US (GA): Campus dining uses produce grown in its greenhouse

When students on the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University bite into a slice of pad thai on campus, they might be chomping on Thai basil freshly harvested in the university’s aquaponics program.

The Foram Sustainable Aquaponics Research Center (SARC), a joint venture between Georgia Southern University and the Foram Group Charitable Foundation, has been growing food for about 18 months in a 4,100-square-foot greenhouse where students can volunteer to plant seeds, clean the tanks and in the process learn the science of harvesting produce and fish from an agriculture system designed for sustainability.

But this year, Armstrong campus students can taste the herbs and vegetables harvested as SARC launches a farm-to-table initiative with Eagle Dining Services. Last week, Eagle received sweet basil, green onions, jalapeno peppers, lemon basil, Thai basil and Thai chilis, said Brent Feske, SARC director.

“Our goal is to make this a nationally recognized farm-to-table program. We want to expand and do this really well,” Feske said.

But for now, supplying the basil and peppers for pizza and pad thai is a start. “We’re not going to feed the whole campus. Right now we’re going to be doing little niche items,” Feske said. “For the basil, we probably gave 20 bundles of each.... We’re not bringing over a huge cartload. I hope we will. We may need an automobile. Right now, we carried it over by hand.”

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