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Johnson C. Smith University celebrates opening of Sustainability Village project

April 1, 2013 –Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) officially opened Sustainability Village today (April 1) as the focal point for its sustainability initiative on campus. The innovative living-learning prototype funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and The Duke Endowment incorporates academic coursework, service-learning activities and applied research that can benefit the campus, the surrounding community and beyond.

Students, faculty and staff take part in maintaining the village’s garden plots and composting area, while working in the greenhouses and aquaponic system. The village’s community garden extends its reach beyond the university gates to neighbors in the Beatties Ford Road/Northwest Corridor area in an effort to help alleviate the area’s food desert. Once mature, the gardens will provide kale, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peas and herbs for the campus and surrounding community. The gardens will aid in recycling and waste reduction efforts by employing composting and loop system strategies as part of the university’s campus-wide sustainability initiative.

“In the Beatties Ford Road corridor, roughly 30 percent of residents do not enjoy easy access to full-service food stores,” said Brad Wilson, chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “Fortunately, Johnson C. Smith University recognizes that and is doing something about it. We at Blue Cross are pleased that we can be a part of that solution.”

In another greenhouse, the aquaponic garden portion of the village combines growing crops and cultivating tilapia fish in a closed loop environment. The system in place at JCSU serves as a prototype, whose technology will be transferred to Mahanaim Village in Haiti this summer, working in partnership with Joseph’s Exchange, a Charlotte-based nonprofit.

“We appreciate the generous contributions of and that have enabled us to create a prototype for living sustainably as a campus community,” said Dr. Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University.

The Sustainability Village project will be presented in April at the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in St. Louis by Johnson C. Smith University students Christopher Fatton and Sandy Mathurin of Haiti, Omar Cossio of Asheboro, N.C., and Shaquana Jackson of Greensboro, N.C.

“Sustainability Village is just one example of how Johnson C. Smith University plays a pivotal role in the community by preparing a cadre of students who are solutions driven and prepared to solve a myriad of local and global development challenges,” said Carter.

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