Earth Week 2011 Success

Here's a quick run-down of the major Earth Week events of which Dining was a part -- the highlight is the slew of photos (I took a good number of them, and Sue Collins and Amber Wilson contributed some of the Farm to Fork shots, and Caroline McCraw took all of the Green Reception pictures)!

•Monday: Sustainability Art Exhibit
The kick-off event for Earth Week was an art exhibit opening and reception at the recently renovated Student Activities Center in Newcomb Hall. UVa Dining sponsored refreshments and staffed a Sustainable Dining display, complete with a photo collage and the interactive “What’s Most Important To Me?” board. Exhibit attendees also had the opportunity to enter into the Farm to Fork Raffle for the chance to win a seat at Friday’s Farm to Fork Luncheon.

•Wednesday: Student Council Green Reception
The Student Council Environmental Sustainability Committee hosted its 3rd annual Green Reception during Earth Week, which provides an opportunity for students to mingle informally with sustainability staff. Dining co-sponsored the refreshments, serving local and artisan cheeses and iced tea. CSA farmer Jamie Barrett of Bellair (and of Dining's Logistics of Local panel!) was invited to speak to those in attendance and briefly shared his experience as a producer in the regional foodshed.

•Thursday: UVa Eco-Fair
UVa Dining helped to coordinate a UVa-wide Eco-Fair on the Thursday of Earth Week, which involved several dozen UVa departments and a number of community vendors like Habitat for Humanity and the Charlottesville Area Transit Service. Dining’s booth was staffed with student Dining Educators that handed out sustainable dining brochures, Monterey Bay seafood pocket guides, reusable mug punch cards, and free samples of organic granola and fair trade chocolate (sold in one of Dining’s retail locations). Other fair highlights included a smoothie bike – people pedaled on a stationary bike that was rigged to spin a blender on the back – and a tap water taste test.

•Friday: Farm to Fork Luncheon
UVa Dining capped off the week with a Farm to Fork Luncheon, featuring a menu of entirely local foods, and the chance to learn more about Charlottesville’s local food scene with remarks by representatives from the Local Food Hub and a local grass-fed beef operation. The luncheon was attended by students, faculty and staff, who, in addition to the meal itself, received free UVa Sustainability t-shirts and first shot at signing up for the upcoming tour at the Local Food Hub educational farm.

Some feedback:
“Did I mention the food at the luncheon was incredible?! You did such a great job with that event.“ UVa Sustainability Staff member

"I felt honored to be included. The food was delicious!!” UVa Faculty member

CBS19 even showed up and covered the luncheon:

More shots of the food and guests:

Bravo to all that made this 2011 Earth Week such a success! And thanks to everyone for participating.


Local Food Hub Farm Tour this Friday

UVa Dining is organizing another tour out to the Local Food Hub's Educational Farm at Maple Hill this coming Friday afternoon, departing Grounds in the Catering van at 12:30 and returning by 3:30. We'll tour the six-acre organic operation, check out the greenhouse and various pieces of equipment (wait til you see the potato sorter!), and then work on a small field project alongside the farm apprentices. It'll be a fun afternoon, and the weather looks like it's going to cooperate as well, with a forecast of partly cloudy and a high of 69 degrees.

If you are interested in partaking in this tour, email me directly ASAP at kendall.singleton@virginia.edu. I'll send final details to the participants.


Earth Week 2011

Earth Week is just around the corner, kicking off next Monday with a whole week of environmentally-minded celebration. Take a look at the calendar of events:

Monday, April 18

Sustainability Art Exhibit. Newcomb Student Activities Center, 4:30 - 6:30pm. Come to the newly renovated SAC to view what happens when sustainability and creativity mix -- there will be art with a sustainability theme, art made out of discarded materials (see: a Van Gogh Starry Nights replica made out of bottle caps!), and art on virtual media (see: UVa's award-winning RecycleMania video). Refreshments will be served, and attendees will also have the opportunity to enter into the UVa Dining Farm to Fork Luncheon raffle (see below for more details). Winners will be notified on Tuesday, April 19.

Tuesday, April 19

Student Sustainability Project Competition. Rotunda Dome Room, 1:30 - 3:30pm. The President's Committee on Sustainability is sponsoring the third annual U.Va. Student Sustainability Project Competition, an event designed to showcase student-proposed and student-led efforts to achieve a sustainable future. Posters have been selected for the 2011 Project Competition. All may view this year's entries and students may vote for the Student's Choice Award recipient. Three award categories are available: Best Overall Project, Best New Idea, and the Students' Choice Award. The Students' Choice Award, sponsored by the Student Council Environmental Sustainability Committee, will be awarded to the project that receives the most student votes through the online poll.

Global Sustainability Minor Information Session. Rotunda Dome Room, 3:30 - 4pm. Stick around after the poster session to have all your burning questions about the new Sustainability Minor answered.

Wednesday, April 20

Green Career Fair. Clark Hall Mural Room, 11am - 2pm. This fair, sponsored by the Green Grounds Group, offers students an opportunity to learn about sustainable internship, volunteer and career opportunities.

StudCo Environmental Sustainability Committee Green Reception. Garden V, 4 - 6pm. Get the chance to mingle with students, staff and faculty and chat about sustainability at UVa and beyond, while enjoying local refreshments from Hamdingers and UVa Dining.

Thursday, April 21

UVa Eco-Fair. UVa Amphitheater, 11am - 2pm. Approximately 45 vendors will share information on sustainable projects, groups, products, and more from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You don't want to miss out on the organic chocolate and granola samples at the UVa Dining booth, the chance to check out sustainable print operation A Mystery in Common, or the opportunity to create your very own bike blender smoothie at the Community Bikes Station!

UVa Community Garden Potluck. UVa Community Garden, 5 - 6pm. Bring a dish to share and enjoy springtime in the garden with fellow volunteers and garden lovers.

Friday, April 22

Farm to Fork Luncheon. Garden V, 12:30 - 2pm. Join U.Va. Dining in celebrating Earth Week at the second annual Farm to Fork Luncheon. The meal will feature locally grown food and the chance to mingle with some of the area farmers that produced it. To attend, you must enter your name in the free raffle during Monday's Sustainability Exhibit. Rain site is the Runk Green Room.

No Impact Concert. UVa Amphitheater, 6:30 - 8pm. Come out to the amphitheater to enjoy the sounds of No BS Brass in their unplugged glory. This concert will not use any energy or have an environmental footprint, hence the name no impact.

I may have missed a few events, and the source for the most up to date list of all student-organized Earth Week activities is the SustainaUnity Earth Week page. Check it out!

Finally, don't forget that the UVa Sustainability Pledge, launched on Campus Sustainability Day last October, is near completion of its goal to have 1,000 signatories by Earth Day. We're one week and 200 signatures away from meeting that goal and if you'd like to add your name to the list in the next few days, you can do so on your own personal computer or on an available laptop at each of the main Earth Week events taking place throughout next week. You can even demonstrate your commitment by having your photo taken with the pledge board:

See you next week!


This week's local food at Newcomb

I'm continuing to solicit from Dining's chefs the list of local foods that our dining halls are serving, and here's the latest roundup from Chef Erin at Newcomb. Again, the local items are italicized.

Wednesday Lunch


Home Station

Greek Spinach Sauté with spinach, feta, Kalamata olives, and red onion

Local Spinach from Singing Earth Produce in Waynesboro, VA

Thursday Lunch


Home Station

Green Pea & Shitake Mushroom

Local Shitake Mushroom from Sharondale Farm in Cismont, VA

Thursday Dinner


Home Baked Chicken with Country Cabbage and Roasted Crispy Herbed Potato

Local Potato from Valley Farming in the Shenandoah Valley

Friday Lunch

4/15 Potato and Leek Soup

Local Potato from Valley Farming in the Shenandoah Valley

Hope you enjoy throughout the inaugeration week -- and Happy Founder's Day!


Tastiness at Newcomb

I had been highly anticipating lunch at Newcomb yesterday, as the featured local dish was a butternut squash soup with local butternut squash and local apples (butternut squash from Valley Farming and apples from Crown Orchard, both sourced through the Local Food Hub). It did not disappoint! My bowl was bursting with flavor, and even though it actually turned out to be a warm day I still loved the comfort food mentality that came along with the soup.

Within just a few minutes my bowl looked like this: Anyone that knows me probably knows what a slow eater I am, so for me to scarf any food down that quickly must mean something! The chefs at Runk, Newcomb and OHill will continue to contact me when they have local ingredients in any of their dishes so I can keep on advertising all of that info on this blog and elsewhere. Stay tuned for more local food to make its way into the UVa dining halls.

PURSUIT Conference Registration Open

If you're looking for something to do this Saturday, besides (or in addition to) going to the Bellair Farm Crop Mob workday previously mentioned in an earlier blog post, you might want to consider attending the second annual PURSUIT Conference here on Grounds. The conference was started last year to, in the words of the PURSUIT website, "bring UVa students together to increase social awareness by hosting prominent speakers and informative workshops." This year the sessions are covering a broad array of topics and concentrations, including one that I am leading on food and sustainable dining at UVa. Other workshops include:

  • Mental Health on College Campuses

  • Separation of Church and State

  • Why Development Didn't Work

  • Sex-trafficking in Southeast Asia

  • A Project for Peace through Girls' Education in Cairo

  • Food and Sustainability at UVA

  • Young adults in educational, social, and spiritual communities

  • A Personal Perspective of Depression

  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: UNICEF at Work

  • Gender and racial stereotypes in the media

  • An Overview of the Revolution in Egypt

  • Definition of Minority at UVA

  • Health Care in Central America

  • Population growth policy in Albemarle County

  • Disparity in education

The conference will kick off with registration - which you can also do on the PURSUIT website - at 11:30am on Saturday on the 4th floor of Cabell Hall, on the Wilson Hall side of the building. Session 1 will take place from 12 - 1pm, and session 2 (when I'll be presenting!) is from 1:10 - 2:10.


More local food at Newcomb

I hope you all enjoyed the sweet potato cake and spinach salad at Newcomb yesterday!

Now that your mouth is watering for more delicious Local Food Hub produce, here's a quick run-down of what Newcomb is serving in the next few days. The local items are italicized.

Tuesday Lunch
Home Station
Roasted Beef Eye Round
Local Roasted Garlic Potato from Valley Farming in the Shenandoah Valley

Tuesday Dinner
Home Station
Chipotle Mustard Pork
Stewed Tomato
Roasted Local Apples from Crown Orchard in Covesville, Virginia

Wednesday Lunch
Italia North side
Surry Country Ham, Crab, Pea Fettuccine
Feat. Local Country Ham from Edwards of Surry in Surry, Virginia

Wednesday Dinner
Salad Station
Spinach Salad w/ Warm Bacon Dressing
Feat. Local Spinach from Singing Earth Produce in Waynesboro, Virginia

Thursday Lunch
Soup /Simmer
Roasted Butternut squash and Apple Soup
Local Butternut Squash from Valley Farming in the Shenandoah Valley
Local Apples from Crown Orchard in Covesville, Virginia

Sunday Dinner
Home Station
Roasted BBQ Beef
Roasted Crispy Local Herbed Potato from Valley Farming in the Shenandoah Valley


Local Spinach, Mushroom, and Potato at Newcomb, Monday, April 4

The title of this post tells you almost everything you need to know: the farms in Central Virginia are starting to grow and harvest the first veggies of the season, and some of that will be available tomorrow in Newcomb at lunchtime thanks as always to our partnership with the Local Food Hub. In the north room of Newcomb Dining Hall (closest to Clemons), you can find one of the more popular National Nutrition Month dishes we served just a few weeks ago -- a sweet potato cake atop a spinach salad. The potato, mushroom, and spinach in the dish are all local.

Speaking of the Local Food Hub, a group of Charlottesvillians gathered at their educational farm down near Scottsville on Saturday morning for Charlottesville's first ever Crop Mob (see photo below). The twenty or so volunteers set to work planting 600 pounds of organic potatoes, and knocked out the planting in a fraction of the time that it would have taken farm manager Steve Vargo and his new apprentices to do the same job. Bellair Farm, also in southern Albemarle County, is having another crop mob-style planting party next Saturday morning, April 9th, starting at 9am (but you're welcome to stop in anytime). Lunch will be provided for all volunteers around noon.


Campus Kitchens March Matchness

The UVa chapter of the Campus Kitchens Project has been around for a little over a year, and they've already made an impressive impact on the Charlottesville community in this short time. The group has assembled a large and active network of student volunteers, as well as multiple locations from where they source unserved food (mainly UVa Dining, but also the Local Food Hub) and also serve it: the Salvation Army, Hope House, On Our Own, and The Haven.

The national Campus Kitchens organization is hosting a friendly fundraising competition between the different college chapters, and the kitchens that raise the most funds will move to a "final four" round and be eligible for additional financial assistance from CPK National.

Check out the UVa CKP donate page and consider making a donation to help this worthwhile volunteer effort. They're within sight of reaching their fundraising goal!