Harvest Dinner features the best of locally grown food: The Skidmore student garden hosts dinner to promote local eating

Posted by Michael DuPr??

On Sunday Oct. 6, Skidmore's student garden and the Environmental Action Club hosted its annual Harvest Dinner to promote food grown locally in the Saratoga area and in Skidmore's student garden. Falstaff's was transformed into a dining hall for an evening of locally grown cuisine.

Tables were garnished with locally grown squashes and greens. The recipes were also festive and inspired by the harvest from Skidmore's student garden. The variety of flavors, colors and textures made the meal enjoyable  Student volunteers served their peers and were knowledgeable about the origins of every part of the meal. Falstaffs had a warm, communal atmosphere, and more than 200 students attended. 

The Harvest Dinner was free, but a $5 dollar donation was suggested for those attending.

"The purpose of the suggested donation is twofold. We would like students to recognize that eating locally is worth a few dollars and also to support locally grown food," said Gabby Stern '13 manager of the Skidmore student garden.

The donation did not deter student participation. "It is encouraging to see how many students came," Stern said.

The intention of the dinner was to make students more aware of where their food is coming from. A few students cited the expensive cost as a reason why they do not eat more local foods. After the dinner many students interviewed expressed a desire to eat more locally grown food.

Angela Cascone'12 said she appreciated the wider variety of dishes offered at this year's Harvest Dinner compared to those of years past. "I cannot say that I know the origins of every part of my meal, but I'm mindful to include locally grown food whenever possible. If you know where your food is coming from, you are more aware of what it is that you are eating," Cascone said. 

 The dinner included dozens of tasty dishes, such as roasted acorn squash with beets and carrots, eggplant tomato bake and focaccia with basil spread. For dessert, the guests were treated to apple crisp, spiced with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and a touch of lemon juice. 

"I would like the garden to grow to the point where it could meet the demands that Skidmore students have for locally grown food," Orli Handmaker '13 said.

Several student bands, including Beard-O, Mugsy Boges and Artifacts played at the dinner. "We are playing for a great cause and our organic rooty sound really lends itself well to the Harvest Dinner," said Josh Speers '14, bassist for Beard-O.  

Talia Arnow ‘13, a leader of the Waste Working Group, informed the diners that all food waste, including that from the preparation, would be placed in the Northwoods compost unit to be reused in the Skidmore student garden. The Waste Working Group is a branch of EAC working to reduce waste through composting and other projects.

Members of Environmental Action Club (EAC) and the Skidmore student gardeners went to great lengths  to make the evening possible. Students spared no effort to make the evening a success from planting, tending the garden, harvesting the vegetables, cooperating with local farmers and preparing the meal. "I am impressed with how multitalented our students are," Stern said. "I want people to get involved!"

Stern, on behalf of the Skidmore student garden and the Environmental Action Club extended  a special thanks to Skidmore's Dining Services. Its concrete support for this dinner and local eating in general continues to be invaluable. 

At one point during the dinner, when it became clear that everything had come together as planned, Stern was moved to tears. "This is a very happy moment," she said. 

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