Farm to table: produce grown at GVSU now served on campus

A student harvests fresh vegetables at the Sustainable Agriculture Project.
A student harvests fresh vegetables at the Sustainable Agriculture Project.

Students, faculty and staff members at Grand Valley State University are adding a Laker flavor to the farm-to-table concept.  

In a new partnership between the Office of Sustainability Practices and Campus Dining, produce grown on campus is now being incorporated into meals served on campus. 

Herbs and vegetables are grown, harvested and packaged at Grand Valley’s Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP), a hands-on farming space that allows students, faculty and staff members to learn about sustainable agriculture. Then, the produce is purchased, prepared and served at Engrained, a campus restaurant located in The Connection on the Allendale Campus. 

“The produce is grown less than a few miles from the restaurant where it’s being prepared and served,” said Dave Feenstra, project manager for the Sustainable Agriculture Project. “It’s a beneficial collaboration that exposes students to where food comes from.” 

Before the produce could be sold and served, a food risk safety assessment through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development had to be completed, which included inspections of equipment and procedures at SAP. Feenstra said students and staff members who harvest the produce completed an extensive training program to learn about food safety.

Aaron Johnson, food services director for The Connection and sustainability manager for Campus Dining, said the collaboration began about two years ago. “The partnership aligns with Grand Valley’s commitment to sustainability. It fosters education and community engagement among members of the campus community,” he said. 

SAP is a collaborative, hands-on space that was established in 2008 and includes two hoophouses used for fall and winter vegetable production and a community supported agriculture program (CSA). Support is provided by Farm Club members, faculty and staff members and a team of student interns.

For more information, contact Dave Feenstra at [email protected] or Aaron Johnson at [email protected]