The 1st Annual Farm to Chef Week and Dedication of the New Campus Garden

Submitted by Genevieve Bleidner '13 on October 1, 2010

During the week of September 26, 2010, Fairfield University took part in the First Annual Farm-to-Chef Harvest Celebration Week, a Connecticut Department of Agriculture program aimed at celebrating the harvest of fruits, vegetables, and herbs harvested by farms throughout the state. The program encourages local dining facilities to serve foods prepared with Connecticut grown ingredients.

To kick off the week here on campus, students and faculty gathered late Monday afternoon for a blessing and dedication given by President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. of the campus’s first vegetable and herb garden. The ceremony, which was intimate and personal and took place at the garden located next to the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, came at an opportune time; although there were downpours during the day, the rain ceased for the dedication before falling again.

Faculty, students, staff, and alumni began the physical work of planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting early this past summer. The garden includes 18 raised beds of carrots, squash, tomatoes, and herbs, among other fresh vegetables. The dining hall at the Barone Campus Center has already begun featuring dishes made with the first round of harvest on its menus.

The campus garden is one of the sustainability projects initiated by the University, and acts as an outdoor classroom for students of the sciences and environmental studies. It is also available as a living and learning tool for students who participate in the new Environmental Living and Learning community, who tend to the garden as well.

A portion of Fairfield’s harvest has been donated to Harvest Now, a hunger relief program.

The Farm-to-Chef week celebration, along with the blessing of the garden in its foundational year, was highlighted by a luncheon open to the campus community and the public on Wednesday, September 29. The luncheon featured many fresh and locally grown foods, as well as vegetables harvested at Fairfield for the event – from freshly picked apples and pears to squash and zucchini dishes. The lunch helped culminate the week with good friends and good food, and was a fitting way to showcase all the hard work that went into the project.

“This was a great change from what we usually have in the dining hall,” says Maria Sanchez ’13. “Being able to bring in locally grown foods, especially to feature food grown here on campus by our peers, is an invaluable resource for the University, and helps to support the local economy as well as raise awareness of sustainability. I’m excited to see how this develops in the future.”

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