Farm to Table Concentration: Hudson Valley Growing Food On Campus
One of the most rewarding activities the Farm to Table: Hudson Valley students do is grow and take care of the gardens that are on the CIA Hyde Park campus. There are nearly five different gardens on campus where food is produced. These include the Rooftop Garden at the Student Recreation Center, The Apiary Garden, the Colavita Herb Garden, the Student Teaching Garden, and a Community Garden behind Roth Hall. We grow many different edible plants throughout the campus and harvest dozens of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs for various uses in our on-campus restaurants and cooking classes.
The rooftop garden is one of my favorite places on campus. Led by CIA professor Taylor Reid, we grow edible flowers, squash, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, beans, radishes, and dozens of other items! Through the efforts of the Applied Food Studies and Farm to Table Concentration students, we grew and harvested more than $7,000 worth of produce in 2019 that was used in all of our student-run restaurants.
The food projects that students work on in the Farm to Table Concentration are many and varied. One project we took on was making acorn flour! First, Dr. Reid took my whole class on a foraging walk to collect acorns from the oak trees on campus.
Then, we cracked the acorns and removed them from their shells. Before making them into flour, the acorns had to be rinsed many times over a period of several weeks in order to leach out the tannins that make them unpalatable.
Another exciting project the Farm to Table Concentration students have been involved with is caring for the shiitake mushroom log “nursery” on campus.
My class was tasked with keeping logs from drying out by soaking them regularly during the growing season. At the end of the season we moved the logs from the woods to a sheltered and shady area under a spruce tree where we stacked the mushroom logs and covered them with a shade cloth. We did this so that they would not dry out during the winter.
With the unusually high temperatures that we seemed to have had this fall, we experienced large blooms of shiitake mushrooms in September and October. At the time, the logs were only five–six months old, but Dr. Reid explained that usually these logs can live and produce mushrooms for three to five years.
The best part about of harvesting produce items from campus was when we cooked them in class! Since so much food was available and grown, Dr. Reid allowed our class to use the produce and have a mini potluck celebration! Some of the dishes my class made included fried green tomatoes, roasted carrots, and ratatouille. Delicious!
Another project that is currently in progress, is our apple cider! My next blog will focus on all the details of our field trips to apple cider production plants and making cider in class ourselves!