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Harvest moon casts light on food insecurities

Students enjoy food, music, and poetry at the Harvest Moon Festival on Thursday night in the Forest Theatre.

As the bright Harvest moon fills the Carolina sky, the Forest Theatre reveals an impeccably earthy setting surrounded by stone and greens, inviting UNC to take a break from the day to reflect on the thing that keeps us moving — food.  

Edible Campus UNC partnered with the Center for the Study of the American South to organize the Fall Harvest Moon Festival to celebrate the first harvest of the new garden behind Davis Library. 

The produce from the garden will be distributed to student organizations around campus who address food justice initiatives and will allow Carolina Cupboard, a student food pantry, to carry perishable goods for the first time.  

Laura Mindlin, the campus initiative coordinator for Edible Campus, helps the student led organization address issues of food security and access with the gardens located around campus. Mindlin said Edible Campus has seen many people over the years who don't know where their food comes from.

"We're hoping to use landscapes across campus not only to be aesthetically beautiful, but also to be interactive and engage and facilitate sustainable thinking and reconnecting the community with the food that we eat," Mindlin said.  

The first season of harvest for the new Edible Campus garden was welcomed with the brightest Harvest moon in 10 years, along with the good vibes and peaceful rhymes from spoken word poets and local musicians. 

Attendees filled up on muffins and breads featuring produce from the gardens on campus. Edible Campus cast the sweet potato as the night's leading role with its symbolic role as the state vegetable of North Carolina.  

"We are seeing an amazingly inspiring network of food and social justice initiatives taking place on campus and in the larger community," said Mindlin. "We think it's important to celebrate that and bring to life some of the work that's happening." 

The Center for the Study of the American South and Edible Campus used their similar missions to connect with Southern culture through food. The associate director for the Center for the Study of the American South, Patrick Horn, helped to incorporate the Music on the Porch series into the event.  

"As a humanities person — I was an English major — I love the idea of storytelling under the moon," Horn said.  

First-year Grace Darling attended the festival and said the event helped her realize the impact of food insecurity.

"It's important to educate our peers about such issues involving agriculture and farming," she said.

Mindlin said college years are a beneficial time for connecting with food systems and the natural world. 

“Therapeutic benefits of just being outside with plants, to this reestablished connection with the food that we're putting into our bodies creates a critical lens towards how we utilize our landscapes and manage the land around us," she said.

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