Sustainable businesses

I Group recently traveled to two Jemicy family-owned businesses, Bella Vita Farm and Ashton Manor Environmental, that incorporate environmental sustainability into their missions and practices. Upon their return, I Groupers reflected on their experiences and observations:

Olivia: “I group went on a field trip to Max Schwartz’s dad’s sustainable and Chance’s mom’s aquaponics  farm. First, we had to take an hour bus ride to Max’s farm. When we got off the bus it was absolutely freezing outside. After, we went into a shed where they would fix different machines such as cars, snow plows and more. Later, we went back outside and got to see how all the different machines worked and even got to operate some of them,we also got to see a wood chipper make wood chips. Next, we went to see all the different plants that they got from all different parts of the country. Then, they showed us different parts of where they work in the building. And finally we planted trees and then got on the bus. I think it was a wonderful field trip.”IMG_E6744

Will: “Bella vita Farm was so cool. They used fish poop as fertilizer for plants. They have so many tilapia and koi. It was really hot in there and I was surprised how little algae was in the tanks.  From my experience, I get algae in my fish tanks all the time. They put molasses in the water to turn the water brown and block out the sun. They don’t use pesticides. They use lady bugs to kill aphids and fly strips to control flies. I wish there were more farms like this.” IMG_E6720

Paige: “At Bella Vita, they rarely have to get new water, because instead of getting rid of the water they clean the dirty water and then put it back. At Ashton Manor, they turn excess wood into wood chips, recycle oil, bolts, nuts, and tires, use mostly native plants and trees, and use leftover soil.”IMG_E6718

Max S.: “They had a huge hydroponic greenhouse. What is a hydroponic greenhouse? it’s basically: fish poop, and then the fish poop is used to grow plants, and the plants grow in water, plus the fish are used as food for people. They have 50 chickens and sell their eggs, but the egg cartons are recycled. “

Ava S.: “Once we were done learning about the ladybugs that eat aphids, we got to try parsley, mint ,and a banana shaped cucumber.”IMG_E6734

Nate: “This trip changed my thinking about how to be more sustainable.”

Hannah: “ They use fish waste as fertilizer and reuse most of their water.”IMG_E6728

Milo: Bella Vita reuses wood scraps as fuel.”

Hayden: “They let us run around in the cut cornfield, and it was so big and the air was so fresh. You could jump over the low parts of the cut corn stems, and there was so much room to run around  – I loved it.”IMG_E6743

Zac S.: “At Ashton Manor, my favorite part of the trip was planting a tree. I learned that they fixed broken machines with out getting a new machine, and I liked using the big power machines.”IMG_E6705

Harper: “When we went to the greenhouse we had to step inside hydrogen peroxide so we wouldn’t leave any chemicals or dirt from our feet.”IMG_E6737

Parker: “I had a lot of fun at Ashton Manor. AND THEY LET US IN FOR FREE!!!!! And I also learned that they fix machines and they recycle tires and they reuse nuts and bolts. AND THEY LET ME DRIVE A MINI EXCAVATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”IMG_E6699

Katie: “We looked at all the different ways they help to save the environment. It was so cool. They recycled the oil, they reused things that they were broken, and they fixed all the damaged products. We went to look at how they worked in the office to reuse paper. They worked on computers to save a lot of paper.”IMG_E6665

Enrique: “My favorite part was when I was riding the machines. Also we planted trees. They told us that they recycle oil and wood.”

Jordan: “At Ashton Manor they did a lot of stuff for the environment. They plant trees and other plants. They recycle a lot of stuff like nuts and bolts, tires, and oil, and they plant native plants.”IMG_E6669

 

 

 

 

Upcycled air cannons

What can you do with yogurt containers, grocery bags, and creamer cups? Make air cannons, of course! Cut a hole in one end of the yogurt container, tape a bag over the other end, stack up a wall of creamer cups, and you have a mini weapon of mass destruction. We also discovered that you could use the cannon as a launcher, or to create a version of no-contact air hockey by trying to to get the creamer “puck” over your opponent’s side of the table first.

Design Challenge: Leaning Tower of Pizza

I Group students found yet another re-use for our pizza boxes this week in the “Leaning Tower of Pizza” Challenge. Each student received half of a pizza box and one meter of masking tape with the goal of constructing the tallest freestanding tower using the fewest resources. Students could “purchase” additional tape for the price of having 5 cm. of height/purchase deducted from their final measurement. Scissors, cardboard cutters, and rulers were provided. 

Congratulations to all participants for their ingenious designs!

 

 

Stewards of Sustainability

What does it mean to be a sustainability steward? Jemicy joined the Green Schools Alliance with this commitment: “As sustainability stewards, our school will set goals, take action, and monitor and share progress in the three sustainability leadership action tracks:

  • reduce our climate and ecological impact
  • educate and engage community
  • transform our institutional culture

Keri Weber’s Star Group students recently worked on essays reflecting on their stewardship role in the Jemicy community. They take pride in personally contributing to a healthier planet, educating others, and helping to transform our school culture.

 

Ava

Sophia

Jack

Jordyn

Nathan

Annabelle

Raife

Dash

 

 

 

 

Keeping it clean and green

Jemicy classrooms are multi-use spaces. They are places for learning, eating, socializing, building, playing, and exploring, making it a constant challenge to keep these environments clean and healthy for all of us.

In addition to being our primary recycling agents, the Star Group team has taken on the challenge of helping to switch from the use of chemical wipes to a new system. Each homeroom now uses a set of washcloths and environmentally friendly cleaner to wipe down tables after snack and lunch, which are then laundered weekly by faculty volunteers. Many thanks to Star Group and all of the homerooms that have adopted these new cleaning practices!

Stream clean-up

Along with being responsible stewards of our own campus, Jemicy encourages our community to help maintain the health of the larger watershed. Last spring a group of Jemicy folk – teachers, students, and their families – gathered for a Litter Blitz to collect trash along Herbert Run in Ellicott City.

Many of the same energetic group and several new participants showed up this fall weekend to tackle a new section of the Patapsco that is prone to dumping. Under the guidance of Patapsco Heritage Greenway organizers, volunteers filled dozens of large bags with both trash and recyclables from the stream banks, while numerous tires were hauled out of the river itself.

You just never know what you’re going to find…IMG_3292

We look forward to our next stream-cleaning event!

TerraCycling

Jemicy’s single-stream recycling program accepts the bulk of our paper, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass. However, there are other many items that it cannot handle, such as most commercial packaging from school lunches.  Fortunately, a company called TerraCycle provides the means to dispose of these items responsibly through their free recycling program. Jemicy middle school students completed surveys to find out which TerraCycle items they would be most likely to recycle.Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 5.43.07 PM

Juice pouches and chip bags were the top choices, so these are now deposited in designated bins in the lunchroom.

 

 

So far this effort is proving very successful at keeping these recyclables out of the trash dumpster, and we hope to expand this program to the lower school soon.IMG_3233.JPG

Upcycling

Every Friday is pizza day on the Jemicy LMS campus. This means that, along with lunch, we get 20 boxes to dispose of.IMG_3024

While most of the boxes are recyclable (except those with food stuck to them), they are also eminently reusable. Dumpster diving for reusable project materials is a long-standing Jemicy tradition, but given the regular influx of this particular resource, we have begun to collect and warehouse the pizza boxes for our project-based classes. This adds to our efforts to collect other reusable cardboard, such as shoeboxes, egg cartons, and tubes, which are used for everything from dioramas to rock collections to the marble rollercoasters constructed by Y Group physics classes.

Upcycling means taking a material that has already been used in one way and reusing it in another so that its value increases. Cardboard is a particularly useful resource in STEAM-based classes where students experiment, solve problems and display concepts through engineering, construction, and art-infused projects. It is sturdy but flexible, able to be manipulated by kids of all ages.

In the past, pizza boxes have been used for dioramas, gliders, solar ovens, pinball and operation games, and numerous other designs.

This fall, the boxes have already been used in Star Group science to make lunar rovers, and in the JE science classes for building boats. You never know where cardboard may be upcycled next!

Fall garden

With last year’s compost added to the garden beds, we’re trying out some cool-weather crops. Brussels sprouts, swiss chard, and cabbage seedlings are getting a head start under row covers, while clover seed will establish a cover crop to help replenish the soil in other beds.