Without even knowing it, Alfred State College students are becoming locavores. In early September, Alfred State's Dining Services team took its first delivery of freshly grown produce from the Angelica Farmers' Market. Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services (ACES), which runs the campus dining services, began receiving fresh, locally grown, nutritious produce from the Angelica Farmers' Market. The food is destined for the plates of students who dine in Central Dining Hall.
The first delivery included potatoes, yellow squash, gourds, herbs, tomatoes, green beans, yellow beans, and green peppers.
"We're excited to begin this new venture with the Farmers' Market," said Karen Canne, director of Dining Services for ACES. "We think it's important to support the local farmers and give our students the freshest, best-tasting food we can find. The Farmers' Market produce will help us have big impact on both groups."
Professor Bob Curry, chair of the English and Humanities Department at ASC, worked with the Farmers' Market to develop the agreement between the two groups-and he was the delivery driver for the first trunk-load of vegetables. But the work began in the fall of 2007, when Dr. Curry and Dr. Matt Harbur, director of Alfred State's Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (COSA), wrote a proposal for a New York State Food and Agriculture Industry Development (FAID) grant. Their proposal, which was to develop systems and processes to help local farmers work cooperatively with ACES to expand their selling base and to provide them with education in season extension technologies, was accepted in December 2007. The grant was important, says Curry, to enhance the cooperative and provide the farmers with new techniques so that they could extend the growing-and therefore selling-season. Curry coordinates his efforts on the project with Staci Curry, market manager of the Angelica Farmers' Market.
According to Curry, the project also has an educational dimension for Alfred State students: "A central objective of the grant is to enhance student awareness of the exceptional quality and desirability of locally grown produce. By exposing students to choices in the dining hall between local and non-local food, we hope to initiate a discussion about the value of sustainability."
According to Canne, the Farmers' Market e-mails her a list of available produce every Tuesday. She orders what is needed that day and the produce and other goods are delivered to the dining hall the next day.
"We are thrilled with this the Farmers' Market and the expected long-term benefits of this cooperative. We have been actively searching for a local product purveyor for years and the Currys and the farmers in the cooperative have really delivered," Canne said.
Canne was also instrumental in bringing another important customer to the table, according to Curry. Using her contacts at Alfred University, Canne was able to help the University's Dining Services group connect with the Farmers' Market. Now AU receives its produce deliveries right along with Alfred State-a boon for area farmers.
"This is a timely project because students are beginning to realize how important this is to their world. Rising fuel prices have awakened people like never before, and students are realizing that they have to actively participate and be better stewards of the environment," Curry said.
ACES' other green initiatives include working with the Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (COSA) on campus to use vegetables and herbs grown at the Center at Central Dining Hall. The not-for-profit is also working on an initiative with the Wellsville Campus to use ethanol refined from used cooking oil to fuel buses used to shuttle students around Campus. And just recently, ACES eliminated trays in the dining hall to reduce waste and save water and electricity.
Auxiliary Campus Enterprises & Services (ACES) is a not-for-profit corporation that supports the mission of Alfred State College. ACES is located on campus and provides dining services, campus bookstore, transportation, vending, and laundry services to its customers.