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Projects Updates for Topic: Sustainable Student Farm

  1. Food Handling info from SSF

    Associated Project(s): 

    Matt Turino at the Sustainable Student Farm provided this overview of the food waste handling / transportation related to the Vermicompost project.

    "So we only collected Pre-consumer waste from Busey-Evans so only the things that were cut off the usuable parts of vegetables and fruits.  We had special  30 gallon trash cans that only existed in the kitchen of the Busey-Evans so there was almost never other kinds of trash.  If we saw some while handling we would remove it but we did not need to sort it.

    We had no packaging or animal products in the compost.

    We used a pick up truck to transport the containers and we did not have a good way to load these.  We often had to lift 50-90 lb trash containers up into the truck bed, and us not having the correct equipment contributed to it not being a sustainable program for us.  The waste was extremely wet and so something that made it tricky to handle and and to transport.  We were using leaves from U of I landscaping for the Brown material.

    I did not track the cost of our transportation because we would often drop our produce off and pick up the waste on the same trip.  We were driving a pickup truck about 3 miles per trip 2-3 times a week.  We were picking up between 60-100 gallons of food waste per week during the semester. 

    Also we were using a vermi-compost unit which was not the most effective system for this, if you wanted to do a composting set up I would recommend a larger windrow set up."

  2. Update from Zack Grant

    Associated Project(s): 

    The greenhouse is built, the bin is constructed, bedding logistics are in place, and food waste collection should begin the week after spring break. Ramp up to about 150-200 lbs of food waste processing per week should be complete in about 4-5 months. For this bin and the way it fits into the SSF management plan, we’d never process more than 250-300# of actual food waste a week. This would make for a max range of 7,000-14,000 lbs of food waste processed per year (47 weeks, we wouldn’t collect waste during Christmas and Spring Break). 

    If there is any confusion about this PILOT vermicomposting project I’d like to clarify it here, because I have gotten a few requests from outside sources about taking in outside food waste (word spreads quickly). This particular unit is only meant as a pilot demonstration to prove this can be done on a larger (potential campus wide) scale. This 5x16 unit we have is an example of one part of what could be a much larger facility. However, if this is successful I would like to see that facility be something that the SSF does not manage, and ideally in another specifically built piece of infrastructure to house a larger scale process. The greenhouse also serves as our transplant production house. Between the existing unit and managing the transplant production system, the SSF has more than it can already incorporate into its existing management.

    That being said, once the system is up and running, we’d love to showcase this to any number of relevant parties and incorporate the data into any Zero Waste policy the campus has. As well as any other sustainability metrics the campus tracks.


  3. Student Farm Funding Agreement

  4. Student Farm 2011 Grant - Funding Letter

    This proposal looks to further the University’s commitment to local food consumption through continued support the Sustainable Student Farm (SSF). The SSF began in 2009 with a grant from the Student Sustainability Committee to begin producing locally grown vegetables for the University of Illinois community. In the first season, the SSF produced nearly 25,000 pounds of produce and generated approximately $25,000 in revenue, primarily through sales to University of Illinois Dining Services for use in the University dining halls. The exceptionally hot summer of 2010, combined with the high time/labor demand of high tunnel construction and farm expansion, led to a disappointing harvest for the second growing season. This year, the SSF has enjoyed its first winter harvest season due to three new high tunnels. Through these season expansion techniques, along with increased mastery of farming practices, the SSF expects to have a bountiful and successful growing season. Funding for this proposal will bridge the gap between last season’s financial shortfalls and the revenue generated in 2011. The SSF will continue to work to increase crop revenue and educational outreach. As the University’s only current capacity for producing local produce for campus, the SSF is an essential component of increasing campus sustainability. Continuation of the SFF is essential to meeting these goals. Thus, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding a grant in the amount of $10,000.