Harvest Moon Dinner unites community and campus through local meal

As Geneseo students, we are often consumed by our own daily quarrels that we forget about the town around us. Think Local Geneseo's Harvest Moon Dinner allowed for students to be amongst community members and learn more about their surroundings, especially in terms of food. According to senior Maddy Smith - whose Campus Auxiliary Services Ambassadorship in Entrepreneurship from the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Leadership helped found Think Local Geneseo - the food and other products donated to the event came from farms showcased at the Geneseo Farmers Market. Moondance Gardens, Pleasantview Farms, Merle's Fresh Produce, Randall Farms, Squash Blossom Farm and Free Soil Farm were among those featured in the meal catered by Papa Jay's Catering of Mount Morris.

The Think Local Geneseo team and Jay Phillips himself went to Squash Blossom Farms in Groveland, N.Y., to pick vegetables for the dinner.

“I was able to bring college students out into the community alongside other people who live in Geneseo, eating local food and learning about the local farmers,” Smith said. “It was very Geneseo-centric and a nice way to introduce a lot of people to the project.”

Guests entered Central Presbyterian Church - used as an alternative rain location - to the welcoming sounds of the Geneseo String Band and the display of fall colors in the table settings. The ambience set up the mood for the rest of the evening.

Many guests, including Geneseo resident Kathy Fairbrother said they felt the environment felt like “sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Everything was all about the harvest, and the food fell in right with it,” Fairbrother said.

The dinner consisted of the standard salad, soup and buffet-style entrée format. What set this dinner apart from others rested in the flavors used that made it all the worthwhile to eat local.

All the food had a fresh, earthy taste as its base flavoring. The freshness of the food reminded guests that the local food is taken care of with great care and skill.

Phillips enhanced the fresh taste in many of the dishes to complement the already existing flavors of the plate.

The blue potatoes and chicken were the highlighted flavors of the plate. The lightly salted potatoes balanced out the spicier chargrilled flavor of the chicken. The combination of the two flavors stood out especially because of the fresh vegetables used in the stir-fry.

Smith said the event met her goals of bringing 120 members of the college and the community together to learn about local consumption.

“I think [the dinner] was very successful,” she said. “I was able to do it because I had so many students helping me and so many people were cooperative.”