Posted: November 19, 2009
This fall the Center for the Environment and the MHC Student Garden hosted the Third Annual Harvest Festival. This new Mount Holyoke tradition takes place every September, soon after the start of the semester. Close to 60 Mount Holyoke students, staff, and guests gathered in the garden at the top of the Mandelle Hill to harvest the vegetables grown by summer garden managers Reesha Katcher ’10 and Crystal Rain ’10.
While the crops vary year to year, this year’s bounty included sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, Italian large-leaf basil, and gourmet beets. The collected vegetables were marched down to Dining Services in a parade-like fashion, where they were preparing for the following week’s annual Local Gracious Dinner. The Local Gracious dinner featured the garden’s delicious eggplant and pesto made from the basil.
In addition to gathering eggplants and basil, Harvest participants enjoyed other activities. Students carved pumpkins, made scarecrows, planted a new bed of beets, and painted a picnic table. Participants also were treated to Atkin’s cider and donuts and an impromptu jam session by sophomore Zoe Darrow on fiddle and Tim Farnham, the newly appointed Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Center for the Environment, on banjo.
This year, the Center for the Environment has continued to support the MHC Student Garden in their efforts to raise awareness about the many facets of gardening and food production, offering many opportunities for students to become involved. In addition to the Harvest Festival, the Center for the Environment organized a volunteer day at Gardening the Community in Springfield on October 2. Seven Mount Holyoke students helped the youth-volunteers in charge of the garden weed the plots to prepare for winter.
On October 8, the Center for the Environment hosted a Five College food discussion meeting, the first of several to foster a stronger connection between the Five Colleges and encourage dialogue around community food systems, campus gardens, national/global food politics, urban agriculture, and local food movements on campus. The introductory meeting discussed the projects and programs already in place at Mount Holyoke, Smith, Hampshire, and UMass, as well as how the community can work together to cultivate and respond to the growing student interest in sustainable agriculture.