Green Christmas Boxes


by Emma Sleeth Davis
It’s November, which, at least to me (and I’m sure to a lot of you, too!), means Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  I love packing shoeboxes every year with my best friend, Jenny, taking great care over each present that goes into the boxes—Which toy would we have liked more as a child? What hygiene items would be the most useful? And, for Jenny, who is a packing genius, How can I fit one more gift in this box? We even have a special cabinet devoted solely to Christmas boxes, where we store items for the children we pick up on sale throughout the year.

This year, I set myself a new challenge. How could I make my boxes not only fun and useful, but also better for the environment?

Instead of buying wrapping paper, I decoupaged my shoeboxes with bits of old magazines. It did take a long time, but I wasn’t using new resources, and I hope the children who receive them will appreciate a box to store their goodies in that will stay looking nice a lot longer than a wrapped one probably would.

I tried to find as many of the items I usually include in my boxes made out of recycled or renewable materials, and paid attention to where they were made and how much packaging they were in. Here are a few of my favorite finds:

Green Toys Eco Saucers made of 100% recycled plastic

Fuzz that Wuzz stuffed animals made of 100% recycled plastic bottles (the lion is so cute!)

Sustainable Earth notebooks made from 80% sugarcane by-products

-Bic Ecolutions mechanical pencils (65% pre-consumer recycled content) and ballpoint pens (74% recycled plastic)

-Westcott Kleen Earth safety scissors with handles made of 70% recycled, 30% post-consumer content

Decomposition notebooks by Michael Rogers Press (the name makes me smile!)

-Blue Q pencil pouches made from 95% post-consumer material

-Bamboo solar calculators from Onyx + Green

-Tom’s of Maine all-natural toothpaste

-Preserve toothbrushes with 100% recycled plastic handles

Happy packing!








SSA News: Asbury Community Garden Feeds Both Students and Knowledge

Terry Smith and Garden Workshop

The Community Garden/Eco-Seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary is a fast-growing component of their creation care plan. We talked with Ryan Smith, manager for the Global Community Formation, about this exciting project:

“The Asbury Seminary Community Garden is a space where students and their families, staff, faculty and Wilmore community members can grow fresh, organic food and have opportunities for relationship, recreation, education and formation. There are now 20 community (4’ by 24’) and 35 individual (4’ by 8’) garden plots. All of the individual plots have been rented, and there 4 families on the waiting list. Every individual plot also has to have a back-up buddy gardener. This means that there are at least 70+ people now involved with the Community Garden Individual Plots. There are currently 5 plots being worked by residents of Wilmore not affiliated with the Seminary.”

The food from the garden is not being used to turn a profit; instead, it is donated to worthy causes:

” The food being grown in the Community Garden is 100% organic, and a portion of the harvest is delivered weekly to our Seminary dining services.  Students are being made aware of the fresh organic produce they are eating. It will also be given away to 5 different organizations/churches: Embrace Church, First United Methodist Church of Nicholasville, Wilmore-High Bridge Community Service Center, God’s Pantry in Lexington, and Lexington Rescue Mission.”

Lettuce from Garden in Dining Hall

Although still a work in progress, the garden has already offered learning opportunities for locals:

“The Community Garden Park elements (stone fence entrance, fire-pit, 1-mile nature path, prayer garden, preaching amphitheater, seating areas, etc) will be completed by the end of the summer and a Grand Opening will take place on Thursday, August 28th at 4:30pm with a Low Country Boil dinner to follow.

Asbury Seminary Community Garden Sketch 1

“Eight garden workshops were offered by local gardening experts to the seminary and Wilmore community members this spring in the months of March and April. Topics included: Early Season Gardening Best Practices, Starting Seeds, Soil Preparation, Planting and Transplanting, Everyday Composting Practices, Basics of Beekeeping and Setting Up a Hive, Organic Gardening Methods, and Reflections on Growing Food and a Family on a Farm. Average attendance was 10-12 people at each workshop, with a total of around 120 people involved.”

Saturday Morning Garden Workshops

One especially exciting element of the community garden is the opportunity it affords those who work in it:

“About 40% of the individual garden plots are being worked by International Students. By law most International Students are allowed to work only in on-campus jobs and these jobs are often very limited. Finances are the major concern for most International Students while studying in the U.S. Having an opportunity to grow food in the Community Garden helps provide for the financial needs of our International Students. The community garden has become a place where people from many different cultures gather, show hospitality, and celebrate with each other. By cooperating and working together, cross-cultural friendships are be formed as well as a growing sense of interdependence.  People are realizing how much there is to learn from each other.”

Community Garden Lettuce

Photos courtesy of Asbury Seminary

SSA News: AMBS Students Harvest Maple Syrup from Campus Trees


Photo: Annika Krause and Katerina Friesen share their maple syrup for morning break. The lighter-colored syrup is from earlier in the season; darker syrup is from later, and the darkest is the result of the outdoor boiling at the fire pit.

On her recent visit to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, SSA program manager Laura Leavell was deeply impressed by AMBS students’ harvesting maple syrup from campus trees. All over campus, small buckets hang waist-level from trees, signifying to the seminary community that the trees are both beautiful and useful. The Seminary Stewardship Alliance took the opportunity to interview the AMBS students who spearheaded this unique expression of campus creation care practices.

What process did you go through to begin tapping campus trees for maple syrup? Were any seminary faculty/staff members involved with the project?

Katerina Friesen: We really didn’t have any hoops to jump through at all. Everyone we asked was on board and very supportive. The idea began when I asked Janeen (Bertsche Johnson, SSA liaison) in her office one day last fall if we could tap Norway Maples, and she did a little research online to find out that it was possible. Then, we asked maintenance and they even gave us the tubing to use as connectors between the taps and the buckets, as well as a drill to borrow for the tapping. In terms of staff involvement, one of the librarians, Karl Stutzman, helped to boil down buckets of sap into syrup along with three other students and two campus volunteers, Adolfo and Betty.

Annika Krause: I think it is also worth noting that this was an experiment. As far as I know, this hasn’t been done on campus before. The intention was for this to be a test year and hopefully more people will be involved in the coming years.

About how much syrup did you harvest?

Katerina Friesen: Annika and I tapped one maple tree in early March to see how it would go, and because of the success, invited other students to join us to tap four more trees in late March. It’s hard to say how much syrup we got, since boiling was a community effort and volunteers kept some of the syrup they boiled. I would estimate that we ended up with about 2.5 gallons of syrup (which would have originally been conservatively 125 gallons of sap if the ratio was about 50:1).

Annika Krause: I would agree with how much sap we boiled down. Each 5 gallon bucket gave us 1-2 cups of syrup, depending on when in the season we boiled it. That means that at the beginning of the season we were at about an 80:1 ratio, and towards the end of the season we were at about a 40:1 ratio. I would say that 2.5 gallons of syrup made is an appropriate estimate.


Annika Krause, AMBS student who initiated the syrup-making effort, told the seminary community that she was so excited about tapping the maple trees to make syrup that she bought the equipment months ago.


The snow was still covering the campus when Katerina Friesen started taps on the Norway maple trees that line the lane into the campus.


Syrup making became an opportunity for community, Katerina Friesen explained. She and Annika Krause started cooking down one batch of liquid and soon others joined them, including Gabe Pennington, AMBS student; Christa Pennington, an elementary school teacher; and children of Chaiya and Aranya Hadtasunsern. A total of 15 people were involved in some way in the season’s harvest and creation of syrup.


Students and staff enjoy sampling the harvested syrup.

Photos by Mary Klassen

Dr Matthew Sleeth Spends Earth Day at Campbellsville University


by Linda Waggener

Campbellsville University celebrated Earth Day April 22 at the Turner Log Cabin Park where CU students, guests, faculty and staff were joined by students from Campbellsville Independent Schools for the traditional planting of trees and flowers.


President Michael V. Carter said, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace.” He thanked each participant, from the young visiting elementary students to platform guests and CU students, faculty, staff and guests who contribute to the continuation university work of environmental stewardship.


Carter introduced LG&E KU energy guest Rhonda Rose who spoke of the corporation’s environmental mission and their support of Clay Hill Memorial Forest.


Dr. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, and his wife, Cathy Pence Chowning, made a donation to Green Minds. He said, “Earth Day has special a meaning with an emphasis on stewardship from a Christian perspective.”


Chowning introduced guest Dr. Matthew Sleeth, noted creation care/earth stewardship speaker, writer and head of the Blessed Earth organization. Sleeth made brief comments and was also the speaker at the Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy (KHIPP) event that evening.


Tony Young, mayor of Campbellsville, and Eddie Rogers, Taylor County judge/executive, participated with the reading of an Earth Day proclamation from the city and county.


International education students (getting names) spoke on CU’s Green Minds organization which has doubled in membership and activity in the past year.


Dr. Richard Kessler, associate professor of biology and environmental studies Program Coordinator at Campbellsville University, organized two additional earth stewardship activities announced at the event. On Wednesday evening the first Earth Week movie night was held in Mobley Theater, “Life of Pi,” with free popcorn; and Friday, April 25, an inaugural Earth Week Hike was scheduled at Clay Hill Memorial Forest.


The events were co-sponsored by Campbellsville University’s Green Minds, the Environmental Ethics class and Student Government (SGA).


The planting kicked off at CU’s Earth Day 2014 celebration April 22. From left, standing, are Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young, CU president Dr. Michael V. Carter, Taylor County Judge Eddie Rogers, guest speaker Dr. Matthew Sleeth, SGA president Jacqueline Nelson, LG&E KU representatives Rhonda Rose, Gidget Stubbs and Tiffany Cox, and Green Minds student representatives Constanze Sophie Mälzer and Ana Gonzalez. In the front row, from left, are visitors Yoonseo Nam; Yunisha Richerson, Kaylynn Smith, Sarah Adkins, Blake Settle behind Sarah, and Caiden Yocom. (CU Photo by Vicky Wei).

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Paul Osborne, CU trustee and head of grounds and landscape development, rode his Trek to the Earth Day celebration on April 22. He is an avid biker and among the leaders of the Campbellsville-Taylor County Trail Town development. (CU Photo by Linda Waggener).

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John Chowning, at the podium, a leader in development of Earth Day activities on CU’s campus, announced a support donation he and his wife Cathy were making for use by Green Minds. There to accept the gift for the organization were Green Minds student representatives Constanze Sophie Mälzer and Ana Gonzalez, at left, and Gabriel de Freitas at right. (CU Photo by Vicky Wei).

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The view from the Turner Log Cabin front porch as Earth Day 2014 attendees began to gather. (CU Photo by Linda Waggener).