Upcoming Local Food Panel next Wednesday

All are invited to this upcoming event -- read on for details.

The Logistics of Local
Wednesday, March 2nd, 7pm
Jefferson Scholars Foundation Hall, 112 Clarke Court, Charlottesville VA

If you’ve ever wondered just how local food procurement actually works in an institutional setting, this panel is not to be missed. The evening will kick off with a brief (30 minute) but inspiring documentary called Nourish, focused on the ways that we as eaters can all learn the story behind our food, and, as a result, more deeply connect to our environment, our personal health, and our communities. Three panelists will be on hand after the short film to discuss these community and health connections in light of their role in UVa Dining’s large scale local food supply chain. Jamie Barrett, farm manager of Bellair Farm and partner producer with the Local Food Hub, Alan Moore, Local Food Hub Operations and Sales Manager, and Bryan Kelly, UVa Dining Executive Chef, will all speak to the field to truck to chef’s knife journey that locally grown food makes before it reaches the plates of hungry university students. Locally produced refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

I was lucky enough to get out to Bellair Farm last week -- on a 70-degree day in February, no less -- to meet Jamie and get a tour of the incredible 900-acre property. The farm, originally owned by a contemporary of Jefferson's (apparently they knew each other), has been in cultivation since America was a fledgling nation, but only very recently has the owner decided to venture into sustainable production. I'm excited to learn more about Bellair's methods, along with learning about more of the logistical details that Alan and chef Bryan will have to share. Hope to see you next Wednesday!


UVa Launches Sustainability Minor

The UVa Minor in Global Sustainability, a vision that's been in place for about a year and a half, is officially a reality here on Grounds. Students that meet the credit requirements will actually be able to graduate with the minor in May -- kind of makes me wish I could relive my days of undergrad academia...! UVa Today has written a comprehensive article about the program, and info is already up on the A-school website (where the minor is housed), if you'd like to learn more. The basic elements of the minor consist of taking the Global Sustainability 'foundation' course as well as credits divided amongst the three legs of the sustainability stool: equity, environment, and economy. Students' experience will culminate in a capstone course that will include a significant focus on hands-on community-based research and engagement. Congratulations to Carla Jones (UVa ARCH '10 and current Planning graduate student) and others for seeing this project to fruition.


RecycleMania is Underway

RecycleMania, a two-month national college and university recycling competition, officially kicked off for 2011 on February 6th (and runs through April 2nd). To ramp up the RecycleMania enthusiasm, a group of University Sustainability Advocates put together a terrific video about UVa Recycling. Watch it here.

...Now that you've viewed the minute-long clip and been inspired, here are some more details you might find to be of interest: UVa is participating in the competition division, so it is actively competing against other participating schools (some schools choose to simply benchmark their participation), and is particularly targeting its results in the paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles and cans, and food service organics categories. This year RecycleMania has also added an e-cycling category in which UVa will benchmark its progress.

Recycling is easy at UVa! The key point to remember is that if a piece of plastic has a recycling symbol on it, no matter what the number, UVa Recycling will accept it. For more tips on recycling on Grounds, take a look at the Recycling page on the UVa Facilities Managerment website.


Fair Trade Valentine's Gift Guide

In celebration of Valentine's Day, check out the Fair Trade USA guide to equitable - and romantic - Valentine's gifts. They include flowers and chocolates, of course, as well as information about fair trade textiles and also donation opportunities. What better way to share the love on this commercial holiday than by spending your money wisely and showing someone you care - about the environment and social justice, too!

Fair Trade USA also offers a number of Gifts of Fairness, which are largely intangible items that focus on improving environmental or social conditions around the world. My favorite is "Give a Hive to a Bee" - I can't wait to try some Fair Trade certified honey! Take a look here.


TEDxManhattan: Changing The Way We Eat

TED talks are, as many of you know, devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. One idea certainly worth spreading is that of what a sustainable food system might look like, both globally and domestically. Perhaps you saw, as the 2010 TED prize winner, Jamie Oliver's moving speech on his wish to educate children about food and cooking. Or architect Carolyn Steel's talk on how food shapes our cities, or Mark Bittmans' presentation about what's wrong with what we eat.

TEDxManhattan, an independently organized TED event, is devoting an entire day worth of talks - a symposium, of sorts - this Saturday, February 12th, between 10am and 6pm, to this imagined sustainable food system, featuring visionaires and on-the-ground folks working to shift the US food system from an industrially-based agricultural system to one in which healthy, nutritious and safe food is available to all. The line-up looks pretty incredible -- Slow Food USA President; Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Program Director; King Corn Filmmakers; President of the Environmental Working Group, etc -- and luckily for us, even though we're hours away from Manhattan, we'll be able to watch from afar by way of their live stream feed. I encourage you all to tune in for part or all of it at http://www.livestream.com/tedx.

If you'd like to participate in what's sure to be an inspiring satellite party, Slow Food Richmond, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and the St. Stephen's Farmers Market are co-hosting a viewing party of this unique event at Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall; 6000 Grove Avenue; Richmond, VA from 10am to 6pm on Saturday, February 12th. During lunch and breaks participants will have an opportunity to join in facilitated discussions, share their own TED-like short talks, swap recipes, network, and learn about Slow Food RVa, its goals for the year and the Slow Food movement nationally and internationally. Lunch offerings will be available for purchase from a select range of local sustainably-produced food purveyors. Coffee, tea and water will be provided. Admission is free, but advanced registration is required. Please visit http://slowfoodrvachanging.eventbrite.com/ for more info.

I hope you can tune in one way or another!


Eliot Coleman to visit UVa this Sunday, February 13

Don't miss this exciting opportunity to learn and be insired by Eliot Coleman this weekend at Hereford! Coleman is a widely renowned organic gardener best known for his year-round gardening techniques, as are shared in his book "Four Season Harvest". He will be giving a talk from 1-2:30 in the Runk Green Room and then a gardening demo at the Hereford MiniFarm between 3 and 4. All are welcome to both of these events.


Delta Force OHill

Last Thursday, several Facilities Managers engineers and representatives met with a small group of OHill building residents, including the UVa executive chef, the retail operations manager, the manager of OHill Dining Hall, and myself. This gathering was the first in a series that the engineers - operating under the tag line Delta Force - are organizing at different buildings around Grounds in order to get building residents talking and thinking about ways to reduce the building's overall environmental impact. Delta Force has focused a good amount of attention on OHill as a whole over the past few months, with most of the work centered around making internal and back of the house energy and water conservation-geared changes. These include the installation of controls to reduce the air flow levels on the cooking hoods, replacing the outdoor lamps with LED bulbs, and modifying the AC system so that temperatures in the admin offices (Business Operations and Dining Admin) can be adjusted - say, during the weekends when admin offices are closed but the dining facilities are open - without affecting the dining areas.

Thursday's meeting was intended to bring people up to speed on these efforts thus far, but also to bestow building residents with a small sense of personal responsibility to help make changes that will continue to reduce the building's utility footprint. Lead engineering and project manager Libba Williams suggested that we consider taking actions like making sure our computers and printers were fully turned off at night (not just in sleep or hibernate mode) and even linking up to a centralized printer where possible. I keep both my printer and laptop hooked up to a power strip that I turn off at the end of every work day, and lately I have taken to unplugging my printer from the power cord except for the brief intervals in which I need to print a page or two of something (double-sided, of course!).

Bravo to the great savings that the Delta Force team has already accomplished; I'm excited to see the ripple effect as more buildings undergo their own energy/water audits and implement similar measures.