U.S grown produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from a farm to your plate. This, in part, causes pollution. The producing and shipping of produce is leaving a huge carbon footprint on the environment. The water and fertilizer used to grow produce is also using large amounts of fossil fuels.
Students of the Academy for the Environment seek to help solve some of these problems. According to student Mattie Melrose, buying local produce also has a communal element.
"We buy food wrapped in plastic and we don't connect with social, community activity," Melrose said. "That is lost when prepared in a warehouse creating a negative environment."
Joining the students in this endeavor are several local restaurants. These restaurants serve some locally grown foods and support local farmers. The restaurants are the 4th Street Bistro, Dish Cafe and Catering, The Cheese Board and Wine Cellar, Ciao, Daughter's Cafe and Lulou's restaurant.
Melrose and the six other students are working towards a degree in environmental studies in addition to their primary major. Established in 2004 the Academy seeks to provide students with enhanced and coordinated teaching about environmental issues.
All of the students belong to a club on campus called SEEDS (Students and Educators for Environmental Development and Sustainability). The purpose and goals of SEEDS is to promote environmental consciousness in new building projects.
The vision set forth by the students for the campus is to first, create a student-run garden. This will be a place where students can grow their own food. Second, they hope to have local produce sold by the University on campus. Third, they would like to establish a schedule of regular farmer's markets. The purpose of these three goals is to help the environment and to encourage students to connect with local farmers.