For the first time in an university in Ireland, students and staff at University College Cork gathered at the iconic Quadrangle as the first harvest of vegetables and herbs from the KSG UCC Farm to Fork programme arrived on campus by traditional tractor and trailer today (Tuesday, 27th September 2016). The Farm to Fork initiative, developed by KSG Catering Ltd in partnership with UCC is the first of its kind in any university in Ireland with crops being grown on the university land and then harvested for use in the campus restaurants.
KSG Catering operate the farm in conjunction with Nigel Martin, a local Curraheen farmer who has assisted with the planting, growing and harvesting on the farm located close by. Eight acres of crops, which were planted in late spring, are now yielding a harvest of fresh vegetables and herbs including carrots, turnips, parsnips, beetroot and herbs such as rosemary, mint and thyme. The farm will continue to produce these crops for the UCC restaurants until February when the ground will be ploughed and replanted for the next cycle of growth through spring and summer.
The goal of the project is to provide sustainable local healthy produce for KSG’s thirteen restaurants and cafes, directly connecting the ecosystem to the plates of students and staff daily on campus.
Staff and students alike including UCC Vice-President for Teaching & Learning, Professor of Zoology and Green Forum Chairperson, John O’Halloran, enjoyed the fresh harvest produce as they dug into a wholesome Beef & Vegetable Stew in the university restaurant today.
Michael Gleeson, Managing Director of KSG commented, “This has been a really exciting project which has operated in full partnership with the college and we are delighted to be growing on UCC land to support the campus restaurant operations in a unique way. The vegetables from the farm are excellent quality and they are now used in a range of dishes on our menus. Food is our passion and we have a consistent focus on sustainability and we are thrilled to be growing our own food. KSG Catering has also won the 2016 Irish Food Made Good Champion award from the London based Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) for its activities on the UCC Campus and the national award was presented to KSG by Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc earlier in 2016.”
John O’Halloran, Vice-President for Teaching & Learning and Professor of Zoology at University College Cork said, “As the world’s first Green Flag Campus* we are delighted to see that the Farm to Fork project is coming to fruition with the produce being used directly by KSG in the campus restaurants. As they say, if you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together and I think that is particularly relevant for this project. UCC and KSG worked collaboratively to further develop our Green Campus with sustainability to the forefront of our mission.”
Eolann Sheehan, UCC Student Union President said, “With all students and staff recently returned to campus we’re delighted to hear of this healthy environmentally friendly initiative. It’s important for students to have healthy options to fuel their body and minds as they undertake the academic year ahead. We’re very proud of our green campus for developing local produce rather than importing from thousands of miles away.”