Photo by Adactio/Flickr CC
It is a pleasant coincidence that sustainable gourmands and college students share a preference for pizza. The basic concept--disc of dough, things on top, cooked very hot--remains the same from Pizza Hut on up to Chez Panisse. At Yale, when we were thinking about how to lure students into making the 15-minute walk to our campus garden, pizza seemed the only logical solution.
In 2005, we built a brick oven with a father-son mason team from Maine. Making food at the farm allows us to complete the cycle--teaching people not just about agriculture, but about food, too. We get to show how you grow the basil, harvest the basil, put the basil on a pizza, eat the pizza, compost the waste, and spread the compost on next month's basil patch. (We've been thinking about building composting toilets, but that's fodder for a future post.)
We're good at making it, too. Now, after every Friday volunteer workday, we have an assembly line of paid chefs and volunteers churning out a gourmet pizza every three minutes in order to feed a teeming mass of workers who have a habit of devouring the pie before we can finish cutting it.
Some students come to work and stay for the pizza, but others just come for the pizza and realize the farm is pretty cool, too. What's important--and this may seem obvious--is that the pizza is really good. It doesn't need philosophy to make it worthwhile, but we've got some just in case you're interested.
Photo by Sean Fraga
As universal as pizza is, it's also adaptable--it will accept eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, yams, greens, okra. Anything we can grow we are liable to at least try on top of a pizza. (Some ingredients don't work: we tried lavender once, and unfortunately it just tasted like lavender.) We took a break for the winter, but now that we're emerging from the greenhouses to sunshine and soil the '09 pizza is starting to roll out. The ingredient of the hour is spinach.