Monday, April 29, 2013

Bon Appetit

Last month we had Nicole Tocco, a fellow from Bon Appetit (the company in charge of the food on campus) come out to Eckerd. Her job is to work with students to raise awareness about pressing food issues such as farm worker rights, climate change, humane treatment of animals, local food and sustainable fishing practices. She also serves as a connection between students and their caf. Her visit was highly anticipated by us gardeners, many of whom have been pushing for healthier, tastier, more sustainable food on campus. Here are some pics Nicole took while touring the garden and joining the compost crew on a shift:

Nicole took Cat Pappas and I to Mixon Fruit Farms, a local citrus farm in Sarasota where we will be getting the oranges for the fresh OJ machine this spring and in future years. They may not be organic, but they are a friendly and family owned and operated farm and they are LOCAL! And they feed all their orange peels from making the orange juice to the cows across the street. These are not oranges from California like we keep hearing! The farm is really beautiful and multi-purposed- they hold weddings there, maintain a koi pond and a butterfly maze for kids, have a wildlife sanctuary and theres even a store where you can buy their citrus products or the produce from their local farmer friends as well as any other kind of trinket you can imagine (and fudge).  Nicole certified Mixon as a farm to fork vendor for Bon Appetite and wants to ensure they have a long term contract with us. 

Later that day, Nicole and Jamie from Bon Appetite met with the garden club to talk about ways to get the Grow Op more involved with the campus cafeteria. Already the caf saves their food prep scraps for us to use in the compost, and we've given food to them in the past. 
We came up with a few ideas that won't require the garden to provide a constant supply of food:
1. Garden Club can make educational table tents to put up in the caf and have a booth where we can talk about food sustainability and local agricultural issues
2. Garden Club can make educational signs for the hydroponic garden on the caf patio
3. Garden Club can supply occasional surplus veggies and/or herbs to the cafeteria

We'll continue to talk about how the garden and the caf can work together in a way that supports each other's goals. There's definitely much to discuss as the garden becomes more established.

Interested in campus farm initiatives? Check out these sites created by Nicole!

~Sam and Deb

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