Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Local Farm Wins Bon Appetit Funding

<rmer Ben Doherty greeted students as they passed through the LDC lunch line Sept. 23, offering them bowls of something dark green and leafy.

Doherty was representing Open Hands Farm, his small organic fruit and vegetable farm in Northfield, which had been selected to compete in the annual Farm to Fork Initiative, a national competition in which farms vie for $5,000 grants from Bon Appetit.

Doherty hoped to use the money to build a cellar for root vegetables.

As part of the selection process, Carleton’s dining halls served food from Open Hands and other local farms, and students voted for their favorite farm.

Bon Appetit anounced Sept. 29 that Open Hands was one of two farms in the midwest that was chosen to receive the grant.

“We’ve been selling to Carleton since Bon Appetit started here at Carleton,” Doherty said. “Every year, we sell a little more, and we figure out what works for us to become a really regular supplier.”

This year, 171 farms applied for a grant by submitting a detailed description of how they would use the grant money. Bon Appetit selected 25 as finalists, and two farms from each of five regions were selected as grant winners based on votes and Bon Appetit criteria.

By giving grants to local farm, Bon Appetit expands its ability to serve local food.

Sous-chef Vale Riggs is in charge of facilitating the relationships with local farmers. He is the one who calls the farmers and has them come out to explain to students what they do and how they do it. Riggs started working at Carleton five years ago, and he said he has witnessed each year the increased usage of local farms.

The Farm to Fork initiative has been at Carleton for 15 years, and Bon Appetit at Carleton works with 1,200 farms.

“We started building and it just keeps growing and growing,” Riggs said. “We’re building the local economy, the community aspect of it, getting to know the farmers around the neighborhood, and making sure that we showcase everything that they produce.”

Having won the grant, Doherty and his fellow farmers have some big plans for their little farm. They are building a large root storage facility that will hold about 100,000 pounds of root vegetables over the winter.

“The $5,000 will help us especially buy the washing and packing equipment, so the bins and the conveyors needed to handle that many roots efficiently,” Doherty said. “I should say that a lot of that project is also being funded by loans from the farm service agency, so through paying taxes you are actually helping small farmers. You’re doing lots of other things too, but you are helping small farmers like us.”

The food stored in the root cellar will be available in the dining hall.

“I think that from local farms you get better, fresher, more nutritious produce and it supports our local economy, and I think it’s better for the environment,” he said. “You get less fuel involved in transportation and storage. The energy’s just used in growing and then a short distance of transportation. So I think you can save a lot of energy,” he said.

“You know, it’s good eating, it’s healthy eating, it’s fresh eating and it’s beautiful eating. I think we can get really high quality fresh produce and other products.

“I think we can get fresh produce into everybody’s bellies. And, you know, small farmers like us are really committed to our local community so dollars spent with us, a really high percentage of those will be spent right here in the community.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *