Sustainability Semester Blog

A St. Lawrence University academic department blog

St. Lawrence University's Sustainability Semester is an off-campus living-learning program located 5 miles from the SLU campus where students create community together with the goals of living sustainably in a renovated farm house, growing and preserving their own food and building both theoretical and practical knowledge pertaining to sustainability. The students take four classes together on site, all focused on aspects of sustainability and travel to Boston for a 2 week urban sustainability component. They cook and share meals together, bake bread, do farm and house chores, engage in projects including wood working, maple sugaring, soap making, and other crafts, and work with community members involved in homesteading, farming, green building and more. This blog is written by the students participating in the Sustainability Semester and gives a snap shot of their reflections and experiences.


We walked into the 5,000 square foot space and our senses were immediately assailed by sounds, colors and a veritable avalanche of visual stimuli. The sound of the heavy hip hop beat was accompanied by the swish of brushes and the respectful murmur of fermenting creativity.  The air was rich... read full story
Spring is here and so are the lambs. It all started three weeks ago when a group of us went up to the Cornell Cooperative Extension for our weekly farm work time. It was our second time specifically working with Besty—the farm livestock expert—and the sheep. The first had been a month prior when... read full story
After months of chills and snow and grey days, spring has come to the North Country.  The spring has also ushered in exams, presentations and final papers.  We are all feeling the stress of our workloads, but there is still plenty to look forward to.  For some it will be seeing... read full story
Warning! The following blog is dedicated solely to knitting. Newcomers to this topic, do not get overwhelmed, and please hang in there and be patient with our detailed, obsessive descriptions. Our stash is growing. Multiplying. Hidden under beds, on top of tables, in boxes in the classroom, and... read full story
Writing a song is a lot more difficult than it might seem. Luckily enough, we were able to have a professional at our disposal when writing one for our household. SLU folk legend Dan Berggren spent last weekend with us. It started with a crowded dinner, in which Dan was immersed into our Friday... read full story
What do you get when you wrap cabbage, sumac, bloodroot, onion skins, blueberries and spruce twigs in a square of fabric and boil it in water? A hot mess?  Well, yes.  But also beautiful red and gold silk scarves or linen patterned with leaves and glowing in all the colors of forest... read full story
How many pies can one sustainability semester student consume? According to our research: approximately one. Before Spring Break kicked off we decided to celebrate all of our hard work with delicious homemade pie. Each one of us created our own masterpiece, and instead of having a normal dinner... read full story
“Idiazabal, Landaff, Tarentaise, Buenalba al Romero, Moliterno, Humboldt Fog, Taleggio Caravaggio, Oma, and Patacabra…!” These names and the sharp sent of acidification along with phrases like “smoked, nutty flavor” “Sardinian sheep milk delight” and “hints of flavor from rind to paste” wafted... read full story
Gloves: check. Boots: check. Hats, snow pants, hand knitted scarves…plus hammers, taps, and a drill: check, check, check; everything we need to start tapping. We gather in our usual kerfuffle by the door, exchanging apprehensive glances before we plunge into the bitterly cold North Country air. The... read full story
Between petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, transportation, and storage, it takes roughly ten fossil fuel calories to produce one calorie of food in the average American diet. This differential is highly unsustainable, and escaping the modern food industry requires a conscious effort.... read full story
What do you do on Friday afternoons?  Have dinner with friends?  Watch a movie?  What about make your own green cleaning supplies or insulated curtains?  Our Friday afternoons, originally marked off for homesteading skills, has been designated “Friday fun-time.”  What’s... read full story
Yes, we have laptops. Yes, we have electricity. Yes, we have heating and hot water. And yes, we have classes. In fact living at the Sustainability site is exactly like living in a normal house (albeit a beautiful farmhouse on a great plot of land). To the outside world, participating in the... read full story