Students get opportunity to harvest, cook fresh food

GVL / Luke Holmes - Marty Rodriguez sells fresh produce at the Farmers Market in Parking Lot G on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Luke Holmes - Marty Rodriguez sells fresh produce at the Farmers Market in Parking Lot G on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016.

Bennett Slavsky

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The Sustainable Agriculture Project is hosting a “Fresh From the Garden” workshop Thursday, Sept. 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Grand Valley State University Farm off Luce Street, less than a mile from campus. Interested students will have the opportunity to come together over a freshly harvested meal grown on GVSU property.

Amy McFarland, professor of the Food for Thought course at GVSU, will spearhead this event. The class explores the relationship between people and how we get our food, from production to consumption.

The “Fresh From the Garden” event takes this concept out of the classroom and applies it to real life, bringing students to the GVSU farm so they can see exactly where food comes from—from the soil to the table. Participants will walk the fields, harvest the food and cook it together, all in a matter of a few hours.

“This event is about going out, seeing what’s there, and making a dish out of it,” McFarland said. “Its about getting in touch with the land that grows their food so (people) feel comfortable with a range of food activities.”

“Fresh from the Garden” will not only put students in direct contact with their food source, but will also deal with issues regarding the seasonality of food. There will be a total of six workshops throughout the fall semester, and each one featuring different, in-season foods. Workshops in September will be centered around foods such as tomatoes and eggplants, while November workshops will feature foods like winter squash and root vegetables.

“Fresh from the Garden” will give students the chance to connect with their food and connect with one another. They will bond over a meal, and discuss issues of food, agriculture and sustainability.

“Coming together over meals is a really good way to build relationships and bring people together,” said Youssef Darwich, farm manager and educator at the SAP.

In-season and fresh foods not only taste better, but are also better for the environment, Darwich said, which is another key component of this event.

This workshop can also be seen as a preliminary event for the harvest party, an event happening at the farm Friday, Sept. 23. While “Fresh from the Garden” is more of a small time, educational workshop, the harvest party is expected to draw more than 100 attendees, a big meal with produce from the garden, live music, games and community building.

For those interested in the “Fresh from the Garden” workshop, there are a limited number of available spots to register for online. If students can’t make it to this particular workshop, there will be another later in September, two in October and two in November.