Green Wednesday back at Langley this week

November 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


The film for this month's Green Wednesdays will look at dirt and its environmental impacts.

Another round of Green Wednesdays at Kwantlen is almost here.

This Wednesday, the School of Horticulture and the Green Ideas Network will be showing “Dirt: The Movie” at the Langley Kwantlen campus.

Gary Jones, Horticulture Instructor at Kwantlen, says, “It’s really a time for some informal education around issues of sustainability and it provides a venue for people to come together to discuss these things in a very informal setting.”

Typically, a Green Wednesday begins with an environmentally-themed movie. Then there is a break, where people can have something to eat and drink, before door prizes are awarded. The door prizes are from the event’s sponsors: A Bread Affair and Ladybug Organics.

The rest of the evening is left open for when there is a guest speaker, such as last month when the movie makers of “The Clean Bin Project” arrived to talk and answer questions at the event.

“We try to have some take-home action points as to what we can do in terms of personally at home or in our individual communities to make some changes,” Jones said.

An average of somewhere between 50 and 60 people attend the monthly Green Wednesdays, but Jones said that this number is steadily increasing.

“At the last event, which was the first of the season, we had 130 people,” Jones said.

This Wednesday, as well as showing the short 40-minute film “Dirt: The Movie,” some of the movie’s special features will be shown.

“I want to show two of them in particular,” Jones said. “One is about landscape planning and town planning, and how that effects soil and how that affects community. And the other one is about schools and bringing education around soil, food production, sustainability and food security into the classroom.

“I’d like people to go away with something that they can actually think about doing.”

Green Wednesdays are held at the Langley Kwantlen campus in Room 1325, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the movie starting at 7. Admission is by donation.

Green Wednesdays are more than a free movie ticket

January 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This Wednesday, Jan.1, Kwantlen's School of Horticulture will host its first Green Wednesday of 2010. (Justin Langille photo)

This Wednesday, Jan.1, Kwantlen's School of Horticulture will host its first Green Wednesday of 2010. (Justin Langille photo)

Film screenings and discussion forums on contemporary issues are a common part of university culture, but Gary Jones thinks his evening series of documentary films and speakers at Kwantlen’s Langley campus is more than just a clichéd fixture of campus life.

For the last two years, Jones, chair of Production Horticulture at Kwantlen’s Langley campus, has been organizing a monthly evening of films and discussion on sustainable agriculture, called Green Wednesdays.

Beginning in October and ending in March, the event happens on the second Wednesday of every month in one of the labs that Jones teaches in at the Langley campus.

Jones began the event as a government-funded speaker series in the fall of 2008, but government funding was eventually curtailed, forcing him to look elsewhere for material to inspire discussion.

Luckily, people involved in the Green Ideas Network, a Burnaby-based environmental advocacy organization, were looking for a new venue for to the Surrey Environmental Film Festival. Jones linked up with the network, and began hosting evenings of film, discussion and networking around an array of environmental issues.

So far this year, Jones and his students have shown features dealing with peak oil, energy use and climate change, all films that highlight the need for people to consider more sustainable lifestyles. This Wednesday, Jones, his students and some members of the Langley community will gather to watch Good Food, a 2008 film about the resurgence of small-scale, family-run farming initiatives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Participation in setting up and promoting the evening has become required coursework for students in Jones’ Sustainable Horticulture class. Students help organize the event and do assignments based on the films being shown.

“It’s a good way for the students to get involved and to make connections out there with the organic community and the public who turn out,” said Jones.

Jones is enthusiastic about the potential for exposing people to the broader issues that affect the environment. He is aware that the evening has an outreach potential, in that it brings people to the campus who might not otherwise.

“One of my desires for the Green Wednesdays was to use it as a link between the community and the school, so people in Langley or Surrey or wherever could come on to the campus when they might otherwise not do so,” said Jones.

“The evenings are bringing new information to the students, but they’re also getting the students to share their information with the public. It’s a good way of extending the education to the wider community,” said Jones.

Special report: Horticulture studies offer sustainability solutions

December 17, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Introduction: The Institue for Sustainable Horticulture

A video interview with Deborah Henderson, director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture.

The program: Experiments, hands-on experience drive program, students

At Kwantlen’s School of Horticulture, modern-day environment concerns meet experimentation and hands-on experience.

The school, located at the Langley campus, has assumed a high profile in recent years for its innovation in the field of horticulture.

The Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, a research laboratory which opened in October, received millions of dollars in government funding for its initiative to breed insect, fungus and viral bio-controls that have the potential to replace chemical pesticides as eco-friendly alternatives.

Another project, the construction of a geothermal-heated greenhouse that aims to cut the use of electrical power in Kwantlen greenhouses, is currently in progress. And recently, the school was recognized for installing a “green roof” at the new Salvation Army Gateway of Hope shelter adjoining the campus. The roof will provide food and herbs for the shelter’s kitchen, moderate storm-water runoff and increase building energy efficiency.

Students at the school also regularly participate in experiments testing products such as fertilizers for local companies.

“It’s so important for people to understand what horticulturalists do,” said Michael Cain, a practical horticulture apprentice. “You need plants to grow and be healthy for the Earth as a whole to be sustainable.”

The four-level apprenticeship program, which runs from November to March during the industry’s off-season, gives students hands-on experience in plant-growth, irrigation, machine maintenance and other field work. The apprenticeship students are all currently working in the industry and returned to school to add education to their experience. The program gives students the option to study production horticulture (which focuses on nurseries), propagation and plant-growth or landscape horticulture (which focuses on turf management, design and machine maintenance), after the first two levels of core courses in science.

The school also offers a degree in integrated pest management; diplomas in greenhouse nursery and production, landscape design and installation, and turf management; and 11 different citations.

Cain, superintendent of Guildford Golf & Country Club, is optimistic about the future for horticulturalists. “Everyone’s going green now,” so knowledge about growing healthy plants is invaluable, he said.

Landscape horticulture received a Red Seal approval in several provinces, including B.C., in 2008. Apprentices now fulfill government testing to receive a Red Seal journeyman ticket upon graduation, which legitimizes the industry as a trade and provides a national license to operate.

“Anyone could call themselves a landscaper at one point… People were doing a lot of damage killing trees and planting stuff in the wrong places,” said the 37-year-old Cain. “Now, what you’ll find when people start getting more qualified, is our landscapes will be more sustainable, grow healthier and bigger and be free of diseases and pests because they’re grown properly and maintained properly.”

Cain found the School of Horticulture a good fit after 20 years of work in turf management. Two kids, a job and a mortgage limited his educational opportunities, but the timing of Kwantlen’s apprenticeship program allowed him to continue to support his family during his education.

“I love that my office [at Guildford Golf & Country Club] is 150 acres of green space,” he said. “I just want to be a better steward of our environment.”

Knowledge about plants, pest control, irrigation and machinery could potentially allow horticulturalists to grow plants, shrubs and trees that last for hundreds of years, said Cain.

“You’re never going to be rich… but it’s a really rewarding career choice because you’re surrounded by nature.”

Horticulture students at work

Green Wednesday fish farm doc a great, educational experience

February 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Shauna MacKinnon answers questions at the latest Green Wednesday event in Langley. (Zoë Tarlow photo)

Shauna MacKinnon answers questions at the latest Green Wednesday event in Langley. (Zoë Tarlow photo)

Farming the Seas offers a lot of information in very little time, but makes an important claim: Aquaculture is dangerous is so many ways.

Farming the Seas, a 55-minute documentary shown at the latest Green Wednesday at the Langley campus, that begins in B.C. and then takes the viewer to Norway, Scotland, China and Thailand, where they have seen the disastrous affects of aquaculture.

Aquaculture began with good intentions as a solution to overfishing, which caused the salmon population to drop.

At first fish-farming seemed like a brilliant idea. Millions of salmon are raised besides other sea-life, but within a caged net that floats in the sea. One aboriginal in the film referred to them as “floating hotels” for salmon.

But one of the greatest problems with fish-farming is disease. The fish get sockeye disease (a viral infection) and sea lice, which spread quickly throughout the population trapped within the net.

Farming the Seas shows numerous clips of millions of fish being thrown away, because of these diseases.

Since these fish grow in the same waters as wild salmon, these diseases affect other wildlife as well. In B.C and Washington alone, nearly 1 million salmon have escaped from their farm, spreading the disease throughout the ocean.

This problem does not just affect the fish population, it affects what we eat. The treatment for these diseases is antibiotics, which contain pesticides that are fed orally.

The audience gasped when it saw a one-year-old farmed salmon compared to a one-year-old wild salmon. The farmed salmon was triple the size of wild salmon, because of the hormones the fish are given to make them grow faster, therefore making it on the fish market quicker.

This mass-production not only affects the livelihood of fishermen, but other marine life, such as whales, turtles, bears and seals who depend on them for food. As the wild salmon’s population continues to decline, this means little food for the animals higher on the food chain.

Farming the Seas spares us the horror of other documentaries when they show us a cute cub who’s starving. Thankfully, in this film, viewers are shown clips of a bear snacking on wild salmon, and seals dancing in the ocean while clouds of fish disperse in unison, creating a miraculous vision.

Other issues addressed in the film include the extinction of blue fin tuna and the repercussions of farming shrimp.

Farming the Seas is an information overload, Bbut information that we should be loaded up with. Experts such as David Suzuki, Sylvia A. Eerie and UBC professors are featured throughout the documentary.

And the documentary is not just about doom. It shows solutions to the problem, that as a society we need to address.

Since there is so much information to process in less than an hour, it made a huge difference to be watching Farming the Seas with people who wanted to converse about the issues.

Green Wednesday’s at Kwantlen’s Langley campus is about education. The room was packed with people who watch the weekly films to gain knowledge. But what separates this from sitting on a cozy couch at home or surfing the internet, is that these people want to talk about it.

At the end of the documentary, Shauna MacKinnon, a campaigner for Living Ocean Society, was there for a Q&A. People raised their hand to ask questions that were not addressed in the film, or to get more understanding about what the film brought up and the positive and negative advances in the fishing industry since the film was made in 2004.

Not everyone’s idea of fun is watching a documentary called Farming the Seas, jam-packed with information about aquaculture, then diving into a deep discussion concerning what kind of fish you consume. But if it is, you’re going to have a blast.

Green Wednesday ponders life without oil

January 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom McMath, left, looks as wife, Sharon, points out something in the Green Idea’s Network brochure. (Sandy Buemann photo)

Tom McMath, left, looks as wife, Sharon, points out something in the Green Idea’s Network brochure. (Sandy Buemann photo)

The tiny room, lined with about forty plastic chairs, one movie projector and plenty of tea and coffee buzzed with energy during Kwantlen’s fourth Green Wednesday, held Jan. 14.

The event took place at the Langley Campus and was hosted by the Green Ideas Network and Gary Jones, Kwantlen horticulture instructor and chair of greenhouse and retail production.

Jones began Green Wednesdays a year ago and says he does it “so that we leave our kids something to actually live on.”

Wednesday’s movie, The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil, describes Cuba’s struggle after losing access to oil, “the first country to face the crisis we will all face.”

At first, buses ran only every three to four hours, blackouts to save energy made keeping food in the fridge impossible and people lost as average of 20 pounds as food was scarce.

The Cuban people adapted in a variety of ways and scenes of people planting lettuce and selling their bounty in local markets of tight-knit communities showed the possibility of living oil free.

Lee Carter, 62, says Cuba changed because they had the motivation “and for us it’s easier to go to the grocery store than it is to grow our own.”

Tom McMath, 65, a physics and engineering instructor at Kwantlen, says the film was really about the triumph of the human spirit. His wife Sharon McMath, 61, an avid gardener saw it as “the way the future should be.”

The second part of the evening featured the movie “Energy Efficiency and Renewables” and was wrapped up with a door prizes and a question-and-answer period with Tim Cooper, an instructor in the physics department a the University of the Fraser Valley.

Eco club shows free movie Thursday

October 14, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Garbage Warrior!, the movie that won the Audience Award at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, will be shown Thursday, Oct. 16, in room 2550A at the Richmond campus.

Garbage Warrior! is a documentary about the work of radical eco-architect Michael Reynolds and his efforts to build off-grid self-sufficient communities.

The free screening is courtesy of SAFE, the Kwantlen students’ environmental club.

40 attend first-ever Green Wednesday

October 10, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the audience for the first Green Wednesday, held at the Langley campus last week, mingle after the presentation of the documentary King Corn. (Cori Alfreds photo)

Members of the audience for the first Green Wednesday, held at the Langley campus last week, mingle after the presentation of the documentary King Corn. (Cori Alfreds photo)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus held the first official Green Wednesday this week, drawing 40 people, most of them residents in Langley.

The environmental movie King Corn was shown. It tells the story of two young men, fresh out of college, who move to Iowa, the “corn capital of the world.” The movie shows that basically everything western civilization eats is made out of corn: corn is fed to the animals we eat, as well as made into corn syrup, which sweetens everything from pop to spaghetti sauce.

The event was co-hosted by the Green Ideas Network; Doreen Dewell, a biology teacher in Whatcom County; and Kwantlen’s Kent Mullinix from the Sustainable Horticulture institute. When picking films for the series, Dewell wanted to have “films on edge rather than only informational.”

Dewell and her sister Joyce Roston are among the founders of the Green Ideas Network, which is a non-profit organization. The network is designed to teach local people about sustainability and raise awareness about environmental issues.

Dewelll says that she basically runs the series like an educational class. “What I do in class, I do in public,” she said. The Green Ideas Network is a fairly young organization, which started about three years ago with environment displays at local fairs mostly in Burnaby, Langley and Surrey.

Wednesday, after the hour-and-a-half movie, door prizes were given out and those on hand were offered refreshments and coffee.

Green Wednesdays are being held at the Langley campus on the second Wednesday of each month. Details of next month’s event are not yet available.

Green Wednesdays push sustainability, healthier living

September 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Kwantlen’s Langley campus will promote environmentally-conscious ideas in a new series called Green Wednesdays. Every second Wednesday of each month will be devoted to movies that deal with environmental issues, as well as presentations about sustainability and healthy living.

Gary Jones, horticulture instructor at Kwantlen, is putting on the event along with the Green Ideas Network. Jones says that the event is open to everyone because “we want what we do here to be relative to the community.”

Jones said that last semester, they put on a similar event called the Environment Around Us, which was held only three times in the spring. He said that they had a great turnout and, by the last event, they had 120 people show up.

This year, the Green Ideas Network approached Jones and said it wanted to get involved and include its movie picks in the itinerary. Jones, along with students from Kwantlen and the horticulture sector, set up the evening, bring in guest speakers and make sure that everything is running smoothly.

The Green Ideas network, consists of two women, Doreen Dosdwell and Joyce Rostron. It’s a non-profit society, based in Surrey. Jones said that Dewell and Roston share his goal for the environmental series, which is “to make people more aware of issues surrounding food security, community development landscape, housing development.”

Jones said that he hopes people will leave the series with an idea about issues such as sustainability, alternatives to oil and challenges to the food supply. He hopes that people will teach these issues to other members of their communities so people will “decide to do something, specifically, that they can implement themselves and make a change on a local level.”

The first Green Wednesday will be held Wednesday, Oct. 8 at the Langley campus auditorium. King of Corn, a movie about farmers finding out what happens to their crops in a “fast-food nation.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $4 for students.