Allegheny hosted its 13th annual DeHart Local Foods Market and Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 1.
The market and dinner is held in honor of and named after Jennifer DeHart, a professor in the environmental science department who lost a five year battle with cancer in May 2010.
DeHart was a gatekeeper between the Meadville community and the Allegheny community. She was the main facilitator in organizing the local, weekly farmers market held in front of the Market House on Saturday mornings and began the local foods dinner in order to bring the same awareness of local food that she brought to her community to Allegheny’s campus.
Kelly Boulton, the campus’ sustainability coordinator, took over a majority of the dinner’s planning after DeHart’s passing. She has tried to maintain the relationships that DeHart established with many of the local area’s farmers.
According to Boulton, DeHart created the local foods dinner in the early 2000s in order to bring the idea of local food sustainability right to the Allegheny campus to bring their attention to their options within the Meadville community. After her passing the dinner was named in her honor to commemorate her efforts and successes in something she was passionate about.
“The purpose of the dinner is really to highlight the agricultural riches of Crawford County and allow students an opportunity to interact with local farmers and businesses and then taste the deliciousness of local foods,” Boulton said. “It’s also a way to honor the work and memory of Jennifer DeHart.”
Beth Choate, professor in environmental science, also helped in the planning of the event, specifically in the planning in the market.
“If you talk to local farmers about [DeHart], they love her, they love what she did for the community and how she brought all of them together amongst themselves but then also with Allegheny,” Choate said.
Additionally Choate said that a lot of the work leading up to the event and many of the venders at the event were the product of the hard work and dedication of students. Individual students and several student organizations volunteered their time to run tables at the market, prepare and serve food and set up and tear down both events.
“We welcome student involvement because it always brings new ideas and activities to the event, such as bobbing for apples for the past couple years and pedal-powered smoothies this year,” Boulton said.
Emily Lunz, ’17, attended both the market and dinner and has gone to the event in past years as well. She said that the event is a great way to stress the importance of utilizing local foods and brings that idea to Allegheny. Lunz also said that the event helps bring together the Meadville community and the Allegheny student population.
“The DeHart Dinner uses produce from local farms to create a wonderful dinner for Allegheny students and the Meadville community to share,” Lunz said. “Sharing meals and food to bring people together.”
Choate said that the event’s main goal aside from honoring DeHart is to get students to think about where food comes from.
“It’s fun for me, as a community member, to go to this wonderful meal that’s well thought out and nicely prepared but also to bring that to the attention of students,” Choate said. “We have so many local farmers and growers and producers and they’re all down at the Market House on Saturday mornings or you can purchase their goods at the Market House but a lot of students don’t go into Meadville to do their shopping so they’re just not aware of that resource.”
Choate said the event also opens up the campus as a venue for the farmers to contribute whatever it is they are producing and forges a connection between everyone in the Meadville community.