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© Allison Usavage

Coltivare Farm to Bistro

Coltivare Farm to Bistro is a new downtown restaurant serving fresh food sourced from the TC3 farm and other local producers. Beyond the public dining experience, Coltivare is a culinary center, home to TC3 courses across a spectrum of culinary and hospitality-related subjects, and an amazing new event space.

We walked over from the Commons on opening day for a Saturday brunch, and were immediately won over. The food was beautiful and delicious (we highly recommend the pastrami hash with deep-fried farm eggs), and while we never take for granted the good feelings that come with locally sourced ingredients, the added educational component behind Coltivare really made us feel like our dining experience was giving back in a bigger way.

Photos from our brunch and a Q&A with Denis Boucher, director of Coltivare.

 

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What is Coltivare Farm to Bistro?

Coltivare Farm to Bistro is the culmination of education, environmental sensitivity, farming, food systems, and a restaurant for the general public. The bar and restaurant is a place where we can bring that all together in this environment where people can come and enjoy all of what goes into it.
 

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Who is it good for?

The community. We are here because the community is looking for a way to really engage on a deeper level with the farm to bistro concept. As a community college, the idea is that the community needs qualified students and we are here to provide them, but we want them ready to go. So, by having the restaurant where it all comes together, these students will, theoretically at the end of the program, be ready for our community to really intensify that whole movement of farm to bistro, farm to floor, farm to table, farm to whatever you want to call it… because that’s really what this area is all about. And so we want to enhance that. We want to make it better. We want to build the future.

 

© Allison Usavage
What kind of change are you trying to make?

We want to change how people view the food systems in an area where agriculture is really an important component. We can sustain this part of our community by making sure that the agricultural portion of it is enhanced by what we’re doing. So the change really is a mindset of buying locally, trying to source locally… it take a lot more effort to do that. What we’re trying to change is that whole system, and make it easier for others to do that.

 

© Allison Usavage
What brought this project here?

Carl Haynes, the president of TC3, is a visionary. He saw the need and saw an opportunity because of our hospitality program and our wine marketing program… if we then had a farming program and a culinary program then we could bring it all together here.

 

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What impact does this have on our community?

We hope this is going to have a huge impact. Both for the agricultural community and for our community of restaurants. We’re going to be producing students who are going to stay within our community and enhance what’s already here, make it even better as we go forward. The other thing that we’re going to be focusing on is not only closing that loop of farm to table but farm to farm. Farm comes to our table and then goes back to the farm in compost.

 

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How has the community supported the project?

I think there’s been a lot of support for this project, all the way from the beginning where there were feasibility studies, there were program advisory committees… we were asking the community, “what is the need, and how do we be part of that?” Sue Stafford, who is the department chair of our hospitality program, has reached out to the community of restauranteurs and people who are involved in the tourism industry. They all got very involved in narrowing what their needs were, so that we can enhance what they’re doing.

 

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What struggles have you encountered?

I suppose the struggles are with the fact that this is a very complex project and we’re on kind of a fast track.

 

© Allison Usavage
What should we be celebrating?

We should be celebrating a new era of food. Of how we’re looking at food and how we’re doing food. People are going into grocery stores and looking at a tomato and thinking “Gee, I shouldn’t be buying that tomato because it’s February, because the carbon footprint of that tomato is so huge.” There’s a groundswell that’s really making this happen and that’s a huge celebration. Huge.

 

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How can we participate?

You need to come to our restaurant over and over and over again! And, you need to tell us how we’re doing! We need to know, we need that feedback. The students need that feedback.

 

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Anything you want to add?

We are here to support the local community, but we can’t do it unless the local community supports us. So it’s a symbiotic relationship. We’re not a corporate entity looking to make huge profits, but we’d like to make a profit so we can turn it around and give it back to our students by way of lower course fees and by way of scholarships.

 

Check out the restaurant 235 S. Cayuga Street, or learn more (including how to pronounce Coltivare) at coltivareithaca.com.

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