Students at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, are lucky to have an on-site campus farm supplying their café with superlocal produce. A few months ago, as manager of the Campus Farmers program for Bon Appétit, I had the chance to tour the greenhouse with Campus Farm Manager Malorie Imhoff to learn how the farm is run.
During the school year, students diligently bike between the kitchen and the campus farm, about a mile from the central campus, picking up food scraps and dropping them off for composting. Volunteer campus farmers coordinate the care for both the greenhouse space and the campus farm itself in the warmer months. A couple of campus farmers are also employed during the summer. Staff from a few local restaurants and even some of the Bon Appétit team members plan to spend some time volunteering on the campus farm during the summer. Malorie was excited to hear from me about models that other campus farmers have employed to ensure continuity of knowledge.
Then Executive Chef Jordan Hall, Catering Chef Josh Dunn, and I took a field trip to Ponderosa Aqua Farm, a Farm to Fork vendor about 30 minutes south of campus. Farmer Missy Carrell gave the group a tour of the greenhouse and the facility where fish are housed. Tilapia occupy five of the six tanks, while catfish take up one. Missy primarily sells tilapia (a sustainable option!) and circulates the nutrient-rich water to small herbs and microgreens in the building where the tanks are and outside to the greenhouse, where she grows lettuces and even tomatoes. Missy gave us a chance to try quite a few of the microgreens and lettuces. Everyone was surprised by how delicious the sunflower microgreens in particular were — they’re just like sunflower seeds!