SUNY New Paltz students who were not satisfied with what they were eating at school decided to do something about it and organized the Students for Sustainable Agriculture club. The group formed around the idea of bringing local, sustainable food and community to the college. “It mostly got started around issues with campus food, but we focus on connecting the campus with the community and local food,” said Angela DeVivo, a senior at SUNY New Paltz who is the head of the club. “We live in such a rich local food area.”
Students for Sustainable Agriculture work hard to bring knowledge of these practices to the college. They have their own small-scale organic, pesticide-free farm plot and grow a variety of veggies and herbs in a garden that is located in a field behind Esopus Hall. However, the garden is not just limited to edibles. A fellow student grows tropical plants, as well as plants that ward off pests. Club members are also working on soil amendments in the garden, as well as improving the overall aesthetics, like adding borders.
The club also sponsors events to get the campus and community involved.
“Last semester we had an event called Farm Fest where we had local restaurants that use local produce come and cook food,” said club member Shay Otis.
One of the club’s biggest victories was establishing a farmers’ market on campus. It will start in April on Thursdays at 10 a.m. The club also has farm workdays during which groups of students and community members volunteer to work on a local farm for a few hours.
“It makes a big difference for them. It’s like night and day,” DeVivo said.
Other club events include lectures and film screenings on campus. This semester, they are trying to do a rescreening of the documentary, Fresh, which is about the growth of agriculture into an industrial model, the consequences of that and sustainable practices.
“We are trying to get the makers of the movie to come and make it a community event,” said Otis.
A workshop on sustainable training will be held this Sunday, March 11 at Twee Fontein Herb Farm. The cost is $10 and open to students and community members. The focus of the event will be on maple tapping and using mulberry and apple wood properly for burning. The group will meet at the Peace Park in New Paltz at 12:30 p.m. and carpool to the farm.
Even though the Students for Sustainable Agriculture is a campus club that gets its funding from the Student Association, it is open to everyone. Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Honors Center classroom located in College Hall on the SUNY New Paltz campus.