Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School
A Pre-K-12 Progressive Education
INNOVATING FOR SUSTAINABILITY
From Director of Learning and Innovation Mark Silberberg:
As Earth Month at LREI comes to a close (and we hope that its lessons and any newly discovered insights stay with you moving forward), I wanted to follow up on Phil's earlier message about our two new beehives on the roof at Charlton Street. The journey to establish this apiary project began last year when high school parent Bruce Gifford reached out to us with an intriguing proposal to establish a pair of beehives and his offer to help support this endeavor. As Bruce noted:
Beekeeping is an activity that is grounded in teaching students—in a fun and engaging way—about sustainability and the long-term survival of ecosystems and our built environment. As part of a sustainability effort, maintaining an active beehive is a chance for students to have experience with being producers in their environment and not just consumers of goods and ideas. They become stakeholders in the community and serve as agents of change. [And the bees] are also just plain fascinating.
This set in motion a number of parallel plans to be ready for a spring 2018 establishment of the hives:
identifying a suitable location
determining what materials would be needed
seeking out faculty and student interest in the project
prepping the hives and site for the arrival of the bees
To view the full gallery of images from the Bee Hive creation, please click HERE.
11th grader Ruby Bryan took the lead in coordinating the student participation and with the help of members of the Animal Justice, LREI Cares and Red is Green student groups they painted the hives. Bruce journeyed to Brant Square Park to pick up our 20,000 bees (you may have read about their arrival along with 3 million other bees in the New York Times) and then traveled with them via the subway to LREI. The students then worked with Bruce to transfer the bees from their travel containers to the hives. They'll continue this work to support the healthy growth of the hives. If all goes well, we should have our first honey harvest next spring. The students are already exploring ideas for how we will use the honey. When asked what drew her to this project, Ruby commented:
I’ve been concerned by the dramatic decrease of bee populations in the past couple years and wanted to find a way to help especially in an intimidating habitat like New York City. My hope is that the bees create a successful hive here at school. I believe it’s another amazing project that brings the LREI community together in caring for our planet.
To expand the reach and impact of the hives as a tool for learning, we are also exploring possibilities for video monitoring of the inside of the hives and a number of sensor tools that will allow us to collect data about the hive activity and its health. This data would be available for teachers to use in classes with their students to explore a range of topics. We'll keep you posted as the project evolves.
As Phil also mentioned earlier, our 4th graders have been teaching students in the Fours though Fourth Grade about composting and providing them with composting bins to ensure that all of our food scraps end up in the right waste stream. The fourth graders will be submitting this mission-aligned project to the Design for Change challenge.
These kinds of initiatives build important skills that our students will continue to use throughout their lives. How do we know this? Just read the note below from two of our LREI alums:
Have you ever wondered what happens to the wasted food, packaging, and scraps we use in our daily lives? Chances are it is disposed in a landfill. In fact, 40% of food produced in the ends up being landfilled, with staggering socioeconomic and environmental costs.
RoHo Compost is a local nonprofit dedicated to reducing the waste we create with our food. Directed by two LREI alumni (Marc de Konkoly Thege ’08 and Kai Furbeck ’10), RoHo works with businesses in NYC to bring food waste to composting facilities that turn it into environmentally beneficial agricultural products. RoHo also helps companies divert still-edible food from waste streams, bringing it instead to charitable organizations that help feed New York’s food-insecure families.
Last year, RoHo diverted over 1 million pounds of landfill-bound food waste and donated over 7,000 pounds of edible food, providing more than 5,000 meals to food shelters throughout the city.
RoHo has big plans for 2018. This month, they opened the largest zero waste station in North America at the Smorgasburg Market in Brooklyn. They are also developing a program, led by current LREI students, to reduce the food waste created in our own cafeterias.
RoHo is hosting a charity auction at the 40 Charlton Street Performing Arts Center on Sunday, May 20th, from 4pm-6:30pm, raising funds to support their ongoing mission. The event will feature works by local artists, including LREI alumni and parents, as well as experiences donated by some of New York’s leading food and sustainability organizations. Food will be provided by the fantastic Brooklyn based caterer, Eleven36, with drinks by Misfit Juicery, among other gracious contributors.
Please consider attending and supporting the sustainable mission of this alumni-led organization. If you are unable to attend but would like to contribute, you can also make a tax-deductible donation through their website - RoHoCompost.org.
Mark Silberberg, Director of Learning and Innovation
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