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Friday April 23rd

Raleigh catering company finds niche market in Chapel Hill

	<p>Owner of <span class="caps">GPC</span>, Daniel Whittaker and Farm Manager, Stephen Ratasky, enjoying a laugh while standing in the summer crop field. Courtesy of Kacy Johnson.</p>
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Owner of GPC, Daniel Whittaker and Farm Manager, Stephen Ratasky, enjoying a laugh while standing in the summer crop field. Courtesy of Kacy Johnson.

Green Planet Catering is headquartered in Raleigh, but it does most of its environmentally friendly business in Chapel Hill.

The catering company is one of many finding its niche market in Chapel Hill’s green-minded market.

Tracy Triggs-Matthews, the assistant director at the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at Kenan-Flagler Business School, said she chooses the Raleigh-based caterer for center events because of its commitment to sustainability — all of the company’s produce is organic and it uses biodiesel fuel to operate its delivery trucks.

“They definitely live up to the ‘green’ in their name,” Triggs-Matthews said.

Daniel Whittaker, chief creator and sustainability director of Green Planet, said Chapel Hill businesses are drawn to the caterers because they understand the commitment to protecting the environment.

“The Chapel Hill crowd understands what we are doing,” Whittaker said. “They support the local movement and the desire to be more sustainable.”

Green Planet Catering produces its own food on North Carolina State University’s Agroecology Educational Farm. Food that isn’t grown on Green Planet’s farm is ordered from local farms.

“We started pushing the local food aspect because we started our own farm,” Whittaker said. “This way we can control the quality of the food and save money and supplement what we have with other local companies’ food.”

One-third of Green Planet’s business comes from Chapel Hill. The business has served clients in various departments at UNC, at the hospitals, the botanical gardens and private events.

The kitchen is located 5 and a half miles away from the farm.There, the company makes the food and uses the leftover oils from its kitchen to create biodiesel for their delivery trucks.

All containers for the food are compostable.After a party is over, Green Planet returns to the site, collects the waste and turns it into compost[img src=“https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.tsn/1px.png”>. The compost is then used on the farm where the food is grown.

“The entire concept is really creative,” said Nicole Stewart, development director at the North Carolina Conservation Network, which regularly uses Green Planet to cater its events.

“It all connects, from the farm to the food to the cleanup, and it goes back together again.”

Though the food that Green Planet provides is not certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Whittaker said all the food is made in line with certified processes.

“We dropped the word organic because it is associated with an expensive label,” he said. “We are just not going to pay to be labeled that way.”

Green Planet will open a new kitchen in Cary, a more central location to their farm for their growing business in Chapel Hill.

city@dailytarheel.com

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