For Cell Signaling Technology and Eastern Bank, Farm-to-Table Dining is Business As Usual at Café Services.

 

For Massachusetts companies like Cell Signaling Technology (CST) and Eastern Bank, farm-to-table dining is more than just a concept or weekly special at the cafeteria. It’s an integral part of day-to-day business.

With the help of Café Services, a corporate dining company serving Massachusetts and businesses across New England and the mid-Atlantic, CST and Eastern Bank are making it easy for employees to get their hands on fresh, just-dug food.

Chef Rob in employee gardenDuring the growing season at CST in Danvers, it’s as simple as picking harvest-ready produce from the community garden, where employees grow food outside on company property.

The CST community garden provides fresh summer produce to employees and the firm’s two cafeterias, which are managed by corporate dining company, Café Services. Planned and tended entirely by employees, the garden’s two raised beds delivered over 200 pounds of vegetables to the corporate dining program in its first year.

Corporate Dining Company Supports Employee-Driven Sustainable Eating Efforts

Chef Rob's salsa made with fresh vegetables from employee gardenRob Fisher, Café Services chef/manager at CST, serves as a consultant to the gardening team—advising them on what to grow, when to pick and how to make the most of small plots. He encourages growers to plant space-saving crops that he can use multiple ways in entrees and soups; as well as dressings, greens and fixings at the salad bar.

Rob likes green beans for their versatility. He prefers teardrop tomatoes to the heirloom variety because they take up less space in the garden, and like green beans, can be prepared in a variety of recipes. Rob uses them to make salsas, sauces and salads.

This year, the July harvest brought Rob a hefty crop of Swiss chard, kale, dill, chives and cucumbers—which he featured in a hearty salad at a baked potato bar.

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Like the growing number of Americans that support the farm-to-table movement, CST diners want to know where their food comes from. To keep them informed, Rob posts signage at food stations to highlight ingredients that were grown in the community garden.

“CST employees are proud of their contributions to the quality of the food in the cafeteria, as well as to the well-being of the environment,” says Rob. “Their efforts in the garden also help keep corporate food costs down. It’s a win-win all around.”

Farm-to-Table Dining Benefits Health, the Environment and Local Economy

The concept of farm-to-table dining springs from the idea that the less time and fewer hands it takes to get food from farm to fork, the better it is for health and environmental sustainability.

It also benefits the local economy—a priority for Eastern Bank and one it shares with Café Services.

About three years ago, the bank’s Lynn location became a “shareholder” of a local farmer’s yearly harvest to provide employees with just-picked produce, delivered direct by truck to the office weekly during the growing season. This year, the company expanded its holdings to include deliveries to the Café Services dining room.

farmer-daves.jpgCafé Services Chef/Manager at Eastern Bank, John Orthmann, likes knowing that the produce is grown less than thirty miles away at Farmer Dave’s in Dracut, Mass.

“The produce is a lot fresher and more flavorful,” he says. “Because it’s delivered more frequently and in smaller quantities, there’s also less waste—and less pressure on me to use it up before it spoils.”

A recent delivery from Farmer Dave featured a mix of beets, corn, green leaf lettuce, summer squash, Swiss chard, scallions, kohlrabi and garlic scapes—the potent, flower stalks of hard-neck garlic plants. John grills them to tame the bite; then purees them with arugula, basil and Parmesan cheese to make pesto, or pair with potatoes in a rich, creamy summer soup.

Eastern Bank and Café Services pay for the shares upfront in winter or spring, when Farmer Dave needs the money most to purchase seeds and food production supplies. By reducing season start-up costs, Eastern Bank and Café Services free up resources to further Farmer Dave’s efforts to make fresh, local produce affordable and accessible.

Says Rich Kvetkosky, a district manager at Café Services, “Sustaining the vitality of the local farming industry and communities where we do business is a core value at Café Services. We’re fortunate to serve companies like Eastern Bank and CST that share our mission, and we do whatever we can to support their work.”