This entry and subsequent entries in the "Food" section of the blog are authored by Kaitlyn Welzen, Sustainability Intern for Sodexo Foods.  She can be reached at <>,  Entries are edited by Samara Hamze, sustainability coordinator.

July 1, 2014

Campus has been quiet for the last 6 weeks and the campus garden has been fallow while Kaitlyn Welzen has been on an In Focus class abroad. Nonetheless, the plants continue to grow.  Here are a few pictures of the garden's progress over the last few weeks.

Kaitlyn earned a 14 for 14 grant, to help establish a hoophouse on campus.  In early May, despite looming final exams, about 8 folks gathered to help put up the "ribs".

Aspen Geheber '17, placing gravel around periphery of hoophouse

Sodexo Dining employees help out.

Approaching thunderstorm goes unnoticed by the focused crew...

In addition, compost bins were constructed during Earth Week. We can now compost on campus, instead of hauling our carbon waste to a neighboring farm.

Hoophouse at end of July 2014 with compost bin in background
Commons waste getting composted

Back from overseas, Kaitlyn is getting busy weeding the garden and munching on ripe strawberries

Kaitlyn Welzen preparing to weed the student garden

Student garden strawberries

One of the most promising sights?  The apples are ripening nicely and should be ready for fall harvest!

Apples, compost bins, and hoophouse.  July 1, 2014.

11 March, 2014
On the other side of that, the EGOR honey that was in the Commons at the beginning of the semester has been replaced with another local honey source: Henry’s Honey in Redgranite, WI. Here is a link to their Facebook page if you want more information:

In terms of sustainability, the Commons featured an educational campaign in the hopes of reducing straw usage as unnecessary waste in some cases. The straws are still available at the cashier’s stand, but are less accessible, and so individuals need to consciously make the decision to use a straw rather than do so out of habit. Also, Sodexo is part of the Recyclemania challenge and the campus “We proudly serve Starbucks” has a punch card program where after buying 10 drinks with a reusable mug, you get the 11th free. You win and so does the environment! 

Projects that are currently being worked on include how to include more local produce into the menu and also considering the possibility of incorporating some seasonal foods either more or less into the offerings according to the season. In a future blog, look for the results of a 14 for ’14 grant (through the President’s Office) that I wrote to increase food sustainability on campus. This is another project that is currently being worked on; but more on that later!

24 September, 2013
Yesterday was a busy day for me in terms of environmental sustainability. First, I took seven 5-gallon buckets of fruit and vegetable waste to the GrowSureEase farm to be composted. Last week, I brought over five more 5-gallon buckets, so the compost pile is growing nicely and it appears that we are having more participation from kitchen staff in using the buckets for compostable materials, which is fantastic. Since the start of this semester, I would estimate that we have taken over 20 of the 5-gallon buckets to GrowSureEase (although I don’t have an official count). So, that feels like a great accomplishment to keep that waste out of landfills and to continue doing so in the future.
 At the Fraser Farm, I met Seth Winkel, who has taken a class on how to do canning and is interested in working with Ripon College students to can some left-over tomatoes from the GrowSureEase farm. So, if there is anyone reading this blog that would be interested in something like that, feel free to email me at We will hopefully be canning some tomatoes in the form of salsa this Sunday morning, but that is not official yet.
On a different note, I unintentionally ate in the style of a ‘meatless Monday’ yesterday; something that is far rarer for me than perhaps it should be. By doing so, I realized how easy it actually could be if one consciously decides to do so, even for a day. On that note, I have to pause to give all vegetarians and vegans kudos, because I don’t think that is something I could do every day. To all the omnivores out there who may be reading this: I challenge you to eat vegetarian for a day (or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, eat only vegan-friendly foods for a day). You might be surprised by how easy (or difficult) it may be for you, or perhaps expand your horizons a bit. For me, it made me question why I normally eat meat every day. Is it the options we are presented? An unconscious habit? Taste preference? And perhaps the most important question: how can I change this? 
The Pickard Commons will most likely soon be making some changes in terms of the food it serves, with the implementation of a student-run ‘Food Committee’ in which student representatives meet with Sarj, Dean Ogle, and Melissa Bemus to discuss what changes students would like to see in on-campus dining halls. In other sustainability news, look for a bottle of honey from the bees that EGOR keeps on campus to appear in the Commons within the next month. More on that when it happens and the student response to it. Oh, and don’t forget to head down to the EGOR garden to pick any produce that you want! There are still many tomatoes to pick, so go enjoy.

10 September, 2013
This past week, I spent time visiting the Pub and the Terrace to see what they are doing to make the dining areas on campus as sustainable as possible. Both the Pub and Terrace, which are fast-food style locations, send out a fair amount of waste via transport containers for the food they serve. This, in many ways, is unavoidable, but the environmental impact can be minimized via the materials used to make these containers. An example of this: the large salad containers in the Terrace and the condimentcups in the Pub are currently compostable. In addition, both locations produce minimal waste since they are designed to be self-serve and made-to-order dining locations. Both locations recycle cardboard and other recyclables, such as metal cans.
In regards to the Commons, I visited the GrowSureEase (aka Fraser Farms) to talk with the owner, Dennis Meyer, about the composting collaboration between the Sodexo kitchen on campus and his farm. Organic waste (mainly the scraps from fruits and vegetables) are collected in 5-gallon buckets around the Commons’ kitchen and stored before being transported to farm once a week or so. Their operation has several compost piles that are turned to meet standards for organic food and then used in the fertilization of their plants. Fraser Farm has two greenhouses, three beehives, and several types of plants growing outdoors. It is a great place to visit and buy local produce!
In continuation, the Commons is continuing to improve recycling efforts, with the use of four designated and labeled recycling bins (with clear plastic bags to arrive soon). A paper recycling bin was also added to the office area in the Commons to increase recycling in the offices, and a system for recycling the aerosol cans (for non-stick purposes) used in the kitchen has been implemented in cooperation with the Plant department.
In other news, check out the next edition of the College Days (our campus paper) for more sustainability tips and news. There is an article by yours truly on tips to being more environmentally friendly. Until next time!

Links in order:

6 September, 2013
As the first entry in the food section of this blog, let me give an overview on what will be discussed here. This part of the blog will cover what on-campus dining areas and their staff are doing to be more sustainable. In addition, it will highlight new actions and set forth some of our goals for people to learn about, comment, and ask questions. Feedback is highly encouraged!

               The dining halls on the Ripon College campus may not seem overly environmentally sensitive at first glance. But, did you know that composting happens in The Commons kitchen? Or that all of the napkins are made of recycled paper? Probably not; so it’s important to get these kinds of facts out there. For example: currently, all of the teas, coffees and bananas offered by Sodexo on the Ripon campus are fair trade, which makes them good for people and the planet. Another noteworthy accomplishment is the occasional addition of organic foods to the menu (although they are rarely labeled as such).

                But the food products that are served aren’t the only ways to become more eco-friendly; we can improve how we serve those foods. One area of sustainability that has been improved recently is the minimization of unnecessary waste. For example, thanks to efforts by EGOR a few years ago,  The Commons is now trayless (trays often cause unnecessary waste by encouraging people to take more than they will eat). On another note, the grab-and-go bags are biodegradable and Starbucks is only giving paper bags upon request. Another notable sustainability effort is the 25 cent discount for students using reusable mugs at the campus Starbucks.

               More can be done to make Ripon College’s dining halls more environmentally conscious. Currently, we are working towards improving recycling and composting efforts in the dining halls through worker education. Another ongoing effort is being made to purchase more local foods and thus support local economies and reduce the carbon footprint left by its transportation.
Despite the current sustainability efforts,

  Finally, there are some new goals for campus dining that will be put into effect in the near future.
  • On-campus farmer’s market (similar to the one organized by Alison Thiel last spring). 
  • Challenge students to choose to “go meatless” and eat vegetarian options at least one Monday a month (look for updates on this soon!). 
  • Create a “food council” where students and staff can give their input on student dining and help in the menu planning process. 
Some longer-term goals include getting permission for and enacting a compost pile on campus, creating a hoop house to grow herbs and vegetables year-round. But more on that later…

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