DeHart Dinner, Market to Showcase Local Foods

Lamb stew.

Roasted root vegetables.

Apple crisp made from locally grown apples, topped with fresh maple ice cream.

This might just be the tastiest event on the Allegheny College campus.

The DeHart Local Foods Dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Schultz Banquet Hall, featuring a full menu of vegetables, proteins, dairy, honey, fruit and other products from local farms, as well as produce grown in Allegheny’s Carr Hall garden, the Carrden.

The annual event, now in its 14th year, always sells out, said Kelly Boulton, Allegheny’s sustainability coordinator.

“It’s the best meal you’ll eat on campus all year,” Boulton said. “For the cost of a meal swipe, (students, faculty, staff and community members) can come and have a dinner made of all local foods.”

Tickets go on sale Monday, Sept. 19, and will be sold from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day through Wednesday in both the Henderson Campus Center and in Brooks Hall. The cost of each ticket is $15 cash, one Allegheny dining plan meal swipe or $9 Munch/Gator Cash.

The DeHart Farmers Market, featuring local food vendors, flowers, handmade products and baked goods, will precede the dinner, starting at 4 p.m. on Brooks Walk.

The dinner is a chance for students, faculty, staff and community members to try some new, unique foods, to get a better understanding of where those foods come from, and to build and foster relationships with each other and with the broader community, said Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Beth Choate.

“It does a really good job of making students aware of all the farms we have right here,” said Choate, who is organizing the event with Boulton and Kerstin Martin, director of the Carrden and the Community Wellness Initiative. “It’s a good way to bridge the college-community gap. Sitting down to a meal is a great way to get to know someone.”

The dinner also lets students see, smell and taste what they’re learning about in the classroom.

“We teach about local food theory and sustainable agriculture theory,” Boulton said. “This is an event that helps students put the theory in context and helps them really understand it. This is what local foods look like.”

The dinner is named in honor of the late Jennifer DeHart, who taught in Allegheny’s environmental science program and was integral in the revival of Meadville’s local foods movement and the reinvigoration of the weekly downtown farmers markets at the Market House. She introduced the first local foods dinners on campus to annually showcase what she called “the bounty of Crawford County.” DeHart died in 2010 after a five-year battle with cancer.