Canning workshop highlights benefits of growing local

Living in the Genesee Valley awards students with an appreciation for nature that keenly incentivizes environmentally friendly practices. 

The Geneseo Environmental Organization hosted an apple canning workshop to culminate its Sustainability Month programming in the Interfaith Center on Sunday Oct. 29. Members of GEO prepared their own canned apples and applesauce from both freshly picked and purchased crops. 

GEO hosted an apple picking fieldtrip to The Apple Farm in Victor, N.Y.—less than two hours away from Geneseo—with about 13 attendees on an earlier weekend in October, according to e-board member senior Paul McDermott. Using their pickings, the organization presented an instructive apple-canning workshop. 

Both the apple picking and canning programs fit into GEO’s larger celebration of Sustainability Month throughout October. McDermott emphasized the importance of local food production—which decreases both carbon emissions and food waste—in sustainability initiatives. 

“Sustainability affects us all in different ways,” McDermott said. “We should try to leave [the planet] better than we found it.”

As they peeled their apples, GEO members echoed McDermott’s sentiments on the crucial role of sustainable practices. They agreed that, through participating in GEO, they have gained an appreciation for the affects that their individual actions and decisions have on the environment.

“I think that these kinds of events are really fun and informative—especially the cooking ones,” international relations major junior Sheila Barabino said. “I’ve learned so much about organic food and it’s a good way to meet new people.”

GEO members peeled approximately 22 pounds of apples before boiling, mashing and sealing them for preservation. If left unopened, the apples remain fresh for about one year, according to Barabino. 

While everyone acknowledged that students might initially struggle to alter their habits, the GEO members reiterated that every little step toward sustainability catalyzes the movement. 

“It can be hard to get a lot of people to come to [sustainability] events, but as long as we reach out to a few new people it’s a success,” mathematics major junior Meredith Saucci said. “Not only on our campus, but everywhere it’s important for everyone to know about sustainability.”

Living on campus, students might struggle to know the exact preparation practices or ingredients used in their food. They may similarly find themselves at a loss when wondering where their waste goes. GEO, therefore, emphasizes the importance of educational components in its programming, like the apple canning workshop. 

Raising consciousness around sustainability contributes to achieving a more environmentally friendly campus, according to accounting major junior Cara O’Shea, who has helped plan the apple-canning event for three consecutive years. 

“The purpose of these events is to bring awareness to local food consumption,” O’Shea said. “It is more sustainable to eat locally, and importing food creates a much larger carbon footprint.” 

People interested in sustainability should learn which crops grow during each season, O’Shea suggested. By purchasing in-season food, consumers aid sustainability efforts by decreasing the need for importation and lowering the carbon emissions generated through shipping. To live sustainably on campus, students could compost, recycle or reduce food waste by practicing mindful consumption, according to O’Shea.

“People should be more aware of food waste and waste in general,” O’Shea said. “Just keeping that in the back of your mind isn’t too difficult.”u

 Geneseo Environmental Organization finished Sustainability Month with an educational event on apple canning, using apples picked during a trip to The Apple Farm in Victor, N.Y. The canning event’s organizers emphasized the benefits of eating locally and reducing food waste. (Izzy Graziano/Knights’ Life Editor)

Geneseo Environmental Organization finished Sustainability Month with an educational event on apple canning, using apples picked during a trip to The Apple Farm in Victor, N.Y. The canning event’s organizers emphasized the benefits of eating locally and reducing food waste. (Izzy Graziano/Knights’ Life Editor)