Earth Day is an important annual reminder to protect our earth and its resources. Equally important is keeping sustainable practices going throughout the year.

At Asbury Methodist Village, we have committed to many initiatives that keep this celebration of our planet at the forefront. Our Green Committee is a collaborative body with residents and associates that meets regularly, sets goals and works with key departments to achieve them, including an energy management partnership with Sodexo Senior Services that has significantly reduced our energy use and carbon emissions. Each year, residents and associates work to increase our recycling efforts and think of new ways we can put our 134-acre campus to work helping the environment.

On this Earth Day, we wanted to provide some food for thought on how organizations such as ours can practice sustainability.

Composting food waste 

As the nation’s 13th-largest continuing care retirement community, with 1,400 residents, we produce a lot of food waste – 14,000 pounds a month, to be exact. Last month, we signed a contract with a local composting organization that will turn this waste into something that’s good for the earth.

Although initially it was challenging to find a company that could handle our large volume, this is a growing business service across the country. With a little bit of research, you could be on your way.

Asbury Methodist Village’s farmer-in-residence Gigi Goin, right,
is pictured at the farm with an intern.

Enjoying fresh produce

Most retirement communities have gardens where residents can continue to nurture their green thumbs. We took this one step farther in late 2017, when resident Tom McIlrath brought to us the idea of using some of our green space to grow farm-to-table produce for our kitchens. Supported by the Asbury Foundation, we enlisted a farmer-in-residence who lives on campus and manages the no-till farm with the help of volunteers.

In our first year, we grew 1,000 pounds of produce, including eggplant, bok choy, turnips, swiss chard and tomatoes. Tom received a personal delivery of fresh tomatoes, while the rest has been used by the chefs in our assisted living and skilled nursing neighborhoods. This year, we look forward to using some of our resident-created compost for the farm.

A heron at Asbury Methodist Village’s wildlife preserve.

Protecting local wildlife

Whether you’re passionate about hummingbirds or bumblebees, protecting the wildlife in your own backyard is key to helping Earth thrive.

Close to 10 years ago, some residents brought to our attention that a bird sanctuary would be an ideal feature on our campus, which is blessed with 17 acres of green space, including a large pond and streams. Over the years, that suggestion grew into the establishment of a wildlife preserve that holds Wildlife at Work status from the Wildlife Habitat Council and led to another resident-driven initiative to have our entire campus designated as an arboretum.

By tapping into key residents’ passions and talents, we have watched one initiative after the other blossom, providing administrative and associate resources as needed. The most important thing to remember is that no matter how big or how small your conservation efforts are, it all makes a difference.