Food is a basic necessity of life, so it should come as no surprise that a large number of colleges and universities across the country have begun to recognize food as an important component in campus sustainability. Fresh Ideas shares this approach to “slow food” with many of our chefs growing their own produce and herbs, which helps enrich their campus dining programs. There are hundreds of other higher education institutions that have followed our lead and established community gardens on their campuses too – everything from small herb gardens potted in window planters in the dining room, to a school’s departmental horticulture program – there is a place at the table for every size garden.
A campus garden can be many things…a great local and sustainable source for food, an educational experience to those that have never planted a garden before, and even a therapeutic getaway to nature. For me, gardening has been something I have done ever since I was a little girl raised on the farm, although when I was a kid it was really just “doing chores.” Agriculture was my family’s livelihood, handed down from generation to generation. Farming was part of the family business, and my Mom and I planted a huge garden every spring. We had enough fifty pound burlap bags of potatoes to last all winter, as well as an entire pantry full of canned tomatoes, and a freezer full of sweet corn, green beans, and berries just to name a few. Looking back, planting and nurturing a garden, enjoying and appreciating that work in the form of a delicious meal was probably why I became a chef.
I work for a company that prides itself on doing food the right way. Fresh Ideas appreciates and acknowledges the flow of food from farm to table. As far as the carbon footprint goes – we know that local is better and what’s more local than a campus garden. Our chefs love walking 20 feet out the back door of the kitchen to pick fresh parsley for their marinara sauce or fresh peppers for the salsa they are making. Who wouldn’t, right?