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Faces of Service: John Farrell, Food Service Director & Support Services Associate

Posted by lindsaybarden | Aug 09, 2016

Faces of Service: John Farrell, Food Service Director & Support Services Associate from Au Sable Institute on Vimeo.

Few individuals make such a lasting impression, or are more deeply appreciated, morning, noon, and night than Au Sable’s Food Service Director and Support Services Associate, John Farrell. Serving at Au Sable’s Great Lakes campus in Michigan, John’s very nutritious and even more delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are a daily delight to students throughout the summer academic sessions, just as they nourish Au Sable’s retreat visitors during January and February. John manages the kitchen, cooking and coordinating all aspects of the food services and seasonal kitchen staff to ensure that everyone is well fed. Throughout the rest of the year John works with Eric Bond, Director of Support Services, maintaining and renovating the grounds and buildings. From a seasonal position in the summers of 2014 and 2015, John’s excellence in his work as Food Service Director in those summers motivated Au Sable’s Executive Director Dr. Fred Van Dyke to create a full time position for John in the fall of 2015 to be a vital year-round, full time member of the Au Sable staff.

As a student majoring in Educational Ministry and Biology at Wheaton College (Illinois), John developed a strong affection for the outdoors, God’s creation, and being close to nature. Not having learned about Au Sable and its field courses offered by the Institute until after he left school, John wishes he had attended Au Sable as a student. “I already liked the reputation and work of Au Sable in creation care, so when I learned about the job opening, it was an easy decision to pursue the opportunity,” said John, happy to now be experiencing Au Sable as a staff member. 

John explains his passion for his work this way, “Wendell Berry says that improvement of health will come more from committed small acts in our daily lives (such as our food choices) than from any grand government solution to a global problem… Our food culture and the ways that we use a place to live by is a big part of caring for creation. I find value in being able to introduce or encourage students to make food choices that are healthy, both for themselves as well as the earth. Students who are concerned for the health of our planet and world often struggle these days. Mostly they hear bad news about environmental degradation and various pollution crises. I would like them to be encouraged and find hope. Ultimately through their relationship with God, but also through inspiration and empowerment to use gained skills to care for the natural communities around them.” Executive Director Fred Van Dyke has been thrilled to have John on staff. “In John Farrell,” says Fred, “we now have a person who really understands the role of food and agriculture in creation care, and who can communicate the connections to the students, not only in words, but in something much more important, how and what we eat. John’s work is a critical part of the transformational nature of the Au Sable experience for many of our students.” 

Before coming to Au Sable, John worked with Highroad, a wilderness learning program of Wheaton College, seasonally for 9 years before venturing into the service industry. A man of many talents and trades, John enjoys being active in the outdoors and investing in creative projects of many kinds. With his culinary skills now gaining legendary status at Au Sable, the Institute and its community increasingly appreciate the blessings of John Farrell’s invaluable service.