WKU unveils new Farm-to-Campus initiative

Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 9:55 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The freshman 15 may have just met its match as Western Kentucky University unveils its new Farm-to-Campus initiative.

The program will provide fresh produce, meat, and dairy to on-campus restaurants. All locally sourced from the WKU Farm.

“The idea is that we have various groups of students, they’re out here at the farm, learning how to grow produce, learning how to manufacture cheese, and do all of the things that will be incorporated into this program,” Said Director of Sustainability with the university, Leslie North. “From there, it literally goes from the farm, is taken directly to campus, and then it’s going to be prepared by our chefs and served on plates of students less than two hours later from when it’s harvested.”

All food scraps and waste will be returned to the farm via compost, helping increase the university’s sustainability.

“It comes right back out to the farms converted into soil, the soil is incorporated, and they start the growing process again. So it truly is a full circle, farm to campus, to table, back to farm process,” North said.

North says she’s hopeful the program will also teach students about just how food gets on the plate.

“We’ll have information out in our dining services that can show, ‘Hey, this was grown five miles away by your peers.’ I think that’s a really critical part of the conversations that we’re having broadly about globalization in general,” North said.

Student farmer and Horticulture and Soil Science Major, Alastair Flowers, says she’s more interested in how the program will help build a sense of community on campus.

“It’s really awesome to be able to grow your own food and you know, see other people enjoy that,” Flowers said. “I’m excited to see how far we can take this and how much more WKU can really establish a more firm connection to its community in terms of food.”

And as far as future plans for the farm, Flowers says conservation is key.

“We’re really looking forward to getting more funding to be able to do much more, diversify what we’re growing, and look into more conservation friendly efforts in what we do.”

The university estimates it has between 30 and 50 students in horticultural and agricultural sustainability.

While WKU is not the only university in Kentucky to offer a farm-to-campus program, it will be the only one to consistently offer dairy, meat, and produce to be utilized by on-campus dining.