Leadership Wilmington Class of 2021 session on the Environment
The group began the foggy morning at Humble Roots Farm, where we saw firsthand how to transform food and other organic waste into nutrient-rich soil. Riley Alber, the CEO and owner of Wilmington Compost Company presented to the Wilmington Leadership Academy the tale of how he has landed in this unique career. From his entrepreneurial spirit to accepting an opportunity to work on a farm after leaving a job that did not align with his values, everything about the Wilmington Compost Company exemplifies who Riley is as a person and as a businessman. Composting is an example of creating a circular economy, where nothing is wasted. Riley picks up food waste from area businesses, such as restaurants, spas, and residential customers. He then utilizes a technique called windrowing to make an end product that can be used to create healthier soil for our community to grow produce, whose scraps can then be composted.
Next, the group went to the Arboretum. New Hanover County‘s Arboretum is part of the NC Cooperative Extension. You can see many different types of plants that are native to the Wilmington area and grow successfully with minimal maintenance. Additionally, there are beautiful sculptures, a Koi pond, a traditional Japanese garden, and a rose garden. There are also many educational aspects on the site, such as stormwater management strategies, a small vegetable garden, the Ability Garden, and even some citizen experiments. One “experiment” shows which types of grass grow best in Wilmington, and another called “Soil My Undies” was a fun display (on-theme with our first stop) where they are testing different composts from the area to see which break down cotton fastest.
After lunch, Jennifer Adams, Corning NA Regional Environmental Performance, joined the group to give a fascinating presentation. She provided the group with an in-depth look at the rules and regulations that govern how manufacturers interact with and affect the environment. This eye-opening presentation displayed the number of laws and policies in place to protect citizens from potential pollution and the environment from degradation.
Last but not least, we took the Northeast Cape Fear River Eco Tour on the Wilmington Water Tour. For apparent reasons, this was a fascinating part of the day for everyone; not only did we learn, but we were able to enjoy the unseasonably nice weather and each other’s company while social distancing. Captain Doug was entertaining while educating us about the history of the Cape Fear River, what is currently planned for the area, and some fun facts about recent events (such as the filming of Iron Man III at the port).