The University of Massachusetts Permaculture Committee won the White House ‘Campus Champions of Change Challenge,’ for which it was nominated last month, according to the Permaculture Committee Facebook page and the campus challenge website.
The UMass Permaculture Committee, led completely by students, had a total of 59,850 votes by the time voting closed yesterday, putting them in the lead and winning the competition, according to the campus challenge website.
Upon the committee’s winning, its Facebook page began filling up with congratulatory posts, and at 12:03 a.m. yesterday, the permaculture committee posted “Thank you everyone so much! We truly could not have done this without you!”
UMass graduate student Ryan Harb helped start the Permaculture Committee approximately two years ago, according to an article published in the Boston Globe yesterday. The committee, which offers the UMass dining commons vegetables, fruit and nuts, was created as a “sustainable, low-maintenance garden,” according to the Globe.
The committee currently manages two gardens on the UMass campus, and was chosen as a finalist from a pool of 1,400 entries, according to the Globe.
Of that 1,400, 15 finalists were chosen, and five were selected to progress to the “online vote” stage, according to the Globe. After voting closed yesterday, UMass Permaculture was announced the winner.
Harb, the chief sustainability coordinator for Auxiliary Services and Enterprises and certified permaculture garden designer, is among 14 members of the committee, which he helped begin as a graduate student, according to a press release on the UMass website.
“I could hardly believe my ears,” said Harb in the release, discussing the day he found out about the nomination. “It was pretty hard to get to sleep that night.”
In the release, student facilitator for the Permaculture Committee, senior Meg Little said she was feeling “optimistic” about their chances of winning, and added that she thought they “had a good chance, because our project is really exciting and inspiring, as so many people tell me.”
Harb called permaculture landscaping “a vision for creating a more sustainable world,” according to the Globe.
Tables were set up in the Blue Wall, amongst other places on campus, where students could vote on the campus challenge website, one, two or three times, and voting closed this weekend.
– Steffi Porter, Collegian Staff