NORTH ADAMS, MASS.—MCLA’s Venable Greenhouse is full of seedlings, thanks to the efforts and teamwork of MCLA Dining, Facilities, and the Campus Sustainability Committee.
The greenhouse, right across from the Amsler Campus Center, is now home to seedlings that will become veggies and herbs for sauces, salsas, and pickles. When students return to campus next semester, they’ll be able to try a few varieties of an “MCLA Pickle” created by MCLA Dining Executive Chef Tony Fiorentino.
While the greenhouse will only produce a small amount of food, it’s a visible reminder of the commitment MCLA and Aramark, which holds the college dining contract, have made to sustainability on campus. MCLA Dining staff are already composting, weighing scraps to keep track of and reduce food waste, and purchasing Fair Trade coffee, cage-free eggs, and other foods with a lower environmental impact.
“Aramark/MCLA Dining was one of our strongest partners from the beginning when the Sustainability Committee started,” said Environmental Studies Professor Elena Traister, who heads the College’s Campus Sustainability Committee. Aramark has committed to reducing food waste by 50 percent across its entire span of operations by 2030; reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from its 2019 baseline by 15 percent by 2025; and has committed to reducing single-use plastics, including reducing plastic straws and stirrers by 59 percent since 2018.
Students are involved in the greenhouse effort as well. Campus sustainability intern Anayra Colon has been helping with garden maintenance and raising awareness of the project via MCLA Dining’s Instagram, @MCLA_Dining_Services. Traister said she’s planning to recruit another student to take over this fall.
“It’s always evolving,” said MCLA Dining General Manager Scott Tolmach. “We’re always trying to come up with ways to improve sustainability.”
Learn more about sustainability at MCLA: https://www.mcla.edu/mcla-in-the-community/berkshire-environmental-resource-center/sustainability-committee.php
Learn more about Aramark’s sustainability initiatives: https://www.aramark.com/sustainability/