Mount Holyoke College has been buying locally for several years. Several years ago, the 5-College Dining Services Directors decided to approach local purchasing collaboratively. Several of the local farmers / vendors were invited to a meeting at Smith College so we could meet with them face-to-face and let them know about our respective operations and potential challenges as well as our serious commitment to cultivating these relationships and utilizing their crops/products. This has evolved into cultivating good working relationships not only with the colleges and the farmers/vendors, but farmer/vendor to farmer/vendor. Farmers feel very comfortable picking up the phone to ask if we could use product or what we plan to use for product so they can plan their planting around our usage. They also call each other to ask for help for delivering product, sharing resources, or promoting themselves to us and to each other.
Dining Services features locally grown produce items daily in various recipes depending on availability and seasonality. Additionally, we try to feature and include any available locally grown products for our gracious meals throughout the year. We start the year with our annual Fall Harvest Gracious Dinner at the end of September, which features only sustainable and locally grown menu items and usually coincides with the Massachusetts Farm to College Week. Additionally, the Saturday evening gracious dinner on Family and Friends Weekend, our Thanksgiving gracious dinner, and our Exam M&C’s Hot Breakfast are all sustainable and locally grown meals.