintained through ecofriendly growing practices and the vegetables first arrive as seedlings and mature in the greenhouse until they are ready to be transplanted. The beds contain compost and mulch, which is obtained from the Stony Brook Composting Program and provides a cost effective, sustainable approach for reusing the University's resources.
On average, food in the United States travels 1,500 miles to get from the farm to the consumers' plate. By growing food locally on campus, the University reduces the distance produce has to travel, leading to fresher and better tasting vegetables – which do not require transportation, thus eliminating related carbon emissions. Another benefit to these vegetables is the absence of preservatives and refrigerant that is necessary when transporting food thousands of miles. Office of Sustainability student and EcoLeader Seamus Peterson has enjoyed his time in the greenhouse. "Working on the garden has been very fulfilling," says Peterson. "I am proud to be a part of this project and getting to see the fruits of my labor, or in this case vegetables, grow to feed the campus community."
The experience has also benefited Seamus academically. "I learned a lot about maintaining an organic garden and the challenges associated with this type of work," says Peterson. "I also have a better understanding of America's food problems and the initiatives needed to increase our food security." The University also plans to donate some of the vegetables to local food pantries in order to aid the community.
For additional information on this initiative, please contact:
Stony Brook University
Office of Sustainability