Water Conservation on Campus

Water Conservation on Campus

Wisconsin Energy Initiatives (WEI) is a statewide partnership between private companies and the state government with a focus geared toward conserving energy in various facilities, including universities. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s sustainability efforts has incorporated several water saving techniques throughout the residence halls. This includes dual flush toilets and water saving faucets, shower heads, and washers.

Dual Flush Toilets

These dual flush toilets are also known as Sloan WES Dual Flush Valve and Zurn toilets. They allow for different directions of flushing, push the handle down for solid waste and pull the handle up for liquid waste. These different directions of flushing are useful in conserving water on our campus. Solid waste (or pushing down) uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush, while liquid waste (or pulling up) uses 1.1 gallons of water. We save 0.5 gallons of water every time we flush up for liquids. When compared to that of a regular flushing toilet, our dual flush toilets use about 25 percent less water which is a significant amount when considering the number of toilets and frequency they’re used. Dual flush toilets are located in Tutt, Knilans, and Starin halls, with Fischer and Wellers soon to follow as renovations on campus continue.

Faucets

All of the faucets in the residence halls are low flow and conserve water. In new construction areas and Starin Hall, faucets have flow rates of 0.5 gallons per minute in the bathrooms and 2.0 gallons per minute in the kitchen. The rest of the residence halls have water saving flow rates of 1.5 gallons per minute.

Shower Heads

All shower heads on campus ensure water is being conserved each day while students shower. The new construction areas on campus have shower heads with a flow rate of only 1.75 gallons per minute. While older shower heads on campus have a flow rate of 2.0 gallons per minute, which is well below the federal mandate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less.

Washers

In campus residence halls you will find Maytag White Commercial High-Efficiency Front-Load Washers, which are great at conserving water. These washers sense the amount of clothing inside and dispense only the required amount of water in order to complete the wash cycle. This saves at least 50 percent more water than traditional washers. The high efficiency of these washers, also allow for less detergent to be used by students while washing their clothes.

Overall,  UW-Whitewater has implemented several initiatives to ensure water is conserved throughout the residence halls. First, our dual flush toilets save 0.5 gallons of water every time we flush up for liquids, as well as using 25 percent less water overall than regular flushing toilets. The faucets found in residence halls ensure low flow rates of water, resulting in increased water conservation. Shower heads found in residence halls have flow rates well below the federal mandate of 2.5 gallons per minute. With flow rates of 1.75-2.0 gallons per minute, these are great for saving water. Lastly, our high efficiency washers found in residence halls save at least 50 percent more water than traditional washers, also allowing for less detergent per wash. All of these water savings really add up! With each of these initiatives, UW-Whitewater allows students to be sustainable while living in the residence halls.

 

 

How to Make a Custom Reusable Bag

Turn your favorite old shirt into your favorite new bag

Using your own shirt to make an easy-to-use reusable bag is a great way for you and your family and friends to practice reusing a common household item instead of creating waste.  Most shopping trips usually ends with more plastic bags given out with your purchase, which are typically used once and end up in a landfill or polluting our local environment. Reusable bags are an easy way to avoid adding more plastic waste, but are often somewhat cumbersome to carry around.

This fun craft will transform a favorite old shirt into a bag that you can take with you on every shopping trip.  Not only does this help reduce plastic waste from disposable bags, but it also helps reduce resource consumption and generated waste through textile manufacturing.

If you and your family are in need of shirts to transform, visit local thrift stores or donations center.  For those near Whitewater, visit either Goodwill or The Thrift Shoppe.

Follow these steps for your new bag

1.  Gather a marker, scissors, ruler, and your shirt.

2.  Start by measuring 3 inches from the bottom of your shirt and make a small mark. From this mark draw a light line across your shirt.

3.  Next along the bottom of your shirt mark every inch. This will be used to make incisions later.

4.  This step requires you to fold your shirt in half vertically and to cut out the neck and sleeve areas.

5.  Once you’ve removed the neck and sleeve areas unfold your shirt and make cuts from the bottom up to the line you drew earlier.  Each incision should line up with your previously marked points.

6.  Next tie together each strip of clothing sealing the bottom of the bag. Remove any unwanted or excess material.

7.  For extra fun turn your bag inside out and decorate the blank side.

Single Use Plastics: Why the Fuss?

Editorial By Taylor Stevens – Sustainability Assistant

When we think about all the environmental impacts that our consumption and waste habits have on the environment, there is a lot to be talked about. In the new wave of trends and discoveries, people have been experiencing the realization that our consumption of products: plastic, paper, natural, etc. all have an impact on the environment around us. Unfortunately, if we do not pay attention to crucial issues such as human consumption and single use plastics we can miss a lot of details in the makeup of the ecosystem we call our Earth. We need to be aware of the impact that our daily habits have on the environment. We also need to ask ourselves the question of: What will happen to the world around us if we don’t start becoming aware of the impacts that our daily habits have on the Earth around us?

As for single use plastics, the real question we should all be asking ourselves is why have we not talked about this sooner. For decades we have dumped single-use plastic trash into our oceans and shipped them overseas to countries that may not be as developed at the United States. In the process, we are destroying our natural ecosystems, poisoning waterways, and killing off the food that we eat and the animals we call our companions on this Earth. However, why has society recently focused on the use of plastic straws specifically and not the overall use of plastic? Plastic straws are apart of the single use plastic problem contributing to a lot of plastic waste, but what about single use plastic consumption as a whole issue? What happens when the plastic cutlery, plastic product bottles for beauty items and water, plastic food containers, and plastic wrap add to our use of plastic straws and the plastic catastrophe as a whole? Then, instead of the problem just being about one form of single use plastic, we have created a massive monster of single use plastic that is slowly killing our oceans and our Earth. We need to start asking ourselves what can we do about it and how can we change?

For the month of October is it Campus Sustainability Month. Sustainability is embracing the principles of conservation, preservation, justice, and environmental activism to create positive change in the world around you. As a campus, the University of Wisconsin Whitewater Sustainability Office will be having a pledge and petition. We, as a collective campus are fighting to reduce our use of single use plastics! For the week of October 1st, on the 2nd and 3rd (Tuesday and Wednesday) we will be having a banner pledge signing as well as giveaway sessions on the North Mall and in the UC 12:30-2 pm. The banner is a pledge to reduce your use of single use plastic in your personal life in any way possible! Small changes among a collective group of individuals can have a massive impact on the larger community. When you decide to sign the banner and pledge to reduce your use of single use plastics, you will be given a prize from the following variety: reusable tote bag, reusable water bottle, bamboo reusable cutlery, or a stainless steel straw. Please consider taking the pledge to reduce your use of single use plastics and lessen your personal daily impact on the world around you!

Interested in joining a student organization focused on sustainability? Consider joining SAGE (Students Allied for a Green Earth) Wednesdays 6-7:15 pm in UC 275 A! As a campus we can create a brighter sustainable future for both our community and our campus here at Whitewater. Ask yourself the steps you can take to help the environment around you in your daily life- it could be as simple as refusing to use a plastic non-reusable water bottle. You can make a difference! Go out and try to make a change!

More questions or comments? Contact sustainability@uww.edu

Sneak peek at our newest STARS sustainability assessment!

This summer, the Sustainability Office has been up to many of our favorite summer activities, including some great student leadership and outreach through our campus garden and a focus on strategic planning for the new school year. We also worked on the second submission to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS). STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS is intended to engage and recognize the full spectrum of colleges and universities – from community colleges to research universities – and encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability. 912 institutions have registered to use the STARS Reporting Tool. Reported data is also utilized for participation in The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges and Sierra Magazine’s Cool Schools.

An institution’s score is based on the percentage of points it earns by pursuing relevant credits across four main categories: Academics (AC), Engagement (EN), Operations (OP), and Planning & Administration (PA). In addition, institutions may earn up to four Innovation & Leadership (IN) points for exemplary and path-breaking initiatives that are not covered by other STARS credits or that exceed the highest criterion of a standard credit.

UW-Whitewater submitted our initial report for Stars version 2.0 in April 2015 and received a Silver Rating with a score of 45.35%. In spring 2018, we began the process of data collection, analysis, and reporting for our second submission to STARS version 2.1 and generated our final STARS submission in August 2018. We anticipate we will maintain a Silver Rating, but improved our score from 45.35% to a current provisional score of 55.21%. The report will be available on the STARS website and the UW-Whitewater Sustainability website upon acceptance by Chancellor Kopper and AASHE.

We are very proud of the achievements we’ve been able to make to improve our performance. On the other hand, STARS is a great tool to identify areas of improvement and we hope to take some strides in the upcoming years to reach Gold status by the next time we are required to report to STARS in 2021. We think this achievement is well within our reach and look forward to pursuing this goal with our campus!

Academics

  • 2018 estimated performance:  34.30/58.00; 59%
  • 2015 STARS score:  21.73/58.00; 37%

Our performance for the integration of sustainability into curriculum and research credits significantly improved from our previous report. This includes new campus learning objectives that embrace “Personal and Civic Responsibility” and mention social issues and environmental concerns. The Environmental Science undergraduate and Environmental Safety and Health graduate programs ensure students at various levels an opportunity to focus their studies on environmental issues. Numerous faculty self-reported integration of sustainability topics into a variety of curriculum and research activities from a diverse range of academic departments. Integration of the campus as a living laboratory was accomplished through faculty collaboration efforts with the UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office serving as a conduit to operational sustainability best practices and related data. Beyond our campus, sustainability-themed immersive experiences offer students a look at sustainable development issues globally.

Engagement

  • 2018 estimated performance:  24.57/41.00; 60%
  • 2015 STARS score:  22.87/41.00; 56%

A continued strength area for the UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office, our most notable success has been to transition several engagement programs to more direct student oversight as we have added several student staff members since 2015. We have also added marketing-focused staff to enhance the robust variety of outreach methods we employ to educate the campus community through our co-curricular programming, including others that involve students directly in this activity (Eco-Reps and Creative Marketing Unlimited for digital media and event outreach). Student organizations, campus events, and outreach materials provide sustainability information and experiences throughout the year. We also participate in organized national sustainability campaigns such as RecycleMania to engage the campus community and partner with various other campus and community organizations to maximize our impact in this area.

Operations

  • 2018 estimated performance:  31.93/72.00; 44%
  • 2015 STARS score:  30.63/70.00; 44%

Most operational categories utilize quantitative data to measure performance and in some areas, such as Waste and Water, we had noticeable improvements. Other areas, such as Air & Climate and Energy, saw noticeable improvements since becoming a signatory of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment in 2007, but progress has stalled since our last report. There is a baseline of established practices that apply to Buildings that account for consistent scoring in these areas, but room for policy improvement still exists. Food & Dining will likely see increased values in future ore revised assessments, but the data needed for STARS reporting was not available in the format requested for assessment. Other areas, such as Purchasing, are restricted somewhat by UW System or state policies, but data collection methods improved from our previous report. Grounds and Transportation have notable successes, but indicate plenty of room for future growth.

Planning and Administration

  • 2018 estimated performance:  17.22/32.00; 54%
  • 2015 STARS score:  21.12/32.00; 66%)

This area is more difficult to collect data as many of these programs are not coordinated by the Sustainability Office, but the efforts to maintain an inclusive campus are reflected well in the Diversity and Affordability section. Coordination, Planning & Governance also saw strong scores, which reflects the existing efforts to incorporate sustainability in various planning processes already and the strong history of shared governance representation in campus decision-making. There is room for improvement in Health, Well-Being, & Work, but some of these elements are beyond our control, such as compensation, and great strides have been made to improve the living wage on our campus. Investment is a category that we received no points and remains the particular sub-category we could make the most improvements.

Sample of Priorities for FY 2019-21

  • Improve data collection of sustainability activity in academics through consistent faculty outreach and annual reporting of curriculum and research activities.
  • Re-launch Savanna Project sustainability training workshop to encourage more faculty to infuse sustainability concepts into their existing or new curriculum.
  • Develop survey instruments to assess sustainability literacy related to learning outcomes and sustainability culture on campus.
  • Reinforce partnership with Housing through the support of the Eco-Reps peer to peer sustainability training program.
  • Advocate for more campus sustainability leadership in the state and beyond and increase leadership and involvement with community sustainability efforts.
  • Pursue more aggressive energy conservation and renewable energy investment to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas impact.
  • Encourage alternative transportation use and establish a bicycle/pedestrian culture to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use.
  • Establish UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve as a protected area through formal policy.
  • Increase green cleaning product usage and recycling percentage in paper purchasing.
  • Develop data collection methodology with campus dining contractor and formalize reporting process on annual basis.
  • Develop waste and recycling signage and bin consistency and pursue more aggressive outreach campaign to improve recycling rates to 50% diversion.
  • Recommend development of mandatory cultural competence training and providing support for underrepresented staff members.
  • Recommend sustainable investment best practices to University Advancement and Foundation staff for consideration.
  • Write campus Sustainability Plan to inform future decisions and priorities with input from Sustainability Council and campus community.
  • Implement annual reporting cycle for key components of STARS data to improve data accuracy, reliability, and responsiveness from relevant campus contacts.

Campus Garden and Landscape Tours featured in August

As we approach the “dog days” of summer, there is always a lot to enjoy on UW-Whitewater’s campus. In particular, our partnership with the Office of Continuing Education allows us to host several Campus Garden and Landscape Tours every week, sometimes even twice a week, for anyone from campus or the community to come visit and enjoy.

All tours are free and open to the public, but we ask that you register online at www.uww.edu/ce/garden or by phone at 262-472-1003. These are walking tours with low activity levels. If you need accommodations or have questions about physical access, please contact Kari Borne bornek@uww.edu or 262-472-1003.

Here is the upcoming list of campus tour dates in August, followed by some details about each tour:

Prairie and Nature Preserve
• Thursday, August 9, 6:30-8:00 PM

Campus Flower Gardens
• Thursday, August 23, 6:00-7:30 PM
• Saturday, August 25, 10:00-11:30 AM

Upham Greenhouse and Campus Vegetable Garden
• Thursday, August 16, 5:00-6:00 PM
• Thursday, August 30, 5:00-6:00 PM

Prairie and Nature Preserve

The UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve and Recreation Area is approximately 100 acres, or about 25% of our total campus land area! This area that includes tennis courts, a softball field, reservable shelters, and walking trails through the 40 acre Friar’s Woods and a significant prairie reconstruction area we’ve featured in previous blog posts at both the beginning of the season and at the very end.  However, the real beauty and enjoyment of the prairie comes throughout the course of the summer months, with the prairie blooms peaking in July but offering something a little different no matter what month you visit.  The first tour this month will immediately follow the Summer Concert Series, so feel free to check out that free event and register to join us for our free prairie walk.  We will provide identification and some interesting facts and historic uses of about 30 prairie species and also talk about the invasive species that can often threaten a prairie habitat.  This walk follows a short looping path through the original prairie reconstruction area.  From this section, seeds are collected each year to distribute to other former agricultural lands in the Nature Preserve to restore this area to an ecosystem one might have found here prior to European settlement.

Photo Credit: UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner

Campus Flower Gardens

The Campus Flower Garden tours are a crowd favorite and with good reason.  The FP&M Grounds Crew assigned to the central core we visit on this tour do an excellent job planting a variety of annual and perennial flowering forbs to enjoy blooms throughout the summer, but the efforts peak in their display near the beginning of fall semester each year.  We will take a short, but very meandering walk past about a dozen flower beds and landscaped areas.  Members of the crew that manage this zone will join us for this tour to talk about their work first-hand and provide details on the types of flowers and specific varieties they order to ensure we have a beautiful campus that even begins to approach botanical garden quality!  Additionally, staff from the Sustainability Office will provide details on the sustainable landscaping practices that allow our Grounds Crew to maintain a minimal impact on the environment and on their budget.  Questions are encouraged and this tour is geared toward anyone with a casual appreciation for beauty to those hardcore plant aficionados!

Photo Credit: UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner

Upham Greenhouse and Campus Vegetable Garden

The Campus Garden and Upham Greenhouse tour provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the Sustainability Office manages these spaces to maximize student involvement in horticulture throughout the entire year.   The Campus Garden was started in 2013 as a food pantry garden by a Service Learning class focused on food security issues and how the nonprofit Growing Power addressed those issues in urban Milwaukee.  While Whitewater is not overly urban, its lack of a dedicated grocery store does limit access to fresh produce grown without use of pesticides or additional packaging and processing.  From this beginning, the Sustainability Office took over the garden project and grew it to be very impactful in its primary mission to donate between 1500 and 2500 pounds of produce each season.  Garden staff also collect donations from the Whitewater City Market and provide additional tons of produce to the Community Food Pantry each year.  Additionally, student support and involvement has expanded to reach other school and public gardens in our area and inspired the formation of the Gardening Club student organization.  These operations even occur in the winter as students use space in Upham Greenhouse to conduct horticulture experiments and stay involved in plant care in the Biology Department’s specimen collections.

Photo Credit: UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner

We hope you can join us for one or several of these tour dates.  Each tour offers a unique perspective on how horticulture and land management practices on UW-Whitewater’s campus not only provide avenues for more sustainable operations, but also offer faculty, staff, students, and community members opportunities to get involved in community service and have a positive impact on our local environment and community.

The Power of Produce

The Power of Produce (PoP) Club is now at the Whitewater City Market on Tuesdays from 4-7 PM. This event may be new to Whitewater, but it is actually common at many markets around the United States!  The PoP Club works to encourage families to attend the farmers market each week and empowers young shoppers to make their own nutritious food choices.  Did you know? People are more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables when they attend the farmers market.

The Power of Produce Club is for kids ages 4-12 (registration is required).  For each market they attend, PoP Club members receive one free coupon that allows them to purchase $3 of their own fruits and vegetables.  Who doesn’t want fresh, tasty, local produce?

What’s the best way to learn about the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables? With fun hands-on activities!  Along with receiving coupons every week that the children visit, they also get to participate in free learning activities.  Some activities include: learning plant parts, planting a seed, decorating a garden rock, and painting with produce! The final two PoP Club dates at the Whitewater City Market are Tuesday, August 7th and Tuesday, August 14th where children can look forward to using the PoP photo booth and making thank you cards for their favorite farmers. For more information, visit our Facebook event page. 

What’s the Scoop on School Gardens?

School gardens establish a learning environment that allow both children and plants to grow…and the kids seriously dig it.  Throughout the gardening season, children learn through hands-on activities like planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and finally, tasting!  In fact, school gardens actually increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among children.  Since children are in the garden helping the plants to grow, they develop a sense of pride and ownership for the produce which makes them more likely to try the fruits and vegetables that they cared for.  The eating habits they develop in the garden are also more likely to grow and continue into adulthood.  Not only does a school garden increase consumption of fresh produce, but they also promote healthy lifestyles by decreasing sedentary behavior.

There are all kinds of garden activities that get the students up and active!  Rather than sitting in a classroom they can be out and about in the garden measuring the plants, counting seeds, hunting for insects, identifying plant parts, and much more.  Gardens can be used to teach concepts from just about any subject from science and nutrition to art and math!

Along with giving the children a “living classroom” school gardens also bring the community together.  Teachers, students, parents and community volunteers can work together in the garden which helps to build the children’s social skills and self-esteem.  Additionally, the community members can lead healthier lifestyles by staying active in the garden and trying the nutritious produce themselves.

Some school gardens even take the initiative to donate the produce to local food pantries.  For example, the UW-Whitewater Campus Garden is hoping to donate 2,000 pounds of fresh produce this year to the Whitewater Food Pantry.  If you’d like to help, stop by the Campus Garden located between the Ambrose Health Center and the Campus Bookstore on Starin Road.  Summer volunteer times are Mondays 3-6pm, Tuesdays 3-6pm, Wednesdays 9-11am, and Thursdays 10am-1pm.  You can also get involved with the Garden Gatherings at the Lincoln Growing and Learning Garden anytime between 4-6pm on Mondays throughout the summer, all are welcome!

Interested in helping out even more?  There are currently two part-time Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School positions open.  Fort HealthCare is looking for a community outreach coordinator and a nutrition educator.  The community outreach coordinator will work with the Healthy Community Coalitions as well as working to educate food service directors on local and nutritious food choices.  The nutrition educator position focuses on implementing nutrition programs to teach children about establishing healthy eating habits.  Both positions will be involved in the Eat Here Eat Well coalition. Applications are due at 5pm on July 20, 2018.  Visit https://www.forthealthcare.com/farmtoschool/ for more info and to apply.

4 Ways to Eat Local

Eating local is beneficial to both the environment and our health. It’s estimated that U.S. meals have traveled 1,500 miles from farm to plate. These lengthy transportation times require crops to be harvested prematurely and result in lower nutritional content that continues to decline before being consumed. Local food travels shorter distances, which also means less fuel and fewer greenhouse gases.

Wisconsin’s water, soil, and climate contribute to it being ranking as one of the nation’s leading agricultural states. Here in south-central Wisconsin, we have a number of options available to access fresh, local foods during our growing season.  Eating locally can significantly reduce your individual carbon footprint by avoiding the travel, but it also has health benefits because organic produce tends to be more affordable when purchased locally and directly from producers.

1. Shop at a food co-op

Co-ops generally seek local, organic, quality foods and dry goods. Rather than being privately or investor-owned, food cooperatives are owned and governed by the community.  These grocery stores are open for all to shop but also welcome shoppers to join as member-owners, allowing them to vote on decisions regarding the operations of the co-op. To find a co-op near you, visit localharvest.org.  Currently, the closest co-op in operating to Whitewater is Basics Cooperative, but there is there’s a co-op coming to Whitewater hopefully soon!

Whitewater Grocery Co. serves to nourish and educate the community while offering local foods, natural choices, and gourmet options. Planning efforts for the Whitewater GroCo began in 2016 and they anticipate opening in the next few years once they reach their target ownership goal of 1,000. For membership options and more information visit whitewatergrocery.co.

The  408th owner of the Whitewater Grocery Co. (Source: Whitewater Grocery Co.)

2. Shop at local farmers markets

Whether you’re shopping for produce, honey, flowers, meats, products from the farmers market are minimally processed and more humane than conventional agriculture. You’re also able to meet farmers and artisans directly to learn about how and where your food is made. While farmers markets usually offer produce, some also have various forms of entertainment including music, food trucks, art, crafts, and other products. Going to local markets is a fun thing to do with family, friends, or to meet new people within the community. Check out localharvest.org to find farmers markets in your area.

Whitewater has two weekly farmers markets available throughout the growing season! From May through October, the Whitewater City Market is held at the Historic Train Depot (301 W. Whitewater St.) on Tuesdays from 4-7 PM. The Whitewater Farmer’s Market is held on Saturdays from 8 AM-12 PM at the True Value (1415 W. Main Street).

Clint from Regenerative Roots selling produce at the Whitewater City Market (Source: Whitewater City Market)

3. Join a CSA

Community supported agriculture (CSA) connects consumers to local food directly from farmers. By purchasing an annual “share,” members are provided with fresh, seasonal produce and other specialty products. Product offerings and delivery options vary by CSA.  Visit localharvest.org to find a CSA near you.

UW-Whitewater is a host site for Wholesome Harvest CSA, a family farm located in Fort Atkinson, WI that offers a variety of membership options for their products including produce, meats, and eggs with weekly deliveries to the University Center for its members.  They anticipate achieving organic certification in the next year or so and have used organic methods for a number of years.  Additionally, the city of Whitewater is served by Regenerative Roots, a Certified Organic farm located near Jefferson, WI that delivers to The SweetSpot Cafe.  As an added bonus, CSAs are typically looking for summer help and can be a great job for students to learn more about farming and gardening produce!

Fresh tomatoes growing at Wholesome Harvest CSA. (Source: Wholesome Harvest Farm)

4. Start your own garden

Growing your vegetables is as local as it gets! If you don’t have the space or aren’t ready to commit to a traditional garden bed, container gardening is a manageable alternative and easy way to get started. Joining a community garden is another option, allowing you to rent a garden plot for the season. This also gives you the opportunity to connect with fellow gardeners to share tips and tricks! Attending volunteer sessions at the UW-Whitewater Campus Garden is another option to learn about gardening maintenance first hand.

Whitewater Community Garden (1201 Innovation Drive) has 30 plots available to the public with access to water and tools included in the rental fee. If you’re not in the Whitewater area, you can search for local community gardens at communitygarden.org.

Pepper seedlings planted at the Campus Garden. (Source: UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner)

 

 

 

Gearing Up for Garden Season

As we head into the sixth season at the Campus Garden we reflect back on our mission to serve the Whitewater Food Pantry with fresh, organic produce, as well as to educate the campus and community about the benefits of organic gardening. A majority of the produce grown gets donated weekly to the local food pantry. To date we have donated over 5,000 pounds of produce; with roughly 1,400 pounds donated last year and 1,700 pounds donated in 2016. By adding a small orchard with a wide variety of fruit trees, we hope to reach the goal of donating 2,000 pounds of fresh produce per year.

A variety of fruit trees were added to the Campus Garden during Earth Week events with Honors Program students in 2016.

Updates from the Garden Manager

As the weather gets warmer and the spring season approaches, activity in the Upham Greenhouse and the Campus Garden is rapidly increasing. The seedlings planted in early March (onions, leeks, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli) are craving the outdoors, awaiting the early planting sessions. The daily indoor watering and care of tomatoes, peppers, beets, chard, herbs, and brassicas will soon be replaced by the natural water cycle and some irrigation in the garden. Soon, we will be planting the seeds of cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, and squash). After some bed prepping, edging, and maintenance, all the seedlings will be ready to be planted throughout the month of May. This is a yearly routine with a strict schedule.

Though the schedule is demanding, we are introducing some new additions to the garden with inspiration from permaculture design. Our orchard is becoming much vaster with a wide variety of fruit trees and exotic shrubs. From native elderberry to plum trees, the diversity within the Campus Garden is growing each season.

This time of year, the amount of work needed outdoors is accumulating. We aim to plant crops outdoors in early May, and the full planting will take place after the last average frost date in late May.  Volunteer hours continue from May through late October or early November, depending on first frost.

Visiting Honors Program students planting beet seeds.
Honors students helping transplant basil.
Pepper seedlings growing strong in the Upham Greenhouse.

How to Get Involved

The best way for you to support the Campus Garden is to volunteer your time and energy by joining us for the work needed to keep up with the garden. Gardening tasks that regularly need our attention include bed prep/turning, weeding, watering, seeding/planting, harvesting, transplanting, cleaning/sanitizing, and more. Without the helping hands of our volunteers, we would not have the time available to maintain the garden and keep it going, so any and all help is greatly appreciated!

All skill levels are welcome.  Tools and gloves are provided, but we recommend any experienced gardener to bring your tools you are most comfortable using (and maybe show us how you do it)!  Volunteer hours are tracked for reporting to a number of different organizations that require them.

Upcoming Events

Join us at the Campus Garden, located between the Moraine Bookstore and Ambrose Health Center on Starin Road (764 W. Starin Road, Whitewater, WI 53190).

Planting Party

  • Lend a hand planing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, squash, peas, beans, radishes, greens, carrots, and herbs! Check out our Facebook event for more information.
  • Tuesday, May 29 from 3 – 7 PM

Volunteer Sessions (May)

  • Tuesdays: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Thursdays:  2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Fridays:  10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Volunteer Sessions (June – August)

  • Mondays 3-6 PM
  • Tuesdays 3-6 PM (Harvesting!)
  • Wednesdays 9-11 AM
  • Thursdays 10 AM-1 PM
UWW Campus Garden on a sunny August day.

Meet the Sustainability Fellow!

When it comes to sustainability staff at UW-Whitewater, most people are (hopefully) aware of the full-time Sustainability Coordinator position that has been on campus since 2008.   The Sustainability Office incorporated with student employees added to the team in 2014.  However, many are not aware that as long ago as 2009 there was a faculty Sustainability Fellow that was hired from our existing faculty to coordinate the integration of sustainability into academics, focusing primarily on networking with faculty and providing curriculum training.  This position was created and piloted by Dr. Eric Compas of Geography/Geology/Environmental Science and held most recently by Dr. Josh Mabie of Languages and Literature.  However, the position has not been consistently filled and this led to some inconsistencies in how our sustainability program integrated with academics.

To help address this shortcoming, Provost Susan Elrod decided to reconstitute the Sustainability Fellow position as well as the Sustainability Council, an advisory committee that also had faculty participation but lacked consistent leadership due to the Fellow position being vacant.  Dr. Jonah Ralston of the Political Science Department was selected by a hiring committee to serve as the Sustainability Fellow for a two year term with possibility of renewal for a third year.  Dr. Ralston started his term as Sustainability Fellow in Spring 2018.

We sat down with Dr. Ralston to ask him a few questions about his interest in sustainability topics and what he hopes to accomplish as the Sustainability Fellow during his tenure with the Sustainability Office.

Dr. Jonah Ralston

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and I currently coordinate the university’s Public Policy and Administration program.  I have also had appointments as faculty Sustainability Fellow and Community-based Learning Fellow.  Prior to my current academic position I was employed as a Program Analyst for a non-partisan legislative service agency in Wisconsin and before beginning my doctoral studies at Michigan State University, I had spent three years working as a business analyst with a multinational corporation.  Though these experiences were enriching, I longed for making a more meaningful impact on society.  Eventually this quest for finding greater purpose in my career would lead me to my current employment as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater.

When did you first become interested in sustainability?

My interest in sustainability began during my time as an undergraduate student.  I studied economics, which exposed me to the neoclassical growth model, and I remember being struck by what seemed like a lack of concern for the potential consequences of boundless growth.  In the years since that time I have researched sustainability both personally and professionally with an aim toward understanding how current development models can be made more sustainable.  I have come to view sustainability as an issue that is not only relevant to how we interact with the environment but also to how we treat one another.  Sustainability can be applied to social justice just as easily as it can be applied to environmental protection, and no matter one’s occupation or current lifestyle, sustainability is something we are all capable of striving to achieve.

Why did you want to become the Sustainability Fellow?

I strongly believe in the Wisconsin Idea, namely that our work at the university should improve the lives and environment of the people in our state.  The role our university can play in advancing knowledge on environmental matters cannot be understated.  Research by Jon Miller has demonstrated that the strongest predictor of adult scientific literacy is the number of college science courses that a person has taken.  I think we can extend our university’s impact beyond literacy by incorporating the principles of sustainability into our curriculum, instruction, research, and community outreach.  By focusing on sustainable living we can promote the knowledge that is vital to the long-term health and prosperity of our communities, from the local to the global.

What projects are you currently working on as the Sustainability Fellow?

This semester we reconstituted the Sustainability Council and at this point we have held two meetings.  The Sustainability Fellow serves as co-chair of the Council.  The Council has a broad membership representing a number of different stakeholders on campus and is dedicated to advancing the university’s sustainability initiatives.

A major project I have taken on as Sustainability Fellow is to assist in the opening of a campus food pantry that will improve the sustainability and resiliency of the Warhawk student body.  I have completed a number of tasks in this capacity, such as creating a survey that has been distributed to all current students at UW-Whitewater.  The food pantry will open this semester.

I am assisting the Sustainability Office in completing the university’s next AASHE STARS report, which will be submitted at the end of the semester.  I am working on the academic portion of the report and plan to distribute a survey to all faculty and staff asking them to report on their sustainability efforts related to teaching, research, and service.

What projects do you hope to take on in the future?

I would like to hold a sustainability workshop that would be focused on allowing faculty and academic staff to share their experiences with one another regarding how they have infused sustainability into their curriculum.  For those who have not yet incorporated sustainability into their curriculum, it would be a chance for them to learn about how to do so through guided activities and discussions.

I hope to create a sustainability resource for faculty and staff members, such as a university website where information about how UW-Whitewater faculty and staff have incorporated sustainability into their work would be made available.  I would like this resource to include actual examples from our campus.

What do you hope other faculty and staff members on campus do to become involved in campus sustainability?

It would be wonderful to have more faculty and staff demonstrating their support for sustainability efforts on campus.  That could be by attending a sustainability event or it could be by incorporating sustainability into one’s work.  Sustainability is a big tent and there is a place for anyone who wants to get involved to improve the environmental quality, social equity, and economic vitality of our university community.