This story also appears in our University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Agricultural Research Center Magazine. Stop by your local Research Center to pick up a copy! You can view the magazine online by clicking here: Road to Discovery.
For 80 years, the mission of the CAFNR Foundation has been to promote and further agricultural education and research in Missouri – and to collaborate with the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to accomplish the goals of the College.
The CAFNR Foundation is a separate and standalone entity, allowing it to enter into a variety of projects with the intent of expanding the research of CAFNR in Missouri and beyond.
Originally, members of the CAFNR Foundation were graduates of the College. The Foundation has expanded to include also friends of the College, all who have established a reputation of business acumen, who have judgment regarding methods and procedures for accomplishing the objectives of the Foundation, who operate in the professional and social environment that makes them knowledgeable concerning resources available, and who are held in respect by a large segment of the agriculture and agribusiness community.
The CAFNR Foundation has worked with the Agricultural Research Centers in a number of ways, including a project at the Bradford Research Center.
The Tomato Festival is one of the most popular events at Bradford. More than 1,000 people flock to the event, which includes tomato and pepper tasting. The festival led to a unique partnership with University of Missouri Campus Dining. Tim Reinbott, who served as the superintendent at Bradford from 2000-2015, said they take the extra tomatoes from the Festival to Campus Dining to be used throughout MU.
“We developed a wonderful relationship with them,” Reinbott said.
That relationship led to further discussions – mainly focused on food waste. More than 250 tons of food waste was finding its way to the landfill each year from the University of Missouri, including food scraps, paper napkins and leftover food.
Reinbott, who currently serves as assistant director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, wanted that to change. His closed-loop system, which is completely student-run, went live in November 2011 at Bradford. It is still continuing under the leadership of current Superintendent Andrew Biggs.
The CAFNR Foundation helped with the project, providing funding for the work.
The closed-loop system begins with food grown at Bradford. That food is then taken to and served by Campus Dining. The leftover food waste is brought back to Bradford and turned into compost to fertilize new crops, which include numerous vegetables. Those vegetables then head back to Campus Dining to begin the system again.
The food waste is collected in a special compostable plastic bag. Bradford mixes horse bedding, which includes straw and hay, with the food waste to form the perfect compost.
“To make compost, you rely on bacteria and fungi and other microorganisms,” Reinbott said. “They really need a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of 30:1. The whole system tends to work very well that way.
“Food waste is about 20:1. That means it has a lot of nitrogen, but not as much carbon. You need a carbon source. It just so happens that our horse farm has a lot of bedding that has a 40:1 carbon ratio. We mix those together to get the perfect carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.”
While the system is great from an educational standpoint, it is also good for the environment; reducing both landfill and methane gas emissions from food rotting in plastic bags. CAFNR will continue to work with the Foundation on research that can be used to benefit business efficiency and the environment.