By Jess Silverman ‘14 & Lia Peck ‘17 | Collabrorative Reporters
Photos by Christie Behot ‘16 | The Lafayette
LaFarm, Lafayette’s community garden, has sold more than 1,800 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to Bon Appétit in the past four months.
“The flavor of local grown products is just superior to anything we would buy from a large-scale vendor,” Bon Appétit General Manager Joel Blice said. “The items we get from LaFarm are either picked that morning or the night before we use them.”
These local products give members of the Lafayette community a real farm-to-table experience, with the produce being fresher, crisper, and more flavorful than ever.
Bon Appétit was able to successfully use LaFarm’s produce at the “Eat Local Challenge” on Wednesday, feeding over 1,300 students between Upper Farinon and Marquis. During the event, Bon Appétit’s chefs were encouraged to creatively incorporate only local ingredients, especially ones from LaFarm.
“Anything served for lunch that day had ingredients that came from within a 150 mile radius,” Blice said. “That means no coffee, tea, oil, dried herbs, or spices. It took a lot of planning, but once we figured out the ordering and delivery schedule, the rest was easy.”
“The nacho bar was a hit – we used fingerling potatoes instead of chips and used local cheddar cheese and sour cream.”
Sarah Edmonds, the LaFarm Community Garden & Working Farm manager and Metzgar environmental project coordinator, is overjoyed with the success of the garden.
“Since day one, Bon Appétit has been on board with us and said they would buy anything we grew,” Edmonds said. “It’s been an amazing relationship.”
After Bon Appétit signed the contract with Lafayette Dining Services at the end of last semester, Blice reached out to Edmonds to visit the farm and learn more about its produce.
“Within the first week of providing food to the school we had our first delivery,” Blice said.
Along with the help of numerous professors, Jenn Bell ‘11 created the garden back in 2007.
“Our intention was to create a sustainable food loop in which the food from the garden would be served to students in dining halls,” Bell said. “The waste from the dining halls would be composted, and that the compost would be used at the farm as fertilizer.”
Bell worked hard with the previous food provider, Sodexo, to try and complete the food loop and have the produce served in dining halls during 2009-2012.
“We had to make sure that our fertilizer and compost was commercially prepared and abided by the strict USDA organic standards,” Bell explained. In the fall of 2010 and after many meetings, it was decided that Sodexo could use the food in the dining halls, yet they did not, due to cost. “Legally, they said they could accept it but could not pay for it, so we did end up donating some of our high quality produce to them.”
Lafayette students are becoming more and more engaged with the farm each semester. Four Greek organizations have already signed up to help weed, harvest, and fix-up the farm.
Nina Fisher ‘14 is currently an intern for the Kellyn Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the “Buy Fresh Buy Local” movement. It is designed to promote organic diets and help individuals’ overall health. On October 20, The Kellyn Foundation is celebrating Food Day to recognize healthy and sustainable food.
“It’s important to know where your food comes from, and the farm is a perfect outlet for Lafayette to eat foods that are grown right here on campus,” Fisher said. “By recruiting students to volunteer, we are hoping to raise awareness about the farm and let students know what a great establishment it is.”
Even though Bon Appétit is fairly new to campus, they are taking advantage of opportunities previous food service providers did not.
“We’ve really built a strong relationship with LaFarm,” Blice said. “[It] has been great. The more they can grow, the more we can offer, and the better it is for everybody. We will continue take as much as they can grow for us.” Blice also added that he is looking forward to working with Edmonds in the future.
Bell, who currently lives in Yardley, Pa. and is saving up money to purchase land to start a farm, is overjoyed to see how successful the farm has become.
“I am so glad to hear it and I hope that the farm continues to grow and be a part of the Lafayette community,” she said.