Meiko Lunetta '13
For Junior Meiko Lunetta, feeling connected to one’s environment has always been important. It started with her childhood, growing up appreciating the rural aesthetic of her small town in southern New Hampshire. Later on, she became interested in environmental advocacy in high-school, where she promoted a school-wide field day of being outside and enjoying the outdoors. When she was searching around for colleges, GMC’s environmental mission caught her eye, and seeing the campus was the icing on the cake.
“I loved it,” she says, followed by her contagious laughter. “I spent a lot of time in the woods growing up and learning to appreciate nature, and Green Mountain really encouraged all of that.”
Soon enough, Meiko was at GMC pursuing environmental studies, putting her emphasis in sustainable agriculture—keeping with her ever-increasing interest in food, and more specifically, how to make food better and more accessible within her community.
“I love cooking… and eating,” she chuckles. “And I guess the thought occurred to me that using my consumer dollars to create positive changes with food was something practical I could do.”
Over time, Meiko took on one practical effort after another, and eventually landed a work-study job in the sustainability office where she had an outlet to be involved in more projects, which she cites as another one of her passions.
This past summer, Meiko and GMC colleague Elana Israel ’12 ran the “Farm and Fun” program on GMC’s own Cerridwen Farm. Meiko and Elana had a chance to sit down with kids in various age groups over week-long programs.
The kids, ranging from four to fifteen years old, sat down with Meiko and Elana as they learned about how a farm works, or why you might make your own butter rather than buy it from the store.
“They loved making dough from scratch and doing all of the fun projects—and we had a blast hanging out with the kids. It really shows how important food is in connecting people,” she says.
Last year, one of Meiko’s project ideas caught the admissions department’s interest. “I knew that incoming freshmen had already received things like t-shirts, bags, and stuff like that. So I was thinking of something unique to give them and I remembered that I used to bring chopsticks to lunch in high school so I didn’t have to use plastic utensils everyday,” she says. Then came the idea to give the freshman bamboo utensils as a gift, which they received this year.
As she continued her studies, Meiko also felt some ideological shifts on her views concerning issues like food and agriculture, which she considers changes for the better.
“I used to be really against eating meat,” says Meiko, a vegetarian for some time now. “And I was against conventional agriculture in favor of a purely organic way of doing things but, since coming here, I’ve really learned about the benefits of local agriculture, even if it integrates conventional methods with organic ones. Once you realize that ‘organic’ and ‘local’ are two totally different things, it makes you realize how important it is to sustain small communities and to encourage eating locally.”
Meiko also became president of the sustainability floor, where she’s been able to coordinate more of an emphasis on food, improving the number of shares they receive from local farms. Last year, the floor helped facilitate Frank Riley’s ’11 delicate balance project called “Empty Bowls, Arty Soup”. Members of the sustainability floor helped make ceramic bowls and cook various soups that were served on the farm as part of a fundraiser. Meiko says the floor is looking forward to doing the project again next spring.
In the future, Meiko hopes to put everything that she has learned and been able to accomplish through various projects into a career that focuses on sustainable food on a small, local level. Ideally, that would mean working with kids, working with food, and—along the way—bettering the way her community consumes.
By Chad Skiles ‘12