Bard College Farm Celebrates Fourth Harvest Season as Centerpiece of Campus-Wide Sustainable Food Movement
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Students who stop for a bite at Manor House Cafe on the Bard College campus look out the windows to a field where an ever-increasing amount of the produce being served on campus—greens, tomatoes, peppers, beets, squash, cranberries, and other fruits and vegetables—is being sustainably grown by their peers. Creating a connection between students, farm, and food is one of the central missions of the Bard College Farm, a 1.25-acre sustainable urban farm where Bard students organically grow fruit and vegetables to sell to Chartwells, the campus dining service. So far, during the 2015 growing season, Chartwells has purchased 16,000 pounds of fresh produce from the farm. Guiding all of the Bard’s sustainable food initiatives is Bard EATS (Eating Awareness Transforms Society), a collaborative partnership among Bard students, dining services, faculty, and staff committed to increasing food purchasing transparency, reducing waste, decreasing the College’s carbon footprint, promoting food access, and supporting local farms and sustainable products. Their work has been so effective that Bard met its pledge to purchase 20 percent “real food” (local/community based, fair, ecologically sound, or humane as defined by the Real Food Challenge) five years ahead of schedule.
“Having local and sustainable menu options, as well as our own farm on campus, has positive cultural, economic, and environmental effects for Bard as well as for our greater community,” says Katrina Light, food sustainability advocate for Chartwells at Bard. “Students were instrumental in getting the school to sign on to the Real Food Challenge, the administration was supportive, and Chartwells was eager to make it happen. We are currently in the process of drafting a five-year food and agriculture Plan.”
Many of these efforts will be on display this weekend in celebration of National Food Day, with Bard EATS hosting a farmers market, featuring local vendors and farms, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kline Commons and sponsoring an online real-food drive to benefit Caring Hands Soup Kitchen in Kingston. For more information, call 503-821-9750, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.facebook.com/EATBard. To support the food drive, please visit amplify.ampyourgood.com/user/campaigns/1911.
Since Bard College Farm was founded in 2012, more than 80 students have worked to produce more than 60,000 pounds of food, from basics like peppers, greens, and squash to specialty crops like honey, hops, maple syrup, cranberries, and shitake mushrooms, the latter grown in an abandoned pool converted into a mushroom-log farm. The farm also serves as an agricultural classroom and lab for Bard students and faculty and hosts tours for local school and community groups. From June through October, students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus can purchase the farm’s produce at a weekly farmers market outside the campus center. While some of the crops, such as hops and cranberries, are sold off campus to help raise money to sustain the farm, nearly all of the rest is sold directly to Chartwells. John-Paul Sliva, founder and coordinator of Bard College Farm, says the farm’s cranberries are now on sale at Montgomery Place Orchards Farm Market, while hops grown at the farm were used by Crossroads Brewing Company in Athens, New York, to make an Octoberfest beer.
“The farm offers students a great opportunity to connect directly with their food,” says Sliva. “Our vegetables receive the highest ranking possible when judged under the Real Food Challenge criteria. You can taste the freshness and quality because of the way we farm and our location to the eaters. That is why the demand is overwhelming!”
Light says that one way Bard EATS has met its real food mission is by supporting Hudson Valley farms and business, which include, Bread Alone, Hudson Valley Fresh, Winter Sun Farms, Purdy & Sons, Feather Ridge, Wild Hive, and Red Barn Produce among many others. She stresses that Bard Dining continues to seek out local and sustainable products and providers, and, this fall, began purchasing fair trade tea, and gluten-free bagels and bread from the Gluten Free Bakery in Chatham, NY.
Having worked on a dairy co-op farm during high school in Vermont, sophomore Katherine Bonnie came to Bard with a strong interest in sustainable food efforts on campus.
“Working on the farm, getting my hands in the dirt, and taking time and space to comprehend the work that it takes to produce and harvest real food has been inspiring and has added to my perspective on the importance of local and sustainable food nutritionally, but also mentally as we think about the bigger picture,” said Bonnie, who interns with Light at Bard EATS, adding that she is looking forward to finding more ways to improve the campus’s relationship with food and food systems. “We are asking questions like, how do we continue to raise that percentage of ‘real food’ purchases? How can we work to eliminate waste and raise money and awareness to decrease throw-away materials and increase reusable plates and cups in the dining hall?”
Junior Amelia Leeya Goldstein, a sociology major from Massachusetts, is chair of the Bard EATS Committee, a new branch of student government that works with faculty and staff on food sustainability issues.
“The best thing about the farm is the model it sets for greater change,” said Goldstein. “The farm is a crucial part of our education as Bardians, as it helps us really hone in on the way our economy, our environment, and our society are linked.”
Chas Cerulli, Chartwells senior director of dining services at Bard, says that while there had been an interest in getting more food and products from local farms for years, the local-food movement took off on campus with the creation of the Bard College Farm.
“Partnering with the Bard College Farm to grow produce for the dining hall was a win-win for all,” says Cerulli. “This effort has really opened the door to the importance of locally sourced food, not only from the Bard College Farm, but from many other farms in the area that now provide food to the Bard dining population. We are committed to raising the bar in terms of what our community expects when they walk in for a meal. Not just with where the food comes from, but what oil it is cooked in and what happens with leftovers. Everyone eats—these are issues for everyone.”
For more information on Bard College Farm, please visit www.bardfarm.org or www.facebook.com/BardCollegeFarm. For more information about Bard EATS, visit, call 503-821-9750, e-mail email@example.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/EATBard.
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