Farm-to-Table Dinner Sept. 13 benefits WCSU Permaculture Garden
Dinner on Western’s Midtown campus features locally produced foods and wines
DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will host a “Farm-to-Table Dinner” featuring locally produced foods and wines on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, to benefit the Permaculture Garden Project sponsored by the Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies at WCSU.
Guests will enjoy a dinner prepared from foods harvested at local farms, complemented by a selection of vintages from local wineries, at the benefit starting at 6 p.m. in the garden outside the Atrium of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Seating for the dinner may be reserved at a cost of $100 per person; reservation and payment arrangements should be made no later than Sept. 5 by sending an email request to JaneGoodallCenterWCSU@wcsu.edu.
The goal of the event is to raise funds to support work targeted to begin this fall in designing the university’s first permaculture garden in preparation for future planting immediately behind the Science Building Atrium. Dr. Laurie Weinstein, professor of anthropology and chair of the Jane Goodall Center at Western, observed that WCSU students will participate from the outset in planning the garden as part of class work to be assigned this fall in a course taught by biology faculty member Dr. Andrew Oguma. This permaculture garden design will lay the groundwork for engaging many more Western students in the project next year through course work, club activities and other opportunities for participation.
“Permaculture is based upon planting species that work well together in given environments,” Weinstein explained. “The gardens are designed to be people-friendly places that pull folks of all ages and backgrounds together to work with each other for a common purpose.
“Our purpose in creating a garden at Western is that we want to reconnect our community with the land,” she added. “Many of our students, and indeed the rest of us as well, are so naïve about where our food comes from and how it gets to our plates. We want our students to learn about healthy and humane eating. We want to give them skills that they can take with them.”
Weinstein, Professor of Philosophy Dr. Mary O’Neill and Goodall Center staff member Diane Hassan accompanied Western students Lauren Davidosky, Alexa Langford and Kyle Avery to attend the Sustainability Conference in June at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where they learned first-hand about the community gardens maintained by volunteers at UMass since 2010 as part of the university’s Permaculture Initiative. She noted that the conference provided useful guidance on how to embark on Western’s permaculture project, and provided inspiration to Western students who are planning future careers as organic farmers, winemakers or landscapers. Another significant aspect of the UMass Amherst program has been the provision of fresh produce to supply university dining services, a model that the Goodall Center’s permaculture project aims to emulate through cooperation with Sodexo dining services at Western.
Weinstein expressed the hope that the simple experience of tending the new garden will provide inspiration to learn more about sustainability practices, as Avery found this spring when he discovered a new interest in learning about permaculture after weeding the future garden site. “He was so happy to be learning something using his hands,” she said. “Something magical happens when the students are in the garden: They disconnect from their electronic devices and start reconnecting with the earth and with each other.”
The Goodall Center’s Permaculture Garden Project also will be the beneficiary of ticket proceeds from the public lecture at WCSU on Tuesday, Sept. 30, by environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an internationally renowned advocate for conservation of clean water resources in the Hudson River watershed and worldwide. Kennedy will discuss “Our Environmental Destiny” in a talk at 7 p.m. in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus in Danbury. Tickets may be purchased online at www.wcsu.edu/tickets or by calling (203) 837-TIXX.
For more information, contact Weinstein at WeinsteinL@wcsu.edu or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486. Additional background about permaculture is available online from a short video posted on the website of Ryan Harb, founder of the UMass Amherst Permaculture Initiative: http://ryanharb.org/#Projects.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.