March 7 workshop will teach home composting.
By Frank Piedra
Since opening in the spring of 2014, Sinkin Eco Centro has served as a community outreach center with a mission of growing the understanding, development and practice of sustainability.
The center at 1802 N. Main Ave. is a LEED-certified institute, which means it has met qualifications to operate as such through the use of building materials, Eco Centro Director Meredith Miller said in an interview Feb. 20.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a rating system used by the U.S. Green Building Council, which evaluates environmental performances of a building.
Eco Centro was awarded the SA Tomorrow Sustainability award for its education on sustainability in 2016.
The center offers public workshops available on topics such as gardening, healthy living and water conservation.
A home composting workshop is scheduled 6 p.m. March 7.
“In our gardening workshops, we will show you how to compost,” Miller said. “You can take our course on composting, learn how to create a butterfly garden and learn about water harvesting. Those are some examples of what we do here.”
Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material into a nutrient-rich soil for growing.
“We also have special events coming up like a clothes swap. You can come in and bring in your old clothing, hang out, have something to eat and meet new people, while shopping for new ones.”
Dates for these events have not been set.
The center also hosts a variety of art exhibits, such as the upcoming “Art of the Sacred Texas Springs,” a month-long exhibit that celebrates Texas’ natural water springs in New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin, Wimberley and here.
The exhibit is March 23-April 22.
A volunteer-built community garden lies behind Eco Centro, a project that was made possible with the assistance of Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas through funding by the Bamberger Family Foundation.
“The garden behind us will be an urban working farm and free to the public. You simply sign up, and if you’re willing to volunteer some hours, you can come work and take produce,” Miller said.
The center also hosts occasional “pay what you can” farmers’ markets.
“If you don’t have much money but want some tomatoes, you can take some for whatever you can afford to pay,” she said.
Farmers’ markets are not scheduled yet.
Eco Centro also has a presence on the campus with a greenhouse south of Chance Academic Center.
“We will be working on putting in a college community garden. Students can come in and harvest food,” Miller said.
Eco Centro will also help the rest of the campus follow green practices when new construction takes place, including facility renovations.
Last year, President Donald J. Trump announced environmental policies, such as pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and overturning water quality protections.
“While the president’s legislation hasn’t made much progress, it helps us prioritize what the previous administration didn’t have us worry about,” Miller said.
“We need to redouble our efforts to educate, raise money and have people voluntarily protecting our environment because if the federal government won’t mandate these things, we need to be the ones that make sure our communities are safe. It definitely becomes a social movement.”
The administration’s environmental policies could have an effect on funding, she said.
Funding comes from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities grant.
Eco Centro is equipped with technology such as rooftop solar-powered panels for energy conservation, an electric car charging station, rain water collection tanks, water-smart landscaping and a composting area.
These are vital in ensuring a greener footprint and raising awareness for alternative energy, Miller said.
For more information, call the center at 210-486-0417 or find it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EcoCentro1.