September 16, 2011

Mount Allison University Farm Project

Mount Allison University recently revived its farm after allowing it to lay dormant for half a century. The results have been a very sucessful harvest and a substantial amount of fresh local food for Jenning Dining Hall.

From Global Maritimes:

From the CBC: Mount Allison students harvest first crops

Posted: Sep 12, 2011 6:53 AM AT
Last Updated: Sep 12, 2011 11:31 AM AT

Staff and students at Mount Allison University are harvesting their first crops from a new farm that had been unused for 50 years.

Michelle Strain, the university’s director for administrative services, and her team of staff and students have revived a fallow piece of farmland in Sackville, and its harvest is being eaten in the university meal hall.

Two students spent all summer in the fields and now Strain is helping to dig up some of the 13,600 kilograms of potatoes from the first crop.

She said the yield is admirable for the school's first attempt at farming.

“It's two acres of potatoes, and the reason we did that is to help break up the sod because the land hasn't been farmed in 50 years. And we've tested corn, turnips and a few other crops up in this area,” Strain said.

The farm is generating roughly 630 kilograms of vegetables a week for students to eat at the university’s meal hall.

Tom Burrell, the university’s head chef, said it's not enough to feed 1,100 students a day but it’s still a big draw.

“I call it Mount A's homegrown,” Burrell said.

“The other stuff that comes, it's been sitting on a truck somewhere, it has been harvested three weeks ago, this has basically been harvested out of the ground yesterday and I've got it on their plates the next day.”

Burrell said the student appetite for local food is increasing and the university’s farm is set to expand in size next year to try to satisfy it.

Not only are students demanding to eat more local food, but the opportunity to have a farm at the university is also serving as an educational tool.

“It’s neat to see students come out and say, ‘Oh, that's a potato plant. I had no idea they grew underground or that's a bean plant, I had no idea they grew like this,’” Strain said.

“It’s quite something.”

Strain said potatoes have been a particularly successful crop, and the university is holding potato u-picks for the public every Saturday into October.

September 13, 2011

Presenting Mount Allison's Year of Science and Discovery President's Speakers Series

Every year, Mount Allison decides on a theme for its speaker's series. This year's speakers are among the most renowned scholars in their fields. This year's list is below along with a link to the Mount Allison organized Facebook events.

I think many of the speakers will inspire lively debate on campus, especially Susan Greenfield.

Baroness Susan Greenfield
Title: Mind Change: The New Climate Change?
Profile: Professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, neuroscientist, broadcaster, and author of the best sellers The Private Life of the Brain and ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century
Event: Monday, September 26, 7 p.m. Convocation Hall
Supported by the Wilford B. Jonah Lecture Fund

Greenfield is a highly respected Neuroscientist especially in the field of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's treatment and is often described as the "foremost female scientist in Britain". She has made some very controversial statements including the implication that social networking sites are harmful to children's mental development. Below is Greenfield in her own words on video and highlights from an article she wrote two years ago in the Daily Mail.

"Facebook does not require the subtleties of social skill we need in the real world. Not only will this impair individuals' ability to communicate  -  and build relationships  -  it could completely change how conversation happens."

"I find it incredibly sad that people choose to spend their time and money sitting alone playing games with no consequence and no meaning.

But beyond any frustration I feel is concern about the future our screen culture might create. One extreme situation could be a rise in psychiatric problems and fewer babies born because people can't form three-dimensional relationships. 

By the middle of this century, our minds might have become infantilised  -  characterised by short attention spans, an inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity."
I'm absolutely going because I'd like to hear her explanation of these statements and what evidence led her to these conclusions. I highly encourage you to do the same.

Here are the other speakers this year:

Dr. David Schindler
Title: Protecting the Athabasca River Ecosystem from the Oil Sands Industry
Profile: International expert on climate change effects, water, and public policy and Killam Memorial Chair and ecology professor, University of Alberta
Event: Wednesday, October 12, 7 p.m. Crabtree Auditorium
Supported by the Centre for Canadian Studies and the annual Edgar and Dorothy Davidson Lecture in Canadian Studies

Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Title: Reflections on a Life in Science
Profile: Instrumental in the Nobel Prize-winning research on the discovery of pulsars, Prof. Bell Burnell, DBE, is a visiting professor in astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College and the Royal Society.
Event: Monday, January 23, 7 p.m. Brunton Auditorium
Supported by the Josiah Wood Lecture Fund

Dr. John Mighton, OC
Title: The Open Mind: Preparing for a Future in which Everyone is Brilliant
Profile: Playwright, mathematician, educator, and founder of JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies)
Event: Friday, February 10, 7 p.m., Crabtree Auditorium
Supported by CultureWorks and the Centre for Canadian Studies

Vanessa Woods
Title: The Bonobo Handshake: What We Can Learn from Our Peaceful Cousins in the Congo
Profile: Journalist, research scientist and evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University and Lola ya Bonobo in the Congo
Event: Monday, March 12, 7 p.m. Crabtree Auditorium
Supported by Leadership Mount Allison and the Marjorie Young Bell Speakers’ Fund

September 12, 2011

Introducing the new President of Amnesty International Mount Allison Advait Vij

Over the last month I've done a lot of thinking about the future of Amnesty International at Mount Allison (AI Mount Allison). I had a discussion with another engaging and motivated student who happens to be your next President of AI Mount Allison.

Over the summer I was offered the opportunity to continue working at the Communications Office at Mount Allison. I readily accepted the 8-month part-time extension of what had been an amazing summer internship but was left with the realization that I would have less time and energy for being president of Amnesty. I could either keep the title and do an adequate job at something that is incredibly important to me or find a more suitable replacement.

Although I had done a lot of prep work over the summer (undergoing training at HRC/AGM in Montreal, planning group activities, and beginning to organize a speaker on campus) I decided that I couldn't in good faith keep a title reserved for someone with enough time and energy to spearhead a newly-born group on campus when I myself could not commit the necessary time to the cause during the school year. I contacted potential replacements and eventually discussed the potential role with a strong candidate. He demonstrated energy and enthusiasm for the group when I initially asked him to join as events coordinator and rose to a new level of commitment when I decided he was more than fit for the role and he accepted the position of President.

At the time I was confident that our new president would do a great job in the lead role and everything since then has convinced me he's prepared for it. From spending the entire four hours helping to recruit new members at SACtivities Fair to meeting preparation, event planning, and conflict resolution afterwards he has demonstrated a level of maturity and commitment I've seen in few others at this school. While it was with great regret that I made the decision to step down as President it is with greater optimism for the group that I announce that Advait Vij will lead the group for this upcoming academic year.

I will remain on the group's executive as Public Relations Coordinator and help organize a still-to-be-confirmed guest speaker's visit to campus and act as spokesperson for the group on and offline but Advait, in consultation with the executive, will be tasked with managing the group and making the major decisions about the group's activities. At the fair we had over 110 people sign up to be active members of the group and that makes me very excited to be a part of this important campus group and confirms my optimism about the groups upcoming success. I can think of no better a leader for the group this year (myself included) than our new President Advait Vij.


Geoff Campbell
Former President and Current Public Relations Coordinator, Amnesty International Mount Allison