Blog: Farms

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Bon Appétit at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has been steadily increasing its purchases from local farmers ever since taking over the Penn account in 2009. But the busy chefs don’t always have the opportunity to venture outside of their kitchens and visit the producers. To provide chefs with a unique farmers’ perspective, as well as inspiration to purchase locally, Hill House Executive Chef Valerie McHugh has begun taking members of the Penn team on visits to local farms during school breaks.

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Have you ever seen a farm that grows produce using minerals, nutrients, and water, but no soil? Bon Appétit Farm to Fork partner John Lawson of Hydro Harvest Farms is doing just that—and growing about six times more produce than the typical farm in the process, he says!

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Bon Appétit chefs are used to cooking for business and academic royalty: CEOs, Nobel Prize-winning professors, and university presidents dine on our food daily. But when the company was invited to feed actual royalty — His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, fresh from his son’s wedding — along with Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio, a dozen other stars of the sustainable food movement, and 750 journalists and other high-profile guests, the menu planning and food sourcing reached new heights of intensity.

The occasion was a landmark all-day conference on the “Future of Food,” hosted by the Washington Post at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

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Industrial-scale agriculture often exacts a steep human cost. That was one of the lessons I learned last week from farmer Bob Knight and farmworker Marco Franco of the Inland Orange Conservancy, Bon Appétit at the University of Redland’s first Farm to Fork partner. They were the guest speakers at one of our Stories from the Fields events, held at the University Club.

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By Carolina Fojo, East Coast Fellow for Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation In this video, Katherine Ecker gives me a tour of Legacy Manor Farm, where animals don’t just roam the pasture, they roam the driveway, the house…and anywhere they want! One hen insists on laying her eggs in the back of Katherine’s car, and the Eckers have woken up to find a horse standing on their front porch. As part of our Farm to Fork program begun in 1999, Bon Appétit Management Company purchases fresh, seasonal produce from small, local farmers around the country. We recently celebrated the milestone of 1,000 such suppliers. As a Fellow for Bon Appétit, I get to travel to these different farms and learn about the joys and challenges farmers today face — and share their stories.

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By Vera Chang, West Coast Fellow for Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation  As West Coast Fellow, I’ve been traveling to some of Bon Appétit’s 1,000 Farm to Fork partners to understand their on-the-ground practices and challenges. I met farmer David Hoyle in between attending the Food Justice Conference in Eugene and presenting Stories from the Fields, about farm worker issues, at Lewis & Clark College. Dave and I chatted for a while in the rain on his farm, Creative Growers, tucked away in the back roads of Noti, Oregon.

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  By Vera Chang, West Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation The Whitman Model Farm Project not only conserves natural resources and improves Whitman College’s environmental efficiency, but also happens to produce delicious food. I know because I just had an outstanding salad at Bon Appétit Management Company’s Prentiss Dining Hall at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA for lunch. Now, post-meal, like a salad lover in search of her pot of gold, I’m off to find out where my microgreens[1] came from. It turns out that in the rooftop greenhouse of Whitman College’s Hall of Science, salad grows. Sweet pea tendril vines wind their way up from growing trays. Four students are planting and watering seeds. I am sweltering under the greenhouse’s captured sun, but still determined to learn more about my lunch.

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Farmer Bob Knight (on right) with Bon Appétit Management Company Biola University Chefs By Vera Chang, West Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation “Farms are getting huge. Real estate is expensive in California. Farming in the global food economy requires [farmers] to have thousands of acres. Farmers that used to have 10 or 20 acres are now being pressured to buy 4,000 acres.” We are at the Bon Appétit Management Company Student Ambassador Program at Biola University, a kick-off event for thirty students to get to know some of the people behind food: Bon Appétit chefs, staff, and farmers. Executive Chef Peter Alfaro just spoke about the path that led him to work in the kitchen and his passion for making the food system more sustainable through purchases as a chef. Biology professor and head of the Biola Organic […]