Albion College Embraces Farm to Fork

Executive Chef Jason Jones chatting with folks at Frog Holler Farm

New account openings are always a special kind of challenge: hiring and training new staff, overseeing kitchen renovations, making connections with farmers, and handling all the other tasks of opening a restaurant. The team members at Albion College in Albion, MI, had already surpassed many of the obstacles after the first school year ended this summer, and they were ready to focus on expanding their Farm to Fork program.

Since most of the BAMCO team was brand new — General Manager David Lauffer was an exception, having moved over from Wheaton College in Illinois — I spent a few days there teaching the team how to enroll Farm to Fork vendors.

I explained the principles of the program and went over the paperwork; then Executive Chef Jason Jones, Sous Chef Wendy Sigle, and Director of Operations Pat Miller drove to the Ann Arbor farmers’ market to start making connections with farmers. After an extremely successful morning — the Ann Arbor farmers’ market has many of the same requirements for participation that we do, so farmers weren’t fazed by the insurance requirements or paperwork — the four went on to visit a potential artisan vendor’s site.

Rosewood Products makes tofu, soy milk, and other soy-based products out of locally sourced soybeans right in Ann Arbor. The tour of the facility and product tasting left everyone impressed, and the team at Albion now has a great relationship with Rosewood Products, with many of their products being featured in the café’s vegan deli. The following day, Jason, Wendy, and I went to H&W Farms to tour the apple orchard and see its onsite store. The hardworking team at Albion College has continued to make connections with farmers. Over the summer, they increased their Farm to Fork percentage more than threefold. These newcomers to the Bon Appétit family have really embraced the Farm to Fork program, and it will be exciting to see their continued growth.