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The Daily Tar Heel

Excited chatter filled the air as students entered the garden behind Davis Library on Oct. 12 for the Harvest Moon Festival. 

Although the line had already stretched to the garden’s gates, students still eagerly waited to explore the tables and grab a plate of Mexican food at the buffet.

The annual  festival, hosted by Edible Campus UNC, celebrates the fall season and includes tabling, food and performances by student groups.

This year, the festival featured nine tables hosted mostly by on-campus organizations like Carolina Dining Services and the Chapel Hill Alt. Protein Project. The tables featured an interactive sort-the-waste game, samples of plant-based pork rinds and free tote bags and stickers.

The tables also promoted sustainable initiatives on campus. One of the groups at the event was CompostMates at Carolina, an organization that helps off-campus students compost by picking up their food scraps biweekly.

“Outreach is always really important, [because] we’re always looking for new members for our service and volunteers to help pick those food scraps up on the weekends,” Sara Vandersip, the co-director of CompostMates, said. “We’re a completely student-run organization, so we depend on those volunteers to run our service and it’s super helpful, and to just make people more aware of what composting is.”

Off-campus organizations were also present. The Piedmont Wildlife Center hosted a table where students could interact with live owls, which was a first for the festival.

Samantha Horn, the communications and fundraising coordinator for PWC, explained that the program had previously done an outreach event at the Wellness Fair hosted by the Undergraduate Business Program.

“It’s really important to us to be able to get the word out both about our organization and opportunities we have for students — like internships, jobs, volunteer opportunities — but also to get the word out about just little ways that you can help protect wildlife like these guys,” she said.

The fall celebration was first conceptualized in 2017 by students and the previous Edible Campus Coordinator, Laura Mindlin. Current coordinator Kyle Parker has continued to host the festival, but there have been some changes to its structure — most notably, an emphasis on entertainment and performance rather than just educational opportunities.

At around 6:30 p.m., students began to gather around the stage area toward the far side of the garden. In the soft glow of the string lights, the performances began.

UNC Cadence, an a cappella group, started the night, followed by UNC Ek Taal, an Indian classical dance group. Xpressions, a fashion platform for Black students, turned the stage into their runway, and Chapel Heelz, a student-run drag troupe, waltzed through the aisles.

Nightshade, an up-and-coming band of UNC students, ended the night's performances. Despite being down a guitarist, the group still performed four songs that kept the spirits of the crowd high.

Junior Emma Gonzalez, the group’s lead vocalist, said the Harvest Moon Festival was the band's first on-campus gig. 

“One of my friends, Eloise, she has a leadership role in Edible Campus,” Gonzalez said. “So, she wanted a band and she asked me and we were all like, ‘Sure, I mean, it’ll be fun.’”

Parker said in an email that Edible Campus began to include student performers in the festival last year in an attempt highlight them and their talents, and to pay them for their work.

Students responded positively to the acts, meeting their performing peers with cheers and excitement that carried throughout the event.

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@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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