Learning where your food comes from is an essential part of the experience at schools served by Bon Appétit. At Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH, Director of Operations John Klancar and Dietitian/Marketing Manager Eric Pecherkiewicz helped me coordinate a visit to a nearby hydroponics facility, Tyler’s Farm. Roughly 15 students joined to see Tyler’s greenhouse and ask questions about hydroponics and the greens they eat at Oberlin.
Farmer Tyler Gogolek told the group that he began delving into hydroponics in 2014 after 20 years growing garden mums and working for greenhouse companies. He was able to invest in his first hydroponic greenhouse knowing that he would have a buyer in the Bon Appétit team at Oberlin, who were looking for fresh, local greens. Today the college is still one of his largest customers, and his business is growing into a second greenhouse with new experimental crops.
Tyler and his wife, Karen, were especially excited to share their story and farm with the Oberlin group. The crowd of mostly first-year students asked questions about everything from integrated pest management practices and the different needs of spinach versus lettuce to monitoring water pH levels and greenhouse CO2 concentrations. The group was visibly excited and engaged, chatting right up until it was time to leave. Overheard as they filed onto the shuttle back to campus: “Now I want to be a hydroponic farmer!”