Tompkins Cortland Community College

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Farm to Bistro

Sustainable innovationFarm to Bistro

The TC3 farm broke ground in the summer and the first students in the College's new Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program got their hands dirty throughout the fall semester. Coltivare opened in December, serving locally sourced food and drinks and capitalizing on the wealth of agricultural riches in the Finger Lakes and beyond. It is a restaurant – one that is already receiving positive reviews – but also a culinary center with education at the heart of its existence.

In addition to the professional staff and professional kitchen at Coltivare (which allow the restaurant to remain open year-round and through college breaks, unlike most culinary teaching facilities that are typically student-run), there is the gleaming, modern teaching kitchen and the wine amphitheater. Students have access to state-of-the-art equipment, including a unique waste station – the only one of its kind in the country right now – that reduces all restaurant waste by 80 percent into compost usable on the farm. The station makes our commitment to running a zero waste enterprise a reality.

Back at the farm, the College renovated an existing barn and added hoop houses and a greenhouse to sustain a vegetable-based operation that will expand into orchard fruits, syrup, honey, and more, providing Coltivare with fresh, seasonal products for its menu. The farm is committed to organic practices, and with ground-source heating is also committed to an energy neutral presence. And it is this commitment and relationship with Coltivare that makes the entire project unique.

The restaurant menu will be tied in part to the seasonal aspect of local produce. The menu will change seasonally with the farm and other producers in our region. This approach embraces the future of the food system, and the TC3 Farm and Coltivare are able to provide our students with a hands-on education that will prepare them for this relationship and approach.