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Green dining

July 1, 2009
by Submitted by Cura Hospitality
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On-site composting, gardens, and partnerships with local farms enhance sustainable practices

Seniors are no exception to practicing sustainable and green living efforts, especially for some 500 residents of continuing care retirement community Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. The CCRC’s food service management partner, Cura Hospitality of Orefield, Pennsylvania—which serves more than 60 senior living communities and hospitals in the mid-Atlantic region—is helping to enhance sustainable efforts at Peter Becker through on-site gardens and compositing projects.

Cura chefs use the Earth Maker 124, a continuous-cycle compost maker, to compost Peter Becker dining rooms' preconsumer food waste consisting of vegetable waste, cardboard, leaves, and woodchips on-site. Featuring a 124-gallon capacity, the Earth Maker allows Cura chefs to compost approximately 18, 5-gallon tubs per week. The composted material is returned back to the residents’ on-site gardens where natural fertilization yields safer and healthier crops consisting of lettuce, beans, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, blueberries, strawberries, and herbs.

Cura Executive Chef Tim Strella (right) and Barb Kimmel, catering coordinator for Peter Becker, compost food waste for Peter Becker gardens

Some of the harvest is used by Cura’s executive chefs to prepare menu items for the residents. According to Bill Richman, Cura General Manager at Peter Becker, “Older adults are as active as ever concerning green issues and are more aware and educated on the key health benefits of the food they eat as well as where and how their food is grown and harvested.”



In addition to on-site composting and gardens, Cura supports local agriculture through FarmSource, a sustainable sourcing program the organization created to help establish relationships with high-quality local farms and producers of food. Through its membership with the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, orchards, farms, and purveyors are easily identified within a 100-mile radius of Peter Becker. Through FarmSource, Peter Becker residents and guests are able to enjoy “back-yard” foods while supporting local agriculture by more than 20%.

Just recently, Cura also contributed recycled items like plastic bags, water bottles, and cans to Peter Becker's flower show organized and created by the residents. Peter Becker's residents pride themselves on using recycled and sustainable items to build unique backdrops for the flower show, which attracts more than 7,000 people annually.

Cura promotes its sustainable activities to its guests through EcoSteps, an educational tool that communicates the actions the organization takes to protect the environment, support local communities, and expand its role as a socially responsible organization.

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