Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Supporting Local Farms at Northeastern

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | 8:42 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments
My name is Tom Barton and I am the Executive Chef for Northeastern Dining Services. I will be bringing you news and information from the campus kitchens and beyond every week in the "Behind the Menu" on the NU Dining blog. If there is a specific topic you would like to see discussed on here, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

Before we get into my first blog post, here's a little background information on my culinary career. Before coming to Northeastern, I worked with the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. where I helped cater many VIP events, including the inaugural ball for President George W. Bush as well as a dinner in honor of the 50th anniversary of NATO attended by President Bill Clinton. I also worked for several years at the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons hotels here in Boston where I had the opportunity to cook for a number of celebrities including the royal family of Saudi Arabia, Sir Elton John, Prince Charles, and Diana Ross. I hope I can bring some of the experience I gained cooking for these high-profile events to cater to your culinary needs here at Northeastern. Now onto our first topic: eating local.

Eating local is a big trend in the food industry but why do it? Well first, local food is much fresher and tastes better than foods shipped over long distances. Also, knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown enables us to choose safe food from farmers that we trust. And with each local food purchase it ensures that more money spent on food goes to the farmer and, in turn, the local economy. We buy many local products from our produce distributor, Sid Wainer, but we have recently partnered with the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) to buy directly from two local farms: Sampson Farm and Noquochoke Orchards.

Sampson Farm was founded in 1850 by the great grandfather of current owner Jerome Sampson. The farm, located in Westport, MA, originally started as a dairy farm with only a few acres of potatoes and other seasonal crops. When they were unable to hire any extra help for the cows during World War I, potatoes became the primary crop and it has stayed that way to this day. These potatoes are used to create our freshly cut french fries here at Northeastern. And while Fall is the traditional potato harvest season, Sampson Farm is able to keep a portion of their crop protected during the winter with their large insulated "potato bunker." Nestled about six feet underground, the potato bunker provides the perfect dark and damp environment that potatoes thrive in, thus making their primary crop available year round.

Alexander Smith
Noquochoke Orchards was established in 1899 by George and Marianne Smith when they bought the land in Westford, MA from whaling captain William Ball. The farm was passed down to George and Marianne's son Alexander and the 55 acre farm has now been operated by five generations of the Smith family. Noquochoke Orchards produces the butternut squash that is used at Northeastern as well as pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, blueberries, seasonal vegetables, Macomber turnips, and more than 50 varieties of apples.

Eating local is not only good for the local economy but it is a much more secure way for us to make sure that we are providing you with the freshest ingredients in the dining halls. If you have any questions about our eat local program, please leave a comment below or send us feedback through the NU Dining website at


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