Urban Farming … and schools

Great Kids Farm is owned by the Baltimore Public School system, teaching skills in nutritional and agricultural education, providing food for the cafeteria’s in the schools.  Classes can visit the farm and interact with chickens, goats, and bees or garden the  small fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms. read a recent article on a visit to the farm and view the photos!

Real Food Farm is Civic Works’ innovative urban agricultural enterprise, located on six acres of Clifton Park in northeast Baltimore.

Growing Power is a Milwaukee-based organization that teaches urban residents, especially children, about farming, under Will Allen, co-founder and CEO.

Read more about these programs or other ideas for urban farming on Sowing Seeds Here and Now – or attend – the Chesapeake Urban Farming Summit June 18, 2010. Sponsored by ECO (engaged community offshoots) Inc, who’s goals it to reserve the effects  of systemic poverty, racism, and oppression through establishing and promoting social venture community-based businesses, involving people from all walks of life in healthy and sustainable living activities. Schools folks – read more about their farm to school programs!

Greenovation (for k12 schools)

Lutron Electronics, Green Schools Alliance, and Council for Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI) have joined together to form Greenovation program to help schools “energize education and inspire action.” They start with sustainable lighting upgrade (to improve  savings and offer better learning spaces), then offer curriculum resources, have an online social network ning (for classrooms to connect & collaborate), and support community outreach such as sustainable fundraisers to community challenges to science fairs. You can watch this case study video for a real world example or read some of their posted press releases.

Green Computing Resources for Schools

eSchool News has a great Web page on green computing. Its a compiled list of resources that are eco-friendly – more than just good for the environment but also saving energy and thus money for schools.  This page includes recent news items such as School leaders get advice on ‘green’ computing and New publication offers energy-efficiency guidance for K-12 schools, as well as links to Web sites such as Energy Smart Schools and The Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools Project The Web site also features Earth Walk, Eco-Friendly Technology Solutions for e-Learning Environments, which can help you discover equipment and technology solutions that are more resource efficient, without sacrificing performance.

House Passed the Green School Bill

Did you hear about the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act (Bill- HR 3021) passed by the House (250-164) last week with a goal at making schools greener? The bill has to go before the senate and has the threat of a veto from the White House, who say it’s wrong to launch a costly new school building program. Arguments from supports say this greener school buildings bill will save school districts billions in energy costs while also reducing health problems (such as asthma) for students and staff. What do you think about this bill? If you are in school librarian and want this bill supported think about contacting your local senator. To find out more about the bill visit: http://thomas.loc.gov/

For more info on building green schools check out this Web site: http://www.buildgreenschools.org/

Try Planting More Trees

Tress can add great benefits to your library and/or school property. They provide shade which can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and can save 20 – 50% in energy used for heating (from GreenStrides). They offer a beautiful, welcoming environment which studies have shown can reduce blood pressure and muscle tension for your employees and customers. Trees also contribute benefits such as less runoff and erosion, prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams, and fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen.

The Arbor Day Foundation sells Grow Your Own Tree Activity Kits perfect for elementary school age children. Public librarians could consider this activity as a summer program for the community kids to get involved in the library and plant tress in the process. School librarians could think about this idea in collaboration with a science teacher/class.

The Arbor Day Foundation also offers a Gift Tree Program to raise money for a school or community organization. Your school or Friends of the Library could look into this idea for a a “green” fundraising project!

Colleges Going Green

The March/April 2008 issue of E, the Environmental Magazine is entitled Colleges Go Green.  Read about how college students are driving the campus climate movement,  how cafeterias are buying local, growing organic gardens, and starting composting initiatives,  how colleges are trying to conserve water (including green building ideas), and other ideas of student created sustainability.

Libraries could explore these ideas to find how they can do their part. What about getting some of these students on a library green team?

Save Paper – Share Copies

Though most reserves are electronic now, students may still print out their materials (as well as possibly photocopy an article or part of a book). Why not provide a filing cabinet in the library where students can place their photocopies when finished for others to use. This would be especially helpful in reducing copying of articles for the core courses. Thanks John for the idea – he also states: “Perhaps readers also benefit from the acquired marginalia.” (from his Slow Reading blog)

Resources for Energy Management Planning

You have probably heard of Energy Star ratings for buying appliances but Energy Star (part of the EPA) also has many great resources available free online. The library contains spreadsheets, documents and PDF files you can download such as Facility Energy Assessment Matrix, Building Design Guidelines, Green Building Energy Efficiency, and more. The site also offers free online training with pre-recorded, self-guided or online live choices to help you the energy performance of your organization.

Did you know that Energy Star Leaders, comprised of hospitals, supermarkets, commercial real estate businesses, etc. boast two-thirds of their leader organizations as US school districts. Schools know that being green saves green $ in the process!