Durham College (DC) and WindReach Farm (WindReach) have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see them work together to provide students with opportunities to work directly in the fields at WindReach, allowing them to develop their food production skills via the planting of crops to be harvested for use at the college’s Centre for Food (CFF).
In addition, the MOU will see both institutions work collaboratively on the development and delivery of educational curricula for students enrolled in the college’s Horticulture – Food and Farming program, housed under the School of Science & Engineering Technology (SET); the expansion of WindReach’s current educational programs; and the enhancement of community awareness and interactions for both organizations through the agricultural development of an acre of the WindReach Farm property for food planting purposes. This includes a strong focus on the local food movement through the planting and growing of beets, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, sunflowers, Swiss chard, fennel and more that has been underway at the farm since May.
Once harvested, the produce is being used at the college’s CFF and Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired green-certified restaurant housed at the CFF. The new building, which opened to students in fall 2013, is supported by ambassador and celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy and focused on the field-to-fork concept, which is based on the harvesting, storage, processing, packaging, sale and consumption of food – in particular the production of local food for local consumers.
As part of the agreement, WindReach is providing professional expertise, in-field growing space and access to field equipment, facilities and storage with the college providing faculty and lab field technologist expertise to support the program and guide students through the planting process.
“Our agreement with WindReach is providing Durham College students with the chance to develop their food production skills in a safe and inspiring environment, enhancing their learning and supporting the vision and values of both WindReach and Durham College,” said Susan Todd, dean of SET. “This opportunity for our students to gain hands-on training in a wide variety of areas related to plant propagation and fruit and vegetable production is a true reflection of the college’s commitment to bring field-to-fork to Durham Region while offering the best possible learning opportunities to our students.
“This agreement with Durham College is a stellar example of both organizations’ commitment to true partnership and collaboration. In addition to the meaningful and relevant training the students are receiving while here, they are also able to see the importance of community agencies and supporting the work they do,” said Kate Bird, chief executive officer of WindReach Farm. “In addition, the more than 20,000 visitors who attend the farm each year will be able to learn about the most current trends and research when it comes to agri-food education; especially at a time when the appetite for local and healthy food is at an all-time high. We are delighted to be working with Durham College on this project and are looking forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership.”
As part of its commitment to field-to-fork, the college also 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.