Hands-on learning of sustainable farming, cooking with local ingredients and a commitment to recycling and composting are only a few of the hallmarks that distinguish recipients of this year’s CAFÉ/Kendall College Green Awards, which were presented on June 23 in Chicago at the 12th-annual Leadership Conference of the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ).
Among candidates for the top 2016 award, the Culinary Arts Department of Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) in Sonoma County, California, stood out in large part for its collaboration with SRJC’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Department in the planning of Shone Farm, a 365-acre agricultural lab near Forestville in the Russian River Valley that includes a market garden, apple orchard, olive orchard, instructional vineyard, greenhouse, compost-production area and acreage for large-scale row-crop production.
During the growing season, more than 50 percent of the student-grown produce featured on menus in the open-to-the-public Culinary Café & Bakery and used in kitchen labs comes from Shone Farm. Additionally, 90 percent of foods, including organic flours and grains, is sourced from purveyors located within 50 miles of the college. No pre- or partially prepared food products are used in teaching or cooking. Food waste is recycled to Shone Farm for composting and applying to fields to complete the nutrient cycle.
This year’s CAFÉ/Kendall College Green Awards also named a runner-up: Triumph High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming, part of Laramie County School District 1.
Thanks to a city grant, family-and-consumer-sciences students created a living vertical garden in their classroom, and the program purchased composting equipment. The garden yields produce used in culinary courses, by the school’s culinary-competition team and by the school-based enterprise, Triumph Catering. The composting equipment transforms food waste from the culinary courses and school-lunch program into nutrients for the soil used for vertical-garden seedlings; any excess soil mass is packaged and made available to local nurseries and residents.
Additionally, in March 2016 students who compete as part of SkillsUSA executed a day-and-a-half conference—dubbed PermaU—to promote sustainable agriculture to the community. It kicked off with an in-depth workshop on how to start, maintain and profit from an apiary (bee yard). The next day included workshops delivered by experts on topics ranging from “Producing High Quality Milk for the Home Dairy” to “Beer Fermentation with Saccaromyces Cerevisiae and Mixed Cultures.” The free conference included lunch featuring items from the students’ vertical garden.
CAFÉ’s annual Green Awards, founded in and sponsored by Kendall College since 2009, comprise the first national awards program to recognize secondary and postsecondary culinary-arts, baking/pastry and hospitality-management programs for their commitment to ecological sustainability and teaching its tenets. Selection criteria are based on the integration of sustainability into educational programs and/or operations.
“Sustainability is integral to the Kendall culture—from our mission statement to our curriculum and operations,” says Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, HAAC, vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. “With this annual award, Kendall College, in partnership with CAFÉ, recognizes the sustainability commitment of foodservice and hospitality educators and programs nationwide while building upon the body of knowledge and resources that can help other institutions in their journeys toward sustainability.”
As 2016 Green Award recipients, both Santa Rosa Junior College and Triumph High School received engraved plaques and complimentary full registrations to CAFÉ’s 12th-Annual Leadership Conference at Kendall College in Chicago, June 23—25.