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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Beginning this summer, Dartmouth Dining Services (DDS) will begin an experiment designed to increase student access to fresh, local produce by buying 11 varieties of produce directly from several farms in the Upper Valley area. The program is the result of two years of collaboration between DDS and Valley Food & Farm, part of the non-profit organization Vital Communities. The trial program receives additional support from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), a program that provides grants to advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and beneficial to communities.
During the 2006 summer, DDS will buy strawberries, green beans, beets, summer squash, green and red peppers, cucumbers, corn, carrots, watermelons and red onions from Edgewater Farm in Plainfield, N.H., the Blue Ox Farm in Enfield N.H. and McLennan Farm in Windsor, Vt.
Fresh local produce was already part of DDS's offerings to students, purchased through the distributors, Upper Valley Produce and Black River Produce. Under the new program, DDS has also committed to purchasing produce directly from farmers. Lisa Johnson, the Valley Food & Farm Coordinator for Vital Communities, initiated the plan and is pleased by the results. "The great thing is that there are so many winners here. We've worked to help people buy more from local farmers but we had not yet worked with an institution. Dartmouth was the first institution to say yes."
Beth DiFrancesco, Purchasing Manager for DDS, worked with Johnson to reach the final arrangements. According to DiFrancesco, the program "brings fresher product to our door while striving to help support those who struggle to keep alive a business and a way of life so historically important to this area. Participation in the grant program will hopefully help the producers to plant, raise and deliver those products that could be commercially relevant to doing business at Dartmouth, and help us here at the College to have more direct access to those products." As the program develops, DDS will identify meals containing New Hampshire and Vermont farm products using a student-designed Farm-to-Dartmouth logo.
The farm-to-Dartmouth produce is not the first move by the college to take part in the agricultural life of the Upper Valley. The college purchases apples and maple syrup produced in the Upper Valley and in March, DDS switched to cage free shelled eggs from Pete and Gerry's Organic Farm in Monroe, N.H. SARE grants have also helped bring New Hampshire-raised buffalo meat to Dartmouth's Homeplate Grill and funded the Taste of the Upper Valley local foods dinner now held during freshman orientation week.
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