Starting this quarter, the Cuarto Dining Commons will be using produce grown on campus at the Student Farm.
Produce from the Student Farm will be featured in both the salad bar as well as main menu items. Whenever the produce is included in the meal, there will be a sign next to the food informing students about how to visit the farm and how they can get involved.
“[Educational opportunity] is the goal of this program, the whole reason why we’re hoping to feature Student Farm produce in the DC,” said Dani Lee, sustainability manager with UC Davis Dining Services. “We want to get students excited about the opportunities to see how and where food is grown.”
As part of the program, UC Davis Dining Services created a new intern position to help students learn not only about the farm and growing food, but the retail aspects. These include working with restaurants and chefs, quality control and ordering and packaging.
Though there is no definitive date set, sources say the program will be implemented this week or the next.
“We are setting this up for it to happen on a weekly basis for the DC and every now and then for the Gunrock Pub or catering,” said Raoul Adamchak, Market Garden and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) coordinator for the Student Farm, in an e-mail interview.
Because the Student Farm doesn’t yield enough produce to support all three DCs, the only one featuring the farm’s fruit and vegetables will be Cuarto.
“We picked Cuarto because it’s the smallest of the three dining commons,” Lee said. “The theme of the dining program has more sustainability focus as well. The building itself is LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] registered.”
Right now the produce that will be featured is whatever has already been planted, but the Student Farm will later plant certain vegetables at the request of the Cuarto chef.
“A lot of the things [we’ll be] growing are uncommon vegetables,” said Kase Wheatley, a sustainability intern for UC Davis Dining Services and sophomore undeclared major. “Chef Emilio wants to get produce that students aren’t used to seeing, such a radicchio, [dinosaur] kale and red Russian kale.”
As of right now, there are no plans to include Student Farm produce in the other DCs due to production limitations by the farm. However, the other DCs do feature a roasted tomato sauce made from tomatoes grown on campus as well as olive oil from the UC Davis Olive Center.
The program will be piloted for the remainder of this quarter and all of spring quarter.
“Once we see how it goes, we will consider continuing it,” Lee said. “The goal is that this will be an annual thing and students will be able to continue filling this [new] internship position.”
AKSHAYA RAMANUJAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.