Students supporting agriculture
Sustainability is measured in harmony. It is the art of creating a balance with the world around us. But sometimes, we find that our world is high maintenance. Sustainable practices are a form of repayment to the ecosystem that surrounds us and gives life.
Composting, for example, is how we give back to the trees and plants that help nurture our bodies and give us oxygen to breathe. Compost is rich in nutrients and conditions the soil, which can be weak. It’s sandy and lacks nutrients. But by composting waste, its simple to re-create the soil to help the green flourish.
“These are the last remnants of the great past where we ate nutritious food and we slept well at night. We ate the product of our labor. We have to do what we can because one day there might be a great hunger,” says Dr. Richard Weisskoff, who teaches the Economics of Environmental Development class at the University of Miami’s campus arboretum. He explains why it is necessary to teach students how to grow their own food and is one of the few professors from the University’s biology department that gets to use a living garden as a classroom.
Every week, students bring waste to compost as homework. Not only is the class hands-on about how to compost and grow food at the garden, but it also emphasizes the need for sustainability from an economic standpoint.
“We bring in compost. I brought in old banana peels and things like that. It just helps me realize how much food we waste. Then you have the economic perspective. Many people don’t have it and its unfortunate that there is no way to reuse and recycle it,” says a student in Dr. Weisskoff’s class (who chose not to share his identity), about why he enjoys learning about composting. But courses like these only scratch the surface when it comes to sustainable practices on campus.
The University of Miami prides itself in furthering the engagement of sustainability programs on campus, earning a STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) silver rating for its achievements on sustainability from the AASE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), among other forms of recognition.
Student participation is essential to the promotion of sustainability. It’s the first step in achieving a greener “U.” The university’s director of sustainability, Teddy Lhoutellier, stresses the importance of eco-friendly student involvement.
He says the way students can stay involved is by joining the “ECO rep program in the residential college, where students promote conservational best-practices. They could also help the office of sustainability by interning and shadowing, among other things.”