Centre for Food students yield first beet harvest at Windreach Farm

Durham College (DC) President Don Lovisa, with Susan Todd, dean of the School of Science & Engineering Technology, joined horticulture students at Windreach Farm on Tuesday, August 26 to help yield the first harvest of beets for the Centre for Food (CFF).

As part of the college’s commitment to bring field to fork, the vision of bringing locally sourced, quality produce from field to table, to Durham Region, students have been growing produce at WindReach since May.

Dan Tomarchio and Matt Marrone, students entering their second year of the college’s Horticulture – Food and Farming program, enthusiastically provided Lovisa and Todd with a tour of the field they have been passionately cultivating where, in addition to beets, they have been growing tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, sunflowers, Swiss chard, fennel and more.

Bringing the field to the fork, the group then delivered 50 pounds of freshly picked beets to Benjamin Lewis, manager and chef de cuisine at Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant housed at the CFF, and David Hawey, chef, professor and co-ordinator of the college’s culinary programs. The beets will be used in farm-fresh dishes at Bistro ’67 and by second-year students of the Culinary Management program for a beet salad challenge, in one of their first lab classes.

“Interest in the farm-fresh movement is higher than ever before,” said Todd. “Durham College is helping to answer Durham Region’s increased demand for locally sourced ingredients through our horticulture programs, the Centre for Food and Bistro ’67. We are excited to be offering our students the opportunity to gain hands-on training in everything from plant propagation; soil and plant nutrition; and fruit and vegetable production under a varied range of conditions, to food processing and regulations; entrepreneurship; branding and marketing; and more.”

In addition, the college recently launched Field to Fork: Sowing the Seeds of our Community, a crowdfunding campaign to support the landscaping required at the CFF including the planting of trees, shrubs, fruits, vegetables and arboretum; the purchase of garden tools; a walking path; new soil; and more.

Construction on the college’s first-ever greenhouse is now underway for use by students in the horticulture programs. Designed to accommodate multi-laboratory classes and provide students with a better understanding of the full potential of growing plants and produce all year long, the greenhouse will provide students with a unique opportunity to gain a hands-on understanding of greenhouse design, required control measures, energy consumption and how to work in a controlled environment in both operational and plant production modes.