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Savoring tradition: Community FEaST returns for seventh annual year

Madelyn Crawford
Attendees were invited to the locally grown selection of goods available during the feast. Oct. 5, 2023.

A never-ending table decorated with food and friendly faces lined the sidewalks of Sanford Mall. Fresh, locally grown potatoes and apple pies dotted the yellow checkered tablecloths. People from all over campus stopped by to grab a bite to eat as a band sang and strummed as onlookers spun and danced to the music. 

The seventh annual Community FEaST, or Food Engagement and Story Telling celebration, concluded Wednesday evening. Attendees left with full bellies and stories to carry on.

FEaST, held by AppalFRESH, the Appalachian Food Research for Equity Sustainability and Health, was another success this year, Carla Ramsdell said.

Ramsdell, the sustainability liaison for the College of Arts & Sciences, as well as a member of the AppalFRESH collaborative,

The members of the garden club pose with their fresh flowers and chives, grown straight from their community garden. Oct. 5, 2023.
(Madelyn Crawford )

spoke at the event Wednesday. 

“Once a year, we can gather the community together and talk about the importance of a resilient, equitable, sustainable food system,” Ramsdell said. 

This year, Community FEaST highlighted its goal of storytelling, which Ramsdell said is a “superhero communication strategy.” 

“Our goal is that after people would have gathered here and told stories and listened to stories, they can sort of help to imagine a future more sustainably,” she said.

The 100-foot-long table lined the sidewalks of Sanford Mall. People buzzed about, ready to dig into their locally-grown meal. Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples and apple pies were just some of the courses provided by Boone farmers. (made)

Student groups interested in the event could bring potato toppings for all to share. One of the groups, App State Gardening Club, supplied shredded cheese, fresh parsley and chives grown in the club’s two on-campus community gardens.

Marigold Morris, a first-year student double majoring in geology and psychology, serves as the vice president of outreach for the garden club. 

“This event brings people back to one of the oldest ways of interaction, which is eating together,” Morris said. “It’s one of your basic needs as a human.” 

Julia Murray, a senior sustainable development major, serves as the food pantry coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, and said how food is important to the college community.

The Office of Sustainability is participating in the NC Collegiate Hunger Challenge, a competition between North Carolina universities to raise awareness for food insecurity. Murray said by setting up at FEaST and running a food drive for the office’s pantries, their mission to be sustainable is furthered.

Sydney Blume, a farmer’s market manager and double up food bucks coordinator for the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, graduated from App State in 2018.

Joe Davis, right, poses with his friends. Warm apple pies sourced from local farmers were a highlight of the event. Oct. 5, 2023. (Madelyn Crawford )

“I have been passionate about the local food system even before college,” Blume said. “I think events like this are really great at highlighting how important it is for people to come together around food, and how it’s such a great entry point to transforming the community that we live in.”

Blume said the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture initiative is a chance for women, who are traditionally underrepresented and face more barriers than men in the agriculture industry, to benefit.

Joe Davis, a junior sustainable development major, attended FEaST with his friends. He said the community built from the event was inspiring.

“It brings everyone together in a time when we are all so isolated from each other,” Davis said. “You get to meet new people, and experience something really beautiful together.”

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About the Contributor
Madelyn Crawford (she/her) is a sophomore journalism major with a graphic communication management minor from Charlotte, NC.
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