July 01, 2009
and one of St. John’s University’s sustainability
initiatives include serving wonderful, fresh Long Island
produce in all of its dining areas.
Thanks to partnerships with produce distributor, J. Kings, and Long
Island farmers, Chartwells, St. John’s partner in providing dining
services on its three New York City campuses, is able to acquire
fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to serve to the
In late June, students working as Sustainability Coordinators
received a “cook’s tour” and a first-hand look at two Long
Island farms that provide fresh produce for St. John’s kitchens.
They were accompanied by Thomas Goldsmith, St. John’s Director of
Environmental & Energy Conservation, and Chartwells chefs and
managers. Also in the group was Chartwells Nutritionist Mary Ellen
Bingham, who is assigned full-time to St. John’s and provides
nutritional advice/counseling to members of the University
community at various campus locations.
fresh food starts with the farmer, who informs the distributor of
what produce will be ready for harvest one week in advance. The
distributor in turn provides the harvest information to Chartwells
Chef Vince Picciotto, who decides what will be on the menu for the
Chef Vince places the order, the farmer picks the crop on a
particular day specifically for St. John’s and the produce is
delivered within 30 hours of harvesting (as opposed to six or more
days when produce is transported from farms on the west coast). It
all adds up good taste, peak freshness, student wellness and less
impact on the environment.
A Day on the Farms
During the June tour, Joel Panagakos from J. Kings played host and
guide, giving the group a new appreciation of sustainability
through locally grown produce. The morning was spent on the Dear
Run Farm in Brookhaven with owner Bob Nolan. For two hours, Bob
walked the St. John’s group through his fields of all types of
lettuce while explaining details of planting, growing and
harvesting. “The taste was very good” says Sustainability
Coordinator Ivelin Spasov.
afternoon was spent on the family-owned Fox Hollow Farm, located in
Calverton. After a fabulous, healthy lunch, owner/farmer Jeff
Rottkamp provided the group with a wealth of information about
everything from cultivating the land and planting to pollination
and sustainable insect control. They walked through fields of
strawberries, string beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and
Truly, Chartwells is truly living up to their slogan “Eat – Learn –
Live,” not only by purchasing locally grown in-season produce from
Long Island farms but also by then showing St. John’s students how
to “connect the dots” of environmental sustainability, their own
wellness and supporting the local economy.
Director Goldsmith reports that plans are underway for additional
Sustainability efforts on St. John’s campuses. In the meantime,
watch for information regarding National Wellness Week, September
21-25, and the Wellness activities planned around it at St.