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Eco-friendly Coffee Shop Opens at VHCC
Posted Date: 1/24/2013
A student-operated coffee shop that uses organic products and renewable energy opened today on the Virginia Highlands Community College campus, where it will serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for students enrolled in a wide variety of academic programs.

Hot lattes, flavored cappuccinos, iced mochas, and fresh baked snacks will be served at Wolf Grounds Coffee Shop, located on the first floor of the Learning Resources Center (LRC). The business was first envisioned by members of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a nationally recognized student entrepreneurship club that has since changed its name to ENACTUS, and was made possible with a $30,000 grant from Dominion Power Co.

In announcing support of the project in 2010, Dominion lauded the ecologically friendly aspects of the new business, which include organically grown coffee provided by Abingdon’s Zazzy’Z Coffee Roasters, cups and other paper products made from recycled materials, and the use of Energy Star appliances. Additionally, the business will derive a portion of its power from windmills and solar panels that were installed at VHCC as part of the Energy Technology program. 

“Our mission was to create a self-sustaining, eco-friendly business that would serve ‘green’ products to the VHCC community at a competitive price,” said Phil Ferguson, a VHCC faculty member who advised students during the early planning stages. “We’re confident that Wolf Grounds will become a symbol of environmental sustainability and economic enrichment for our customers and all VHCC students.”

While space was being renovated for the new business, Oliver Craughwell, owner of Zazzy’Z, came on board as a volunteer mentor. He shared his expertise with students, helping them with important tasks like choosing the proper equipment and developing a menu. He and Ferguson assisted students, too, as they developed plans for the management, accounting, marketing and inventory of the small business. 

Now open with 10 part-time employees, Wolf Grounds receives faculty oversight from Adjunct Instructor Jason Corvin. Students enrolled in his Entrepreneurship class will use the coffee shop as a business incubator, he said,
“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to receive experience in the ins and outs of operating a small business,” he said. “Students aren’t just serving coffee. They’re getting hands-on experience in accounting, market research, business planning, and many other areas of entrepreneurship.”

Wolf Grounds is currently open to the public Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday hours will be added soon.