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Serving Local Milk, Supporting Local Farmers

Thursday, February 17, 2005

AMHERST, MASS. — All milk served in the dining hall at Hampshire College is now purchased from nearby Cook Farm. On February 1, the local dairy farm dropped off 100 gallons of milk, including skim and chocolate milk, in the first of what are now regular campus deliveries.

A campus group comprised of students, faculty, administrators and dining hall staff has been meeting regularly throughout this academic year to talk about ways that Hampshire can support local farmers, as well as how to make environmentally sound purchasing decisions, and will continue to discuss these issues.

In addition to purchasing local milk -- from a farm close enough to campus that students can meet the cows when they visit Flayvors, the Cooks' popular ice cream stand and store -- the Hampshire dining hall also buys 20 shares of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) food from the college's organic farm.

And, at any meal or occasion that calls for the use of disposable utensils, cups, plates and napkins, Hampshire now uses biodegradable products that can be composted on the college farm.

"Hampshire College's commitment to sustainability includes careful consideration of how decisions can be beneficial to both the campus community and to our surrounding community," said President Gregory S. Prince, Jr. "Working with our neighbors in the broader community strengthens Hampshire. Purchasing from local farmers helps to support the local economy and preserve the surrounding agricultural way of life, and provides high quality, fresh food for our students.

"Students have been very engaged in the conversations around these issues, playing a leadership role, and have both learned from this process and helped to educate us about the advantages of supporting local agriculture."

Food service director Doug Martin said the dining hall will talk with some other local farmers about future purchases. The Cook Farm contract was a particularly good place to start as the farm's cows are fed hay and corn that is grown on Hampshire College pastures.

"I think this is a great opportunity for the college and local farmers to work together," said Martin. "It makes sense that the dining commons use local products as much as possible."

Martin said some food service providers on other campuses in the Five College system are also interested in the benefits of purchasing food locally and there have been discussions of possible cooperative purchasing, if all questions can be resolved.

He also said that the new system of using biodegradable paper products should save money on the Hampshire campus. He estimated that the dining commons spends around $30,000 a year on paper products, and that use of the biodegradable materials could reduce that figure by $5,000.

Hampshire has used biodegradable products to serve meals during its "green graduation" celebrations for several years with positive results.

Elaine Thomas, communications director, 413.559.5482,


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