Compost tea is a microbial solution that improves soil structure, adds beneficial organisms to the soil to sustain plants, builds organic matter in the soil, and aids in soil nutrient uptake. On Guilford’s campus, compost tea is made by aerating a mix of compost and water with a GeoTea system in a 250-gallon container.
Compost tea contains billions of beneficial organisms, so just one application does the work of many applications of regular compost. This saves money and labor and gets the beneficial organisms into the soil and roots more quickly. It can also be applied directly to the leaves and flowers of plants. Healthier soil means more nutrients for the plants, and healthier plants mean less damage from insects.
Visit the on-campus bookstore in Founders and you’ll see sustainable, environmentally-responsible products on many of the shelves. But it’s what you can’t immediately see—the massive offering of used books, books for rent, digital books, and digital rentals—that has an even bigger impact on the lives and bank accounts of students and their parents.
Used and rental books are a great example of reduce, reuse, and recycle. They reduce waste going into landfills, reduce the use of energy and ink, save trees, and save money. Digital sales and rentals provide further benefits by offering another level of financial and finite resource savings.
Farming is a tradition at Guilford College revisited. After a nearly seven decade hiatus from farming, Guilford is once again growing food to help feed our community. Now in its fourth year of production, the farm is producing over ten thousand pounds of food annually. The farm has seen steady growth and now encompasses three acres of cultivated land, including a five thousand square foot high tunnel enabling year round production. Nearly all the crops are started from seed in our propagation greenhouse. The farm produces a wide variety of vegetable crops utilizing sustainable farming practices. All of the soil amendments and pesticides used are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved.
The farm serves the greater Guilford community by providing fresh vegetables for the College’s dining services, a student operated on-site farmers market, a steadily growing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, two local groceries and a few local restaurants.
The farm is a popular site for work-study students, Bonner Program members and a wide range of volunteers from both our on-campus and off-campus communities. The mission of the Guilford College Farm is to serve as a learning laboratory while producing fresh, locally grown produce for the community in an economically viable framework.
Pedal power is one of the healthiest modes of transportation for people and the planet. At the Guilford College bike shop right on campus, students, faculty and staff can drop by and get a quick, free safety checkup at our location in the basement of Shore Hall. There are also fantastic discounts on tune-ups, bike rentals, parts and other services to keep the wheels rolling. Rental bikes are available to the Guilford community for a day, a week or the whole semester. The bike shop fosters and supports a biking culture and community on campus. More people biking and fewer driving cars means a smaller carbon footprint.
Bike shop hours: Monday - Friday, 1pm - 5pm.
Each year Guilford College participates in RecyleMania, a friendly competition that helps colleges and universities benchmark their recycling efforts. During the eight-week competition, schools report recycling and trash amounts each week, then use those numbers to rally students, faculty and staff on their individual campuses to do even better the next week. As everyone on campus becomes more and more involved over the eight weeks, we not only raise awareness of our recycling program, but significantly lower the amount of waste we generate. Because the competition is two months long—and we participate each year—student, faculty and staff behavior is positively modified for the long term.
In order to reduce the amount of campus waste, we provide recycling stations in dorms and most academic buildings that include receptacles for commingled recycling, landfill waste, battery recycling, electronic waste and compost. Our landfill waste goes...well...to the landfill, but the rest is diverted from the landfill so that all, most, or some of the parts can be used again.
Our compost is completely processed and used on campus. We use only onsite "waste" products; food waste from the dining hall, campus buildings and farm, fallen leaves from the campus grounds and sawdust from our sawmill operation. The finished compost and compost tea is used as fertilizer on the campus grounds and farm.
Our Community Garden is a relaxed place where people from all walks of life come together to get dirt under their nails, grow awesome food and experience the one-of-a-kind thrill of nurturing seeds into harvests. Our Community Garden stimulates social interaction, teaches sustainable gardening (we also bring our First Year Experience classes here to see sustainable practices in action), creates healthy food that improves lives.
In the summer of 2008 we began a partnership with Meriwether Godsey to greatly reduce food service waste, change the way we purchase our food and materials and create a more sustainable dining program. As part of that initiative we remodeled the kitchen with an incredibly efficient automatic dish washer, added an organic-waste capture system, eliminated trays, switched to biodegradable napkins, began purchasing more local and organic foods and started collecting used cooking oil for conversion to biodiesel. Today, by composting pre- and post-consumer waste, the dining hall diverts thousands of pounds of waste from landfills every week. Depending on the growing season, up to 40% of the food purchased is either organic, local, or both—reducing pesticide use and eliminating thousands of miles of hypothetical highway transportation. And nearly 100% of our cooking oil is reclaimed for biodiesel.
Our students challenged us to greatly reduce the amount of chemical cleaners we use around campus and we listened. Today our cleaning crew carries handheld ionizers that convert regular tap water into a safe, chemical-free, germ-killing cleaner that does just as good a job as chemical cleaners, yet doesn’t pollute the air or leave harmful residues on surfaces. For floors and other applications where the ionizers aren’t practical, we’re now using Alpha HP green cleaners. Not only have we eliminated almost all of the issues of transporting, storing and working with chemical cleaners, we have also reduced the risk of those chemicals getting into the water supply through drainage and runoff. As purchasing expensive cleaners is no longer necessary, we are saving money as well.
It doesn’t take long for leftovers and scraps from meals to add up and tons (literally) of our dining waste used to end up in landfills. Today, we have two commercial-grade Earth Tubs to churn that waste into incredibly rich compost. The tubs create huge amounts of compost we can use all around campus as fertilizer. By using our compost and compost tea, we are able to eliminate the use of petroleum-based fertilizers on campus grounds. The compost tea is also applied at the farm where we grow food for the dining hall—starting the continuous, cyclical process all over again. We’re diverting an average of 800 to 1,200 lbs of waste from area landfills every week. That’s an incredible amount of compost we can use on the farm, in the community garden and all around campus.