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Local Harvest Feast Expands to a Full Day of Options

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
September 17, 2008

Students feast on the bounty at a recent Local Harvest Dinner.
Students feast on the bounty at a recent Local Harvest Dinner. Credit: Ron Bergeron, UNH Photo Services.

Since 2005, when UNH launched its inaugural annual Local Harvest Dinner, eating local has gained momentum throughout the nation. Farmer’s markets and CSAs (community-supported agriculture) are thriving, neighbors are challenging each other to 100-mile diets, even the venerable Oxford English Dictionary designated “locavore” its word of the year in 2007.

Similarly, UNH’s Local Harvest Dinner has grown steadily, more than doubling in size each year. This year, on Sept. 24, the popular event will feature local foods at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Open to the public, the Local Harvest Feast will serve a local breakfast in Stillings Marketplace (7:15 – 11:30 a.m.), local lunch in the newly renovated Elements at Philbrook Hall (11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.), and a local dinner in Holloway Commons (4:30 – 9 p.m.). The Local Harvest Feast is offered to all students on the meal plan as well as to the general public (breakfast $9, lunch $12, dinner $16, plus tax). For information, go to http://www.sustainableunh.unh.edu/fas/2008LHBrochureFinal.pdf.

“As students and others show increasing concern for the origins of their food, these Local Harvest meals help connect them to the local landscape,” says Elisabeth Farrell, a program coordinator for the University Office of Sustainability, which partners with UNH Dining in Local Harvest. “Diners will be able to meet the producers of their food and learn about how eating locally can support local economies and maintain our region’s vibrant agricultural landscape.”

Highlights of the breakfast menu are frittata, French toast, and huevos rancheros made with Pete & Gerry’s Cage Free Eggs (Monroe) and bread from Abigail’s Bakery (Weare); Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt (Londonderry) and Grandy Oats granola (Brownfield, Maine); and beverages from NH Coffee Roasters (Dover) and Portsmouth Tea Company (Somersworth). Lunch includes macaroni and cheese made with Silvery Moon Creamery cheese (Westbrook, Maine), honey-glazed UNH-grown squash, Yankee Farmers Market buffalo shepherd’s pie (Warner), and apple crisp made with UNH apples and Grandy Oats granola.

Dinner is a gourmet feast of tastes both exotic and familiar. Local farms provide meats for venison burgers, honey glazed pork chops, farm-raised beef steamships, and bison stir fry, and the Gulf of Maine serves up line-caught haddock. Vegetables – including some raised on UNH farms and by the UNH Organic Garden Club -- star in dishes like braised organic root vegetable stew, Penobscot potato Jo Jo’s, corn on the cob, butternut squash, and innovative pastas and pizzas. New England classics like peach cobbler and blueberry pie join pumpkin marble cheesecake and other less traditional sweets for dessert.

“UNH Dining is excited to offer a full day of local cuisines from around the state and region to our guests at the Local Harvest Feast,” says Jon Plodzik, Director of Dining at UNH. “By offering local menu items throughout the day, we hope to expand the delicious experience of eating local to more people than ever.”

Many local producers and food-related organizations such as NH Made and Seacoast Slow Food will be on hand to meet with guests outside Holloway Commons.

The popular Local Harvest Feast, which was honored by the National Association of College & University Food Services, is part of UNH’s Local Harvest Initiative, a partnership of the Office of Sustainability and UNH Dining. The initiative brings local food and organic produce to UNH’s three student dining halls regularly. In addition, the newly renovated Dairy Bar reopened this fall with a focus on local and sustainable food. Under this initiative, Dining runs a food waste composting program and integrates other sustainability efforts into their operations, such as recycling, green cleaning, and energy efficiency.

The Local Harvest Initiative is one of many sustainable food projects on campus, including a new dual major in EcoGastronomy, the first such program at an American university. This unique academic program emphasizes the connections between sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition and health. UNH is also home to the first organic research dairy at a land-grant university, an active student Organic Garden Club, and the New Hampshire Farm to School Program, which connects state K-12 schools with New Hampshire farms. These projects are part of the UNH Food and Society Initiative, which promotes a sustainable food community from farm to fork to nutrition. For more information, go to http://www.unh.edu/dining/community/local-harvest.html
 or www.sustainableunh.unh.edu.

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