Your Green Life: "Northland College Food Independence"

By KBJR News 1

August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 29, 2013 at 8:08 AM CDT

Ashland, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Northland College in Ashland has much to show for its historical environmental mission. A part of that mission that's growing quickly is the pursuit of local foods for use in the cafeteria.

"Last year we reached a goal of 25% local foods on average for the school year. Our high was 40%. Our goal is 80% over time." said Amanda Tutor, Food Service Director at the college.

Northland's food service not only buys from area farmers, but has begun acquiring produce grown in the campus garden.

"A lot of the food products that we have on campus are going back into our cafeteria, so that's the main emphasis we have is to grow food for ourselves. So the students will actually sell that to our food service providers at typical retail prices, so it creates revenue for the gardening program," said Nathan Engstrom, Regional Sustainability Director for the college.

The locally grown produce doesn't just benefit the cafeteria but helps educate first year students on the environmental mission of the campus. The freshmen go on camping orientation trips which include visits to the campus garden and to some of the regional farms.

"Anything that's ripe this time of year, cabbages zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions, were getting all of that for orientation trips," said John Graetz, Orientation Trip Coordinator.

In addition to creating and working in the garden, students collect compost from the cafeteria for later use in the garden.

"It provides that local connection to the students for food they can see growing outside here in these spaces every day and it really makes it well known where your food is coming from," said Engstrom.

The sustainability coordinator also says Northland College is working toward creating a food processing and storage facility for use on its campus.