July 12, 2011


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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell University Dining and a local farm have launched a partnership to compost as much as 850 pounds a day of discarded food scraps and recyclable napkins from Bucknell's main dining venue, Bostwick Marketplace.

Rowse Howse Farms has agreed to collect the ground-up remains of vegetables, fruit, meat, pizza crusts, unbleached napkins and other biodegradable waste - at no cost to Bucknell -- for a composting operation at the 10-acre homestead farm in Milton.

"This partnership allows us to keep that waste out of a local landfill while at the same time benefitting a local farm," said John Cummins, general manager of resident dining at Bucknell for Parkhurst Dining Services. "It also is consistent with our Campus Greening Initiative and our ongoing efforts to be sustainable."

Sustainable practices
Chatham University, Allegheny College and Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, which also contract with Parkhurst, have adopted similar composting programs.Bucknell Dining takes a number of measures to reduce waste at Bostwick and the University's other dining venues, noted Cummins, who meets weekly with a team of student sustainability ambassadors during the academic year to discuss ways the dining halls may become more environmentally friendly.

One such initiative is tray-less Tuesdays and Thursdays in Bostwick, where about 4,000 meals a day are served during the academic year.. Starting in September, after some equipment modifications, the cafeteria will eliminate trays altogether. That measure alone is estimated to reduce compostable waste to an estimated 700 pounds per day, Cummins said, because diners are less likely to grab an extra slice of pizza or a second cookie if they are carrying a plate rather than a tray.

Smaller portions
Most of the food stations at Bostwick and some  stations in other campus dining venues are set up to reduce waste with made-to-order omelets and other food items, with the idea that diners consume smaller portions if someone else is serving them. Bones from beef, veal and chicken and vegetable peels also are used to make stock for soup. And dining officials monitor consumption so they are not cooking more food than students and other diners will consume.

About 37 percent of the food served at Bostwick comes from local producers or suppliers, including items such as bread, cage-free eggs, hormone-free milk and ice cream. Oil is converted to biodiesel. And fair-trade coffee is offered for sale. Students also receive a discount on drinks in reusable mugs.

Rowse House Farms
Robert Rowse of Rowse Howse Farms said the composting partnership is mutually beneficial to Bucknell and his homestead farm. He collects the food scraps about once a week and spreads the material in a six-inch-deep, five-foot-wide trench, which he covers with straw, mulch, weeds and clean cardboard to provide a habitat for the worms. The worms live in the cardboard and straw and eat the food, converting it to castings that are used as mulch.

"My end goal is to be completely organic so I am using the worm castings to feed the plants on my grounds," Rowse said. "We see a good future in this partnership with Bucknell and hope that it will be a model for other businesses. Not only is it a good business practice, but we are recycling and composting."

Contact: Division of Communications