It is customary at this time of year for citizens of these parts to turn their attention to their backyards. The snows of winter are a distant memory; the threats of frost have receded; the once-bone-hard soil yields to the gentle pressure of the gardener’s spade. So it seems fitting for my thoughts tonight to turn to gardening.
Visitors to the April 2014 Board meeting; some 2 months BEM (before email), 9 months BGP (before golden parachute), and a whole year BAL (before administrative leave); were greeted with an unexpected announcement that some agreement had been reached between the college and the DuPage County Forest Preserve for the latter to house the Community Education Farm. While laudable in principle, I thought this was little more than a ruse to deflect criticism from the decision to eliminate the farm on campus; indeed I had comments prepared that night in its defense.
One year on, there has been no progress in that proposal but, I am happy to report that the signs are promising that the farm will be back, where it should have been all along. In an era when sustainability is the watchword, the farm is emblematic of that philosophy and should stand as a centerpiece of collaborative, interdisciplinary educational activities that impact the entire community. The return to campus not only should happen, it must happen, and we will be monitoring its progress.
While on the subject of sustainability, the Senate passed a resolution in the summer of 2012 that called upon the Board of Trustees to adopt an approach to the landscaping and the natural areas that reflected both environmental and fiscal responsibility. Sadly this has not yet happened. It is time.
I am skilled in neither mathematics nor philosophy but I can sustain the following logical construct: if you water the grass less, you don’t have to mow it as often. You will save fuel; you will reduce the college’s carbon footprint; you will reduce the noise pollution. Replace expensive and delicate annuals with more appropriate sustainable plantings. The staff deployed in the almost pathological attention to flower beds can be put to more productive maintenance of the natural areas that have been sorely neglected these past six years. I note that the Strategic Long Range Plan has included sustainability in revised goal 8.4. Now is the time to demonstrate it.