Thar’s gold in them thar greens. The food sustainability movement — and the growing demand for locally grown produce — has inspired community colleges to create new agriculture and culinary arts programs, reports Community College Times.
Food is generally considered to be “sustainable,” according to Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming, if it is produced, processed and traded in a way that contributes to thriving local economies, protects the diversity of plants and animals, avoids damaging natural resources, and provides safe and healthy products.
At Metropolitan Community College in Nebraska, horticulture and culinary arts are in the same department. Culinary students work in the campus garden, using carrot and onion peelings to create compost.
MCC has an aquaponics system creating a food loop, with nutrient-rich water from a fish tank full of tilapia circulating to fertilize salad greens and herbs, then flowing back into the tank.
Culinary students learn how to cook the tilapia, as well as produce and herbs grown by horticulture students, in a student-run bistro and catering service. Horticulture students raise crops in a “hoop house,” a garden that can be closed up in the winter, creating a 10-month growing season. A patio herb garden showcases “edible landscaping.”
Some students are working on degrees in small-market farming with plans to specialize in such areas as orchard production, viticulture or small animal husbandry, (culinary coordinator Jen) Valandra said. Others want to start their own business producing specialty meats and sausages; cheese; honey; or raising small animals, such as ducks, squab or rabbits.
Students visit different kinds of farms, from a Cargill plant that processes 350 cattle an hour to a small farm that raises lambs.
Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn grows tomatoes, peppers, herbs, kale and lettuce in raised beds on its urban campus. Culinary students compost kitchen waste to help the garden grow, then cook the produce in class. Whatever’s not used in culinary classes goes to the college’s food bank to help needy students and local residents.
Community colleges will be accredited based on food, writes Jeffrey Ross in a Cronk of Higher Education satire. Colleges will be required to demonstrate how food fits into their “strategic visions, core values, mission statements, assessment plans, curricula and feedback loops.”
Research shows the importance of potlucks, said Dr. Tusk Manger, a reviewer and taste-tester for the Highbrow Learn-ed Commission.
. . . community college staff spend about 65 percent of their salaried work day preparing for potlucks, grazing, sharing recipes, emailing notifications about dessert needs at division meetings, chatting over hummus or quiche in the faculty lounge, planning bake sale fund raisers for partnering organizations and orchestrating classroom “cultural” studies which mandate at-risk eating activities. . . . hard-core paper plate beanie-weenie concoctions and crockpot food–especially at division meeting potlucks–may represent a significantly overlooked part of every community college’s curricula. Eating is the best practice at all community colleges.
“Potluck” appears in 41 percent of all email subject headings at one community college in western Phoenix, according to a study by Dr. Jeffrey Roz, Hamilton State University, and Dr. Jann M Kontento, Copperfield Community College.
. . . 37 percent of all the benchmarking college emails contain some reference to pies, cheesecake, left-over mushroom pizza, bagels, garbanzo beans, COM 209 ethnic awareness potlucks, donuts in the dean’s office or “almost-gone” sliced summer sausage and cheese snacks remaining from a governing board meeting.
Ross and Jann Contento are the authors of College Leadership Crisis: The Phillip Dolly Affair, a comic novel about the fictional Copperfield Community College.