SUMAC Spring 2012

SUMAC members will hold the first meeting of the Spring semester Thursday, January 26. Elections will be held the following week. Prospective chieftains should be prepared to “submit a brief manifesto and a summarized outline of goals, objectives and personal motives to the present members”. 

Pictures from our field trip to Breezy Acres Farm

Breezy Acres Farm

SUMAC held its first field trip this past Saturday, November 12, members visited Breezy Acres Farm in Granby, MA. Breezy Acres  has been of utmost importance to SUMAC since its conception; SUMAC Vice President and Granby native Jim Sowell has worked on this particular farm for the last five years and has worked to establish Breezy Acres Farm’s energy-consumption as a priority for SUMAC.

Fifteen eager SUMAC members rendezvoused at Haigis Mall Saturday morning and piled into three tightly packed cars: a sustainable caravan. We were reminded of the lush and breathtaking aesthetics in the 413 as we traveled down the green roads to the farm, this reminder was only reinforced upon arrival. Breezy Acres Farm is already a role model of feasible sustainability in the 21st century. Evelyn, the owner and operator of this wonderful farm, strives to make her production processes environmentally-friendly while maintaining efficiency. Breezy Acres sells “locally grown, in season, produce and farm products. ‘Our own’ produce is grown without chemical fertilizer, insecticides, or herbicides.” Evelyn, a jack-of-all-trades, is a farmer, a landlord, and an entrepreneur. Produce, perennials, cows, chickens, and goats are all cultivated at Breezy Acres and a delightfully vintage decorated store is responsible for the most delicious, organic, homemade foods and baked goods around. VP Jim Sowell gave SUMAC a tour of the 50-acre farm, and through his extensive experience with the farm was able to shed light on some of the more subtle nuances of a farm truly committed to maintaining both vertical and horizontal sustainability.

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2012: Time for Change full length theatrical trailer

2012: Time for Change

Director and Emmy Award Nominee, João Amorim and bestselling author Daniel Pinchbeck put a positive spin on 2012 by viewing it as a catalyst for change in this though-provoking documnetary. Time for Change calls for a societal transformation with respect to issues of human consciousness and sustainability. Post-idustrial materialism, having driven the world to its present state, now must be replaced by a regenerative planetary culture in order to generate a world better suited for all.

Members of the executive board of SUMAC have contacted the filmmakers, after viewing the film last week, in order to get some additional information in reference to hosting a screening of 2012 here on campus. In doing so we hope to spread awareness of this film and our new student group. Additionally, we hope to create a setting for networking among students and community members who share our commitment to sustainable initiatives.  More to come on the potential upcoming screening of 2012: Time for Change.


Friends of UMass Permaculture

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.

There is currently a permaculture garden in front of Franklin Dining Hall, and there is one currently being assembled outside of Berkshire Dining Center. It was the very first day of work on the site. The first step was to aerate the existing soil by disturbing it with pick axes. The site is angled and would normally have a rainwater erosion issue. We had to be mindful of the drainage solutions that had been developed including a small swale that stops water that would normally do damage. It collects the water and distributes it into the land. The next step was laying down newspaper, a thick layer of compost, and a thin layer of wood chips. Work continued on the site throughout the week and the sheet mulching was finished before the winter freezes everything. Check out more information about UMass Permaculture on their blog.


Tags: Permaculture

Engaging Communities in Sustainability

This month SUMAC members attended a workshop hosted by the Design Engagement Studio called “Engaging Communities in Sustainability”. Participants were challenged to think critically about the role they play in local sustainability and how their position can resonate to the community level. Small group activities focused on maximizing the efficacy of sustainability discussion in a forum setting. I certainly came away feeling better equipped to efficiently ask more meaningful questions of experts in various fields. The leaders of these workshops were vibrant, engaging and genuinely interested; a model that SUMAC certainly hopes to emulate. These workshops were a great opportunity to educate ourselves and interact with other active members of this growing movement. Design Engagement Studios is a local initiative focused on engaging underrepresented communities in topics of sustainability. The aim of the workshop tour is to encourage community growth and resource stewardship as well as promote equal access to resources and opportunities.