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Archived Info - Previous Project Description

Posted by Avery Maris Maloto on July 12, 2021

The goal of the Sustainable Agricultural Food System is to further collaboration between the production activities of the Sustainable Student Farm; the teaching, research, and outreach activities at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN); and Dining Services' goal of increasing procurement of locally grown foods. The specific action the project would take in order to support this goal would be purchasing tomato processing equipment.

By weight, tomatoes are the farm's main crop. The Student Sustainable Farm sells most of its tomatoes to Dining Services raw, where they are either used fresh or processed and made into sauce. There are several issues with this system, however. Firstly, the Dining Services prefers to buy ready-to-eat sauces, as opposed to having to make the sauces in-house. Furthermore, only 60 to 70 percent of the possible tomato crop is harvested due to the seasonality of locally grown tomatoes not coinciding with the needs of Dining Services.

Tomato processing could allow FSHN students to process tomatoes from the Student Sustainable Farm and produce shelf-stable products to be used by Dining Services. This would alleviate both of the current issues with the process, along with incorporating FSHN students into the sustainable agricultural efforts of the University. FSHN students and faculty would be able to use the equipment to research sustainable processing practices and establish processing protocols for small-scale production lines that could support local farmers.

Student involvement would be a significant part of this project. The Student Sustainable Farm already introduces 200-300 student volunteers to sustainable agriculture each year. The project would add to this number by incorporating FSHN students, who would be involved as part of their coursework at the University.