That’s because St. John’s has committed to serving its students food as much as possible from local and sustainable farms, and from sustainable sources of seafood.
This is part of what I think is a really cool and encouraging trend. Institutions such as colleges and hospitals are getting on the local food bandwagon. The same movement that was limited to farmers markets is mushrooming.
If that continues it could make a real difference in helping sustainable farmers help us.
Farming is a tough business, especially for the little guy. Cutting corners can be tempting. The local environment can suffer. It costs money to plant trees along a stream as a buffer to the farm fields where animals graze or crops are fertilized, or to build a manure storage shed rather than spread excess manure on the fields. Often times a farmer can't afford these conservation measures.
But if a small farmer has a steady customer asking for a sizable supply of organic produce, or pasture-raised beef or poultry, that can make all the difference, especially if that customer is willing to pay a little more.
Profit provides the means to be green.
The beauty is most of this is happening without government regulations, or without public funding.
And Annapolis is helping this trend, and is trying to do more.
St. John’s is one of several Maryland colleges trying to source more student food from local, sustainable farms. St. John’s uses Bon Appetit Management Co. as its food service provider.
Bon Appetit is a relatively small provider that specializes in sourcing from sustainable farms. Company officials said about 20-25 percent of the money St. John’s and three other Maryland client colleges spend for food goes to these local, sustainable farms either through direct payments to farmers or through intermediary purchasing.
That’s a huge injection of cash into the local agriculture economy.
Check out the Facebook page for Bon Appetit at St. John’s College to see some of the mouth-watering food students enjoy.
Also, Anne Arundel Medical Center is among the leaders of hospitals around Maryland trying to provide patients with healthy food sourced from local, sustainable farms. The hospital is a member of Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment.
Also, 16 restaurants in Annapolis are environmental stewards, meaning they have incorporated environmentally sustainable practices into their business operations. In order to be certified, they have each earned enough qualifying points from a comprehensive checklist of environmental best practices and passed a verification inspection.
Eat at those 16 restaurants and in many cases you are indirectly contributing to a local farmer’s bottom line.
Area farmers who want to hook into this growing network can do so Tuesday, right here in Annapolis. The Maryland Department of Agriculture will hold a trade show style meeting at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Football Stadium, Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence “N” Room 550 Taylor Ave., to give Maryland growers and producers an opportunity to display their products and to give buyers a chance to speak with them one-on-one.
This year, the event has been moved to a larger venue to accommodate the growing number of participants who are responding to the rising consumer demand for healthy, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Farmers, grocery stores, restaurants, chefs, schools, distributors, economic development officials, hotels, Maryland Cooperative Extension and regional agricultural marketing officials will be represented.
Visitwww.MarylandsBest.net for more details.