Grace Cavanaugh ~ Staff Writer
This past Monday, April 22, 2019, the Burton Dining Hall celebrated Earth Day with a special lunch. They invited local vendors from around Virginia to come and talk to the students about their efforts with the University of Lynchburg to promote local businesses, support the community, and to make the University a greener, more sustainable place.
Stand Up Inc. is a company that “helps people with disabilities find meaningful employment in the communities where they live,” according to the Business Development Specialist, Len Richardson. The Transition and PreETS Coordinator, Lauren Adams, said, “We actually have students who come here to the University of Lynchburg each week. They are students from the school that come in and they have a disability, so they are here to learn work skills.”
From County Waste, BJ Leebrick, the Local Territory Manager, explained that, “County Waste is a predominantly Virginia based company. […] We are a full-service waste and recycling company.” County Waste provides the recycling bins “in the dorms and all through the facilities” and “along Faculty Drive”, according to Leebrick.
Lynchburg Grows volunteer Katelyn Lloyd, a freshman at the U of L, said, “[Lynchburg Grows] is an urban farm. They do their own compost and use that to grow their own vegetables. They sell it there, but they also transport it to different places around the community that are food deserts to people that do not normally have access to fresh produce. A lot of the times, the food that is used in the Caf will be from Lynchburg Grows. At the salad bar, if the lettuce is from Lynchburg Grows, it will have a little sign.”
A majority of the Dining Hall’s pork products come from Baker Farms, a local farm in Shenandoah Valley. The Marketing Manager, Linda Kosik, said, “We are true farm-to-table. We raise the pigs, raise the grain, and process on site, then we go to our farmers’ markets. […] We bring down the ribs and the little links that you all get in the morning, and the bratwurst. […] They found that the [students] wanted a true, healthy food source.”
Kosik also explained the importance of small, local farms like Baker Farms. “It is about the local farmer. It has become a dying art. You guys, as the younger generation, need to realize where your food source comes from, and that is what you have here,” she said.
Homestead Creamery was both inside the Dining Hall and outside with one of their calves, giving free ice cream to students. The Outside Sales Representative, Melvin Hunt, said, “We [were] started in January 2001 by two dairy farmers. They were not getting enough money for their milk in the open market and decided to start their own creamery. They decided that when they did that, they would put them in bottles to be more natural, because when you use plastic […] it gets some of that taste. It is all bottled milk, it is all natural, there are no preservatives.”
Like Baker Farms, Homestead Creamery is a farm-to-table company. Hunt explained, “Our cows, we raise our own feed, the alfalfa, the wheat, the corn, non-GMOs. The cows are taken very good care of. They are in milked in the barns and eat, and then they go out to the fields. […] Our milks are the best, tastiest milks you will ever drink.”
Junior Katy Forbes was representing the Lynchburg Environmental Sustainability Society (LESS), a “group of students, a club on campus,” according to Forbes. She continued, “We are trying to promote students shopping locally.” They were representing the Lynchburg Community Market on Main Street. “[Shopping locally gives you] better quality food and produce. It is more sustainable and better for the environment than, you know, shopping at Walmart. It is better for the local economy, it helps promote the community of downtown. The food has better nutrients and stuff. It is a better peace of mind because you know where it comes from,” said Forbes.
About LESS, Forbes said, “We help maintain the campus garden at Beaver Point and we are also conducting this STARS assessment. It is pretty much to assess the efficiency and sustainability of our campus and how it functions, the buildings, the curriculum. We do things to help promote sustainability on the campus.”
Students of the University of Lynchburg can rest easy knowing that the University of Lynchburg is working with so many great companies to support the community and the environment.