By Richard Berkfield, Food Connects

Posted December 15, 2014

Case Studies

Case Study: Vermont Tech

Farm to Institution Market Garden

OVERVIEW

In collaboration with food service provider, Sodexo, and food distributor, Black River Produce, Vermont Technical College’s Market Garden program produces and distributes locally grown food for three VT colleges and provides invaluable vocational training for its own students.

INSTITUTION PROFILE

Name: Vermont Technical College
Foodservice Type: Sodexo
Location: campuses in Randolph Center, Williston and other locations across Vermont
Location of Farmland: Randolph Center, VT
Acreage of Farmland: 2.25 acres
Total Food Produced in 2013: 3,500 pounds (with just 1 acre in production)
Total Sales in 2013: $6,150 (with just 1 acre in production)
Other Colleges Purchasing From Market Garden: Colby Sawyer College & Norwich University

THE STORY

Growing food for campus consumption is a valuable curriculum connection!

What is the Market Garden?
The VTC Market Garden is part of the college’s department of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. The mission is to provide hands-on learning experiences that complements Vermont Tech programs and curriculum. The garden has been in production for four years, but has been intensively managed for the last two years. There is also a CSA with Vermont Tech’s faculty and staff.

How much land is in production?
The Market Garden currently has two acres in vegetable production and a ¼ acre in pick-your-own blueberry production.

Are the production methods organic?
The garden is not certified organic, but considers organic practices to be the backbone of the program.

Who purchases the food from the Market Garden?
They grow for the VTC cafeteria and sell to Colby Sawyer College and Norwich University using Black River Produce, as their Sodexo-approved distributor.

How do they decide what to grow?
Working with Sodexo to plant what they will use. (Lettuce successions and root crops, principally.)

What are the challenges?
Increasing production while maintaining the educational component. Not being certified organic yet.

STRUCTURE

We have a college campus market garden where we grow vegetables and fruit for the Vermont Tech dining hall along with other Vermont colleges. We use student labor and experiential learning to manage the crop production. We have built a relationship with Sodexo and Black River Produce for efficient ordering, invoicing and delivery.

LESSONS LEARNED

Running a program like this takes a lot of management, planning, communication and collaboration. Building a sustainable farm to institution model with partner collaboration takes years but is time well spent for the college and surrounding community. Every year you will learn something new and adjust.

RESOURCES

http://www.wcax.com/story/22972036/vt-summer-camp-focuses-on-farming
http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/handson-week-seeks-to-inspire-next-generation-of-farmers/21251314
http://www.ourherald.com/news/2013-08-01/Front_Page/Governors_Institute_Comes_to_VTC.html


PARTNERS

Food Connects

Food Connects is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, VT. Its mission is to cultivate healthy farm and food connections in classrooms, cafeterias and communities. Its Farm to Institution program aims to increase direct sales of local foods by opening up new markets and to support the development of local food aggregation and distribution systems. Learn more >

Sodexo

Sodexo is a leading food and facilities management company in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. From preschool through post-grad, in public schools and independent schools, and on campuses of every kind, Sodexo creates clean, safe living and learning environments that inspire and drive success. Learn more >

Black River Produce

Black River Produce is a food distributor with more than 2,000 wholesale customers, including stores, schools, restaurants, clubs, camps, ski areas, hospitals, nursing homes and farm stands throughout Vermont, most of New Hampshire, and parts of New York and Massachusetts. Learn more >


CONTACTS

Farm to College Project Manager: Riley Neugebauer, [email protected]
Farm to College Project Vermont Lead: Richard Berkfield, [email protected]
Case Study Contacts: Molly Willard, [email protected], and Rachel Fussell, [email protected]

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