Sustainable Food: There's Much to Learn

GIN Food Waste members engage in a September visit to TongChu Organic Farm. 

by HS GIN students

People from every continent and country hold a different and unique culture – essentially a crucial part of who they are and an encompassment of their traditions. Seemingly so, it’s understandable how our approach to sustainability needs to incorporate and demonstrate connections across the cultural viewpoints we would encounter; fostering a community of students, farmers, and teachers who are committed to investing in the sustainability of the future. 

Our journey, from a simple brainstorming activity in Global Development Studies to a regional composting effort, was made possible through our unique combination of our love for composting and the diversity found in the communities we fostered together. 

Pens and paper– along with lists and sketches – was the foundation of what would become our composting initiative. Our simple brainstorming activity firstly led us to months of researching, presenting, and coordinating. But it was within our contact with regional farms wherein we faced  cultural barriers. Farm after farm, we got turned away with many farmers being apprehensive of our project, almost as if this idea seemed too good to be true.

大项, a farmer at TongChu Organic, ended up being one of the few who agreed to meet with us to find out more about the idea behind our project and what we planned to do. Intrigued is the only way to describe how he felt towards our motivation to implement this project and the benefits it would bring to him and his farm, as well as the planet. His enjoyment for managing a sustainable organic farm shone through in his excitement to participate in our project and six months later, our partnership was set, solidifying our combined efforts to foster a sustainability effort in reducing food waste.  

Our last visit to the TongChu farm was in September and we discussed locations for the composting bins, delivery time, and possible other farms that would want to participate in the program. 大项 was excited to see us ready to continue moving forward; he was also excited to see the growth we had experienced within our team as we had added three new younger members to ensure long-term sustainability of the project. 

大项’s collaboration and passion became our driving force to work even harder to make sure this project wasn’t forgotten at Concordia, but rather a project that would instill motivation to tackle our food waste issue. Furthermore, we knew we had to demonstrate the need for sustainability for our community and world, potentially inspiring change in every part of our campus and community. To this day, that continues to be our mission and motive behind the decisions and actions we make!

Ten months and 20 days have passed since this project started from a simple brainstorming activity. For us, it’s surreal to see how much our project has changed – from the hours we’ve put into sending emails, arranging farm visits, attending and presenting at various meetings, and writing up articles to spread the message to finally being able to see the food waste being put to use. However, this isn’t the end. Rather, the beginning as our project continues to develop: finding more farms to work with, ordering more compost bins, and potentially working with other international schools to implement a similar program. 

The cultural barriers that have held us back, in the beginning, have changed as the bridges and connections we have made have solidified the sustainability effort that was sought from day one. Our mission hasn’t changed and our practice of interacting and working to incorporate and understand the cultures that make someone who they are will never change. These will grow, becoming the catalyst for change: change for the present generation to provide for future generations! 

 

Learn more about food waste and composting in our podcast: