Students, faculty, and community members gathered together in the warmth of the Stewart House to feast on the fruits of CC Farm’s labor last Thursday for the Annual Harvest Banquet.
One hundred attendees enjoyed wine and Bristol beer while graced by the sounds of the CC Bluegrass Ensemble.
With the success of this year’s harvest, interns Mel Yemma, Sarah Hamilton, and Zac Chapman wanted to top past Harvest Banquets by hosting the event right next to the farm. Having the dinner at the Stewart House provided guests access to the farm and an incredible view of Pikes Peak at dusk.
The three farm interns gave a toast and presented the spread of freshly baked dinner rolls, butternut squash bisque, mixed greens salad, roasted beets, goat cheese, lemon cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, cross rib beef roast from Venetucci Farm, roasted carrots, wilted Swiss chard, kale, spinach, and vegetarian strudel with squash greens. The dessert featured pumpkin pie and butternut squash bars with fresh whipped cream.
The dinner was a happy medium between past farm events in the Synergy House and formal sit-down dinners in Bemis Hall. The interns collaborated with Bon Appétit Chefs John Faulkner and Ed Clarke and Venetucci Farm to organize the fifth annual banquet.
Associate Dean of Students Rochelle Mason verified approval to serve alcohol at the event while Campus Reservations Manager Lynette DiRaddo booked the Stewart House and Bon Appétit staff helped supply the tables and dinner provisions. Senior art studio major John Christie designed and printed the posters for advertising, and the interns harvested all of the fresh food for the Bon Appétit chefs.
“The last few days before the event, we scrambled a lot to get everything harvested and set up for the event, which made it somewhat stressful,” Yemma said. However, “everyone was there to celebrate and appreciate the farm, the food was delicious, and we are so happy with how it turned out.”
“Jon, Ed, and all of the Bon Appétit staff deserve a huge thank you because they played a major role in making the banquet the success that it was,” Hamilton said.
While Bon Appétit helped orchestrate the Harvest Banquet, their affiliation with the CC farm doesn’t stop there. They funded two of the three summer internships in return for $7000 of produce throughout the growing season. The farm surpassed the quota by $1000 this year. This allowed for cheaper tickets to the Harvest Banquet and the event quickly reached its full capacity of 100 people.
The success of this year’s harvest was not mere luck with Mother Nature. This summer, the interns spent countless hours in the drought ensuring that their plants were surviving the dry heat.
Held accountable to supply Bon Appétit with fresh produce, the farmers quickly learned that lettuce, basil, chard, kale, and tomatoes are the money-makers while broccoli just wasn’t worth their time and effort.
“In addition to coming out of this year with a substantial surplus for the first time, we also grew the first edible watermelon,” Chapman said. “But I think the greatest accomplishment was in the amount of people that came down and continued to individuate the place.”
Newcomers volunteered at the farm during summer workdays and throughout first block, reassuring the interns that the 1.3-acre plot is becoming more of a communal place.
“Working on the farm is a learning experience and since there is not one ‘boss,’ we are able to learn a lot from each other. The farm gives every interested student a chance to have some ownership in any aspect of it, whether it is doing the daily work or planning out where the farm will go in the future,” Hamilton said.
“The most important thing is that we are trying to make it known to everyone that the CC farm is everyone’s space, the gate is always open,” Yemma said. “Whether you want to plant something, do an art project, do yoga, eat dinner, take our vegetables (Nathan Lee), watch the sunset, lay in the hammock…the farm is for everyone!”
There is no one person making executive decisions for the farm. This unique lack of hierarchical structure gives the interns all responsibility to run the organization under advisor Environmental Science professor Miro Kummel.
While Kummel does background work and provides “invaluable gardening wisdom,” Elizabeth Pudder is the farm correspondent for CC Outdoor Education.
Hamilton said, “It has been amazing making connections with people from across campus, between Bon Appétit, to the facilities crew, faculty members, and other students who are passionate about the farm, and with people from the broader community including customers at the farmers market, and other farmers and gardeners.”
Chapman said, “Throughout the course of the summer, the farm became a canvas for studio art majors, a lab for biology majors, and a general hangout spot for students who wanted to get away from the grind; so many people have been expressing themselves on the land and realizing that the farm doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone in particular.”
The interns have also hosted potlucks at the farm and led tours for various groups including CC classes and kids’ summer camps.
Chapman said, “Guests at the farm will come attend events and suggest, ‘Maybe we should make a porch around the cob oven,’ ‘This boring shed should be painted,’ or ‘CC should cultivate and slaughter its own animals.’”
While winter approaches, the interns plan on continuing Farm Club meetings to try and implement some of these ideas into the space. In preparation for winter weather, the farmers will pull out dead vegetables and eventually mulch everything with a lot of leaves. They will plant garlic in the coming weeks and prepare cold frames to preserve the wintergreens.
The farm club will continue workshops, cooking classes, potlucks, and more cob-oven pizza parties until spring planting commences.