By DAVID ALMEDA
In its pursuit to give its students a hands-on experience, Kennesaw State’s Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality employs the use of three off-campus farms.
They are located in various locations around northwest Georgia, with the closest standing just two miles away from KSU’s campus. The first farm came to be when the university took land on Hickory Grove Road that was once used by the Georgia Department of Transportation to give it new life.
“It was an old property that was used as a staging area for some highway construction on I-75,” Robert Nolen, associate director of KSU Culinary and Hospitality Services said. “It’s about 60 acres. They didn’t want to use it for construction anymore. They entered into an agreement with the university.”
After the establishment of the first farm, two smaller operations sprouted up in Cartersville and Ball Ground. The first farm remains the largest.
KSU’s culinary program has used the farms as opportunities to teach concepts like managing soil and beekeeping.
“I’ve got a class at the Hickory Grove farm,” Program Coordinator Courtney Lancaster said. “Students go there and learn from our master gardener Michael Blackwell. He’s very, very knowledgeable.”
In addition to their purpose of educating students, the farms are also a food source for KSU’s dining hall, The Commons. They supply 20 percent of the produce that comes in.
“We have some greenhouses up, we have a barn up, we have some goats over there,” Nolen said. “We have chickens. We’re using the eggs in the dining hall, so we’re actually cooking with the eggs that we’re getting from our chickens. We have a hydroponic system in one of our greenhouses, so we’re growing tomatoes year-round.”