News Staff Writer
Every year, Greenfest features events on and off campus focusing on sustainability. One event that attracts students and the local community is UNC Asheville’s third annual Farm-to-Table event.
This event allowed attendees to experience and enjoy a buffet style meal fit for any dietary restrictions one may have. The quad allowed everyone to enjoy the beautiful outdoors along with good company of those surrounding them.
Sonia Marcus, the director of sustainability, along with many others worked together almost weekly since the beginning of spring to put on this event for attendees to enjoy.
“The stories of the migration of creatures, the migration of plants, the migration of stories and the migration of dishes became as important as the stories of the migration of people,” Marcus said.
The event, held last Thursday, brought 300 students, faculty and locals together for a sustainable, friendly experience. This year’s theme focused on migration and had multiple depictions of monarch butterflies.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the monarch butterfly travels an average of 22 miles a day, only traveling during the daytime. The number of monarchs have decreased significantly in the last 20 years due to habitat loss and pesticides destroying the milkweed monarchs need to survive.
There were seed packs of milkweed available for those who wanted them in order to help the population of monarchs.
“I love when we’re setting up the event on the quad during the day of the event and all these people on campus are just walking by and feeling the anticipatory excitement of the event, regardless of whether they have tickets or not. It puts me in a great mood before all the guests actually arrive,” Marcus said.
Much like in the previous years, local businesses were located along the quad to enlighten attendees about any questions they might have, as well as inform them of what exactly they strive to do to have sustainable products.
Each year, Mountain Food Products buys fresh produce from farmers within a 100-mile radius to make available to residents in the Asheville area. Mountain Food Products began in the early 1980s when Ron Ainspan was searching for a market to sell his produce.
“Mountain Food Products provides the produce on campus whenever it is available locally,” Ainspan said.
For years, the company has been a significant produce supplier to UNCA’s food service operations.
Food was not the only local business at the event to inform attendees. One booth had examples of the different stages the monarch butterfly goes through. A storage container with a screened top featured the caterpillar and chrysalis. Only one male adult monarch hatched from its cocoon earlier that morning and was tagged, giving scientists the ability to learn where the butterfly came from once it arrived to Mexico. One of the individuals in charge of the booth said that a monarch can be in its cocoon anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.
Wild for Life, a local nonprofit organization, was there with two different predatory birds that cannot survive on their own due to injuries. According to their brochure, 80 percent of the injured animals come to them as a result of human interaction and habitat destruction. Co-founder Susan Wright said the owl she was holding was not able to be released back into the wild due to a wing injury.
Attendees were given the opportunity to buy raffle tickets in hopes of winning prizes from local businesses. Each ticket bought was put into a jar with the individual’s information.
“The raffle just helps to support the attendance of all the wonderful nonprofit organizations in attendance who receive complimentary tickets,” Marcus said.
Students also put in a lot of time and hard work to make the Farm-to-Table event a success. Carter Smith, a co-director of the Student Environmental Center, was part of the planning process up until the day of the event. Smith mentions Shannon Bodeau, Lee Fussel, Anna Digman and Sabrina Staton also spent a lot of hard work and time to help this event go as smoothly as possible.
“It’s awesome to work with such an amazing, knowledgeable and passionate team of gardeners, and my hope is for more students to learn about them and get involved going forward,” Smith said.
Throughout the three hour event, attendees bonded and enjoyed each other’s company, great local food, a Mexican folkloric dance performance and musical performances by UNCA’s Bluegrass Ensemble and Cornbread & Tortillas.
“I loved being there among so many great friends, from other students to university staff members, to great folks from the larger Asheville community,” Smith said.