Solari: Access to a sustainable food system at The New School.
Sophia Dubrovina worked with the New School, a non-profit group, to address the following problems:
- The unhealthy eating habits of students at the New School (possibly because they do not have time).
- The lack of access to a sustainable food system at New School.
- The lack of environmental awareness.
Her solution to the problem was to provide access to healthy food (a sustainable food system) on campus on the green roof of 65 5th avenue through a mobile cart. Local farmers that sell their produce in the Union Square Farmer’s Market would supply the food on the cart. This would not only encourage healthier eating habits in the student body, but also allow the students to support organic farming, a sustainable food system that nourishes the earth. Also, the environmentally friendly cart advocates sustainable practices at the New School.
Although addressing a very real, and big problem not only for the student body but also in the world, we found some weaknesses in the design. There were many questions which our group had, that we felt were not answered, or clearly addressed in the design.
- Where is the electric source for the juicer?
- Where does the water to wash the produce come from?
- What is the size of the cart? Can it accommodate the student body?
- Who is the vendor? Does this provide student work-study?
- Unclear whether the produce being sold is free or not. If so, is the school paying for it? Who is financing it?
- What is the food/juice served in? (containers will create more waste…)
- How does the customer understand the issues that are being addressed in the design of the cart?
- Is the cart a tool for awareness or does it merely provide access to a sustainable food system?
- Unclear what is being provided on the cart- snacks/fruits/juice?
- Why is the cart mobile? Why is it not stationary?
- Who provides the maintenance?
- Is it time efficient? (only in one building, elevator issue, washing and juice making are all done on the cart- time consuming…)
Following is our group’s proposed improvements for the design of Solari: The cart will be stationary, with large, mobile stocking units that will be used to transport the food from the farmer’s market to the stand on campus. These units can also be used for storage. The stand will be much larger than the initial proposal in order to accommodate the large student body. More signage and information will be provided on the stand to make the student body aware of the stand’s intent.
- The stand will be in the same building as the kitchen/cafeteria to provide maintenance as well as a preparation area for the juices; this will be more time efficient, as the student will not have to wait for their food/juice to be prepared on the stand.
- The stand will only sell fruits and juice, for a low price, reducing preparation time.
- Compost bins will be scattered around the campus to collect the fruit waste. Compost will also be collected from the juice preparation that will be done in the kitchen. This compost will be given to the farmers in exchange for the produce, perhaps giving the farmers an incentive to give the school a discount.
- Sinks will be provided near the stand on the roof to allow students to wash the fruit they buy- the wastewater will be used to water the garden.
- The juice will be provided in sustainable containers (recycled/recyclable plastic, paper).
- The stand will be made from post-industrial wood waste (cut-offs).
- The stand will provide student work-study.