Breaking ground on a sustainable future

Senior environmental studies major Katy Ament touches a newly-sprouted plant. | Alex Friend TTN
Senior environmental studies major Katy Ament touches a newly-sprouted plant. | Alex Friend TTN

Katy Ament has always been involved with sustainability at Temple. Now a graduating senior, she has organized Campus Sustainability Week, co-founded The Rad Dish Co-Op and became the first to finish a sustainable food systems minor.

Ament, a senior environmental studies major, was introduced to sustainability programs on Main Campus when she signed up to work with the Temple Community Garden during her freshman year. She eventually became president of TCG, serving between her junior and senior years.

Eva Monheim, faculty adviser for the Community Garden and one of Ament’s professors, said Ament is dedicated to helping advance student activities.

“She’s a fantastic student,” Monheim said. “She’s just an over the top advocate with everything.”

That summer, Ament finished an internship with Nice Roots Farm, a farm located at 2901 W. Hunting Park Ave. that provides local produce and teaches urban growing techniques.

In her sophomore year, Ament applied to work for the Office of Sustainability at Temple. She was hired on as the outreach assistant and has served the role for the last three years.

Ament’s role as the outreach assistant included coordinating monthly events to promote sustainability and working with Temple’s Green Council. The Green Council is an “eco-friendly coalition of student organizations that meets monthly to discuss sustainability initiatives on campus,” according to its website.

Ament’s work with the Green Council gave the organizations the ability to work together more cohesively and advocate for causes important to them by planning events to raise awareness.

“They really helped build the sustainability movement into what it is now on campus,” Ament said.

As the outreach assistant, Ament also planned Campus Sustainability Week, which takes place once per semester. She planned the last three events, organizing multiple events each day to promote on-campus sustainability.

“You could just tell she had a lot of potential,” Kathleen Grady, director of the Office of Sustainability, said. “There was really no end to what she’s capable of doing.”

“My goal with these, with both Green Council and Sustainability Week events, was to try to start engaging a new crowd, people who weren’t already involved,” Ament said. Ament’s final large contribution to sustainability at Temple is The Rad Dish Co-Op. A member of the crew that launched the co-op promoting local and humanely raised products, Ament wrote the sourcing policy.

Rad Dish’s sourcing plan outlines the organization’s policies for the ingredients it uses, making sure they are local, ecologically sound and grown and are produced in accordance with Fair Trade policies.

This means all ingredients used at the café are locally sourced, produced humanely with minimal chemical input and produced by workers earning a fair wage in fair conditions.

“I’m so happy that we’re able to turn this into a reality in just two years,” Ament said.

Ament’s sustainable food systems minor examines how food is produced and how it affects the systems around it.

While studying food systems, Ament submitted her research and work on the effects of food hubs in communities to the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research in Sustainability and the Environment, for which she was awarded first place.

She also presented her work at the Critical Geography Conference hosted at Temple, alongside various other events, which allowed her to receive feedback and better develop her ideas before completing the minor.

“It’s been a really rewarding process,” Ament said. “Not only to do this research … but have the opportunities to share it with a lot of people on campus.”

After graduation, Ament will intern with Burpee Seed Company, where she will research trial seeds and plants.

Ament said after her internship she is interested in getting an apprenticeship in farming to see if she is “cut out for the physical labor,” but she is also interested in working in food systems planning at the regional level.

Eventually, Ament said she dreams of opening her own food center that would be a combination urban farm, apothecary and learning space.

“It would be like a production center that doubles as an education center,” Ament said.

Vince Bellino can be reached can be reached

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