Caitlin Waddington ’18 came to the DeHart Local Foods Dinner and farmers’ market on Sept. 21 with one thing on her mind — maple candy.
Ivy Ryan ’19 came for the atmosphere. “I heard the music and had to go check it out,” Ryan said.
Molly Martin ’19 left with a dozen flowers grasped in her hand.
These three Allegheny students were among the hundreds who attended the farmers’ market on the patio outside of Brooks Hall, but only one of the three, Waddington, was lucky enough to get a ticket to the DeHart dinner afterward. All 256 tickets to the event featuring more than 20 different locally sourced dishes sold out in a record four hours, according to event organizer Kelly Boulton, the College’s sustainability coordinator, and Tony Pollock, director of catering with Parkhurst Dining Services.
The dinner was championed by, and named for, Jennifer DeHart, who was a professor in the College’s environmental science program and was deeply invested in local agriculture before she died six years ago.
“This is a great event to [get to] know what Crawford County is,” Boulton said.
What Crawford County is about is incredible, locally grown food. Farms like Strawberry Lane Produce, Davenport Fruit Farm and Maple Harvest Farm all had display tables to tempt students who had been subsisting off of the best produce grocery stores had to offer.
Strawberry Lane Produce, managed by husband and wife Jim and Robin Coxson, grows and sells everything from carrots to kale to cherry tomatoes. Davenport Fruit Farm had a table overflowing with apples and jugs of apple cider. On the other side of the patio was Nancy Schultz’s Farm, offering a dozen kinds of flowers, not to mention an array of peppers. A local band, Salmon Frank, provided music for the event, playing bluegrass and acoustic rock songs.
Student clubs also showed up in force. Alpha Phi Omega sold frosted slices of fruit pie from Miller’s Farm Market, and Edible Allegheny featured bobbing for apples — with the more sanitary twist of using elbows instead of faces to nab apples.
According to Erica Moretti ’17, Edible Allegheny marshaled its impressive force of 14 students to turn out apple crisps for the dinner “in record time.”
The dinner itself started with appetizers on the table, proceeded to a banquet-style buffet line and then wrapped up with desserts. For example, one could have feasted on crabapple and quince chutney, moved on to roasted vegetable and black bean tamales, and finished with fresh-churned maple ice cream. Diners washed it all down with apple cider spritzers and organic teas and coffees.
“While the growers aren’t certified organic, we tend to work with farmers and producers who use sustainable and healthy practices,” said Boulton. “I’d say nearly 100 percent of the produce was grown organically. The proteins, cheeses and eggs were likely not organic but were raised responsibly – the animals have land on which to range even if they’re not necessarily eating organic feed. Basically, a perk of local sourcing is that you don’t need a simple label because you know the farmer and you can talk to them to understand their practices.”