Be Our Guest

The Open Petal Farm, where many components of the dinner will be harvested. Photo by Steven Green, The Campus Ledger, 2017.

On Aug. 30 the Center for Sustainability will host the annual Harvest Dinner located in the Regnier Center at 6 p.m. Members of the community purchased tickets for the event, which serves to raise funds for the Sustainable Agriculture Program on campus.

Following the dinner, guests can attend a free Light Up the Lawn concert in front of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art with a special performance by Bob and Una Walkenhorst. The farm-to-table dinner will feature a three-course meal prepared by Brandon Winn, a Culinary Arts program graduate and Executive Chef at Webster House. Each meal will be prepared with fresh produce from the Open Petal Farm and local farmers.  

The Harvest Dinner began in 2008 with help from the late Executive Chef Tim Johnson, with a focus on encouraging diners to know where their food comes from and to support local farmers. When the event was first brought to the college, the funds went to support the Student Environmental Alliance. However, the event has now shifted into a fundraiser for the Sustainable Agricultural Program. It was Johnson who introduced the idea of featuring guest chefs to come and prepare the meals. The consistently sold out event raises a total of around $3,000, which goes to the Sustainable Agricultural Scholarships.  

Jay Antle, executive director of the Center for Sustainability, created the center in 2009 and has been the director ever since. Antle discussed the expected attendance for this year’s dinner. 

“Typically, we have around 120 people [who attend],” said Antle. “We sell the event out every year. It’s interesting — for the last three years we’ve sold out a week earlier [than we did the previous year].” 

The tickets were sold for $55; from that, $25 went to the Sustainable Agricultural Scholarship.  

Throughout the year the Center for Sustainability organizes more than The Harvest Dinner. They run the recycling program, conduct environmental studies and work with campus services to decrease the amount of energy that the college uses. With the help of administration, they’re expecting to reduce the carbon footprint of the college by 95 percent.  

“The goal for the Center for Sustainability is to ensure that the campus is a model in terms of the kinds of behaviors that we need to see globally,” Antle said.  

Attendees of the dinner can expect to dine on gourmet food, hear a handful of “bad jokes” from Antle and a story from an actual scholarship recipient about how the program changed their life. Diners will also hear more about the Sustainable Agricultural Program itself and why their contribution matters. To conclude the evening, guests can enjoy a free Light Up the Lawn Concert located in front of the Nerman Museum, which is also open to members of the community who didn’t attend the dinner. 

“It’s just a fun and relaxed time,” Antle said. “I think that’s the reason why people like it. We don’t talk at people the whole time; we have students testify… as to why, the scholarship matters. I say a few things, but it’s really just a relaxed, fun evening. And I think people enjoy that. They can support a good cause while having a good meal.” 


Story by Alieu Jagne 



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