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Tomato Processing and Packaging (In Progress)

Project History

  • 3/10/2022

    SSC received semesterly report for Fall 2021 for ISFS Extrusion Coating Expansion on 02/21/2022. Please see attached. 

  • 7/12/2021

    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 Nutriti

Description

The goal of the Illinois Sustainable Food Project (ISFP) is to further collaboration between the production activities of the Sustainable Student Farm (SSF); the teaching, research, and outreach activities at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant (FSHN-PPP); and University Housing Dining Services' goal of increasing procurement of locally grown foods. This project supported the procurement of key equipment necessary for processing tomatoes and other produce into purees and sauces at large scale for use in commercial food applications. 

By weight, tomatoes are the SSF's main crop. The farm previously sold most of its tomatoes to Dining Services raw, where they were either used fresh or processed and made into sauce. There are several issues with this system. First, Dining Services prefers to buy ready-to-eat sauces, as opposed to making inefficient small batches of in-house sauce. Furthermore, only 60 to 70 percent of the possible tomato crop has been harvested due to the seasonality of locally grown tomatoes not coinciding with the needs of Dining Services. 

Tomato processing allows FSHN-PPP students to process tomatoes from the Student Sustainable Farm and produce shelf-stable products to be used by Dining Services. This alleviates 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 are also able to use the equipment to research sustainable processing practices and establish processing protocols for small-scale production lines that could support local farmers. 

Students are heavily involved in this project. They were responsible for the specification and installation of the equipment, and the project employs many student interns each year to run the equipment during production periods. The Student Sustainable Farm introduces 200-300 student volunteers to sustainable agriculture each year, and this project introduces hundreds more to the production side of the process through internships, class projects, and tours.  

Since inception, hundreds of thousands of pounds of tomatoes have been processed into pizza and other sauces. The success of this project has led to an expansion of the ISFP, which now produces a wide variety of products from produce and grain grown on campus. 

Related Files

Project Team

  • Primary Contact:

    Brian Jacobson

    Project Leader:

    Brian Jacobson

    Team Members:

    • Jedi Brown
    • Youngsoo Lee
    • Nicki Engeseth
    • Matt Turino
    • Bruce Branham
    • Carrie Anderson
    • Crystol Smith

Themes

Project Location(s)

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