New Sustainability Institute to Offer Workshops on Organic Gardening, Composting

Posted: April 13, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: April 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm

By Daniel Walsch

Mason’s Office of Sustainability has announced the creation of a Sustainability Institute (MSI), an entity that will provide members of the campus and surrounding communities with sustainability-oriented education and skills development opportunities.

MSI’s primary objective is to bring together members of the general public, students, faculty and staff members, local businesses, representatives of nonprofit organizations and local government to help them become sustainability stewards for their homes, businesses and the entire Northern Virginia region.

While the Office of Sustainability will oversee MSI, its initiatives will be coordinated by Michele Waterman, a 2008 Mason graduate. Waterman earned an MS in marine environmental management at the University of York in the United Kingdom in 2010.

“I am very pleased to be part of Mason’s sustainability institute,” says Waterman. “The institute supports the philosophy that we need to create a cultural shift toward green and sustainable living. We aim to achieve this by creating a strong local network of individuals, business and organizations interested in the same. Sustainability is not just an end goal, but also an approach to decision-making that can preserve the social and, in many cases, economic well-being of our communities.”

For the remainder of 2011, MSI will offer a series of workshops that are open to the public.   Workshop topics will include basic vegetable gardening, sustainable food choices, energy efficiency at home, waste minimization and water conservation.

The workshops will be taught by a number of Northern Virginia volunteers who are experts from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, the Virginia Agricultural Extension Service, Fairfax County Division of Solid Waste Disposal and Resource Recovery, various local small and green business owners, as well as Mason students and staff members.

All workshops will be held at Green Acres Community Center, 4401 Sideburn Road, Fairfax, Va.

The first workshop, “Basic Organic Vegetable Gardening,” is set for Saturday, April 23, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and will be repeated on Wednesday, May 4, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The registration fee is $20.

Adria Bordas, who earned her MS in plant pathology at the University of California at Davis, will be the instructor for this workshop. She works closely with residents and landscape and nursery industry professionals in Fairfax County.

The second workshop, “Compost for Healthy Soil and Gardening,” is set for Wednesday, April 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and will be repeated on Saturday, April 30, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The registration fee is $15.

Dan Schwartz, soil scientist for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, will be the instructor.

Register for either one or both workshops and learn more about the entire series online.

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