Tigers for Community Agriculture, Sustain Mizzou’s gardening group, have sold 324 pounds of lettuce, chard and broccoli to MU Campus Dining Services and the University Club in just one month. The journey from seed to students resulted entirely from student volunteer efforts.
In early February, the students started romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, leek, onion and broccoli seed in the campus green house. Volunteers then transplanted the sprouts into hoop houses at Bradford Research and Extension Center and carpooled there to water it periodically. They used a drip-tape watering system, which waters at the roots and conserves water. There’s also a commercial benefit: “You don’t have water spots on the lettuce so it looks better when you try to sell them,” says Monica Everett, a project volunteer who has been with TCA since its inception in 2010. The group also sold 60 pounds of greens to the University Club, a higher-end dining establishment at the Alumni Center.
Setting up the business plan was surprisingly simple: they asked CDS to buy their produce. “After marching into the kitchen offices of the Student Center (not knowing what we were doing), we brought [sous chef] Jeremy out to the Ford Explorer,” says Kat Seal, project volunteer and former Sustain Mizzou president. “He looked at the lettuce and said, ‘we’d take it all.’”
TCA has other produce coming up for harvest, including peppers, spinach, carrots and tomatoes. They plan to sell it to the aforementioned businesses, as well as Centro Latino. All profit goes back to building the program and its assets.
How do you stump a college student? Ask them where their leftovers go.
In this video that photojournalism student Han Cheung made for his micro-documentary class, we take a look inside the campus dining composting system at the Bradford Research Center, right here at Mizzou. To see more of Han’s work, please visit www.hancheung.com.
Numbers from last semester estimate that a total of 6,000 pounds of basic materials (food scraps and horse bedding and manure) were used to produce 4,000 pounds of compost at the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research and Extension Center.
Beginning Nov. 18, 2011, Bradford began its first cycle in its new composting system. Using food scraps from six of MU’s dining halls, bedding and horse manure, the center’s system creates compost over a month-long period.
Each day, undergraduate students in the Biological Engineering program deliver food scraps to Bradford in the form of 610-pound loads. These food scraps are then mixed for about a week in a machine called a reel mixer.
From there, this mixture is moved to one of four bays where horse manure and bedding materials are added and allowed to decompose for another four weeks. At the end of the process, the mixture has decomposed into a few hundred pounds of compost rich in nutrients and ready to be used to grow vegetables.
Photos by Meghan Eldridge and Tim Reinbott.
This is an update to an article published by Footprint in September. http://footprintmag.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/dining-services-strives-to-offset-environmental-impact/
The compost facility will be completed this week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for Friday! Here are the details:
What: Ribbon-cutting for University of Missouri compost facility
Who: Everyone who loves compost
When: Friday, November 18 at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Bradford Research and Extension Center, 4968 Rangeline Road
Campus Dining Services (CDS) estimates that a total of 250 tons of food waste is produced within the dining halls each year. That figure breaks down to about 4.5 ounces of food waste per student per meal everyday.
CDS has sought proactive steps to restrict the amount of food that is leftover and ultimately wasted at the end of the day, said Campus Dining Services Marketing Manager Michael Wuest.
For example, many of the raw fruits and vegetables featured on the salad bar one day may be repurposed for use in a soup the next.
However, some foods are subject to specific guidelines and cannot be repurposed for additional meals, or may only be reheated one time. For this reason, most meals are made to order, with chefs preparing only 10 to 20 portions at one time.
CDS has transitioned to this procedure in the last few years in order to cut back on the amount of food that is prepared, and the amount of leftovers and food waste produced.
“It’s the right thing to do. We strive in everything that CDS does to preserve and conserve the natural resources that we have in order to limit the impact we have on the environment,” said Wuest.
At each of the 21 dining locations on campus, there is an overall focus on encouraging students to be conscientious about the amount of food they put on their plates each trip back to the buffet line.
“As a student eating in the dining halls, I like to get smaller portions of various foods in multiple dishes. That way I can sample a lot of different things like salad or cereal without overeating, or potentially wasting a large portion of my meal,” freshman Lee Banov said.
CDS firmly believes in providing students with a vast array of meal options, while also maintaining a focus on limiting food waste. Students are provided with sundry opportunities to construct the meal of their choice, but are encouraged to only take as much food as they will eat.
Beginning in October, much of the food waste will travel a few short miles east of Columbia to the Bradford Research and Extension Center to be composted. Superintendent of the Bradford Center, Tim Reinbott has excitedly begun work on a project termed “Composting in a Zero Carbon Footprint Production System,” now in the final stages of construction at the Bradford Center.
Reinbott will collaborate with University of Missouri students to create and run a closed-loop composting system.
Food waste from the campus will be composted at the center through a process called aerated static pile in which food scraps are mixed with other ingredients including horse bedding, manure and saw dust, heated, and then aerated. The month-long process will intake a total of 250 tons of food waste each year and produce about 170 tons of nutrient-rich compost.
Compost will be used in soil to grow vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and sweet corn, which will then be sent back to the dining halls to be consumed by students.
The university is among a select few in the nation to experiment with composting food waste produced on campus, and the only school to do so through an entirely closed-loop.
In the future, Reinbott hopes to utilize leftover vegetable oil from the dining halls to manufacture biodiesel to power transport trucks to and from the Bradford Center, as well as tractors and other machinery used on the farm.
“We’ll be the first in the nation to have a complete system like this. We can be an example for other schools, including Columbia public schools, and universities who serve more meals per day than MU does. We’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint in whatever we do, and this is a great way to produce vegetables while reducing our environmental impact,” Reinbott said.
Reinbott encourages student participation in the project, from experimenting with composting techniques on the farm, to marketing the environmentally conscious image on campus.
Limiting the impact CDS has on the environment has increasingly moved into the limelight. New programs are implemented each year in order to subvert these effects by limiting the amount of food produced and sustainably manage waste at the end of the day.