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Skidmore College


Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs, New York, embraced my project, Love Compost Saratoga Collaborative, from the very beginning. With their simple bold philosophy of “Creative Thought Matters”, why would I be surprised? Skidmore has a program in place that I could never have imagined. It begins with a professional and passionate culinary staff utilizing high quality ingredients to create delicious and diverse meals for a student body of over 2,500 students from more than 50 countries. Freshman students are counseled in the perils of food waste and are encouraged to only take what they will eat. The food service has been “trayless” for 17 years to underscore that philosophy. Diners take only what they can carry, though may return to refill their plates until they are sufficiently nourished. Working with both the Sustainability Office and Food Services, I was given a detailed account of these innovative practices. They manage both pre-consumer food waste by starting in the kitchen with careful food preparation and food scrap collection, and post-consumer food waste in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall. In the dining hall there are three bins, clearly marked TRASH, RECYCLE and COMPOST, with only three items listed as trash: chopsticks, peanut butter pods, paper cups and lids. I was in awe. Posters, with informational reminders prompting students to think before they throw, are everywhere. These practices will eliminate 44 tons of food waste from going into a landfill this year, a reduction of more than 50% of the 70 tons, just three years ago. A portion of that food waste is composted on campus under the direction of the Sustainability Office. Students manage the compost bins and the beautiful rich compost is then utilized by Skidmore Community Garden, and in the greenhouse, Skidmore Hoop House. The remainder is dealt with responsibly, kept in a walk-in cooler, picked up twice weekly by Natural Recycling, then broken down by anaerobic digestion.


At Skidmore College, I experienced hospitality at its finest. I worked with the executive kitchen staff and chefs and was given an extensive tour of the kitchen and dining facilities. I was overjoyed that I was treated with such care and given a welcoming glimpse of the elaborate inner workings that keep such an organized process in motion. After these initial meetings, we scheduled the day for me to create. Some pre-consumer food waste was saved for me over the weekend, and I also had the option to “dig in” to post consumer food waste containers as well. With all that in place, I still hadn’t decided where to stage my COMPOSiTion, so, I planned another afternoon, when I mindfully walked around the beautiful campus, scouting locations and photographing my journey as I went. I was at home with the tall pines, squirrels, and birds in a natural landscape so familiar to me. Finally, I found it. So obvious it was carved in stone, or more accurately… brick.




Saratoga Arts made this program possible through the Community Arts Regrant Program, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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