Farm hosts first GATHER dinner


Kevin Doyle '16

Student farmers Sam Bogan ’16, Naviya Kafle ’17 and Silvana Kreines ’16 prep local ingredients for the first GATHER dinner with chef Tanya McCausland.

The Dickinson College Farm launched a new pop-up restaurant series called GATHER on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. in the Stern Center that featured local farm ingredients, emphasized communal eating and served as a pilot for a possible new food certificate program. 42 students, faculty and staff members attended the inaugural event.

Jennifer Halpin, director of the College Farm, headed the operation and said the idea for GATHER originated at a faculty book club that was part of a forum to discuss the addition of a food certificate program to the college. Halpin said that the college farm provided all funding for this event, but she hopes to eventually operate on revenue from reservations, which were $25 for students and $40 general admission.

The head cook, Tanya McCausland, is a holistic nutrition consultant with a private practice, Simply Well, in Carlisle. Halpin asked her to prepare a vegetarian, gluten free menu featuring seasonal ingredients either grown at the college farm or obtained from local farms.

The menu consisted of roasted tomato soup with cream; field green salad topped with sunflower seeds and pickled beets; a main dish of roasted polenta with roasted peppers, zucchini and onions accompanied by lentils and meatballs made of mushrooms, carrots and onions; and a yogurt trifle with peaches for dessert.

McCausland said that she emphasizes communal eating in her cooking classes and one-on-one counseling sessions, and one of her goals is “to help bring people and families back to the dinner table.”

“We can eat healthfully all the time, but if we don’t really do it in community, I think there’s something missing,” McCausland said.

Four Dickinson students who work on the college farm assisted with food preparation, cooking, service and entertainment. They were asked to participate in the program over the summer.

“We were pretty much sworn to secrecy [about the project]…. until [Halpin] got approval for the pilot and we started advertising it,” Samuel Bogan ’16 said.

Silvana Kreines ’16, who has been a student farmer since last fall, hopes that the restaurant will put more community members in contact with the farm.

“I was so excited at the thought that the farm was actually having a pop-up restaurant. I think it’s a great idea because it will get people more interested in the farm and get to eat the food, outside of what the caf has,” Kreines said. She continued, stating that her experience on the farm has been “…. so interesting to [her]. Just learning about how eating organic food really makes a difference.”

All of the student workers said that they would be interested in participating in a food certificate program if it was added to the college offerings.

Diners had favorable reviews of their first GATHER experience.

“It was a night to look back on with fond memories, surely,” Anh Nguyen ’16 said.

“The atmosphere was delightful and the service outstanding,” Asuncion Arnedo, instructor of Spanish, said. “The fellow guests, mostly students, were very nicely dressed, and our food exquisite.  The vegetarian menu was very healthy and tasty.”

After the dinner, Halpin gave the student workers credit for its success.

“Their attention to detail both in the kitchen… and as servers interacting with dinner guests was amazing,” Halpin said.

McCausland was also grateful for her staff of student sous-chefs.

“Walking into an unfamiliar kitchen and working with a new team was a first for me,” McCausland said. “But, everyone’s enthusiasm, motivation and dedication to the event – from students to staff – made this first GATHER dinner a great success!”

The next GATHER dinners are planned for Oct. 31 and Nov. 21. To find out more or make a reservation, visit