Since 2002, the student garden has received daily deliveries of salad bar scraps (approximately 50 pounds) from the cafeteria. In the spring of 2005, rainbow-colored trash cans were placed in the College Dining Hall and the campus-wide composting initiative as we know it began. During 2005, students had the opportunity to scrape their own plates into these bins during breakfast seven days a week. These bins are then collected each day by garden workers. During the following fall the compost program was successfully expanded to include lunch. When students came back from winter break in 2006 they were greeted with new compost bins featuring a tile counter to rest trays on while scraping plates. The compost bins are collected each day by garden workers and brought to the campuses new composting facility site located near campus. The Student Garden is partnering with Facilities Management to manage the compost piles. While the student gardeners collect, transport, and incorporate new food waste, Facilities supplies our piles with woodchips made from tree, shrub, and leaf debris from campus. Facilities Management is also responsible for turing the piles for effective and timely decomposition. This campus wide effort has significantly reduced the amount of food waste that Dickinson College sends to our local landfill. The addition of recycled napkins to our campus Dining Hall has helped with this initiative. It is estimated that the Student Garden composts approximately 800 pounds of food waste each week! The pictures below outline the process.
In 2007, the Dickinson College Farm was awarded the DEP Composting Infrastructure Grant. This $93,000 award has enabled the College Farm and campus Dining Hall to significantly increase their efficiency with the collection and composting of food waste. The purchase of a commercial food grade pulper has allowed for 100% composting of pre and post consumed food waste. This also includes the compostable containers that the Dining Hall has integrated into the campus that replaces plastic. Containers such as cups, salad containers, plastic utensils, even straws are now compostable.
Dickinson College participated in the annual Compost Recyclmania competition. During this two month competition, we had the opportunity to weigh in the efforts of students and campus on composting. The results indicated an average of 700 lbs of food waste being composted each day of the week. Our efforts landed us in the top rankings of US Colleges committed to campus based composting initiatives!
Starting in 2005, Dickinson College focused on developing the campus' popular "Underground" coffee/snack shop as a marketplace for free-trade, organic and healthier food choices. The Student Garden played a role in making this happen by supplying the Underground with a variety of wholesome and mouth watering baked goods. If you are looking for a great snack that is baked with your health in mind, please check out the growing selection of goodies the Student Garden has on sale at the Underground!
With the expansion of the Student Garden, the College Farm is seeking ways to diversify its offerings to the College campus. Beginning this fall, the College Farm will start supplying the Underground with pre-packed salads, weekly soup specials and other value-added products that feature ingredients from the farm. In the spirit of sustainability, this farm product line will be sold in compostable containers! Come and check it out!
Visions on the horizon include connecting local farmers with the Underground to sell products such as cheese, yogurt, pudding and more!
During the summer of 2006, the Student Garden elected to take a leap and increase its production to accommodate the growing demand for subscription programs that offer all-natural and fresh produce during the growing season. CSAs have been around for a long time, starting in Japan and Europe before finally making its way to the U.S. in the 1980s. CSAs offer consumers a fresh choice of produce while ensuring a source of income for the farmer growing the food. This symbiotic business model strengthens the relationship between farmer and consumer and promotes our local economies.
In 2006, the Student Garden offered a "Open Sky Farm CSA" to the Dickinson campus community. Five lucky families became our first CSA members. Our CSA ran for 12 weeks and offered a variety of in season ingredients, from tomatoes and summer squash to onions, garlic, and flowers. Eggs from a local farm were also available. Students designed the CSA crop plan, managed harvests and transported the fresh goodies to a central location on campus on distribution day. CSA members found helpful recipes, baked treats and a smiling face when they came to pick-up their weekly CSA share.
Based on the success and enthusiasm for our first CSA season, the College Farm offered another CSA program during the 2007 growing season. Faculty, staff, students, and administrators partook in our 14 member CSA that will ran for 20 weeks during the summer and fall of 2007!
This year, the CSA program has expanded to include 40 Dickinson families. CSA members have the option to pick up their weekly harvest at the farm or have it delivered to them on campus. Included in this year's 24 week CSA program is pick-your-own crops at the farm that include herbs, flowers and extra tomatoes for those who cannot seem to get enough.
Our CSA program also offers locally produced cheeses, yogurt, and dessert items along with farm raised eggs and grass-fed lamb. We hope to offer Alaska caught Salmon in the fall! Stay tuned!
Starting in 2004, the student organization Students Interested in Sustainable Agriculture (SISA) in conjunction with the College Farm program have hosted Harvestfest, a high energy celebration of the end of another growing season and a successful harvest. The festival has included live blue grass music, contra dancing and always showcases lots of locally and farm raised delicacies.
The goal of this campus oriented event is to educate our fellow students on the local food movement, sustainable agriculture and the College Farm program. Students interested in learning more about this fall-time event can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What better way to expose our students and local community to the vast array of resources that exist in the Cumberland Valley than to create a dinner made with some local ingredients?
Since 2005, the Student Garden has worked hard to organize our region's local food celebration. By contacting local farmers and charging the College's Dining Services with the task of developing a seasonal menu, we have succeeded in drawing a crowd of 200 each year for a feast that is one of a kind.
We have been fortunate to have local leaders like Kim Tait, owner of Tait Farms food activist, and agricultural entrepreneur; Nina Planck, Farmers' Market organizer, food activist, and author; Kim Seeley, PA Dairy Farmer, President of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA); Anthony Flaccavento, founder and executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development as keynote speakers.
Our 2009 Local Food Dinner will be held on campus in the Holland Union Building (HUB) Social Hall on Saturday, April 4th.