As a senior at UNH, I have been to my fair share of Local Harvest Dinners. Every year, the dining halls are adorned with festive fall décor and display some pretty amazing food made from local agriculture. I personally think that this is my favorite UNH dining event of the year. There’s something so personal about how dining services puts together and maintains this wonderful tradition every year. You truly feel as if you’re eating a home-cooked meal on Local Harvest Dinner night!
This year, I was fortunate enough to take on a different view of the dinner, as I was trying to purposely observe in order to write this blog. UNH students are absolutely in love with this event. If the sheer number of students in attendance isn’t enough, the thrilled looks on their faces as they enter the dining hall sure proves my point.
In doing some more research on the event, I came across some interesting information. UNH is a land-grant university. A land-grant university is one labeled by the state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. These acts were made to fund educational institutions by giving federally controlled land to states in an attempt to raise funds and establish institutions of higher education. The mission was then to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science, and engineering as a response to the industrial revolution.
I love how Dining Services phrases the importance of local agriculture:
“Small, family farms are not only a part of our state’s heritage, but play a vital, active role in our current economy and culture.”
This is SO important. Not only does local agriculture benefit us in the here and now, it also helps to ensure our physical and economic sustainability in the future.
But now… back to the food. I personally LOVE the pumpkin and sage ravioli every year. I also tried the Yankee Farmers honey chipotle chicken, calico mashed potatoes, roasted cabbage, and, of course, the apple crisp. I cannot stress to you enough how much these items tasted like they were home-cooked, not like they were prepared for thousands of students. I think that this is SO important, especially for incoming students. It may seem insignificant, but a home-cooked meal really helps in creating a home somewhere new. UNH Dining definitely did this for me and continues to impress with each class of new wildcats!
In my book, the 11th annual Local Harvest Dinner was a huge success. It’s going to be hard for me next October without this wonderful tradition. So, my fellow wildcats, always make it a point to attend the Local Harvest Dinner (and all UNH Dining events)— you won’t be disappointed!