Entering the next stage of its comprehensive sustainability
initiative, St. John’s is installing a state-of-the-art tea
brewing system and laying down non-commercial fertilizer to promote
organic soil management.
“ We are in the process of restoring the soil’s natural
nutrients that will reduce the need for water irrigation and
increase good bacteria activity,” said Director of Energy and
Environmental Conservation Tom Goldsmith. Compost tea is made by
steeping organic compost in water and then applying it directly to
St. John’s sustainability strategy calls for implementing
energy-savings devices, reducing carbon emissions and recycling
waste — while also raising the University community’s
awareness of the importance of protecting the environment for
As part of this strategy, St. John’s signed a landmark Memo of
Understanding (MOU) with the EPA in 2008 committing the
University to using environmentally friendly products in caring for
Continuing to play a leading role among universities and
colleges dedicated to generating innovative sustainability
solutions, St. John’s is forging collaborative partnerships with
such organizations as the Queens Botanical Garden,
Compost NYC and the
Western Queens Compost Initiative. “These partnerships
will greatly expand the bank of data and know-how St. John’s will
be able to access as it evolves into an outstanding academic
environmental steward,” said Mr. Goldsmith.
Students, staff, administration and faculty representatives
gathered in the Queens Campus Community
Organic Garden on June 16 to officially launch the new
Composter Tea Brewer. St. John’s recently purchased the system from
while also enlisting the consulting services of one the company’s
partners, Peter Schmidt.
In addition to Mr. Schmidt — who demonstrated how the
system works — members of the NYC Compost Project, the Queens
Botanical Garden and the Western Queens Compost Initiative were
also on hand. These organizations have offered to share their tea
composting knowledge with St. John’s. Plans call for completing the
transition to organic turf management by Fall 2011.
“As an Environmental Studies major, I am thrilled to be part of
this project,” said Sustainability Coordinator Melissa McGrath
‘14C. “University wide initiatives like this one are crucial. By
reducing our large carbon footprint, St. John’s is providing a
model for best practices in sustainable landscaping.”
Melissa said she also has gained invaluable composting and soil
expertise by being able to attend composting workshops and
sustainability conferences, learning what other universities and
colleges are doing.
Richard Stalter, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences — part
of the team effort — is helping the student gardeners gather
and test soil samples. These samples will form a before- and after-
baseline for measuring the impact of organic composting. In
addition, the information will provide the raw materials that Dr.
Stalter and other faculty members intend to use to introduce a new
course in the study of soil nutrition.
St. John’s environmental achievements have received external
recognition and have helped establish the University as a role
model for how academic institutions can partner with governmental,
nonprofit and for-profit organizations to further