You know the feeling you get when a momentous task awaits you? That little pang of dread? That’s what UMD Chef Lane Prekker experienced when a giant load of green beans landed on his counter for cleaning and clipping, fresh from UMD’s Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP), a ten-acre organic plot on UMD’s farm. Opening the freezer and serving processed veggies sure would be easier, he thought. But pining for convenience completely disappeared when he experienced students’ enthusiastic reaction to the fresh veggies. They could taste the distinctive goodness in a side dish that was grown mere minutes from campus.
Little moments like this are a huge victory for UMD’s Sustainable Agriculture Project, and its success is being celebrated on November 13. Open to the UMD community and its neighbors, “Soiree of Seasons” will be hosted at Sacred Heart Music Center, 201 W. 4th Street, on Wednesday, November 13. The event starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $10, which will support UMD’s Sustainable Agriculture Project. Guests should RSVP by clicking here.
The Sustainable Agriculture Project's mission is threefold: to provide experiential learning to students and community members around food, farming, and gardening; to work with institutions on systems change; and to deliver thousands of pounds of produce to UMD’s Dining Services. “We’re finding the interest and traction within UMD and several other academic institutions, and we are discovering the systems that can make real change,” says Randy Hanson, the program's coordinator. The systems seem to be working. In 2011, UMD Food Services served 3,000 pounds of produce from the UMD farm. That number increased to 4,400 pounds in 2012 and this year’s number has more than doubled: 11,000 pounds have been delivered to UMD so far this year.
That growth took intercampus collaboration, something that Hanson says is essential for the Sustainable Agriculture Project’s success, “We’re peeking out of our silos, seeing how we can synergize across institutional domains to help create the change we want to make.” Future synergy includes water and energy. SAP is working with UMD's Office of Sustainability and the Civil Engineering program in developing wind energy and is working towards the installation of a million gallon wildlife and irrigation pond at the farm. Says Hanson, “We want to provide an ecological landscape rather than borrow from the future. This is where Liberal Arts can really make a difference in sustainability, using skillsets around communication, collaboration, and systems evaluation.”
Another collaborator is UMD's Wellness Program. Wellness and sustainability go hand-in-hand, says Jean Rodvold, UMD's Food Coach. “Being healthy supports sustainability. When you do things like bike to work, eat local fruits and vegetables, and take care of your body, you’re also taking care of the earth. There’s a connection.”
“Soiree of Season’s” theme, “Walk Through the Seasons,” will be illustrated through sustainable agriculture students’ interactive displays. Refreshments will be provided by UMD’s executive chef Tom Linderholm, who’s preparing hors d’ oeuvres using fresh ingredients from the farm, a delicious way to let guests experience the success of UMD’s Sustainable Agriculture project.
“Soiree of Seasons” is presented by UMD, Employee Health and Wellness Center/UPlan Health Coaching, College of Liberal Arts, UMD Sustainability, UMD Sustainable Agriculture Project, University Dining Services, and UMD Wellness Program.
Story by Lori C. Melton