Oberlin College’s Secret Local-Food Weapon

By Joan Boettcher, M.S., R.D., L.D., Campus Registered Dietitian, Oberlin College
Something magical is happening at Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH. No matter how small or dark or drafty the location, the vegetables and herbs planted by Bon Appétit Sous Chef Chris Brunst just keep growing and growing, producing food for Dascomb Café

Oberlin_DSCN4193Chris started out growing herbs in flats in a 8-foot by 8-foot space just inside the entrance to Dascomb. With an industrial-size grow light and a little magic, he’s got a few vegetables started and even harvested enough mesclun, radishes and micro-basil to provide a salad for each of the 64 guests at a recent Local Foods Dinner.

In addition to providing food for the café, the project inspires and educates students about where food comes from. Chris labeled the different vegetables and printed up explanations of his growing technique. He’s also always willing to talk to students and let them taste the greens straight from the garden.

It seems to have worked, because a group of students recently commissioned a local carpenter to build 21 herb boxes to be placed on the balcony of the Stevenson Café. They paid for them with various on-campus grants. As soon as they are completed, they will house herbs from Chris's garden. Just imagine what abundance he’ll have on his hands once these plants finally have fresh air and sun!