Duke’s Campus Farm Connects Students with Their Food

By Sarah McGowan, Marketing Manager

The new student-run Duke Campus Farm at Duke University in Durham, NC, broke ground in early 2011 with great promise. After a full year of planning, students began with a February work party and the following mission: “To educate the student body on sustainable farming practices, increase Duke’s sustainability, and reconnect our generation with its food.” Duke_vtJZl6j8_CIMG1756Starting a farm is one thing, but making it self-sustaining is another. The farm was initiated by students, who organized a feasibility study with Duke Environmental Sciences and Policy Professor Charlotte Clark’s “Food and Energy” class. The students researched the economics of the project, including details like space requirements, cost of production and maintenance, and crop sales. That’s where Bon Appétit came in. The students worked with Resident District Manager Nate Peterson and Marketing Manager Sarah McGowan on a purchasing agreement under which Bon Appétit agreed to purchase 100% of the farm’s production for use in campus eateries.

On groundbreaking day, the Bon Appétit team and a group of student ambassadors were eager to get their hands dirty. They spent the day installing posts for deer fencing, planting seeds, and finishing the greenhouse. Students were thrilled to see the progress made in a single day, and the Bon Appétit cooks are all very excited to feature produce from the campus farm in their menus.