Southern Oregon University students and community members of the greater Ashland area came together Friday Oct. 21, at the SOU Farm to celebrate the first ever Octoberfeast, an event created in the hopes of raising awareness and appreciation for food and its origins.
With the sound of live music playing in the background there stood four tables and clubs hosting educational events for individuals to learn more about their food. Some of the events included cooking workshops, pumpkin carving, presentations on the cost of food which compared local bought produce to globally traded produce. In addition, the SOU Bee Club shared various samples of honey while masters students of environmental education at SOU gave a presentation on seeds.
During the event those who were interested were allowed to go out in the farm, pick produce, wash it and then cut it for a feast that was almost entirely made from the farm. “We wanted to bring in the harvest and make some food and we had two tables of food and it’s gone,” said Linda Smith, SOU’s wellness dietitian.
Octoberfeast was put on in the hopes of raising awareness about the origins of food and how it may impact SOU students directly. Rebekah Campbell an environmental education masters student at SOU shared how this event started. “We got a grant from the Leightman Maxey Foundation to do some nutrition education for SOU students as well as to pilot a program on the farm for public school students.”
The Leightman Maxey foundation is a private organization that gives grants to nonprofit organizations that provide educational experiences in various careers, as well as education in finances and nutrition in an attempt to create members of society that are self-reliant. The grant given by the Leightman Maxey foundation will go towards creating more nutrition programs on the SOU Farm.
Those contributing at the farm hope that SOU students start to see the significance in their work. “We want to have this continued to bring more awareness to the fact that we’re here and we grow a lot of the food that’s at the dining hall and I think a lot of people don’t realize that,” said Campbell.
What many students might not know is that the SOU Farm contributes much of the produce that is used at various dining areas on campus. “One of the goals is to get SOU students aware that we have a farm that offers lots of fresh produce,” said Octoberfeast volunteer Rebecca Cohen.
The SOU Farm itself is entirely student run. With the guidance of a supervisor and a few mentors, the students working on the farm decide what they want to plant and oversee the health and wellness of the plants they grow.
The promise of a similar event is in the air for the spring term as attendance exceeded expectations of Smith, Campbell and Cohen.