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Community garden celebrates earth day with solar cooking

Christina McWhorter prepares a meal for attendees at the Community Garden's Earth Day celebration. (Lauren Sliter)

In honor of earth week, several groups on campus came together to put on events promoting environmentally responsible practices.

One of the many events celebrating earth week was the Community Garden gathering on Earth Day, Friday April, 22, which hosted several experts on earth-friendly gardening and cooking techniques.

Christina McWhorter, the Botanical Garden and Greenhouse Coordinator, helped coordinate and facilitate the third annual Earth Day event at Mills.

Ron Chiarello addresses a group of visitors about aquaponics, a sustainable means of growing aquatic plants. (Lauren Sliter)

“This event is celebrating the intersection between earth-friendly gardening and healthy local food,” she said.

First to speak at the event was Ron Chiarello, a Chemistry lab teacher at Mills, who discussed aquaponics, a sustainable means of growing aquatic plants along with water-dwelling animals. The system does not require any outside fertilization for the plants to grow, thus limiting the amount of inorganic products used in the growing process.

Also to speak was Michaela Daystar, the Program Director for the Institute for Civic Leadership. She explained the science and art behind solar cooking.

Solar cooking is a process by which food is prepared using energy from the sun. In order to capture the sun’s energy, solar cookers use a reflective screen that bounces heat from the sun onto a black pot, which then absorbs the heat, thus cooking the food inside.

“It creates a closed-loop system,” she said, explaining that using solar cooking, along with using home-grown foods and composting all waste, means there are no by-products left over from the process.

At the event, there were several solar cookers busy at work preparing food for the attendees. Daystar was concerned, however, as the sun was mostly covered by clouds that day.

“We do not have stellar solar weather today,” she said, laughing.