SISA Hosts Local Foods Dinner

Meghan Rasmussen ’16, Contributing Writer

Event organizers on stage during the 10th Annual Local Foods Dinner in the HUB Social Hall.

Event organizers on stage during the 10th Annual Local Foods Dinner in the HUB Social Hall.

Carlisle residents and the campus community came together on Saturday, March 23 to enjoy the tenth annual Local Foods Dinner. The dinner, organized by Students Interested in Sustainable Agriculture (SISA) and the Dickinson Farm, featured a seasonal feast made exclusively with ingredients from local farmers. The celebration exposed students and the local community to Cumberland Valley’s varied agricultural resources.

Farmer, writer and activist Janisse Ray was this year’s keynote speaker. Ray is the author of four books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. She traveled from southern Georgia to deliver a talk on the seed crisis. Americans are losing untold numbers of plant varieties to genetically modified industrial monocultures, according to Ray. Her solution to securing the future of food is understanding where it begins: at the seed. Ray proposed that preserving America’s traditional variety of food is as simple as growing old seed varieties and eating them.

An indoor farmers’ market was held in the Holland Union Building before the dinner. The market featured a diverse array of locally grown agricultural products and hand-crafted art.

“It’s a great way to interact with the local community and see how much the area has to offer,” said Abby Carson ’14, who attended the farmers’ market.

The dinner was attended by 250 students, Carlisle residents, and Cumberland Valley growers. Students could reserve spots at the dinner free of charge, and any student contributions to the PASA scholarship fund were by donation.

“This year, tickets for the local community were sold online and sold out within six hours. Student tickets sold out within three days,” said Megan Moody ’13, president of SISA.

Students, faculty and locals sat together for the celebration feast. The dinner was prepared by Dining Services and served buffet style in the HUB Social Hall to an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. The menu, organized by SISA, included a spring green salad, roasted carrot and butternut squash soup, farro with roasted mushrooms and parmesan, chicken pot pie, roast beef, roasted root vegetables, bread and cheeses, and an apple crisp dessert.

“It’s amazing to see the diversity of foods that are available at this time of year and what the farms are able to produce,” said dinner attendee Carson Gannon ’14. “It’s a shame we don’t eat this way all of the time.”

This year’s dinner was a fundraiser for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Arias M. Brownback Memorial Scholarship Fund. The endowment assists developing farmers in attending PASA’s Farming for the Future Conference. The annual three-day conference attracts a crowd of over 2,000 aspiring farmers and provides them with opportunities for further education, networking and a connection with the Pennsylvania sustainable agriculture movement. Sixteen Dickinson students attended the conference this year. Throughout the evening, speeches were given by current student farm workers and past recipients of the Brownback scholarship. The evening concluded with the raffle drawing, the proceeds of which help fund the Brownback scholarship.