Virginia Tech’s Dining Services Garden at Kentland Farm, which provides a wide range of organically grown produce for several of the university’s dining venues, is anticipating a yield of 40,000 pounds for the 2011 harvest year. The yield from 2010 was 23,000 pounds.
Sustainability Coordinator Elena Dulys-Nusbaum said Dining Services expects the increase because of the garden’s success and rapid growth. It began as an herb plot in 2009, and by 2010 had grown to roughly two acres. This year the garden expanded to almost three acres. She said the estimate also includes the numerous research crops at Virginia Tech, many of which are donated to Dining Services.
The garden is located at Kentland Farm, which is part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It is an exercise in sustainable farming, and everything produced there goes to the dining program. The result is that many of the Dining Services venues on campus serve fruits, vegetables, and herbs that were grown roughly 10 miles away in an environmentally sound manner.
“We grow using natural, petroleum-free methods in order to support the exploration of agriculture that relies less on petroleum inputs and more on naturally occurring or naturally based inputs,” Dulys-Nusbaum says. “By supporting this garden, Virginia Tech is confirming its commitment to innovation and social responsibility demonstrated in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan signed in 2008.”
Since its inception, the garden has grown to house several crops, from asparagus to strawberries to zucchini. Dulys-Nusbaum says broccoli is easily the garden’s most impressive crop, with an expected yield this year of roughly 9,500 pounds.