Campus News

Dining Service Feeds the Farmers

Story posted March 06, 2009

Bowdoin's award-winning Dining Service is cultivating relationships with the local farmers who help put food on the table for the Bowdoin community.

In an ongoing effort to strengthen working relationships with its local partners, representatives from Bowdoin Dining have held a series of luncheons with farmers.

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Local farmers share lunch with representatives from Dining Service in Thorne Dining Hall.

They discuss the farmers' organic offerings, what has worked well and what might be grown in the future.

On Friday, March 6, 2009, Dining Service hosted farmers from Belanger's Farm in Lisbon, Stevenson's Strawberries in Wayne, Swango Farm in Woolwich and Steep Hill Farm in Fayette.

"It's an opportunity for the farmers and our dining staff to work together," says Dining Service Director Mary Lou Kennedy. "We talk about what the farmers are doing and what our needs are, so that we have a heightened awareness of what we have to offer each other."

Newly retired superintendent of schools-turned-blueberry farmer George Joseph came to see how his new pick-your-own operation might market to Bowdoin. "I'm learning about what's going on here," Joseph says.

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(L. to r.) Strawberry farmer Ford Stevenson and blueberry grower George Joseph speak with Purchasing Manager Jon Wiley.

Farm Fresh Connections (FFC), a program of the Maine Sustainable Agricultural Society, was created in 2002 to focus on building a local food system and diversifying the markets accessible to Maine farmers.

Since 2003 FFC has helped connect Bowdoin's food supply needs with local farm availability including ordering, delivery and billing.

FFC owner Martha Putnam has been a regular fixture at these lunches, squiring a number of local farmers through the lunch lines at Thorne to help facilitate relationships with Bowdoin.

"You can discuss what you want and what you have," says Putnam. "And if it works, it's good business."

Another lunch meeting with other farmers is scheduled for March 20.

Dining in The New York Times
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Dining Service was featured prominently in the April 9, 2008, edition of The New York Times.

Citing more sophisticated palates and the competitive admissions climate, the article, "Latest College Reading Lists: Menus With Pho and Lobster," points out the lengths to which colleges are going to provide exceptional fare.

Read the article.

View a Times slideshow featuring selections from Bowdoin's menu.


Commitment to Buying Local

Twenty-seven percent of Dining's food purchases are local, that is, from the state of Maine.

See the list of Bowdoin Dining's local farm partners and vendors.

Organic Garden

Dining Service is proud of its expanding Organic Garden Program. No chemical pesticides are applied and only rarely is mechanized equipment employed.

Bowdoin's garden manager oversees the plot, and students, dining staff employees and volunteers tend it.

Bowdoin plants vegetable crops that thrive in northern coastal soils as well as flowers and high bush blueberries.

Read more about Sustainable Dining here.

Award-Winning Food, Service

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Bowdoin's Dining Service has earned high praise for years. It won Restaurants and Institutions magazine's coveted 2007 Ivy Award for excellence and high achievement in food and service standards and has been recognized by various publications for its outstanding food and excellent service.

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