Share Your Exciting News with Fellow Alumni
Children, new jobs, weddings, honors, and awards are all things to celebrate. Let your fellow alumni know what’s going on in your life by sharing your good news.
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Rebecca Arsenault ’14
The Stockton Judo Club had many successes at the 30th Liberty Bell Judo Classic tournament! Rebecca Arsenault ’14, environmental sciences alumna, took third place in her division and Nichole Moore, a senior in computer science, took a first place in her division. Brian Fox, computer science, and Jorge Azcona, business major, also competed in their first judo tournament. Although neither placed, they did a great job for a first time tournament.
Ashley Brooke Gordon ’10
Ashley Brooke Gordon ’10 is a manifestation coach, meditation facilitator and certified yoga teacher. On Tuesday, April 25, Ashley came back to Stockton University and instructed a Glow Yoga class in the experimental theatre. It was an opportunity for students and the campus community to stress less by experiencing yoga with glow-in-the-dark paint.
Congratulations to Lauren H. Moore Jr. ’84 who has been named the executive director of the Atlantic County Economic Alliance. Moore has been executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center since 2014, an agency tasked with helping businesses relocate to New Jersey as well as stay and make investments in their companies. A graduate of Stockton, Moore received his degree in Environmental Studies. To read the full article, click here.
Jeff Quattrone ‘84: Preserving Our Food Supply, One Seed at a Time
by Laura Comppen ’85 ARTV
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Food—one of the basic essentials of life. Yet, due to environmental and man-made factors, our global food supply is increasingly at risk. But it wasn’t always this way.
Farming back in the 1930’s was big and diversified. Farmers grew crops in the fields, vegetables in the garden, and fruit in the orchards. Farms of all sizes also often raised chickens, eggs, pigs, and cattle. Some kept bees and harvested the honey. Women baked their own bread. This wave of self-sufficiency was vital during the Great Depression.
In the 80+ years since then, farming has changed tremendously. Rural farms that once dotted the landscape are now few and far between. They, along with larger industrialized farms, usually specialize in one crop only; creating an unprecedented plummet in biodiversity. This, combined with the the threat of disease, environmental catastrophe, and climate change, creates a clear and palpable threat to our food supply.
For Stockton alumnus, Jeff Quattrone ‘84 ARTV, protecting our food supply has become his life’s mission—and something he fell into quite by accident.
A Woodstown, NJ resident, Jeff has been growing food since his childhood. “When my family moved from Philly to Turnersville, my dad showed my brothers and I how to grow things organically (free from pesticides). And being second generation Italian, some friends of the family had farms, so I would spend my summers watching and learning how they grew things. Even my mom got in on the act…she taught me about different varieties of flowers and showed me how to preserve the harvest by canning, canning, and more canning”, Jeff says with a laugh.
“Whatever we grew back then, we always saved the seeds to be planted the following year. There was always such an amazing variety of onions and tomatoes to be harvested. Nowadays that’s called ‘heirloom gardening’—using an old cultivar that is primarily maintained by local gardeners and farmers, but not usually used in modern, large-scale agriculture”.
So how did an Art Major get into the specialized field of heirloom gardening? It seems that Jeff is a master at adaptability, starting way back at Stockton. Having initially enrolled as a radio and television production major, he received a letter just a few weeks before his freshman year was to begin telling him that due to budget cuts, his previous choice was no longer in existence and that he was now part of the Visual Arts program. “My major chose me”, Jeff acknowledges wryly.
“One of my major influencers at the time was my preceptor, Aida Laliean. She always had an open door, and I spent many hours in her office talking about life and art. One day I asked her about the possibility of me transferring to a commercial art program. She asked me if I wanted an education or a job. I replied ‘an education’. Aida replied, ‘Good, then forget about the commercial art program because that would train you only for a job’. I never regretted the choice of education”.
After graduation in 1984, Jeff honed his adaptability through a series of jobs—bartender, milliner, prop master, graphic designer and art director. He even took some graduate level communications courses. “I try to learn from everyone I meet. That sounds cliche, but it’s true. I’m very curious, and I’m fascinated by communication style and gesture. It helps me shape the direction of the work I do, and is beneficial today as a food sovereignty advocate”, Jeff says.
“Food is very personal, so to engage strangers in a conversation about their food is an immediate lesson for me to see where they’re coming from, and how to best advocate and not lecture, or impose any point of view on them”, he adds.
In 2012, Jeff did a bit of travelling around the country. “At the time, I became fascinated by the local food movement. Later that same year, I was part of the press junket covering Slow Food International’s ‘Salone del Gusto Terra Madre’ in Italy—which changed my life. When I was leaving Italy, I got stranded in Rome for a week due to Hurricane Sandy, and it gave me some time to think. It was fascinating to see what was going on in the local food movement, so I committed myself then to becoming a food advocate”.
As 2013 rang in, Jeff read an article about the growing trend of seed libraries—holding tanks for seed packets of diverse agricultural products no longer in vogue. “I decided that would be my new focus”, says Jeff, “And I spent the rest of the year researching the critical value of seeds before I launched the Library Seed Bank in 2014”.
Jeff adds, “The more I researched, the more I realized that the privatization of seeds currently used by commercial growers changes what used to be an ‘open access’ approach to sharing seeds; and any breeding improvements that were introduced with new varieties becomes intellectual property and trademark ownership is now subject to litigation. In 2017, due to mergers and acquisitions, there will be only three companies owning up to 70%-80% of all seed lines, and that’s a huge concern to me”.
Author’s note: For the sake of comparison, consider the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a highly secure underground seed bank—similar to a safe deposit box, which opened in Norway in 2008. Costing 9 million dollars to build with daily operating costs which are partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the vault currently houses 10,000 seed samples of more than 2,000 cultivars for 300 different species. By the request of Norwegian government, no genetically modified seeds (GMO’s) are stored at the vault.
Of course, growing distinctly delicious varieties of heirloom fruits and vegetables is just one part of the fun—cooking and eating complete the trifecta. “I grow fennel and saute it with heirloom onions and tomatoes that I grow, along with dried black olives. Gazpacho with a rainbow of colors from the heirloom tomatoes was a nice treat this past summer. And there’s loads of things I can do with figs or freshly dug potatoes”, Jeff says (as this author’s mouth waters).
Although it’s been challenging working as a sole proprietor of the Library Seed Bank, Jeff says he enjoys the creativity of it all. “I don’t know what my life would be like now if I wasn’t directed toward the visual arts at Stockton”.
“This past summer, my passion for the visual arts and my love of gardening collided in a unique community endeavor called The Art of Soup, The Tomato as Muse. I worked with an urban farming program at the Center for Environmental Transformation (CfET) in Camden, NJ to grow some of the original tomatoes the Campbell’s Soup Company used in their iconic Tomato Soup. Campbell’s brought a chef to CfET, and made soup with the teens who grew the tomatoes”.
Jeff adds, “On August 6th, my friends who own an art studio, and I hosted a fundraiser for CfET. That particular day was also Andy Warhol’s birthday, so we had a costume party where we encouraged people to dress as their favorite artist, or artwork, and we had a painting party relating to his famous lithographs of Campbell’s soup cans…pretty cool stuff”.
The summer of 2016 was a fruitful one (pun intended) for Jeff. In July, he attended the last stop of President Kesselman’s Distinctive Vision Tour at Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. While there, Jeff was introduced to Stockton faculty member, Joe Rubenstein, Professor of Anthropology. Through this fortuitous meeting, Jeff came to Stockton in early December 2016 and presented to Professor Rubenstein’s class.
“Our food sources are shrinking and the vast majority of people are blissfully unaware. Jeff’s knowledge about seed banks, sustainable gardening, and the proliferation of GMO’s was truly enlightening for my students. I’m looking forward to working with him again in the near future”, said Professor Rubenstein.
When asked what’s the one thing about food that people really need to be aware of, Jeff responded, “Don’t take food for granted. There’s a complex biodiversity involved with it, and it’s absolutely necessary to preserve and protect it”.
Jeff, one of South Jersey Magazine’s Men of the Year for 2016, will be conducting a five week workshop series for the Stockton Center for Successful Aging. Sustainability Matters, How You Can Get Involved, will run from March 25, 2017 to April 22, 2017. Please visit http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page.cfm?siteID=132&pageID=15 for more details.