Presenting Ukraine’s “Green for You” Mini-Farm, plus Vanderbilt’s Green-a-Thon is Back! Climate champion, Doria Robinson, and the Foundation for Climate Restoration.
Ukraine’s “Green For You” Mini-Farm, Vanderbilt’s Green-a-Thon is Back, Climate Champ–Doria Robinson, The Foundation For Climate Restoration
UKRAINE’S “GREEN FOR YOU” MINI-FARM
Continuing in our “Standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine” theme this week, we bring you another story honoring Ukraine’s burgeoning green movement. In 2015, Ukrainian sisters Valentina and Tetiana Denysenko, were forced to flee their hometown of Donetsk, Ukraine when Russia initiated an armed conflict there.
Once in their new home in the Kharkiv region, they applied for and received investment in 2016 from the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) to start Green for You, a mini-farm where they grow lettuce, herbs and microgreens.
Green for You is part green business and part green education. Whenever possible, Good For You uses eco-packaging in packaging its produce. The company currently sells over 600 pounds of microgreens to local restaurants monthly. The sisters have created projects teaching children both to cultivate microgreens and how to live a healthy lifestyle. Just last December, Valentina Denysenko announced the company was going “to launch a pilot project in two schools and help children create urban farms in the classroom.”
However, three months later, we may not know the fate of their mini-farm because on Thursday, February 24, 2022 Russia again engaged in armed aggression against the country of Ukraine. And the sister’s new home city of Kharkiv was targeted.
Why does mini-farm Green for You matter to us? Even though it’s been a struggle for Ukraine to implement large scale environmental shifts, the Denysenko sisters started the farm because they wanted to be part of an environment-first and people-friendly approach at the local level. Their work is an amazing example of resilience and perseverance.
VANDERBILT’S GREEN-A-THON IS BACK
Recently, The Climate Daily reported on Race to Zero 2022, an international, university-focused competition sponsored by RecyleMania. We just found out that Vanderbilt is out there doin’ its own very green competition. Called the Green-a-thon, it’s back after a two-year COVID-forced hiatus.
The Green-a-thon was created at Vanderbilt by SPEAR: Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Sustainability. SPEAR’s mission is to increase environmental awareness and promote more environmentally sustainable habits and infrastructure within Vanderbilt specifically and the Nashville community generally.
The Green-a-thon isn’t the only initiative SPEAR put into action. It and the Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) established The Green Fund in 2011. The Green Fund receives $75,000 annually from Vanderbilt’s Plant Operations to implement sustainable energy and resource strategies aimed at reducing the school’s greenhouse gas emissions.
How it works is Vanderbilt students compete in the Green-a-thon to qualify for The Green Fund. The Green-a-thon first place winning team is eligible to receive up to $15,000 to implement their proposal based on selection by the Green Fund Committee.
This year’s first-place winning team proposed the use of a type of tile that can store kinetic energy from foot-traffic. The harvested energy would be used for electricity, heating and appliances around campus. The project used tiles from a company called Pavegen based out of the UK.
Why does the Green-a-thon matter to us? It’s another example of how Race To Zero sparks innovation through university-wide competition. The description of the tiles does not do them justice – check out Pavegen’s twitter feed and a video of the UK’s Leighton Buzzard train station
CLIMATE CHAMPION DORIA ROBINSON
Looking for an awesome Black climate female role model? Look no further than Doria Robinson. Growing up in Richmond, California, Doria Robinson didn’t think twice about the Chevron oil refinery she saw outside her bedroom window. What she did think twice about was nature. She even worked on a farm while in college in Massachusetts.
But, she admits, even then, the climate crisis was too abstract and distant. It was about sea level rise threatening faroff island nations or those poor polar bears getting trapped on tiny melting icebergs. But it was at a retreat hosted by an organization working in justice and ecology, that she learned about the mechanics and drivers of climate change. That’s when Robinson recalled “climate changes became painfully clear.”
Robinson moved back to Richmond after doing “the dot-com thing” in San Francisco, where she got a job with the Watershed Project, a community-driven creek-restoration project.
During her time at the Watershed Project, Robinson connected with Urban Tilth founder, Park Guthrie. Urban Tilth is an organization focused on food sovereignty. According to its website, Urban Tilth inspires, hires and trains local residents to cultivate agriculture, feed its community and restore relationships to land to build a more sustainable food system. She eventually left Watershed for Urban Tilth.
She has led it since 2007. In 2017 Urban Tilth joined with the Climate Justice Alliance, a non-profit that unites frontline communities and organizations for climate action. Why does Doria Robinson matter to us? Her commitment to local community action is awe-inspiring. One of Robinson’s biggest achievements is Urban Tilth’s Community Supported Agriculture project. It feeds over 150 families weekly from locally grown food.
THE FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE RESTORATION
Last week, as part of #BlackClimateWeek, The Climate Daily featured Foundation for Climate Restoration (F4CR) and its youth ambassador, Ashley Meeky. What exactly is the F4CR? It’s a non-profit, founded by Peter Fiekowsky. Fiekowsky is committed to raising awareness of the climate crisis and restorative climate action.
Fiekowsky began learning about climate issues while advising the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). He founded the 300X2050 Climate Restoration Foundation, Inc. in 2017. Well-meaning but awkward, so in 2018 Fiekowsky changed its name to the Foundation for Climate Restoration.
F4CR created the Annual Global Climate Restoration Forum at the UN. It also created local grassroots chapters and started a climate restoration program for youth leaders, with participants trained in over 35 countries on six continents and ventured into the realm of education. It also launched EarthxTV–a digital program for kids.
According to its website, the Foundation will launch a “series aiming to build awareness about carbon dioxide removal solutions through the lens of climate restoration” while also preparing communities to better understand and advocate for climate restoration. That launch is scheduled to occur in 2022.
Why does F4CR matter to us? It’s in the name. The phrase “combat climate change” can be overwhelming and paralyzing, so the concept of “climate RESTORATION” is a much more hopeful, solutions-oriented phrase.