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Schumacher College is a finalist in awards for sustainability in education

Monday, 15 July, 2019

Schumacher College is a finalist in the prestigious UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards which are given for sustainability leadership in education.

The awards were set up in 2004 to galvanise further education colleges and universities to incorporate sustainability into their ethos and to encourage young people to tackle pressing global issues.

The College is one of eight finalists in the Campus Food and Drink category which includes Kings College London, which has opened a plant-based café, and the University of Chester which is championing sustainable palm oil.

The Coordinator of the College's Horticulture Programme and Lead Gardener Jane Gleeson said she was delighted the College had been named as a finalist as it places a very high priority on the sourcing of the food eaten by staff and students.

“The quality of our food and how it's grown is very important to us. We’re very lucky as there are not many other colleges who are able to provide food for their students that has been grown on campus.

"As well as eating seasonally we buy additional food from local organic producers wherever possible to keep food miles low and support our broader community.” 

In addition the college is trialling sustainable crops which are suitable for a British climate such as quinoa and amaranth, grains which are high in protein as well as different types of drying beans which make a good sustainable protein source.

Jane added: “Our horticulture students learn the practical skills need to grow food on a way that regenerates land; its biodiversity and captures carbon. These are essential skills for the future of our planet."

The vast majority of food grown at the college is used in the college kitchens where it is cooked with the help of students and then eaten by the college community. Any occasional surplus is used in other restaurants on the Dartington Hall Estate or donated to “food in the community” in Totnes.

Head of Food Julia Ponsonby admitted being faced with 25kg of mangetout in a single day called for quick thinking:  "It is the kind of challenge that faces us all with a real-world awareness of the abundance of nature and the importance of working out a re-distribution system whether it’s by freezing, preserving, selling or giving away."

Other categories include benefiting society, climate action and next generation learning and skills. The Awards Ceremony will be held on November 26 at Glasgow Science Centre.