Andouille: a French insult and one of the many exciting new menu items offered by Knox College Dining Services this year.
Expanded menus and local, organic produce will enhance students’
dining experience this year.
Director of Dining Services Helmut Mayer was most excited for Knox’s new relationship with the Local Grower’s Network (LGN).
“Last year, in late spring, I found out about a farm stand in Dahinda,” said Mayer.
“He asked for Japanese greens,” remembers Julie Haugland, co-founder of LGN. “We said we’d be happy to grow whatever he needed.”
Haugland, who also owns Vintages Tasting Room and Wine Garden in Galesburg, and her husband moved to Knox County from Chicago and bought 22 acres of farmland.
“We wanted a more sustainable existence,” said Haugland of herself and her husband Robert. “We ended up with a lot more produce than we needed for ourselves.”
With a group of likeminded neighbors, the Hauglands developed LGN and began selling their produce to patrons of Oak Run Resort, a lakeside recreational community with no mart of its own. They have since expanded and currently cater to an email list of over 200 buyers.
“The small family farm has sort of died,” lamented Haugland.
LGN was particularly optimistic after Knox County’s decision to back a proposal encouraging the production of local produce. Under the proposal, state funded and state run institutions would be required to obtain a certain percentage of their food from local growers by the year 2020.
“Things are definitely going to be changing around here for local produce,” assured Haugland.
Although it has taken some time for local restaurants to get on board, LGN provided organic produce to a few eateries in town including The Landmark, Q’s Café, and Innkeeper’s Fresh Roasted Coffee.
“Customers notice the difference,” said Haugland.
So too, Haugland hopes, will Knox students. This season, LGN grew 22 items specifically for Knox College.
“The stuff’s gone in a day,” said Helmut Mayer of the popularity of the local produce. Ultimately, Mayer would like to receive 400-500 pounds of produce from LGN per week.
“It will take a while,” he said, and with the first frost looming near, both LGN and Knox are preparing to wave goodbye to tomatoes and peppers and say hello to acorn squash and pumpkins within ten weeks.
Sunday mornings will bring Knox students an entirely different sort of local produce this year. Spudo’s Donuts and More, a Galesburg restaurant specializing in donuts made with potato flour, will provide the Hard Knox Café with their magnum opus. Helmut Mayer would like to remind Knox students that donuts are not healthy if not eaten in moderation, more than one day a week.
Mayer’s taste testing will continue this year with a new dish up for review every two weeks, the first being a Korean chicken dish.
Two new menu items have been added to the Oak Room’s rotation this year including a chicken “snacker” on a bun and a theme meal called Street Meats and Dog Days. Street Meats and Dog Days will offer various sausages and meats including kielbasa, knockwurst, andouille, and a new kind of vegetarian sausage. Toppings like curry sauce and Berliner sauce will accompany the meats.
Helmut Mayer appreciates student feedback on all campus dining facilities.
To volunteer at Local Grower’s Network, please contact Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez at email@example.com.