Harvest time on campus for Farm to Fork ‘first’

UCC students and staff gathered at the iconic Quad on Wednesday 28th of September, for the arrival of the first harvest of vegetables and herbs from the KSG UCC Farm to Fork initiative, the first of its kind in any university in Ireland.

The Farm to Fork initiative was developed by KSG Catering Ltd, the largest Irish-owned catering service provider, in partnership with UCC, with crops 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 farmer in Curraheen who has assisted with the planting, growing and harvesting on the farm located close by. Eight acres of crops 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.

Staff and students alike including Professor John O’Halloran, Vice-President for Teaching & Learning and Chair of the Green Campus Forum at UCC, enjoyed the fresh harvest produce as they tucked into Beef and Vegetable Stew in the university restaurant on the day.

Professor John O’Halloran 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.”

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.”