On Thursday, October 5th, the first annual Harvest Moon Celebration was held by Edible Campus UNC. It began at 6:00 with a performance by student band Watermelon Frisbee, who finished off their set with an amazing cover of Can't You See by The Marshall Tucker Band. This casual concert at the beginning gave everyone a chance to make their way up to the food and refreshments at the top of the theatre. This is how Hope Gardens got involved in the event. We had one table where we sold stickers and honey and another where Herban Garden hosted an altered (but delicious) version of Tea Time. There was also "famous sweet potato chocolate bread" that actually lived up to its name.
The speaking began at 6:30 and a particular point of emphasis across multiple speeches was the plight of immigrants in the agricultural community of North Carolina. Andrea Reusing, the chef and owner of Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, pointed out the abundance of undocumented immigrants in our state who harvest our food while they themselves remain food insecure. Two of the speakers, Jamil Kadoura and April Oo, were immigrants hailing from the Middle East and Burma respectively; each of whom shared their own unique experiences with food and agriculture as immigrants in North Carolina. These messages served as a powerful reminder of who we serve and and how far we still have to go to achieve agricultural stability in our state for ALL people.
In addition to speakers, there were also poets who graced the stage to recite their food-inspired poetry. The standout was Jackson Hall, a masters student in folklore at UNC who gave the final performance of the night. I've never heard anything so poetic. It was hard to tell where his introduction ended and his poetry began, it all came out so naturally. When he started to describe the Black Forest cake that his grandmother used to make for him when he was a child, I'm almost sure my mouth was fully agape. Food is such an important part of the human experience and it's truly awe-inspiring to be so intimately exposed to the effect that it's had on the lives of others.
The event was originally described as an evening of storytelling, spoken word, song, and sweet potatoes and it gave us everything we were promised and more. To the members of our organization, I hope you have a fantastic fall break and I encourage you to continue attending events such as this that promote sustainable agriculture and food insecurity. Even if they aren’t hosted by Hope Gardens, everyone serves to gain from the food groups on campus working together and supporting one another, especially those we aim to serve.