Newly elected Associated Students President, Mac Hart, has big plans for Sonoma State University. Now entering his senior year at SSU, he was elected in Spring 2013. His running mate, Anthony Gallino, was elected as Executive Vice President.
Hart plans to improve upon the accountability of the Associated Students. He is dismayed by the disconnect between student representatives and the student body that elected them in the first place. Moving forward, he is also hoping to improve communication between student run organizations, as several overlap at with shared visions or goals.
"These next two semesters are so crucial for Sonoma State. With the Student Center opening and the GMC just finishing up its first year there has never been a more important time for Associated Students to guide the way, challenge the process, and enable students to act," says Hart.
Hart is entering his senior year as an Environmental Studies and Planning major. Prior to his election, he started a network of off-campus gardens selling student-grown produce to Sonoma State Dining Services. Talk about sustainability!
That endeavor started with a backyard. Hart began developing a concept for a garden, one that would utilize local unfarmed land for the purpose of growth, experimentation, cultivation and profit.
"I left about 200 notes on doors," Hart said. He circled the neighborhood adjacent to campus once, and when no one called he did it again and eventually received one call that worked. "They were skeptical and it was kind of interesting because it was this new type of relationship that I was not used to and the landowner was not used to," he said.
Once this relationship was established, Hart's garden project began to flourish. Obtaining the plot, located in a backyard in Penngrove, was just the beginning.
Early on Hart had established a connection with Dining Services at SSU, agreeing to collect the compost from the cafeteria for his garden plot. He was collecting about 30-35 gallons of compost a week, all by bicycle trailer, a truly sustainable method.
From collecting the compost, Hart was able to build relationships with the chefs and administrators, which eventually led to a business agreement. Hart went though the steps to start selling his produce to Dining Services.
Last year he grew three varieties of salad, which he combined into a product, a spring mix. He sold his spring mix to the SSU cafeteria and other dining venues on campus.
Interest in the garden idea grew as well, from a single landowner who had an agreement with Hart, to other landowners in the neighborhood. They saw what was happening in Hart's plot and came around to the idea themselves, opening up their land to other SSU students. Now Hart is able to share his knowledge of gardening with others.
Hart plans to encourage sustainability through his garden work and through his office as the Associated Students president.