Penn State gets environmental through the weekly Sustainability Showcase Series that takes place in the HUB every Friday! Hosted by The Council of Sustainable Leaders, these 12-1:30 p.m. presentations and discussions bridge sustainable ‘real-world’ application with culture and connections here at Penn State. Faculty, students, locals and administrative leaders all bring unique perspectives to the table. Attendees mingle and talk about issues they’re passionate about while munching on their complimentary, locally-sourced lunches. And don’t worry — there are vegan options too! This year’s focus is, “What is your ‘Big Idea’ that will advance Sustainability in the 21st century?”
VALLEY attended Monica and Duke Gastiger’s talk, “RE Farm Café: A Farm to Fork Journey Embracing Living Systems.” In 2019, the Gastigers are on track to open their self-sustaining restaurant less than 2 miles from Penn State’s campus!
During the presentation, Monica said, “It was really important to us that the café would be accessible from campus. It’s all about engaging the community and having a community that sustains the café so we can also have a café that sustains the community.”
The Gastigers’ project is part of the LBC, or Living Building Challenge initiative. The challenge focuses on regenerative design that looks at buildings as living systems. This means that buildings support themselves and their environments without relying on outside sourcing or energy. For example, at RE Farm Café, the food will be made with induction cooking rather than gas or electric stoves. Induction cooking uses 85 percent less energy than conventional methods.
The mission of RE Farm Café and the Gastiger’s LBC does not stop there. Duke and Monica say, “Knowing where food comes from is more than a dining experience. It’s about community responsibility to teach and share.” Essentially, it’s not enough to ‘be green.’ Regeneration needs to be profitable and spread throughout communities.
For more information, check out the Sustainability Showcase Series schedule! Whether you are majoring in agriculture or environmental sciences, excited for a locally sourced sandwich (remember to RSVP), or are simply a tree hugger who loves the Earth, all are welcome and encouraged in this open and conversational environment. Regardless of whether or not this falls into your academic or personal passions, try something new and listen to the amazing things people are doing in our Penn State community and beyond to make this world a greener and better place.