Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Philosophy & Religion | Eating Green Workshops

All workshops will be 2:30-4:30, McDowell Formal Lounge (see Campus Maps):

We welcome you to join us for an afternoon of exciting and thought-provoking interactive workshops. Our presenters will provide practical reflections on the discussions from earlier in the day, discussing how our thinking about food and sustainability might affect our eating habits. Topics under discussion will include urban gardening; the effects of veganism on animals, humans, and the environment; conscientious food purchasing; and community gardening by college students.

Each workshop session will last one hour, with two workshops running concurrently. Exact times and details forthcoming.


Cradle to Grave: The Banana Workshop

With the Otesha Project

This workshop looks at the production chain of a banana, including all of the steps along the way from seed to consumer. The workshop engages the participants as characters along this production chain and brings forward discussion about the positive and negative impacts of each of these steps including such issues as pesticides, water pollution, deforestation, transportation and CO2 emissions, plastic production and packaging, and consumer spending power. The participants are then asked what choices they can make to create the world that they want to live in. And it doesn't stop there - because the banana is simply an example of the many choices we make each day.

The Otesha Project is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that uses theatre to mobilize young people to create local and global change through their everyday choices. It is a Canada-wide, youth-run, charitable organization created in 2002. To date, Otesha has reached over 115,000 Canadians through theatre presentations and workshops that inspire youth to re-evaluate their daily consumer choices to reflect the kind of world they want to live in.

Andrew Wolf, the American University student in whose honor this conference is held, was on a cycling tour with the Otesha Project when he was killed in September 2010.


Lawn into Dinner: Creating a Sustainable Urban Kitchen Garden

With Ed Bruske, a.k.a. the Slow Cook

This workshop tells the story of a family that reduced its carbon footprint and found peace of mind by turned its lawn on a busy corner of Northwest Washington—two miles from the White House—into a thriving kitchen garden. Using no chemicals or fertilizers other than the compost they make themselves, Ed Bruske and his wife grow food almost year-round in eight large garden beds—enough to provide most of their produce needs through the growing season.

This workshop walks participants through the process of assessing an urban lot for vegetable production, the basic of preparing the soil or constructing raised beds for planting, and the requirements and challenges of providing a proper growing medium in an urban environment. The discussion will also cover composting, the use of different kinds of compost bins and strategies for avoiding rats.

Over the years, Ed has found that some vegetables work especially well in his inner-DC garden. He will share this knowledge, and why it is important for beginning gardeners to choose carefully the things they plant. Ed will also discuss how growing his own food has changed the way he cooks. No longer a slave to recipes, he has developed his own style of cooking oriented around the seasons and foods as they come ripe in the garden. He will share some of his favorite recipes and how they are adapted to his harvest, as well as his knowledge about canning and preserving extra produce.

Ed Bruske, an award-winning reporter for The Washington Post in a previous life, is co-founder of DC Urban Gardeners, author of The Slow Cook blog and a frequent lecturer on food, gardening and composting. Ed's food articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living, Edible Chesapeake, Flavor magazine and Leite's Culinaria. He frequently writes about school food for the online environmental magazine Grist. Last year, Ed was awarded "Best D.C.-Grown Food Product" at the first ever DC State Fair for his sweet pickled zucchini. Ed is a 1977 graduate of American University's School of Communication.


Do We Really Have to Go Vegan?

With Martin Rowe of Brighter Green, and Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House

One of the most challenging problems facing people who want to confront the devastation caused by factory farming is the resistance people feel toward changing their diet. This workshop will explore the harms caused by the modern production of animal foods: the environmental costs, including water pollution and contribution to climate change, the food supply issues related to the resource-intensive nature of animal foods, the suffering of the animals, and the devastating effects of a meat-and-dairy- centric diet on human health.

Food is an intensely personal issue. Each person is, ultimately, directly responsible for carrying out his or her beliefs about global food policy at every single meal. While government has an important role to play, enormous social change is necessary that can only start with positive individual behavior becoming viral. How can we move toward finding our way, in our own lives as well as in our political lives, to make the changes that can lead to a well-fed, healthy, and compassionate world?

Martin Rowe is an associate at Brighter Green, a non-profit New York-based "action tank" and the co-founder of Lantern Books, a publisher of titles on animal advocacy, environmentalism, and spirituality.

Jasmin Singer is the co-founder and executive director of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Our Hen House, a multimedia hive of opportunities to change the world for animals. She is also a contributor for VegNews Magazine, and the former Campaigns Manager for Farm Sanctuary. Jasmin regularly presents at conferences throughout the country.

Mariann Sullivan is the co-founder and program director of Our Hen House, as well as an adjunct professor of animal law at Cardozo Law School and Brooklyn Law School. She is the current chair of the Animal Law Committee TIPS Section's Animal Law Committee, and the former chair of the New York City Bar Association's Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals Committee. Mariann sits on the board of directors for Animal Welfare Trust and Animal Welfare Advocacy, and is a former board member for Farm Sanctuary and Animals Agenda.


An Experiment in College and Community-Based Agriculture

With students from the Beanfields Campus Community Farm

This workshop begins with a brief presentation on the Beanfields community garden. Initially run on a half-acre by a small dedicated group of students, the project has now received institutional support, outside grants, and a contract to supply food to the campus food service provider. The garden has partnered with academic departments, local churches, and youth and community groups to expand their production, donate to food pantries and soup kitchens, and repair previously strained relationships between the campus and surrounding community. The workshop will end with a troubleshooting session in which attendees can ask questions and discuss the challenges they might face in creating their own alternative food systems. 

The Beanfields began in 2009 on a half-acre plot farmed by students from St. Mary's College of Maryland. Now a thriving community garden that has tripled in size, the Beanfields is an exceptional example of the power of students to promote alternative systems of food production. 

Back to top