February 18, 2014

New Organic Restaurant Will Bring Local Food to Ithaca

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Cornell students say they are excited about a new organic restaurant that will open in downtown Ithaca in November as an effort to combine local farming with direct student participation.

Tompkins Cortland Community College announced last Wednesday that the Coltivare culinary center will be housed at 137 South Cayuga St. and will employ enrolled TC3 students.

Although participation in Coltivare is limited to TC3 students, Cornellians are also interested in the idea of a restaurant connected to organic vegetable production.

“My parents and I worked on a vegetable garden back home in Lincoln, Nebraska,” Wyatt Nelson ’16 said. “So I think that any effort by Ithaca to help promote sustainable living is really commendable.”

Coltivare is the restaurant component of TC3’s “Farm to Bistro” program, which hopes to integrate an organic farm and a downtown restaurant in Ithaca to “give students hands-on experience in every aspect of the food-production system,” according to the program’s web page.

According to the web page, the organic farm will be located next to TC3’s Dryden campus and emphasize sustainable vegetable production and utilize wind, solar and geothermal technologies rather than a commercial grid to harness energy.

Using the local produce supplied by the TC3 organic farm, the Coltivare culinary center then combines a team-driven restaurant enterprise with modern teaching facilities, tasting rooms and an event space to help students gain practical experience, the page said.

“The Farm to Bistro program is unique in our region and will address a need for qualified workers in organic farming, culinary arts, hospitality and food and wine marketing,” the page says.

Program chair Sue Stafford said in an Ithaca Times article that the initiative is “very hands-on” and “uniquely integrated.”

“People are growing tired of food from a box,” Stafford said. “They want fresh and local, which means delicious. We are fortunate in that our region is ideal for providing an interesting and educational culinary experience.”

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said the restaurant will “connect” students to permanent residents.

“It brings what is the heart of our community, and that is education, into the geographic heart of our city,” Myrick said. “And that’s a wonderful thing.”

Cornell students have expressed their interest in visiting the restaurant when it opens in November.

“Sometimes I just get really tired of the dining options near where I live,” Charlie Fraioli ’16 said. “My ears always perk up when I hear of a new restaurant opening up in the downtown area.”

Nina Quirk ’16 echoed Fraioli’s sentiments, saying that she looked forward to Coltivare’s opening.

“My friends and I are always on the lookout for new and local foods,” Quirk said.