OSUIT Culinary Arts honored for sustainability efforts

OSUIT Culinary Arts honored for sustainability efforts

OSUIT Culinary Arts honored for sustainability efforts

OSU Institute of Technology Culinary Arts program received the 2022 Green Award recognizing a joint commitment to sustainability and innovation’s critical role in education. The United Soybean Board and the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education sponsors the national award.

“The OSUIT Culinary Arts program not only provides students with high-quality training, but our faculty work tirelessly to ensure they stay on the cutting edge of trends in the industry. This focus on innovation, whether through the adoption of XR technology to supplement culinary instruction to the forward-thinking implementation of our sustainable garden and its implementation into the curriculum, our Culinary Arts program is a leader in higher education and workforce training,” said Dr. Trey Hill, dean of the School of Arts, Sciences & Health.

“A tiny seed was planted with a chef’s knowledge of aquaponics, starting as a project to promote sustainability and cared for by many others along the way, and has blossomed into required coursework this Fall. Our faculty believed in the importance of this project so much that it is now rooted in the culinary curriculum,” said Chef Bren Nimmo.

Today, visitors to the studio are greeted by the vibrant lettuces, herbs and microgreens that line the wall of the garden lab, which also features an aquaponics system, a gourmet kitchen and an outdoor garden filled with edible flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

“It is rewarding to watch students open the door to the outside garden to gather fresh ingredients, like bits of basil or chives, instead of the walk-in refrigerator,” said Nimmo, “Or to see them gathering at the large farm table for a quiet space to hang out and do homework.”

The aquaponics feature combines aquaculture and hydroponics, utilizing nutrient-rich water from a fish tank to grow seedlings without soil and includes a control panel developed by Instrumentation Engineering program students. This monitors the pH and temperature levels over weekends and extended breaks while students are absent.

While the aquaponics system can grow seedlings year-round indoors, the outdoor garden is used to grow asparagus, beets, berries, melons, okra, carrots, radishes, squash, herbs and lemongrass seasonally in raised beds.

The benefits of this system contribute to student success outside of Culinary Arts as well. One gardening class plants the next semester’s harvest. The product is used to supplement the many meals prepared by culinary students. Any surplus is then donated to Pete’s Pantry, OSUIT’s food bank, to combat food insecurity campuswide.

However, seedlings aren’t the only thing growing in the garden studio. Plans to expand are in the works and include a farmer’s market, wood-fired kitchen and composting program.