Expanded partnership increases access to sustainable food on Appalachian’s campus

To grow the campus farm-to-dining hall partnership, expand the amount of local food available to students, faculty and staff, Appalachian State University’s Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development and Appalachian Food Services have plans to increase the growing capacity of the Teaching and Research Farm at the Blackburn-Vannoy Estate in Ashe County.

The partnership, which formally began in January 2018, now includes a significant investment from Food Services to build a high efficiency greenhouse, repair the farm’s existing high tunnel used to extend the growing season and construct a new poultry house.

Food Services’ donation is joined by a significant contribution from Appalachian’s Renewable Energy Initiative, a student-led organization, which, according to its website, “installs renewable energy and energy-efficient projects on campus.”

Dr. Richard Rheingans, chair of the sustainable development department, is excited for the opportunities the partnership provides for students.

“We want to reach the students where they are. We know they want to be involved in helping to make Appalachian a more sustainable campus, and one way we can do that is offer accessible local food options,” he said.

The partnership is an integral part of the university's shared commitment to expanding access to local food from High Country producers, and it aims to increase the amount of hyper-local product sold to students, faculty and staff in the dining halls and markets.

“The new greenhouse will be solely devoted to growing items for campus,”  Farm Director Chip Hope said. “Currently, we are working with chefs in Food Services to select the produce we will grow during the coming season and are making plans for how we can take what we’ve learned this year and apply it to our increased capacity once the structure is built.”

As the partnership progresses, Director of Food Services Pam Cline will work closely with Hope to ensure he’s growing and providing products that best fit student dining needs.

“This collaboration highlights the hard work that both areas of campus do to fulfill the university's sustainability mission,” she shared. “We acknowledge the importance of being responsible stewards of our resources and want to prioritize what is important to our campus by continuing to develop this partnership.”   

About the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development

One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University prepares students to thoughtfully analyze human development while focusing on the applied practice of pursuing transformative, community-driven development and social change. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable development with concentrations in agroecology and sustainable agriculture; community, regional and global development; and environmental studies; as well as a Bachelor of Arts and minor in sustainable development.

About Food Services

Appalachian Food Services is owned and operated by Appalachian State University and offers dining services tailored to the campus community's specific needs. With three dining facilities, 150 vending machines and daily catering events, Food Services not only provides opportunities for nourishment, but building and fostering relationships over shared meals and experiences. Food Services is committed to serving the Appalachian community using sustainable practices such as local sourcing and contributing to campus composting and a constantly evolving partnership with the Office of Sustainability.  

About ASU- REI

The Appalachian State Renewable Energy Initiative is a student-led, student-funded organization that seeks to install renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. Projects can be proposed by any student, and are carried out with the help of faculty and staff advisors by the REI committee. Since its inception in 2005, the REI has funded a number of projects, including the Broyhill Wind Turbine, which, until recently, was the largest wind turbine in North Carolina.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Chefs visit farm
Published: Mar 1, 2019 9:48am