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Earth Day 2014: Focus on Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainability logoThe term “environmental sustainability” has been in the forefront of the news for several years. Climate scientists agree that the Earth is in a period of global warming, droughts and severe storms occur with increasing frequency and water resources continue to be compromised with pollutants.

Research is being conducted into living more sustainably; adopting energy-production methods that minimize greenhouse gas emissions; developing sustainable housing that utilizes renewable building materials; preserving water quality in oceans, lakes and streams; and growing sustainable agriculture that produces high quality food with minimal impact on the environment. Sustainable agriculture uses natural biological cycles and resources to produce food grown without synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or herbicides.

Animals on sustainable farms are housed and treated humanely. Factory farm practices are not employed. Workers on sustainable farms are paid a living wage. Sustainable agriculture contrasts with large-scale industrial agriculture that routinely uses large quantities of synthetic chemicals in the mass production of food. Persistent heavy use of those chemicals creates runoff that pollutes nearby water resources, leaves toxic residues that are ingested when foods are consumed, and creates resistance to antibiotics that are used to prevent or treat diseases when animals are housed in cramped, overcrowded conditions.

wyebrookfarm_about_pics_internandchickenTo celebrate Earth Day 2014, Villanova’s Earth Day Committee has invited Dean Carlson, founder and owner of local Wyebrook Farm in Honeybrook, PA, to present the keynote address on sustainable agriculture. This event will take place in the Connelly Center Cinema at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Wyebrook Farm is managed according to sustainable agricultural practices, and it provides food to the local community.

The keynote address will cap off a day of sustainability-themed activities that will include an indoor sustainability fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the lower level of Connelly Center, along with a concurrent outdoor farmer’s market. The fair and market will feature information on alternative energy sources, a raffle, green tours of campus, T-shirt tie-dyeing, locally grown produce and breads, food samples, green jobs, student projects and environmentally friendly vendors.

center env transOn the following morning, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, Falvey Memorial Library will host a panel discussion on sustainable agriculture from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Speakers’ Corner. Panelists will include Villanova and outside experts, including Jim Kolumban, associate director of Villanova’s Dining Services, Jonathan Hamm from Greener Partners in Malvern, PA, and Ari Rosenberg from the Center for Environmental Transformation in New Jersey, among others. Audience questions and debate will be welcome, and a continental breakfast will be provided.

For more information about sustainable agriculture and other environmental issues, please visit Falvey Memorial Library’s homepage and enter the phrase “sustainable agriculture” in the search box. Information is available in various formats, including books, videos and online resources. Accessing the Environmental Science or Geography and the Environment subject guide pages will provide contact information for subject librarians who can answer additional questions.

Villanova’s celebration of Earth Day will continue on Saturday, April 26, 2014, with an Earth Day of Service from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to volunteer with either Philly Urban Creators or the SHARE Program in Philadelphia. For more information about either of these activities, please contact alandis2@villanova.edu. Following the Earth Day of Service, the Student subcommittee of the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee will host a barbecue on the grass circle outside of Kennedy and Corr Halls from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Please come out and enjoy as many Earth Day activities as possible while acquiring a fresh perspective on value of sustainable agriculture.


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Earth Day 2013: Eat, Participate, Learn

Please join Villanova University’s Earth Day Committee in celebrating the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day on Monday, Apr. 22, 2013. Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner will host the first event of the day at 8:30 a.m.: a panel discussion on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking (the propagation of fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid), in the Marcellus Shale formation of Pennsylvania.

Five panelists including Steven Goldsmith, PhD, from the Villanova University Department of Geography and the Environment, Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, from the College of Nursing, Jerry Mead, PhD, from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, Joseph Nye, Eastern Pennsylvania Program Organizer for Clean Water Action, and Susan Phillips, reporter for WHYY and StateImpact Pennsylvania, will discuss the pros and cons of fracking. Nathaniel Weston, PhD, from the Department of Geography and the Environment will moderate. A complimentary continental breakfast will be provided.

Natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale has produced jobs, helped reduce dependence on foreign oil and produced profits for landowners who lease mineral rights for drilling. But it has also caused damaged roads; contaminated groundwater in wells, reservoirs and sensitive environmental areas; methane releases into homes; increased seismic activity and acidic runoff that causes soil erosion.

Following the panel discussion, Earth Day 2013 activities will continue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in lower level Connelly Center, where a sustainability fair will showcase indoor exhibits from environmental organizations, VIDA (Villanovans in Defense of Animals), student displays and raffles. Villanova’s new director of sustainability, Liesel Schwarz, will introduce herself to the community.

Concurrent with the indoor sustainability fair, Dining Services will host an outdoor farmer’s market with fresh local produce, breads, ice cream, beverages and free food samples from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Proceeds from the farmer’s market and sustainability fair raffles will benefit Tsinelas of Hope, the Philippines, towards the purchase of a mobile environmental classroom.

The keynote address, presented by Katherine Gajewski, sustainability director of the City of Philadelphia, will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Connelly Cinema. Ms. Gajewski will discuss Greenworks Philadelphia, a plan that sets 15 sustainability targets throughout the city, including energy, economy, engagement and equity, with the intent of making Philadelphia the greenest city in America by 2015.

The day will conclude with an 8 p.m. showing of the documentary film: “Planet Earth,” in 201A John Barry Hall. This film is sponsored by VEG (Villanova Environmental Group) and includes unique footage from all seven continents, giving insight into not previously seen species, locations and events.

All Earth Day 2013 events are free and open to all students, faculty, staff and the general public. Please come and enjoy as many as possible and hopefully take away a greater appreciation for the need for continuing environmental stewardship.

Donna Chadderton, a library information services specialist, is a member of the Villanova University President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee and Earth Day Committee.

 


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Last Modified: April 17, 2013

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