By Logan Hill, Staff Writer
Orange, red and yellow decorations flooded Holloway Commons on Wednesday night. Pumpkins, corn and scarecrows lined the walls as students flooded in and out for the 10th annual Local Harvest Dinner.
The much-anticipated dinner showcased locally grown and produced meat, dairy and produce and serves as an opportunity for students to talk to local farmers, vendors and student organizations about local agriculture and the importance of supporting the farmers in our communities.
“We want it to be educational, we want it to be fun, and we want it to be delicious,” Holloway Commons Area Manager Deb Scanlon said.
The dinner is a favorite of many students, who arrived before the 4:30 p.m. starting time with eager tastebuds.
“This is my third Harvest Dinner, and I’ve been looking forward to this dinner for the past three weeks. It’s my most highly anticipated meal,” junior Tyler Hampton said.
“Here [at UNH] we’re in our own little world, eating at dining halls, and unless you live in an apartment you aren’t exposed to local food and aren’t exposed to how to get it,” Hampton said.
With the popularity of the feast, the Holloway Commons team was preparing diligently.
“This is just a very exciting day. People love this meal. We’ll probably have between 3,500 and 4,000 people who will come through tonight, but it’s nice because it’s served in all three halls,” Scanlon said.
Down in the kitchen, Executive Chef of Holloway Commons Christopher Kaschak was overseeing all of the final preparations for the feast — preparations that began weeks ago.
Kaschak and his team were preparing 1,250 pounds of chicken, 450 pounds of fresh steak, 700 pounds of smoked ham, 465 pounds of beef tops for London broil, 120 pounds of locally sourced sausage, 650 pounds of red-skin potatoes, another 450 pounds of Yukon Gold for mashed potatoes, 30 20-pound cases of green beans, 1,800 pieces of corn and 15 gallons of lobster bake sauce, made with 45 pounds of lobster meat.
For dessert, there were 98 cheesecakes, 88 chocolate swirl cakes, 1,000 raspberry bars and 132 pans of apple crisp.
“That’s just for Holloway Commons — and that will all be gone,” Kaschak said.
Among all of this plentiful foodstuff, much of it was sourced locally.
“All of our meat came from Pinewood Farms, Maine Family Farms, Yankee Farm Cooperative, and the seafood came from North Coast but was sourced through New Bedford [MA],” Kaschak said.
One local source was From My Head Tomatoes, a new-this-season farm started by UNH students that specializes in heirloom tomatoes — featuring 33 varieties.
“They took 100 pounds of our tomatoes in eight varieties,” said partial-owner and UNH senior Britton Beal.
“I love [the Local Harvest Dinner]. I think for a lot of the people who aren’t as invested or interested in local food, this can be an eye-opening experience. It also raises awareness for local farms like us,” Beal said.
Contributing to this awareness are also student groups like Slow Food, who are dedicated to trying to switch the campus over to “good, clean, and fair food; good as in good-tasting, nice quality, local if possible; clean being clean for the environment, harvested well; and fair meaning throughout the food chain, people are being treated fairly, farmers and fishermen are being paid correctly, and making sure we pay the right price for the food,” said senior member Amanda Parks.