Inspired by the recently acquired farm property on White Springs Lane, Finger Lakes Institute Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah Meyer has curated a “Working History of Food and Farm in the Finger Lakes” exhibit to bring awareness to the Colleges’ and Geneva’s unique food and farming history. As part of HWS Food Week, a reception for the exhibit, including local food cooking demos, will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
“It’s important to give students a sense of place,” Meyer says. “The information just keeps coming, but this definitely creates some exposure to what happened in the past and where we’re coming from. With the new farm, it’s important to see that we have a history with campus farming that’s reoccurring.”
The reception will include local refreshments and cooking demonstrations from Hope Galens, local food educator for Ontario County’s Cornell Community Extension. The demonstrations will be geared toward a student audience with a focus on teaching students how to use local ingredients to create realistic dishes with just a hot plate and a microwave.
Before, after and between cooking demonstrations, students and community members can visit the food and farm exhibit located in the lobby of the FLI. The exhibit includes artifacts and pictures of both the property on White Springs Lane, which was donated to the Colleges by Carl Fribolin L.H.D. ’14 in February, and the history of farming and gardening on campus and throughout the region. Meyer explains that she worked closely with alums, like Denise Shirley ’82, and several faculty members to collect various food-related artifacts and pictures.
To give students insight into HWS’ history with gardening and farming, one portion of the exhibit features items like a journal created by students from the 1970s documenting the campus garden, and photos of farm initiatives like “Corn on the Quad.” Much like the current student involvement in developing plans for the new campus farm, Meyer explains that students in the past “wanted to learn how to raise their own food,” and sought out ways to utilize a campus farm.
Projects and accomplishments of alums are also highlighted.
Ellen Ecker Ogden ’76, who wrote, “The Complete Kitchen Garden,” and Derek Weiss ’12, founder of the Sustainable Foods Club and Campus Garden are both featured. Unbeknownst to most students, several HWS faculty and staff members produce their own local products; Chaplain Lesley Adams HON ’12 keeps bees and produces honey, and Roberta Whitwood, assistant to the dean, travels to local farmers markets to sell produce from her farm.
“There are so many faculty and staff members who know how to do things and are willing to share,” says Meyer. “We’ve got students who are willing to learn and we don’t have to go very far to teach them.”
One portion of the exhibit also highlights sustainable and local food initiatives on campus today, like the sustainable farming alternative spring break program, and the many courses that are utilizing the new campus farm. “We’re constantly developing new ideas and trying to incorporate students’ ideas for the campus farm,” Meyer says.
The other half of the exhibit focuses on locally produced food products, like Kraft Cool Whip and Barilla pasta, which are both produced in Avon, N.Y. Products from local companies, such as Naked Dove Brewery, are also on display.
“The exhibit brings the campus to Geneva, and brings Geneva to the region,” says Meyer. “Food can become a very regional thing, but we hope this will also help create a very personal experience.”