Summer TaB on Sustainability

altOn July 12-16, 2011, two of the CA’s and five of the American Studies Program (ASP) students participated in the summer sustainability Take-a-Break (TaB) trip. During the trip, they lived at Zena farm (which is owned by Willamette University) in West Salem. The trip was a volunteer trip where the students got the opportunity to work with many different groups of people and see many sustainable practices, a lot of which were new and surprising.  They had these experiences first-hand while living out at Zena farm, along with a few other university students. Reflection was a big part of the trip and during the daily (usually more than once) discussions they all learned a lot about differences in sustainability between Japan and the United States. Everyone came out of the trip with a better idea of what sustainability is and ways in which they, individually, can be more sustainable.

A lot of the volunteer activities that the students participated in during the trip were working out at the farm alongside other WU students and professors. They worked in the field garden (thinning plants), made a path through the kitchen garden, moved the chickens, learned about beekeeping (and got the opportunity to wear the bee suits!), worked in the forest, talked about native & invasive plants, laid down drip-tape irrigation, shoveled manure, helped fix the deer fence around the garden, learned what poison oak is and to avoid it, and had a great time!

As well as working at the farm, they were also busy exploring other sustainable businesses and organizations in the Salem community. They got to take a tour of Zenith Vineyards and learned about their sustainable practices and challenges, then helped them remove invasive blackberries. When the group visited the Willamette Valley Cheese Company, they got lots of free samples and learned lots about cheese production and the company’s sustainable practices as well. Later on Friday evening they visited a farm stand, and then participated in a Salem Harvest event in West Salem, where they got to pick cherries in a beautiful orchard and half of what was picked they got to keep. The other half was donated to the Marion-Polk Food Share! To finish up the trip, the next morning they went to the Salem Saturday Market and then had one last discussion about sustainability over bread and cheese!

For photos, click here.

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