Waste Not. Want Not

Volunteers with the Society of St. Andrew ? including David Hill of Appleton City, Missouri ? recently gleaned cantaloupes from a farm near Rich Hill, Missouri. (Shane Keyser/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Vicky Smith
Student Life Editor
@pinkwritinglady

In conjunction with Cameron University’s academic festival “Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities,” the International Film Club hosted “Waste Not. Want Not,” in which they featured a screening of “The Gleaners and I,” as well as a discussion with panelists Elizabeth Murphy of Murphy Farms and Joe Tilton of the Fairmont Creamery at 6:30 p.m. on March 6 in the CETES Conference Center.

The event began with a welcome from Dr. Marie-Ginette Baillargeon, the coordinator of “Waste Not. Want Not,” who said the purpose of the event is to inform the Lawton community about sustainability regarding waste.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.  This estimate … corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change.”

Baillargeon said sustainability is a growing concern beyond the community, as well as within it.

“Sustainability is a way of life for many people throughout the world,” she said. “In fact, sustainability is, or should be, everyone’s project. ‘Waste Not. Want Not’ is about making conscious choices about the food we eat [and] how we recycle.

“Sustainability is making the most of what we have, while enjoying the best quality of life possible.”

Displaying practical ways to put sustainability into action, Baillargeon showed the French documentary “The Gleaners and I.”

According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to glean is “to gather grain or other material that is left after the main crop has been gathered.”

The filmmaker Agnes Varda captures the lifestyles of both field and urban gleaners, some of whom glean to survive. They travel across France to recycle the leftover food of grocery stores, restaurants and farms, as well as abandoned objects on sidewalks and beside dumpsters.

Although gleaning is not always permitted on private property in America, there are additional ways to protect the environment. The panelists Murphy and Tilton discussed ways in which they strive to practice sustainability within their own businesses.

Murphy, who has been farming for about ten years, owns Murphy Farms in Walters, Ok., sells her organic produce at the Fairmont Creamery farmer’s market and is in the process of building a store.

Murphy said she and her manager run the farm, which is set on 160 acres of land that hosts five green houses, 326 chickens, 1500 peach trees and 300 apple trees.

She said all the produce on her farm is picked by hand, and the excess is used to make jams and jellies.

“I can all my things that I have as seconds,” she said, “so I really don’t have any waste … Anything [else] leftover, I’m tilling in and using as compost.”

She said her trees receive water from a pond she built, which holds 2.5 million gallons of water.

“There is a pump,” she said. “Every tree is irrigated from that pond. [To prevent waste contamination,] I’m not allowed to have cattle on the area there is water.”

Tilton is vice president of the Fairmont District Experience, Inc., which is focused on maintaining Lawton’s architectural heritage. Tilton said Lawton is in need of places that people are attracted to.

“Oklahoma City, at this moment, has a district for every 29,000 people,” he said. “Lawton has 100,000 people, and we have no districts.”

He said creating a district with places that involve entertainment, food and shopping is a way to attract people.

“We are not into tearing buildings down,” he said, “so what you see, we’re going to work with … Let’s use the sustainability idea, and let’s repurpose what he have, and let’s let heritage grow.”

After the panelists spoke, attendee Nealis Bradshaw, a member of the Lawton Farmer’s Market that was started by Dr. Ed Legako, said it’s important for students to learn how to garden.

“We’ve got two generations now,” he said, “[of] people who have never learned how to raise their food.”

He said a scholarship offered by Stripes is an opportunity to educate some of those students.

“[Elementary schools] can receive a $500 stipend from Stripes convenient stores if they want to start a garden [for their students],” he said.

The scholarship, titled Stripes Fresh Learning Garden, has applications open until May 6. Visit stripesstores.com for more information.

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