Here’s the Dirt on Our Dirt

When our initial soil test revealed that our plot was free of contaminants and heavy metals but depleted of micronutrients and organic matter, we committed ourselves to nourishing our soil by adopting completely organic and sustainable soil management practices. Not only do we avoid using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, but we also steer clear of commercially manufactured organic soil amendments in favor of more sustainable solutions. These practices include incorporating school-generated compost, aged leaf mold and nitrogen-rich coffee chaff from a local coffee roaster into our plant beds. We also annually plant a variety of nitrogen-fixing cover crops and use a 4-year crop rotation model to maintain optimal soil health.

Increasing Food Literacy, Supporting A Local Food System, Creating Socially Responsible Supply Chains

Where does the produce grown here end up? Some of it is used in our culinary arts and nutrition courses to teach students where food comes from and challenge their eating habits by exposing them to unfamiliar tastes in the freshest form possible. In late Spring and early Fall, produce is sold to our cafeteria’s food service company for use in healthy school lunches, giving our student-farmers experience in the supply side of food systems. These students also operate periodic “pop-up” farmstand sales for faculty, staff and parents and receive direct feedback from these customers. Through both sales opportunities, students gain insight into the economic realities facing farmers and the razor-thin margins that farms must operate within year in and year out.