One container farm design, countless applications

Whether looking to supply sustainable food, jumpstart modern agriculture curriculums, encourage student engagement, or simply grow the best greens around, universities around the country are relying on hydroponic container farms to create impactful farm to campus programs. Today, we’re highlighting just seven universities and their unique uses of our standardized, easy-to-use farming system.

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Container Farming Curriculum

Saint Joseph’s College

The Saint Joseph’s farm was donated by Hannaford Supermarket and was integrated into the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation on campus. The Institute is currently in the process of creating a certificate program based on the campus container farm, with the goal of helping students and working adults in the area get trained in alternative food production methods to be competitive in a growing Maine industry. 

The student-operated farm supplies the dining halls with Greenstar and Rouxai lettuces. The weekly harvest is enough for four days of service for the 1,200 person campus, with the lettuce used in the buffet in the main dining hall and a small sandwich cafe. The farmers also experiment with wasabi arugula, kale, arugula, and violas. Additionally, greens are donated and sold through Catherine’s Cupboard, and are used in community events like summertime farm-to-table dinners and an annual Senior event. 

The work in the farm applies to a lot of different disciplines, so make the program fun or experimental to engage students.
— Hillary Lamkin, Pearson's Cafe and Freight Farm Manager

 

Interested in learning more about saint Joseph’s college?

Register for our upcoming webinar with the SJC Freight Farm operators and student farmers on October 21st, 2019 at 2:30PM EST.

 

farming for School Sustainability

Maryville University & Fresh Ideas Food Services 

For Fresh Ideas, sustainability is an important part of dining services and the company strives to educate students about the food they are served and where it comes from. Adding container and tower gardens to campuses has been a big initiative to ensure food is locally-sourced and the chefs have access to the freshest ingredients available. Maryville University also takes sustainability very seriously, with a fully developed sustainability degree program, ‘green’ student groups, and awards to recognize student efforts. A hydroponic container farm is just another layer.

The farm is operated by Fresh Ideas, who hired a recent Maryville graduate and former farm intern to run the campus container farm. The container farm creates an attractive and forward-thinking food service program for the campus and community, growing delicious, fresh, sustainably-grown food that is harvested onsite to increase flavor and nutrition.

The farm is divided into halves: spring mix for the salad bar on one side, with seven heirloom varieties to keep color and texture exciting; and just "green forest" romaine on the other. All produce goes directly to the dining hall, a five-minute walk from the farm.

Learn more about the Maryville & Fresh Ideas farm in our case study.

 

farming for School Sustainability

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University was the first school to put a Freight Farms’ container on campus! The move wasn’t surprising, since SBU has always been devoted to promoting campus sustainability in order to increase students’ knowledge of important environmental issues in an effort to raise awareness and reduce the university’s carbon footprint. 

One major initiative is growing local produce on campus, which is where the farm comes in! Growing on-site has the potential to shorten the food supply chain, cut transportation emissions, decrease transportation costs, and overall, significantly reduce the campus carbon footprint. It also gives students a fresh produce that is harvested one day and served the next. 

The farm is student operated with support from the SBU Faculty Student Association (FSA) and CulinArt dining services, and all the greens are served to campus customers with salad bars, grill stations, and delis. Since the farm began operating, it has supplied SBU almost 24,000 assorted heads of Bibb lettuce, butter-crunch lettuce, arugula and baby kale and is an important part of a food sustainability program that has saved Campus Dining $269,395 annually

[The farm is an] inspiration to be more conscientious by seeing how small steps towards sustainability can create a meaningful change towards a greener community.
— Angela Agnello, FSA Marketing Director

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Direct from farm to Dining Hall

Clark University & Sodexo

For Clark University and Sodexo, adding the Freight Farms operation to the campus dining program made total sense as it aligned perfectly with both group’s mission to serve from-scratch dishes made of wholesome, fresh, and local ingredients whenever possible. 

Primarily, the Clark farm grows lettuce for school retail, dining and catering operations–the majority goes in the main dining hall salad bar and deli station. Clark and Sodexo split farm operations between two individuals. One is a Sodexo-hired student farmer, the other is a farm intern from Clark’s Office of Sustainability. The student farmer works directly with the dining team to determine the kitchen’s needs in advance. 

Growing food on-campus helped Sodexo reduce their lettuce purchases from vendors and provide a better quality lettuce product, with a difference you can taste. Beyond the dining hall, the farm helps students develop a relationship with their food and food provider with internships, farm tours, curriculum development, and great tasting food.

Learn more about the Clark University & Sodexo farm in our case study.

 

Direct from farm to Dining Hall

University of Arkansas & Chartwells

While researching new ways to incorporate sustainability-minded projects into food service at UArk, Chartwells became intrigued with the idea of growing food on campus and distributing it to the dining halls. Today, the farm is feeding a community of more than 30,000 students, faculty, and staff at Fulbright, Pomfret, and Brough dining halls, as well as the Arkansas Union, used in everything from salad bars to burgers. The greens are also used in the campus salad-only cafe, Where the Wild Greens AR. 

Outside of the clear environmental benefits of the Freight Farms leafy greens, the hydroponic farm fosters a deep growth of interest in students for community engagement, food security, and social responsibility. For the campus, farm to table never had a shorter commute.


container farm Cafe

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas went one step further than just integrating the greens into their dining hall supply. Instead, all the all greens and herbs from the Mean Green Acre–the name of their farm–are used for the Means Greens cafe, which is an all vegan dining concept on campus.

Mean Green Acre consistently provides the cafe with 5-6 lettuce and 2-3 brassica varieties and all types of herbs (mint, lemon balm, three basil varieties, thyme, stevia, chives and parsley). The farm yields about 700 full-sized heads a week, which allows the cafe to serve 1,600 people a day. All of the greens–with the exception of spinach–are sourced from the campus container farm.

The farm has really allowed Mean Greens to become a scratch kitchen: almost everything is locally sourced. Reducing transport time and harvesting just steps away from the cafe service helped the chef (and lead Freight Farmer) provide the ‘fresh’ experience UNT had always envisioned for the cafe.


container farming for everything

Georgia State University

At Georgia State University, the farm is being used to grow leafy greens and herbs, and as a hub for further education outside of the classroom. The farm was originally introduced to build out the Sustainability Program and create a positive impact on students by promoting health, wellness, and opportunities for student employment. 

The student-run farm is used to grow leafy greens and herbs, and is a campus hub for further education outside of the classroom. The produce supplies the dining halls and catering events which, from a practical perspective, helps offset costs from third party vendors–not to mention that the kitchen staff loves having fresh food to cook with.

The student community has also benefited, as the farm is an excellent source for student employees to get hands-on experience growing food, learning communication skills, learning about hydroponics, learning how to problem solve through research and experimentation, and connecting to other students by giving tours of this resource. Students that do not work on the farm are enjoying the farm’s fresh food every day, and teachers from related departments can use the farm to craft a unique learning experience.


Are you interested in starting a farming program on your campus?


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