Pitt brings eco-friendly growing machines to the dining halls

Walking into the dining halls this semester, Pitt students can find Pitt Eats staff using four large glass machines flourishing with herbs. These transparent fridge-like structures represent the next step toward a more sustainable campus.

These machines, known as “Babylon Micro-Farms,” use controlled glass environments to produce greens for Pitt’s chefs to add into their recipes. Pitt Eats installed the farms this December and chefs are now actively using them at four on-campus dining locations — Schenley Café, the Eatery, the Perch and Cathedral Café. They’ll be growing thyme, cilantro, wasabi arugula, pansy flowers, sorrel, marigold, romaine and other greens in the machines.

Kathryn Lavelle, marketing director of Pitt Eats, said the Babylon technology — including its inter-machine cameras that allow her to see all of the farms and their updates through one mobile app — help to ensure that the farms are stable and the herbs are being maintained. “Babylon farms have some unique features that really help manage the machines,” Lavelle said. ”There are cameras in the facility as well as notifications so if something goes down their support team is able to help us.”

Lisia Spellman, Pitt’s sustainability director, is also fond of the technology. Spellman said the app, which eight Pitt Eats managers use, enables them to closely monitor the greens’ growth.

Read the complete article at www.pittnews.com.

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