In This Together DC: Update on the CFF gardens

As part of our In This Together DC email series, today’s update will share with you details about ongoing garden activities in the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF) gardens.

It is fascinating to watch the student field crew at the CFF this spring. Arriving at staggered times, gathering for stretches and a daily briefing with social distancing factored in, and working independently in the fields and gardens have all become the new norm for the team and an industry that is often expected to work in close proximity. It seems counter-intuitive to the principles of collaborating and growing together that we have come to understand as so critical to a positive student experience.

However, our crew of 13 students and staff are adjusting quite well and the fields and grounds around the CFF have never looked better. Already this summer they have planted the gardens, developed a spectacular new food forest and have been actively engaged in bringing our new recycled shipping container farm to an operating state (did you know it is capable of producing up to 700 heads of lettuce a week?). When the world hit pause not too long ago, the college’s urban farm continued unabated. That is because the thousands of pounds of food grown there this summer will be needed more than ever when culinary students are able to return to labs, and Bistro ’67 and Pantry operations resume in the next few weeks (watch for more details soon) with a takeout menu, curbside pick-up and eventually a return to in-restaurant service.  

Providing access to a consistent source of locally grown food has been one of the priorities of government through the current state of emergency, and that will be particularly important in the coming weeks as food-service providers ramp up production and greater strain is placed on the supply chain. The work of our field crew places the CFF and School of Hospitality & Horticultural Science in a state of readiness for a resumption of activities.

For the Horticulture – Food and Farming and Horticulture Technician students, working full-time on the farm helps them gain hands-on skills that build on their first two semesters of study and leap forward into the last two. Working in these conditions also teaches them further about adaptability on the job, in even the most unexpected situations.  

Given all that we are dealing with right now, it is particularly comforting to have that visual reminder of what sets a college education apart and why a college education makes all the difference for the social and economic well-being of students and our broader community.

Tony Doyle
Dean, School of Hospitality & Horticultural Science