Veggies For All 2013: numbers and pictures

2013 was HUGE for Veggies For All.

We could go on and on, but we are so anxious to get on with 2014, that we are reporting out on 2013 report in numbers and pictures:

21,190 pounds of vegetables…More than any year in our  history!

1,500 people fed (about 800 in our local community and 700 in the wider region, through the VRFP)

412 volunteer hours

9 Unity College classes engaged in service and research with us this year

3 AMAZING volunteers who logged dozens of hours each as individuals  (You know who you are!)

2 events at which our students led worksongs while they helped out

1 great idea, that is still fresh after 7 years, and continues to fuel our collaboration: Our neighbors deserve access to healthy, wholesome food that was grown in their community.

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seeking harvest helpers @ VFA

IMG_6919Want to get your hands dirty with Veggies For All?  Well… mark your calendar, roll up your sleeves, and dig in!

Join us for any of the following service opportunities- and feel free to contact us for more details, to RSVP, or to arrange for travel.

September 26 – BIG POTATO DIG day @ our School Street field

Three opportunities to pitch in on Thursday:

  • 11:00AM-1:00PM lunch power hour
  • 2:30PM-3:30PM afternoon spud block I: warm-up for WORKSONGS
  • 3:30PM-4:45PM afternoon spud block II: diggin’ & singin’ with WORKSONG class*

September 30 – SQUASH HARVEST @ the field near Maintenance

  • 12:30-2:20PM with Organic Horticulture class*

October 5 – CARROT DIG @ our “white house” field

  • 12:30-4:00PM with Unity Barn Raisers Day of Service
  • register with UBR

October 21 // GARLIC PLANTING @ the field near Maintenance

  • 12:30-2:20PM with Organic Horticulture class*

November 7 – THRESH THEM BEANS! location TBA

  • 3:30-4:45PM with WORKSONG class*

Ongoing – CABBAGE HARVEST @ our Albion Road field

  • connect with us to make a date!

* Events that are affiliated with certain classes are ALSO open to the public.  The Worksongs class will be teaching the volunteer crew some tunes to try out while we get to work.

Please contact the Sustainability Office for more info: x286.

 

Dining Services Highlight: local burger lunch

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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:

Thanks, Lorey and crew!

Unity launches MOOMilk

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.

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Unity FFA visits Waldo County Tech FFA

From Shayne:

A group of Unity College students who are part of the College’s FFA club visited the FFA club of Waldo County Technical Center to collaborate on the current Pastured Poultry for Food Security project that was made possible by the National FFA Food for All Grant. The meeting started out by playing the icebreaker game  “Have You Seen My Goat” so that students from both schools would get familiar and  be open for discussion later in the meeting, then we moved on to a presentation by the Unity College FFA members that informed Waldo County FFA students about the project, some basic information on pastured poultry, and general chicken knowledge.   After this the students from both schools came up with some ideas on how to build chicken tractors and made recommendations for the structures.   The collegiate FFA students brought 2 of the chicks along for the ride to show the high school students just how fast they are growing.  When the Waldo County students visit the College, they will be spending time assessing the animals and the pasturing system- but they will also get shown around campus by of one of our student tour guides.  The Waldo County Tech FFA adviser says her students are excited to see the chicken’s progress, but they also want to “get a chance to look inside some of the College buildings.” Overall both groups had fun and look forward to the visit.

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New Local Foods on Campus

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, LNothern Girl, LLCLC, 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.

FFA Partnership Grows Chickens for Hunger Relief

During Spring Break, an unusual package arrived in the mail.  It was a shoe-box sized parcel, with several air holes on each side.  It filled the post office with a surprising amount of noise for its size.  Chirping to be precise.  That chirping heralded the beginning of a Spring project and an exciting new partnership.

In February of this year, the Waldo County Technical Center FFA chapter, in partnership Unity’s Collegiate FFA, was awarded a grant to complete a collaborative project  called “Pastured Poultry for Food Security.”

The support for this project comes from the National FFA Organization’s Food For All grant, which is funded by Farmers Feeding the World and the Howard G. Buffet Foundation as part of the FFA’s ongoing commitment to service learning as a means of both developing future farmers and positively impacting communities.  (Learn more about the FFA’s Living 2 Serve program here.)

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The “meat” of this project, if you’ll pardon the pun, is to grow broiler chickens (grown for meat, not eggs) that will be used to support  hunger relief efforts in Waldo County, namely the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry (VRFP) in Unity and the Belfast Soup Kitchen in Belfast.

FFA students from Unity College and Waldo County Technical Center (WCTC) are working together to develop management plans, deliver animal care, and learn more about how local agriculture can work to improve food security.  Because the project will have both Spring and Fall rounds featuring different breeds- students will study the health, efficiency, and other factors in a breed comparison.

Student leader and Unity FFA vice-president, Shayne Van Leer, is spearheading the on the ground portion of this project.  Additionally, his  research and  recommendations were used to estimate project costs and draft the grant application.  He developed a chick brooding habitat (in the new animal care room), care protocol, and plans to transition the birds to the barn and then chicken tractors once they are large enough to be put out on pasture.  The pasturing of these birds will take place at Unity College, because there isn’t the space or weekend supervision at WCTC.

Luckily the College has some lovely pasture and our residential campus will give student care-givers access to the animals 24/7.  WCTC students will visit the birds periodically, build chicken tractors with UC students, and take part in the delivery of chicken to  local hunger relief agencies that have a need for additional sources of healthy protein for their clients.  WCTC students will also get treated to a tour of campus and some Q&A with our real, live, down-to-earth Unity College students; this project isn’t just about chicken!

In the community, students will also have the opportunity to advise the VRFP’s poultry class for food pantry clients, which occurs in May.  (An overview of the VRFP’s educational and special programs here.)

We are so thrilled to have another reason to collaborate with the WCTC students, learn how to manage poultry in a hands-on way, and continue to support hunger relief efforts with healthy food.  Thanks to the National FFA Organization and the Food For All project sponsors for this opportunity.  And readers, keep an eye on the Sustainability Monitor for updates.

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