BAMCO Foundation and KGI Launch Campus Farmers Community

New social-networking-based website connects students who want to feed their fellow students

Palo Alto, CA (October 24) – The average age of U.S. farmers is 57, and only getting older. But alongside this worrying USDA Census of Agriculture statistic is a more cheering one: the number of young people entering farming seems at last to be on the rise.

Many of these for-profit growers got their hands dirty for the first time in college, volunteering on a farm or even banding together to start one at their alma mater. Now, there’s a new social-networking-based online community that connects wannabe campus growers to students who have already taken food gardens “off the ground” at their universities — as well as to veteran greenthumbs around the world.

campus-farmers-sans-international-280pxCampus Farmers is a collaboration between the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation and Kitchen Gardeners International(KGI). The nonprofit arm of food service pioneer Bon Appétit Management Company, the Foundation in 2009 released a downloadable Student Garden Guide upon whose work Campus Farmers builds. KGI is a nonprofit community of 25,000 people from 100 countries who are growing their own food and helping others to do the same. It was the driving force behind 2008’s successful public campaign to get the White House to plant a kitchen garden.

The Campus Farmers site (www.kgi.org/campusfarmers) offers a wealth of information and links to resources about starting an on-campus farm, managing farm finances, and staying in business. Students can ask each other questions about things such as how to get permission to start planting on unused land, upload photos of their projects, and share documents such as sample business plans. And if they want to find out, say, a chemical-free way to fight an infestation of tomato worms, they can turn to KGI’s members for help.

campusfarmers_emilysloss_duke_4671“Starting a campus farm can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to reinvent the wheelbarrow,” says Emily McGinty, Duke University ’13, who has been involved with the community garden and farm at her campus in Durham, NC, since her freshman year. “When we were starting the Duke farm, we spent months asking for permission and trying to figure out budgets and best practices. With Campus Farmers, we could have had those answers in seconds.”

Emily and BAMCO Foundation East Coast Fellow Nicole Tocco are working together to seed Campus Farmers with students’ schools around the country. The idea for the online community came from former East Coast Fellow Carolina Fojo, who worked with students and Bon Appétit staff to start a kitchen garden at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and thought there had to be a better way to centralize and share information.

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 500 cafés in 32 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Center. All Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farmworker welfare. It has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations including the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the James Beard Foundation, Chefs Collaborative, Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance.

Caption: Emily Sloss, Duke Campus Farm manager. Contact Bonnie Powell for high-res images.

Contact: Bonnie Powell, bonnie.powell@bamco.com, (650) 621-0871