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At the annual Harvest Moon Festival, UNC students celebrate sustainability and community

Students line up for food at the Harvest Moon Festival outside of Genome Science Building on Sept. 22.

Attendees beamed under their masks as they waited in line last Wednesday at the fifth annual Harvest Moon Festival, hosted by Edible Campus UNC outside of the Genome Sciences Building.

Festival attendees could enjoy fruit from the Edible Campus' own gardens, watch performances from student groups or participate in activities like making their own buttons.

The event promoted student engagement with the Earth through different activities, giving them an opportunity to get creative. 

The festival featured performances from several student groups — the Tarpeggios, Moonlight Dance Crew and Chapel Hill Players (CHiPs). The event also included partners of Edible Campus, including UNC Libraries, UNC Arts Everywhere and the Carolina Beekeeping Club

“We are happy to support promoting awareness about sustainability and mental health through the arts,” said Kathryn Wagner, associate director of Arts Everywhere

The partnership between Arts Everywhere and Edible Campus goes back many years.

"We have worked with them on our Earth Day events in the past and in a plant giveaway last year where people got little kits and could paint pots for their new plants," senior Michael Dorgan, student organization president for Edible Campus, said.

Senior Erin Wadsworth, digital marketing student assistant for Arts Everywhere, said that in the past, one of the most popular collaborations with Edible Campus was a plant sale.

“We gave out pots and paint that people could take and make the pot their own,” Wadsworth said. ”This is an event about food and agriculture and trying to find that intersection so we decided to bring that back.”

Along with the food, entertainment and activities, the festival offered students an opportunity to learn more about Edible Campus' sustainability efforts on campus. 

Junior Emily Martin, treasurer of Edible Campus, has helped plan the Harvest Moon Festival since her first year. 

“This has easily been one of my favorite college experiences,” she said. “It is such a great community.”

Edible Campus has a history of working within the UNC community to examine its own relationship with food and where it comes from, Dorgan said. Its mission is also to harness the agricultural potential of green spaces on UNC’s campus, which involves 11 satellite garden beds and a main production garden run by students.

“This event is one of our ways where we give back to the community,” Dorgan said. “Everything here is free and it helps people think about what they are eating as something beyond what they get off of the supermarket shelf.”

Along with giving the performing groups a platform to join in on the festivities, Arts Everywhere and Edible Campus also compensated them. 

“I think the notion that students should perform for exposure or to share is obviously fairly outdated,” Wagner said. “So, in a small way, Arts Everywhere supporting Edible Campus on this project means that we are able to provide some support to the student arts groups that are performing at tonight's event.”

Arts Everywhere’s mission is to program through partnerships to embed the arts into UNC students' education. Supporting Edible Campus events like the Harvest Moon Festival is one way of accomplishing that mission.

“We look for connecting points between art and everything else,” Wagner said. “Art and sustainability, art and mental health, art and science. We are just excited to be in front of students again and do our small part in making sure they have opportunities to get curious."

As attendees left with plant pots in hand, and maybe a peach to go, the Harvest Moon Festival came to a close. 

“We are super excited to have the opportunity to bring our partners out in person this year,” Dorgan said.

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