Green Cafe Class | St. Lawrence University Sustainability Program

Green Cafe Class

The Green Café aims to provide students with local, sustainable, farm-to-table food options and a platform for building and expressing cultural advocacy on campus.  Farm to Table is a social movement to connect farmers and the foods they produce to their local communities. A fundamental idea to the movement is that food is not only a vehicle for sustenance, but also a way people develop self-identity, build relationships, and impact their broader environments. Students will explore the Farm to Table movement’s core tenants by participating in every aspect of a ‘Farm to Table’ enterprise: The Farm at Kirk Douglas Hall!  

At the Sustainability Farm, students will actively learn by doing, from principles of sustainability and organic agricultural to harvesting and food preservation. A local restaurateur will facilitate restaurant management and culinary skills in the kitchen and café service. The class will extend food culture to the SLU community through organizing Pop-up Cafés in collaboration with campus student groups who would like to share their food traditions. Students learn how to launch their own sustainable food pop-ups café, through guided academic learning, farming, and collaboration with student organization. By the end of the course, students will have an investor pitch ready to seek funding for the pop-up concept, as well as the understanding of why to support such a Farm to Table restaurant in the real-world. Classmates come from all skill levels and interdisciplinary backgrounds, and this diversity is what we believe fosters the most sustainable approach to farm-to-table.

Green café is a hybrid course, integrating both in person and video-online lecture components.  Components of the café meetings, lecture discussion, and café events are both synchronous and asynchronous and the location for in person time is variable. It is expected that all students will participate in all aspects of the café over the course of the semester, but that many elements are in a rotation. Ultimately, each student will participate in three Thursday café events including two-take out events utilizing the Spartacus Café and an end of semester buffet using Eben Holden. Three Thurs. café events require close human contact. We are coordinating our food preparation safety protocols with those used for food preparation in Dining Services. The associated Tues. group meetings, class discussion modules, and two 3-hr harvesting shifts at the farm (arranged with the Sustainability Program staff) require social distancing. In the event that the café is required to close for the semester, alternative activities will be added.

This course satisfies the experiential learning component of the Business in Liberal Arts Major and Sociology majors, and the NS requirement for Environmental Studies majors.  Fulfills DIV13 Distribution (2013 curriculum).  

Course Learning Goals:

  • To explore the relationship between food, culture, & society by reflecting on one’s own food background and that of others and to adapt this learning into sustainable food business design
  • To actively incorporate strategic and intentional thinking to plan and operate a small entrepreneurial enterprise on campus
  • To be exposed to, acquire skills for, and analyze the outcomes of a sustainability driven Farm to Table food system, including concepts and practical skills in:
    • Organic farming, harvesting, & food storage;
    • Menu development & meal preparation;
    • Café service and restaurateur management;
    • Inclusive community collaboration, including with student groups, costumers, and stakeholders in the North Country food system;
    • Integrating social and ecological values into business design and communication