Crossnore School, Camino Bakery and Piedmont International University announced a new program last week to promote composing and sustainability in Winston-Salem.

The program, The Story of the Plate, was announced Aug. 22 at Piedmont International’s campus and Camino’s Brookstown location.

The Story of the Plate is designed to get food-related businesses to commit to composting the waste they generate. It also focuses on a natural life cycle involving food, waste and soil.

Essentially, the program starts with restaurants composting waste. That waste is then picked up by Gallins Family Farm, based in Davie County, where it is composted into nutrient-dense material and then delivered to Crossnore School for use its in gardens. Food grown in those gardens then can be purchased by restaurants, thus completing the cycle.

Camino, Village Juice and Providence Restaurant and Culinary Training already are composting and buying produce from Crossnore’s Miracle Grounds Network farm. Land at Crossnore is being farmed by refugees through the YMCA’s RISE program, which teaches job skills and entrepreneurship.

Other restaurants that have committed to taking action steps toward sustainability include Krankies, Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro, Mission Pizza Napoletana and the soon-to-open Bobby Boy Bakeshop.

Composting also has begun in local schools. Speas Elementary is participating in a pilot program with help from Every Tray Counts, a North Carolina nonprofit that works to foster sustainable practices in school lunchrooms. “We have four other schools that are interested in this, and we’re working on funding for that,” said executive director Sue Scope.

Camino founder and co-owner Cary Clifford said that the Story of the Plate began in some casual conversations between her, Eric Mathis and Shaina Bottoms. Mathis is the coordinator for the Miracle Grounds Network at Crossnore, and Bottoms is a former Camino employee who runs the coffee shop in the student center at Piedmont International.

“I’m super-concerned about the environment,” said Clifford, whose bakery already uses compostable coffee cups and takeout containers. “Eric comes in here (Camino) all the time, and we just got to talking. Eric is full of ideas, and it just all came together.”

Bottoms had started a recycling and composting project at the university’s coffee shop a year ago and is hoping to expand it to the school’s main dining facilities. Another component of the project is sending PIU students to Crossnore to fulfill their community-service requirements.

That educational arm extends to Crossnore’s youth and Providence’s culinary trainees. Providence now has a farm-to-table component to its culinary training and thus is sending students to Crossnore to learn about farming. Crossnore also uses its gardens to help teach its residential children about sustainability and where food comes from.

One Crossnore project involved children growing food, taking it to Village Juice and then enjoying smoothies made from the food, before seeing the waste then collected for composting.

Mathis said he hopes that the Story of the Plate turns into a citywide project. With broad participation, it also could encompass multiple farms. “This is about a circular economy, working with the natural cycles of nature. At the end of the day, we’re increasing the nutrient density of the soil, and we want to do that all over the city.”

Restaurants and others interested in participating in the Story of the Plate, can contact Mathis at (336) 721-7600 or emathis@crossnore.org.

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