Montclair State University’s PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies (ISS) partnered with the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), offering them one of the Institute’s transdisciplinary Green Teams from different universities. The Green Team is addressing the issue of food waste in Bergen County and wanted to learn more about local food sources.
The Green Team, gloved, masked, and socially distant, met each other in person for the first time at their tour of Hackensack’s innovative vertical farm, Greens Do Good. Jessalin Jaume, Farm Manager, gave the team a tour of the farm: a warehouse with tall towers with water reservoirs and lamps hanging over greens at various stages of growth.
This hydroponic system can make vegetables grow twice as quickly, and being indoors means the farm can run year-round. The system also uses only a fraction of the water traditional farming requires. Along with that, the farm is owned by REED Next, a foundation supporting adults with autism, and net profits go to the foundation. Adults with autism have jobs within the farm and have important roles in managing the business.
Green Team Interns
The Green Team, consisting of five interns from five different majors at four different universities, has been tasked to create a closed loop system that reduces food waste for Ridgewood, Glen Rock, and Fair Lawn and then to develop ways to retrofit this system to other municipalities and Bergen County, as a whole. The Green Team’s work informs NNJCF’s current efforts to expand food security through urban agriculture, while also reducing waste through closed loop food systems and the use of anerobic digestors.
The NNJCF Green Team is one of six organizations served in the summer of 2020 by PSEG ISS Green Teams in their ten-week summer internship program. Over the past five years, the PSEG ISS hosted 210 undergraduates from more than 70 degree programs at 34 universities, comprising 42 teams that have completed 128 projects thus far.
The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation works to encourage collaboration between municipalities, businesses, and other groups to make community improvements in education, public health, civic engagement, the arts, philanthropy, and the environment. Their work is summarized in their motto: “What can we do together that we can’t do alone?”
The team consists of these students: Faith Guevara (Montclair State University, Nutrition and Food Science), Daniil Ivanov (New Jersey Institute of Technology, Biochemistry), Elizabeth Neimic (Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Chemical Engineering), Hadar Pepperstone (SUNY Plattsburgh, Environmental Science), and Anthony Ruiz (Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Environmental Planning and Landscape Architecture), as well as their Project Manager Amelia Miller and Assistant Project Manager Danielle Del Pesce.
The Green Team will end their project and give a presentation on August 5, 2020. They hope to use Greens Do Good as an inspiration for innovative solutions to current sustainability problems.