W. Galen Weston Centre for Food at Durham College

Durham College

In 2009, Durham College (DC) turned its attention to Durham Region’s agri-food industry. Recognizing an opportunity to address local economic and social issues, DC embarked on an ambitious plan to satisfy the need for an agri-food-focused facility that would satisfy the gap in an innovative and environmentally conscious way. The end result was DC’s Centre for Food (CFF), now the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, a 35,000 square-foot living laboratory.

As Durham Region’s first-ever post-secondary presence focused on the field-to-fork philosophy, the CFF and its accompanying 4.5 acres of reclaimed land for food production bring that concept to life by integrating culinary, hospitality, tourism, agriculture and horticulture programs all in one location. As part of its commitment to conserve energy and protect and improve the environment, the CFF was designed and built following the principles of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The CFF boasts numerous sustainable building features, including a glass curtain wall to maximize natural light, a green living wall, a fully automated building controls management system and occupancy sensors. In addition, there are plans to add a green roof. Other highlights include a comprehensive recycling program to reduce its carbon footprint, touchless sensor faucets, composting of kitchen waste, and use of safer hand soaps.

The Green Restaurant Association has recognized the CFF’s sustainability efforts by naming it a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant, which also applies to Bistro ’67, the full-service teaching-inspired restaurant located on the CFF’s second floor, and Pantry, a unique retail store that brings student-created goods straight from the field to the culinary classroom and on to the community.

The CFF’s grounds include an apple orchard, a large urban garden, raised beds and an unheated hoop house, where small fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown using production methods with low environmental impact, water stewardship and reduced energy consumption. In its first summer of restricted operation, the garden produced 1,260 kilograms of produce, valued conservatively at $6,000, for the college’s culinary curriculum and Bistro ‘67.

The cultivation of the reclaimed land surrounding the CFF has had an immediate impact on the scope and health of its ecosystem and development of the CFF grounds will continue over the next three years.

Read more about DC’s Centre for Food here.