After a long, cold winter break the barn is thawing out as students return for spring semester. Our baby San Clemente Island Goats have transitioned from the heated living area to the ‘big kid’ stall and are loving the extra space, kicking up their heels and butting heads from dawn until dusk.
Our chickens have come out of a state of near hibernation and have produced their first few pullet eggs (small eggs laid at the beginning of production.) We hope to incorporate these eggs into our dining services and hatch our own chicks come spring.
On December 28th we welcomed Sylvie’s second litter of Silver Fox rabbit kits into the world. Her 6 squirmy puffballs now have their eyes open and are exploring their new surroundings with mom.
Stay tuned for lambs, chicks and the promise of greener pastures!
Some notes from Lorey Duprey, our Dining Services Director, on highlights from today’s lunch:
“Tuesday lunch we will be featuring burgers with all local products, including award-winning Raye’s mustard and Northern Girl veggie fries. So come on in and enjoy your lunch. Celebrate local foods with an all local burger lunch!”
Our delicious lunch included:
- beef patties from Herring Brothers in Guilford, Maine
- Blue Mango veggie burgers from Portland, Maine
- Cabot cheddar cheese from Cabot, Vermont
- Organic tomatoes, lettuce, and onions from Green Earth Gardens in Unity, Maine
- Raye’s stone ground mustard from Eastport, Maine
- Veggie fries from Northern Girl in Limestone, Maine
- Mixed pickles from Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen in Bangor, Maine
- Pickle relishes from Northwoods Gourmet Girl in Greenville, Maine
- …all served on a Piantedosi bun from Malden, Massachusetts
Thanks, Lorey and crew!
Unity students returned to a frigid, but bustling campus last weekend eager to start their first classes of 2013. As they poured through the doors of Wyman Commons for their first lunch of the semester, students were greeted with exciting news. After a longtime connection to the innovative dairy company MOOMilk, Unity College Dining Services was able to become the company’s first institutional purchaser.
“Hey, I was in a class about MOOMilk,” said a student who had taken part in a marketing course that used MOO as a case study.
What did our students have to say? “Well, it tastes like…milk.” “Yeah, but this is organic.” “Where are the farms that it came from?” “When are they going to make chocolate?” “Finally!” “Explain what it means to not be ultra-pasturized.” “MOOOOOO!”
Later that day, community members joined students for a screening of Betting the Farm, which documents the bootstrap story of the company and follows the inspiring work of MOO’s farmers. The film has been a useful tool in building understanding among the College community about why purchasing MOOMilk makes sense for us.
Unity College folks see themselves in the story of MOO: resilient, innovative, cutting edge, and mission driven. As President Mulkey said following the screening at CIFF, this is also a story that could only happen in Maine. We celebrate this decision with a sense of place and an unwavering commitment to environment. Like all pioneers, we’re mostly dreaming about the next steps to grow our investment to the local food system, in a way that builds connection to our sustainability science curriculum.
However, we also have a tiny bit of curiosity about which institution will be the next to serve MOOMilk.
This semester, Unity College’s Dining Services are putting some new local foods on their students’ plates. Heiwa Tofu and Northern Girl, LLC have now come to be a part of the local food family offered in the Unity College cafeteria.
The tofu comes from nearby Lincolnville, Maine, where a family of four presses their own tofu from soy grown in Pittston and Skowhegan, Maine. The protein-packed food is featured in most vegan dishes served in the cafeteria, said Lorey Duprey, Manager of the Wyman Dining Commons. In addition to being local, Duprey commented on the tofu’s superior quality, being “more firm and easier to work with” than tofu they have worked with in the past.
Located in Aroostook county of Maine, Northern Girl, LLC, is run by a second generation of farmers that have taken on their family farm to create a distributor for cold-weather-hardy vegetables. Starting with potatoes, they expanded to include carrots, beets, cold-resistant broccoli, and more. These vegetables, distributed by the Crown of Maine Organic Cooperative, expand the number of local vegetable options available to us in the winter, says Duprey. At Wyman Dining Commons, these vegetables are often featured as the ‘Veggie of the Day’ on Thursdays of each week. This week, they’ve got an order of beets coming in. Their potatoes make it into the skillet most days at breakfast, too.
Students have been eating these great foods in the cafeteria all semester! “We are always looking for new ways to incorporate local foods” into the dining commons’ repertoire, Duprey reminded me. Check out last year’s local foods map, for more on foods from the region.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: cafeteria, crown of maine, dining services, heiwa, local food, northern girl, sustainability Unity College, sustainable dining, tofu, Unity, vegetables | Leave a comment »
This Monday, October 24th, Unity College will be participating in the inaugural Food Day! Food Day is a nationwide event meant to bring attention to current issues that we face with in this country in regards to: diet related diseases from high fat, high sugar and processed foods, food access and hunger, subsidies to large agribusiness as well as environmental and animal right’s issues associated with factory farming. Food Day is sponsored by The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non for profit watchdog group that
has led successful fights for food labeling, better nutrition and safer food since 1971.
Several events will be hosted on Food Day throughout the campus that will highlight the issues at
hand. This event is a perfect opportunity to engage students, faculty and community members with dilemmas, that are not only happening nationwide but in our own backyard, with in our food system.
To sum it all up: come out and enjoy a fun filled day with, local foods and community building!
Last Spring, Sustainability Office and Dining Services staffers got together to do some field planning. This involved some dreaming about vegetable varieties, review of last year’s progress, and invoice analysis. It was pretty fun, though it did involve some math. Now that we’ve reached the end-of-July portion of our plan, there is some serious substance to recognize. Currently, we’re harvesting Summer crops (i.e. lettuce, tomato, cucumber, fresh onions, herbs, and more) twice a week to supply Dining Services with the raw materials to feed our summer programs. A sweet surprise from one of our summer programs, Maine Arts Camp: These creative kiddos were loving the salad bar! Once tomatoes, peppers, and cukes start to take off in August, we’ll be adding another harvest day to ensure delivery at peak ripeness. Cooler-weather crops are growing for use once UC students return this Fall.
Check out some slides of garden manager Tim Libby delivering super-fresh salad bar ingredients.
…and spruce up your spreadsheet. With the growing season on its way, garden planning is underway! At Unity that means more than just consulting last year’s crop map to plan for a nice rotation. It’s a family affair.
Dining Services leadership and Sustainability Office staffers put their heads together this week to determine a strategy for increasing the use of campus-grown crops in Dining Services meals. Aside from determining the perfect greens for blanching and freezing (AND student taste), picking potato varieties to cultivate, and getting guidance on a ton of other agricultural choices- we’re embarking on a review of purchasing to identify areas where we can increase local buying. We are already serious about supporting regional businesses and growers, but we’re always looking for ways to bump up local buying.
What does that work look like? Just yesterday work study staff-person Ryan Green was poring over a big pile of invoices and calculating interesting figures, such as Unity College’s annual broccoli consumption and carrot purchasing frequency. Thanks, Ryan! One thought is, if we can help our Dining Services department save resources with on-campus supplementary crops, perhaps there will be some wiggle room to purchase local products that tend to be slightly more expensive. It’s a working theory, but we’re excited to work on it more with students, Dining folks, and garden staff as we head into the warmer months.
Buying local food makes sense: we can support the local economy, decrease emissions related to processing and transporting food from farther away, and the educational opportunities surrounding our local food economy are many. Dining Services Director Sandy Donahue and Assistant Manager Lorey Duprey have made a great effort to source products from northern New England when possible. Some of that food comes from companies like Cape Cod Potato Chips in Massachusetts and Cabot Dairy in Vermont. Some of it includes produce and value-added products from Maine producers through Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative and Performance Food Group. And some produce is sourced from vegetable growers in Unity and surrounding towns, including our own campus gardens.
AASHE’s STARS program, which we’re using to assess sustainability efforts on campus, awards points for their “Food Purchasing” credit based on the percentage of food dollars spent on items “[g]rown and processed within 250 miles of the institution” – that’s grown AND processed. Our dining services food sourcing efforts represented in this map fall almost entirely within that 250-mile radius. We’ll have to do a little homework in the coming months to determine whether those vendors satisfy the STARS credit criteria fully.
During the ’09-’10 school year, 27% of Unity’s institutional food dollars went to these producers in New England. Huge thanks to Cassidy Need, the Garden and Campus Food work-study student in our office, for putting together this map.
A little trip down garden memory lane.
First, many thanks to Sara Trunzo, Unity’s Food and Farm Project Coordinator in the Community-Based Learning Office. In her work as an AmeriCorps*VISTA — a year-long term that runs into September, 2010 — Sara continues to support campus food programs, though this season with a different focus. Sara won’t be our garden manager for 2010, but she’ll be around, and has offered her support for the program.
Sara’s tireless efforts as our primary grower for the last two seasons built on the good work of previous campus gardeners — including Director of Dining Services Sandy Donahue, and Student Center Director Charlie Krause. During the school year, two work-study students are employed to work on garden and food related projects. Students, staff, and faculty have worked hard over the years to develop the campus garden into a valuable asset to our campus and the community, allocating time and financial resources to ensure its success. With the recent addition of our Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability major, and an increased interest in local food in Dining Services, we’re evolving our garden program to meet multiple campus and community needs.
So, what’s happening this summer?
- We’re hiring again! Unity College has funded two garden positions focused exclusively on campus food production this season. Our Garden Manager will work 20 hours a week and will be primarily responsible for the garden, including supervision of the Assistant. Our Sustainable Food Production Assistant will be a full-time worker from May through August doing the bulk of the work. We’ll be filling these positions quickly, so be prepared to apply soon if you’re interested.
- We’re pleased to announce that Veggies For All, a project of the Unity Barn Raisers, is “moving in.” Veggies For All grows vegetables for the food insecure, distributing fresh produce to those most in need primarily through the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry. Project Leader Tim Libby has identified several plots on campus and will be digging in over the coming weeks. Veggies For All will have its home base of operations here at the College, and will continue to grow food at other locations in the Unity area. Stay tuned for ways you might be able to get involved with this exciting project.
- We do not intend to offer community garden plots again this summer. Demand for personal garden space has waned in recent years and we’re excited to use more area to increase production for Dining Services and Veggies For All. If you’d like to discuss this further please get in touch with Jesse at x295 or email@example.com
- We want to get as much food as we can into the dining hall in September and October (and beyond) from our campus garden. We’ve met with Dining Services staff to identify those crops most useful to them (e.g., high-value items like peppers and tomatoes, and produce that can be processed and/or stored for use later in the year like basil for pesto). We aim to support special events with campus-grown food this fall as well, including the statewide Student Climate Summit and the annual Hunters and Huggers dinner.
- With increased summer programming, we’ll be doing our best to make sure the salad bar is full for the Maine Arts Camp and other visiting groups.
Ideas? Concerns? Suggestions about campus gardens? Contact Jesse in the Sustainability Office at x295.