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Snacking, biking and electronics recycling at Earth Day 2019

With a focus on sustainable food and agriculture, UMass Medical School's annual Earth Day celebration attracted some 350 participants on April 24, many of whom enjoyed samples of local foods and test rode electronic bicycles around the quad.

“We were lucky with the weather this year. It was a nice sunny day, and people seemed to enjoy the focus on food,” said Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager at UMMS.

Among the local food or agriculture-oriented groups participating were Central Mass Grown, Community Harvest Project, Town Farm Gardens, Worcester Regional Food Hub, Worcester County Beekeepers Association, and NexDine, the new company managing the UMMS food services at the Albert Sherman Center, Biotech Two and South Street locations.

The Town Farm Gardens table, which had an array of products to sample, was particularly popular. “When you are giving away free food, you are usually pretty popular,” said Laura Hearn, owner of Town Farm Gardens. “Pickles and beets were the favorites that day.”

Hearn said she liked the event so much, she signed up to participate in the Farmers Market on campus. “There’s no doubt that people today are much more aware of what’s in their food and what they are putting in their body,” Hearn said. “We are all natural, no preservatives and that’s what people want.”

Several electric-assist pedal bicycles from Fifield E-Bikes were on display, and many participants took a test ride. The opportunity to recycle electronics was also a popular feature. Electronic Northeast Material Handling, the school’s vendor for reuse and recycling of electronics and large bulk items, collected 2,867 pounds of electronic appliances and related materials that day.

Finally, the Earth Day Trivia Quiz was a hit. A total of 225 completed the quiz by visiting five displays at the event.  Those who turned in their cards took home an herb planting kit to grow their own basil.

For the record, this year’s questions and answers were:

Q: Apples float because they are made up of what percent air?
A: 25 percent

Q: Honeybees pollinate what percent of the fruits and vegetables we eat?
A: 33 percent

Q: Over the past five years, Community Harvest Project delivered how many pounds of healthy, fresh locally-grown produce to local hunger relief efforts?
A:  1 million

Q: According to census data, how many active farms are in Worcester County
A: 1,562

Q: The first apple trees in New England were planted by Massachusetts Bay Colonists in the early 1600s.  In 2018, The Worcester Regional Food Hub sourced how many pounds of apples to local institutions in central Massachusetts?
A: 130,000