– Madison Smith ’19
Tuesday, I ventured to Frank Dining Hall for the Meet the Farmers event organized by Chartwells and Steven Holzbaur, sustainability manager in dining services at Colgate. While at the event I had the chance to meet a handful of the local farmers that partner with Colgate’s Dining Services.
I was able to chat with Common Thread CSA from Madison, Bagel Grove and Brightwaters Farms from Utica, Kriemhild Dairy from Hamilton, and our own community garden. Each of these farms have committed to sustainability for a variety of reasons that I believe are representative of the values we share at Colgate, too.
The farmer from Common Thread looked at sustainability from an educational standpoint. She said, “teaching sustainability leads to more thoughtful students.” Common Thread exemplifies this on their farm by selling local, unprocessed, and fresh produce. Being transparent and working for food justice is a part of Common Thread’s core mission. They really think about how their food will impact their customers, making sure they are giving people the healthiest options.
The representative from Bagel Grove took a different approach by expressing how taking control of food is an obvious way to be sustainable. To her, a lot of the food that we eat now is like “poison,” so she works to create much more wholesome goods.
Kriemhild also believed that being environmentally friendly means having a responsibility towards the earth which results in a sense of empowerment.
Beyond environmental concerns, sustainability fundamentally encompasses social and economic issues. I asked how partnering with Colgate has benefited their farms and their communities. The Colgate Community Garden appreciates the help from students and community members and feels that they give back by educating Hamilton citizens about sustainable agriculture as well as partnering with the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Bagel Grove was able to gain more business and extend their reach to a broader part of central New York through Colgate – something that can only benefit their customers as they are exposed to simpler foods.
Finally, I introduced the farmers to Colgate’s Project Clean Plate. They loved the idea considering they already do a lot to reduce their own food waste. Brightwaters Farms donates its leftover tomatoes and cucumbers to places like rescue missions and veteran food pantries while the community garden donates half of its produce to the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Bagel Grove turns all of its leftover bagels to bagel chips so that they can still be sold rather than thrown away. Additionally, all of the farms practice regular composting and reuse it in their soils.
The Colgate community shares many of the same values as these farms, such as, composting, waste reduction, and giving back to the community. If we put these values into greater practice, however, we would be a much more sustainable campus overall.
Events like this help remind us where our food comes from and why partnering with the right producers is so important!