As part of a recent initiative, the College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall sells local produce, including apples, pears and bananas. The dining hall directors may be stretching the definition of “local” a bit too far on that one, since bananas only grow in tropical climates. Either that, or there’s an amazing vacation hotspot just an hour away, and you’re the last to know.
Binghamton University, which has been ranked among top colleges for sustainability, has yet to capitalize on all of its resources. Thus, faculty has suggested the school start growing produce on our school-owned land. IDEAS, Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions, has undergone the project of turning unused land into a student-run sustainable farm. One location is the plot located just two miles from school on Bunn Hill Road.
IDEAS is still in the early planning stages of the project, but the possibilities are limitless. The produce can be sold at the Binghamton Farmers Market, enhancing ties with the community. It could be donated to Food Not Bombs, a charity that feeds people in need. The food could even be sold directly to students at the Food Co-op or in dining halls, broadening the selection of healthy food options on campus. The initiative is still in the beginning stages, but IDEAS hopes to bring food to students this semester.
Jacob Robison, vice president of IDEAS, is the leader of Binghamton’s farm project. He aims to make the University a more sustainable and progressive institution. Like many of us, Robison is also unsatisfied with many of the school’s nutritional practices.
“If the school says something is local, students will want to buy it,” Robison said. “It’s no different than someone buying a truck just because a manufacturer says it’s environmentally friendly.”
By creating a local farm, however, students can ensure exactly where their produce is coming from and that it is grown nontoxically.
As a sub-project, IDEAS also plans to implement a composting program on campus. This would provide a sustainable fertilizer for the farm. Though there are already composting options on campus, Julie Quinn, a junior at Binghamton and pioneer in the composting project, wants to capitalize on that front.
“There’s so much food sitting around in garbages,” Quinn said. “Why not use this resource in a more productive way?”
Soil has yet to be broken on the Bunn Hill Road farm, but the prospects are still exciting. Our area is chock full of potential. If the school decides to implement a greenhouse on the site, local bananas may be more available than we ever imagined.