By Jamie Weissman
The university is sticking to its agricultural roots this year with a new collaboration set to bring sustainable foods to campus.
In 2012 the Department of Dining Services signed the Sustainable Food Commitment in which dining services agreed to support the university in being a “model of a green university.” Today, Maryland is keeping that promise with Terp Farm, a collaborative project through UMD’s Department of Dining Services, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Office of Sustainability.
Located at the Central Maryland Research and Education Center in Upper Marlboro, the farm’s 2-acres are funded by the sustainability fund, which supports projects that promote sustainability and positively enhance the student experience at Maryland. The farm was granted $124,400 and will allow students from the Institute of Applied Agriculture to work on the farm.
“We are collaborative and our intention is that we continue to collaborate with the college so students who want hands on experience will have that,” said Colleen Wright-Riva, Director of Dining Services.
Though only select Maryland students will prepare to work on the farm, Allison Lilly, the Dining Services’s Sustainability and Wellness Coordinator, believes other students on campus will benefit from the project as well.
“We really look at it as a wonderful opportunity of education of where our food comes from,” she said. “For students who are not going to be going to the farm what we really want to see is them feeling excited and proud of what the campus is working on and really benefit from that.”
Students will begin to see the fruits of the farm’s labor in fall 2014, when fresh produce is served in the Green Tidings mobile dining truck and campus dining halls. Although the products will not be available every day, Lilly says certain stations, like North Campus’s Sprouts, will feature the products on select days.
“Rather than just bringing a couple of cherry tomatoes, we want to make a targeted effort,” Lilly explained.
Terp Farm is just one of many steps the university has taken to reduce its carbon footprint and encourage sustainability. Both Lilly and Wright-Riva hope the program will expand beyond the College Park campus.
“We’re becoming a leader in the country to show that this program is possible,” Lilly said.
Wright-Riva added that a portion of the food will be donated back to the College Park community, possibly to an organization such as Meals on Wheels.
“Our commitment is brought back to a broader scale; the community, the people in need, the educational side. We want to bring it full circle,” Wright-Riva said.