- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) - Waking up early in the morning to feed chickens and water a garden full of fruits and vegetables isn’t exactly a typical life for a college student.

Most college students won’t be found with a pitchfork in their hands as they mix compost.

At The College of Idaho’s eco-house, however, that’s just another Wednesday.

Christina Stucker, a senior at the Caldwell college, is in her second year living in the self-sustaining, school-sponsored house dubbed Gaia. She and her fellow Campus Sustainability Steward, Amy Beller, spend up to 20 hours a week working in the garden and tending the chickens while still going to school full time and working part-time jobs.

“We’re trying to help teach people to be more conscientious eaters,” Stucker said. “You can’t eat local all the time, but you should when you can.”

Stucker and Beller are trying to promote the food consciousness to their classmates and the community in part by setting an example and by providing fellow students with free eggs and produce from the garden.

The student body also gives back to The Environmental Resource and Recreation Association, or TERRA, which is the main environmental organization on campus and runs the eco-house.

“The really cool thing is the house is completely student funded,” Stucker said. “… Students feel like it’s important.”

The Student Senate passed a resolution to give $7,000 to TERRA to install the new raised garden beds.

The tomatoes, melons, beans, corn, kale, okra and numerous other products raised in the garden are also sold at the farmers market. And in years when the yield is especially high, Stucker said they’ve sold part of the harvest to Bon Appétit, the college’s cafeteria.

Community sponsors also help with the eco-house. For example, all the seeds for the garden are donated by Lazy Dog Farm.

Being a Campus Sustainability Steward goes beyond growing produce, though. Stucker and Beller are trying to live without having much of an impact on the environment at all.

The energy bills are among the lowest on campus. Beller, a junior, said they essentially never turn on their heating or air conditioning.

They hang-dry all of their clothing, and the only form of transportation between them is Stucker’s motorcycle.

“Instead of adapting our environment, we adapt to our environment,” Stucker said.

For their work at the eco-house, Beller and Stucker live in the 100-year-old home for free. Students interested in living in the home have to apply in pairs.

Anyone interested in donating to TERRA to help the eco-house should contact College of Idaho director of residence life Jen Nelson at 459-5121 or email [email protected]


Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, https://www.idahopress.com

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