The Evergreen State College Harvests First Crop From Campus Dining Donated Greenhouse

Published: June 17, 2008 09:30 AM

The Evergreen State College recently harvested its first crop, arugula, from an organic, on campus, sponsored greenhouse. Storms in December 2006 damaged previous greenhouse structures on campus; ARAMARK, the dining services provider at Evergreen, donated $16,000 that, along with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, helped to rebuild and expand the greenhouses, dubbed The Organic Farm. The first morning’s harvest produced nearly 40lbs of arugula, which was prepped and served that very day during lunch.

“Students at Evergreen want to know where their food is coming from. Campus Dining support of the organic farm is an impressive step towards increasing our local food production,” said Sharon Goodman, director of residential and dining services at The Evergreen State College. “The arugula that I helped picked one morning was on the salad bar in the dining hall by lunch time. It felt great to tell students that I had, first-hand, harvested the arugula that very day and that it was fresh, local, organic, and was grown for us to all enjoy. It made me and reminded me that Evergreen really is a special place."

The new greenhouses offer more square feet and increased projected supply for residential dining needs. Additionally, the structures have also increased the economic potential of the organic farm and ecological agriculture efforts on campus. To date, the college has already bested its goal for 2010 by purchasing more than 25%-30% percent of its food from local and organic sources. “With the new greenhouse structures, it is likely that Evergreen could reach 32%-37% percent production from local and organic sources,” said Craig Ward, food service director at The Evergreen State College.

“Dining services needs most of its produce October through June while the typical growing season in Olympia is June through October,” said Melissa Barker, manager at The Organic Farm. “Using the greenhouses to extend the season is very important.”

“It also allows for a year-round agricultural teaching space,” added Barker. Evergreen offers instruction in organic agriculture on The Organic Farm. The Evergreen State College’s three-acre organic farm produces sustainable food for dining services, an on-campus farm stand, Community Supported Agriculture efforts, local food banks, and charities