Part of the vast sea of corn surrounding Miami University belongs to family-owned and operated Butterfield Farms. Located two and a half miles away from campus, 4000 Oxford Trenton Rd. (State Rt. 73), Butterfield Farms assists Miami in offering locally grown food to students.
Miami first began business with Butterfield Farms in 2000. Jon Brubacher, Director of Procurement and Food Purchases, explained the connection as a matter of convenience and proximity.
“The agricultural area around campus is just as sufficient as anywhere else,” Brubacher said. “It’s a great growing region for high quality products, and it truly is amazingly good food.”
The specific rations Miami receives from the farm are determined by climate and soil rather than a contract. Eric Yung, executive chef on campus, explained how the distribution works.
“Every so often, they give us a call with the number of bushels produced for the season,” Yung said. “Normally we pick up meat and produce from Butterfield, but because they’re so close, they’ll often drop it off themselves. $2.8 million of our food budget is spent on local production, so we’ll buy whatever we can from them.”
In accordance with its conditions, food production at Butterfield Farms is highest in the summer. Since Butterfield produces the most when the least amount of students are around to feed, the university negotiates with Butterfield in summer’s waning moments at the start of the school year, according to Yung.
“We will center our menu and catering options based on the figures and food available, which is everything from cauliflower, pumpkin, watermelon, berries, broccoli and, not surprisingly, corn,” Yung said.
Butterfield and other local farms, including Houston, Wiseman and Scott Downing Farms, have co-hosted events with Miami to promote the agricultural region both at the farms themselves and on campus. Brubacher recalled a visit to Butterfield:
“Urban kids were taking a hay ride for the first time,” Brubacher said. “They had never had the opportunity to see and feed a cow up close and personal before. It was incredible to be a part of such an experience.” Consisting entirely of local produce, ice cream, gelato and protein cooked on sight, these off-campus events were the first step in introducing Miami students to local foods.
Last fall, however, these ideas were brought to Miami’s campus, and from those ideas has sprung the Cultivating Community. Last year at Harris Dining Hall, over 600 students were treated to local deli meat and cheese, all of which came from local farms.
Occasionally, the local farmers themselves will bring dairy and candy to campus. Setting up stands outside MacCracken Market, these men and women have face-to-face discussions with students.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Yung said. “The students not only enjoy delicious food and learn of its origin, they get to express their appreciation to the farmers. And since Miami Students are bright, they often come up with ideas that in turn benefit the famers.”
Brubacher said Butterfield Farms’s location is extremely important to Miami.
“These people are our neighbors, we see them out walking their dogs and in the grocery stores, this is our community,” Brubacher said. “We want to keep the money in it, and thus make it a cultivating one.”
Butterfield Farms has experienced great change in both location and style since its opening in 1925. Initially established nine miles outside of Cincinnati, corn was harvested by hand and immediately transported to the farmer’s market in the city. Due to the indirect sale of produce through merchants and vendors, all business took place at night.
Bryan Butterfield, founder of Butterfield Farms, was a beloved member of his community. Butterfield’s son, Gordon, took control of the farm when his father was tragically struck and killed by a train in 1966.
Gordon Butterfield moved the business to Oxford and made the farm what it is today, according to his son and current owner, also named Bryan Butterfield.
“He’s been gone for seven years now, but we’d like it to feel as if he’s still here with us,” Butterfield said.
Sophomore Abbie Schultheis, a Resident Assistant in Dennison Hall, recalled her visit to the farm last October.
“I think going to Butterfield was an excellent way to make friends,” Schultheis said. “Those few hours away from campus was a great opportunity for our hall to connect, we really got to know each other better.”
Sophomore Lindsay Crist said she loves Miami is working to make 25 percent of its food supply locally sourced.
“It’s a great thing when the university works with locals farms to get produce here on campus,” Crist said.
Sophomore Heather Cunningham agreed and said she thinks it is a great idea that Miami and Butterfield Farms work together.
“I really appreciate these men and women and their work,” Cunningham said. “If they’re growing perfectly good food, there’s no reason we shouldn’t take advantage of Miami being so close to it all.”
Miami continues to promote the work of local farmers, and with various related events scheduled throughout the year, the university strives to make its gratitude known.