Aramark supplies all food services on Durham College campuses, Durham College (DC) has worked with Aramark to establish guidelines for green purchasing for food services, which include an eat local initiative among other sustainability components.
All food waste from our kitchens gets composted and food packaging is recycled.
Buying local products is a campus priority as outlined in Durham College’s Purchasing Policy Guidelines. This policy extends to all products and services. Buying local is also prioritized by the college’s food services provider, Aramark, which uses local farmers to supply as much food as possible.
W. Galen Weston Centre for Food
The W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF) is Durham Region’s first-ever post-secondary presence focused on the field-to-fork concept. The CFF, a Green Restaurant Association (GRA)-certified facility, can accommodate approximately 900 students studying in cohesive programs based on the field-to-fork concept, completing the full supply chain cycle from sustainable farming practices to the processing, preparation, serving and celebration of local food.
There is an increased awareness surrounding the preservation of our local farmlands, demonstrated need for techniques and technologies for growing food in urban environments, and more consumers demanding local food with its associated lower energy consumption and reduced environmental impact. Although the large CFF site allows for the integration of significant horticultural lands with the creating a productive growing environment was very challenging. About 45 centimeters of topsoil and compost, derived from local spent mushroom substrate, was added to rehabilitate the garden site which had been environmentally disturbed by construction activities. The compost enriched topsoil has enhanced the water holding capacity and nutrient availability of the garden soil. The south side of the building demonstrates a ramped garden feature which includes a pollinator garden for native birds, bees and butterflies. This is of particular interest to elementary and secondary schools, who wish to plant pollinator gardens as a living learning environment to support their science curriculum. Native plants are used to provide nectar, pollen, larval food and habitat. Milkweed plants, started in the greenhouse and transplanted into the pollinator garden, provide habitat components for monarch butterflies. The second floor restaurant, Bistro ’67 – a 70-seat, full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, looks out over the large garden. The CFF also includes Pantry, a unique retail store that brings student-created goods straight from the field to the culinary classroom and on to the community.
In its first summer of restricted operation, the garden produced 1260 kilograms of garden herbs, fruits and vegetables valued conservatively at $6,000 for the culinary curriculum and Bistro ‘67. This fresh produce was grown and harvested by students in the appropriately integrated curriculum programs. Sustainable technologies such as the green living wall, herb garden, raised beds and unheated hoop house are incorporated into the plan. Other food commodities are sourced from local producers. The CFF connects Durham Region’s rural and urban communities through education and the production of healthy, safe, affordable and delicious food.
DC was awarded a 2015 Leadership Award by Durham Farm Connections in recognition of our innovative contributions to regional agriculture and agricultural education. Development of the CFF grounds continues in the next three years with the planting, by students, of more than 200 species of trees, shrubs, perennials and fruit- bearing shrubs in the arboretum to provide an experiential teaching and learning environment for both students, industry, community organizations and the general public. In 2016, the CFF also won a Durham Regional Environmental Achievement Award for Forward-Thinking Efforts to Encourage Environmental Change as well as Gold in the Green Colleges category of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics Awards of Excellence.
The sustainability story that is unfolding at the CFF is an evolutionary process. Durham College is encouraging sustainable practices among students and employees by creating a unique learning environment. The sustainable CFF building, its surrounding grounds and our graduates will serve as a beacon for innovative environmentally sustainable projects in future years.