Monday, May 21, 2012

Commencement Discontentment

This past Sunday, May 20th, Ithaca College was proud to see our inspiring seniors graduate. The weather was gorgeous (slightly hot...okay, really hot), the families were happy, and nobody fell on their face (I think).

We had the extreme pleasure of hosting Amy Kule, the executive producer of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as our commencement speaker. She gave a great, refreshing speech that included an extra special surprise: two Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade star balloons that featured Ithaca's name on them...oh, and blue and gold confetti.

It was a fantastic sight, but I'm afraid to say it seemed a bit wasteful. About 6 tanks of pure helium were used to inflate the balloons, meanwhile the world is being faced with a helium shortage (click here for more information). MRI machines rely on helium to operate, so as helium reserves decrease, health clinics will be faced with high costs of MRI machines.

It all seems a bit silly to use so much helium for a maybe we should re-think what goes into one of the most important events our college provides and improve how we treat our environment even on days of great celebration.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Growing Food Without a Garden Plot

Wow, it's been a long time since I wrote in here. A lot has happened: Earth Week, Power Shift NY, the end of another semester, and Take It Or Leave It (which is still going on). It's Senior Week now and I should probably write a real entry, but I just wanted to share these tips from the team behind Fresh the movie:

Do you yearn for a bit of your own greenery, but live in an urban area? We've got good news: limited space doesn't have to keep you from watching your garden grow. Planting vegetables and herbs in moveable containers provides a solution around limited land, time, or poor soil. It's a simple way to feed your appetite for fresh produce and add life to a patio, porch, or even a fire escape.

Best of all, growing food in pots is quite easy. All you need are containers with drainage holes, a good soil mix, fertilizer, light, water, and the right plant varieties. Here are a few tips to get your garden growing.

Vegetable Varieties

What you can grow depends on the size of your containers, the amount of sunlight that reaches the plants, and the season you plant in. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and radishes are the best bet if you’re working with shallow containers and shadier areas. Give them at least a six-inch wide pot with eight inches of soil depth. Vegetables grown for their fruits, like peppers, tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, broccoli, and eggplants need more light— six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day—and, in general, more room to grow. Spacing requirements can usually be found on the seed packet or plant tag. If you’re planting seeds, remember to plant more than you’ll need in each container in case some don’t sprout. You can thin crowded young plants later.

Plants with a rapid maturation period are ideal if you’re starting late in the summer, or in order to get several crops from a container. Herbs, small salad greens like oak leaf lettuce and mustard cress, silver beets, radishes, and cherry tomatoes are all quick-growing options. Using vegetable starts instead of seeds shortens the planting to harvest timeline.

Choosing a Vessel

A vegetable container has two basic requirements: holes to allow for adequate drainage and a size large enough to support the mature crop,meaning at least eight inches deep. Clay pots, cement blocks, milk cartons, dish pans, and tin cans all work well for small plants. Larger ceramic pots, half barrels, garbage cans, bushel baskets, and redwood or cedar boxes will house vegetables that require more room. Use potting as an opportunity to be creative and recycle!

Soil, Fertilizer, and Water

Use a lightweight, porous potting soil so that air and nutrients can circulate to the root system. Nurseries and garden centers offer mixes that usually contain peat moss, organic material, sand, and pumice or perlite. Mixing compost or aged manure into commercial soil will give your plants a boost.

Potted vegetables generally require more water than those grown in the ground. Most vegetables and herbs prefer that the soil remain slightly moist. When the soil feels dry to the touch about one or two inches below the surface, it’s usually time to water. You can use an organic liquid or soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks to replenish micronutrients in the soil.

The Harvest

In just a few weeks, you’ll be able to gather bowlfuls of salad or vegetables to grill just by stepping out onto your balcony or deck. You won’t have to worry about unused produce rotting in the refrigerator or whether you remembered to buy the fresh herb a recipe called for. You’ll be eating locally and organically. And, you’ll take pleasure in finding space for a bit of dirt in your life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You're invited... EARTH WEEK at Ithaca College! It's all we can talk about these days... we are so excited to bring you a fantastic week of events celebrating the Earth!

Please join ICES (the IC Environmental Society) and REMP (the IC Resource and Environmental Management Program) for our annual Earth Week celebration at Ithaca College! There are TONS of awesome events going on with something for everyone. All events are free and open to the public – please spread the word. Invite friends to the FB event here. We hope to see you there!

Here is the full list of events… and we’re still adding more! For the most up-to-date schedule and event descriptions, check out the page above.

MONDAY, 4/16:
- IC Natural Lands nature walk, 12pm, South Hill Natural Area kiosk behind Terrace 10
- Bike repair clinic, 1-3pm, Academic Quad
- Hempstravaganza/Earth Week kickoff: Live music & hemp jewelry making, 12-5pm, Fitness Center Quad (tentative)
- Sustainability CafĂ©: “Fracking is a Crime!” 4pm, CNS 112
- “Waxing Swidjit: Using Social Media to Facilitate the Collaborative Economy,” 7pm, Textor 101

TUESDAY, 4/17:
- Friction fire kit workshop (tentative)
- Bike repair clinic, 1-3pm, Academic Quad
- Locavore and wild edibles teach-in, 5-7pm, Klingenstein Lounge
- Food justice movie screening and panel discussion, 7pm, Textor 102
- “Standing Silent Nation” screening and Native Americans and Hemp panel discussion, 8-10pm, Textor 101

- IC Natural Lands nature walk, 10am, South Hill Natural Area kiosk behind Terrace 10
- “Body Care Aware” workshop, 10am-2pm, Cayuga Lake Room, Campus Center
- Medicinal plants walk, 4pm, South Hill Natural Area kiosk behind Terrace 10
- Bioneers plenary talks screenings, 6-7:30pm, Textor 101
- Hemp fiber talk with Dr. Netravali, Skype with David Bronner, and screening of WIP reel of “Bringing it Home,” 8-10pm, Textor 101

- School of Business Sustainability Symposium, 12pm, School of Business 111
- Organic garden tour/planting, 12:10pm, IC community garden (meet at Park bus stop)
- Frack Off demonstration, 12:10pm, Academic Quad
- “Empowered” screening, 6pm, Textor 103
- Bioneers plenary talks screenings, 8-9:30pm, Taughannock Falls Room, Campus Center

FRIDAY, 4/20:
- Take It Or Leave It clothing swap, 10am-3pm, Academic Quad
- Net Impact carrot mob, 3-7pm, Waffle Frolic
- IC Natural Lands nature walk, 12pm, South Hill Natural Area kiosk behind Terrace 10
- Forestry exercises training, 2pm, South Hill Natural Area

- Permaculture garden workday, 2-4pm, IC permaculture garden (between Williams Hall and Mac’s)
- Earth Day celebration at Farmers’ Market, 12-5pm, Steamboat Landing

This year’s events are co-sponsored by:
ICES (IC Environmental Society)
REMP (Resource and Environmental Management Program)
Sustainability at Ithaca
Organic Growers of IC
IC Natural Lands
IC Net Impact
Bomber Bike Initiative
Primitive Skills Club
Frack Off
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
IC Feminists
Ithaca Dining Services
GreenStar Natural Foods Market
Sustainable Tompkins
Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes
Slow Food Ithaca College
IC Permaculture Research Team

Questions? Please contact Margaret Keating at We ask that inviduals requiring accommodations contact us at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Finger Lakes ReUse volunteer opoprtunities

On Friday and Saturday April 6 & 7, the Finger Lakes ReUse Deconstruction team will be finishing a project at a site about a 12 minute drive south of the Ithaca Commons, and we will need help denailing. Denailing is a fun and easy project where you will use special pneumatic equipment to remove nails from salvaged lumber.

We are seeking teams of up to 10 volunteers (individuals or groups) who can join us for the following shifts:

   Friday April 6: 9 – 11:30 AM, noon-2:30 PM, 2:30-5:30 PM
   Saturday April  7: 9 – 11:30 AM, noon-2:30 PM, 2:30-5:30 PM

You may choose more than one day/time if you wish. Please RSVP to

Heavy-soled boots are required. Work gloves, safety equipment, and basic tools will be provided. Please bring your own lunch and water bottle. Volunteers must sign in when arriving and complete an orientation with FLR staff before commencing any work at the deconstruction site. Volunteers are asked to provide their own transportation but we may be able to provide assistance with transport for volunteers who can be on site for the full work day.

Deconstruction Services is a program of Finger Lakes ReUse, committed to enhancing community, economy and the environment. Further information about Finger Lakes ReUse programs can be found at our website,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Exciting gardening opportunities!

Looking to get your hands dirty? There are a number of ways you can right here on campus and off campus too!

This is the design for the pergola and trellises we will be installing tomorrow! So exciting!

First, tomorrow there will be a workday in the IC Permaculture Garden (formerly the ICES garden), next to Williams Hall just outside of Mac's. It will be from 12-6, so stop by for as long as you want. There will be snacks, power tools, fun, and good people... you definitely don't want to miss this. Our garden will soon be blooming with flowers, medicinal herbs, fruits, and other edibles! Questions? Contact the crew at

If you're interested in other gardening opportunities, join the Organic Growers of IC, who run and maintain the IC Community Garden at the lower end of campus. It's amazing! Come out for a workday, they're lots of fun! Email to find out when they are.

Next month, Gardens 4 Humanity (G4H) is hosting a couple of community plantings at two different locations! All are welcome, just show up! If you're interested, contact Josh Dolan ASAP via email at
  • Wed 4/11 – Northside Ithaca Housing Authority (4th and Morris), 5-7pm
  • Thurs 4/12 – Mutual Housing (1st and Franklin), 5-7pm

A new community garden, Wood's Earth has started up in Ithaca, near Newfield (next to Robert H. Treman State Park). Gardeners can choose any size plot in 250 square foot increments, for $0.25/sq.ft. - and a plot over 1,000 sq.ft. is 20% off!

Take advantage of this fun idea & save money on fresh, healthy food! If you've been thinking of gardening this spring, but have questions, time constraints, or lack of space or resources, then consider a plot in the community gardens at Wood's Earth! We've got everything you need (and a bit more!), including:
  • Deer fence
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Drip irrigation
  • Greenhouse
  • Tool Sheds
  • Parking
  • Children's garden & programs
  • Educational workshops on all things gardening, from seed starting to harvesting
So, whether you are a beginning or experienced gardener, we have what you need to get gardening this year.

Located just off Route 13 on Route 327 - next to Newfield, Robert H. Treman State Park, and the Ithaca Beer Company.

For more info or to get a plot, visit or email

Friday, March 23, 2012

Changes to the blog

I made some changes to the blog... most notably adopting it as the ICES blog, since I kind of took it over from the Eco-Reps (they started a new blog anyway). I also tried to make the calendar of events on the left a little easier to read, and added a page for the Earth Week schedule so you can check out all we have planned/in the works. So check it out, make yourself at home, and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creek and Lakefront Cleanups

Embrace the Lake!
Spring 2012 ushers in the third year of encouraging community groups to Embrace Cayuga Lake with creek and lakefront cleanups. What better way to show our love for the creeks and lake at the center of our lives?

What: We are embracing and encircling Cayuga Lake with creek and lakefront cleanups, starting this spring and into early summer. Thirty-four major creeks drain to the lake, along with hundreds of small straight streams. The Network organizes a rolling schedule of weekend creek and waterfront cleanups around the lake. We invite individuals, families, schools, churches, Scouts and community groups to commit to a local cleanup. In 2011, twenty groups took part – almost completely encircling the lake!

A Spring Clean for the Network: If you would rather keep your feet dry, hold a garage sale for the benefit of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network! Garage sales reuse and recycle, keeping waste out of the landfill. It's a great complement to the stream clean-ups. Contact us for suggestions on how to do this.

When: Groups are already scheduling cleanups for mid- and late March. A rolling schedule will keep these cleanups going until the plants grow too high for effective cleanups, in early to mid-May. The first cleanups are in Ithaca on March 31 – watch for the list later this week!

Where: Anywhere in the Cayuga Lake Watershed, where waters are flowing in the direction of Cayuga Lake. Do you have a favorite neighborhood creek or wetland, where trash has built up? Here is your chance to get that cleaned up. Was your picnic spot or shoreline area along the lake marred by garbage, last fall? Let’s get that stuff out of there!

Who: Individuals, families, schools, churches, Scouts, community groups. You! As a group organizes for a cleanup, we’ll help pick a good spot along the chosen creek or waterfront area that is safe for all ages and approved by landowners, and get the word out via email, a press release to local newspapers, radio, etc. We are only asking for a couple of hours of volunteer time to pick up trash and clean up around a carefully-selected area.

You can join a group that is already organized, or start your own.
To start your own group and cleanup event, we’ll help you organize the following details:
  • A coordinator for your group – name, contact information (preferably both phone and email).
  • You might want to come up with a fun name for your group and cleanup!
  • A cleanup location – safe, easy-to-get-to with nearby parking, and landowner permission to be there. We’ll need clear directions to provide to volunteers who want to show up on the date.
  • A time period for the cleanup (two to four hours at most) and raindate.
  • Publicity – a short news release for local newspapers, radio stations, and other places you suggest (we’ll help write that and send it out).
  • Garbage bags to fill, and someone to collect and dispose of them properly afterwards (we’ll help organize the pickup, and will provide garbage bags, and gloves to wear).
  • A sign-in sheet for all participants (we can provide one if needed).
  • Signed safety waivers for all participants (we can provide a template if needed).
  • Adult supervision and permissions for all youngsters.
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Refreshments.
  • Someone to take photos and keep notes of what you collect.
Afterwards, we’ll want to know:
How many bags of garbage did you collect?
What was the grossest thing you found?
What was the largest thing you found?
What was the weirdest thing you found?
How would you improve this event for next year?
Awards will be made for Best, Most, Largest, Weirdest, etc!

Business Sponsorships: We are seeking donations from area businesses to help support this project. Please contact if you are interested.

How to Get Involved:
Contact the Network at the following email addresses and let us know you want to get involved: or You can also leave us a message at 607 319-0475. Watch for information on our Web site and  at our Facebook page by late March – we’ll list groups with contact information and can add yours.

Sustainability Events at Cornell

Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future calendar of events. SO. MANY. THINGS. HAPPENING. And check out all those departmental seminar series. GAH!

It can definitely be a little confusing to get to specific locations on Cornell's campus... but the #11 TCAT route changes to the #30, which goes up to Cornell (you don't even have to get onto a different bus). Find the bus schedules here.

Also, don't forget about our own calendar of events (mostly at IC and dowtown)! You can subscribe to it (so it will appear on your personal Google Calendar) by emailing me at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Old Goat Gear Exchange

Old Goat Gear Exchange is a new outdoor gear store located conveniently in downtown Ithaca. I scoped it out yesterday. Looks pretty awesome... of course I wanted to buy a lot of stuff, but I resisted. They have mostly used gear and clothing and some new as well, for much cheaper than you'd find new.They've got camping, biking, hiking, trekking, and paddling gear. You can also sell your gear there too! Another great place to reuse your stuff and buy used, giving both the environment and your wallet a break.

Check it out at 320 E. State Street, just down the block from Viva.

Click here to find more places to find awesome used goods, clothing, housewares, furnishings, and more in Ithaca!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crooked Carrot CSK and The Good Life Farm

Wow, I'm doing a terrible job of keeping this updated. But I do manage the Google Calendar of sustainability events almost every day or at least whenever I get emails about or hear about cool events. So check it out: here (also on the sidebar on the left). Or, if you use Google Calendar I can share the calendar with you so it can appear on your own, and that way you don't have to keep checking back. Just shoot me an email and I can do that for you:

But I did want to share something I saw a poster for at the TC Public Library yesterday: Crooked Carrot, Ithaca's first Community Supported Kitchen (CSK). Just check it out, it looks awesome. I want to join!

Also, just a random shoutout to the Good Life Farm, just up the lake in Interlaken. We visited them on the 2010 Jumpstart Sustainable Community Challenge bus trip around the lake. It's a sweet place. Horse power!