By Peyton Rodgers ‘20
UNC Asheville hosted its fifth annual Farm-to-Table Dinner on the Quad event on September 23, 2019, leaving everyone with a satisfied stomach and a new idea the meaning of “home.” With this year’s theme embracing “Home Sweet Home,” the Farm-to-Table Dinner featured Cherokee dance and music, the UNC Asheville bluegrass ensemble, a special address by guest speaker Mko’ Mkosé, reflections on “home” with Ponkho Bermejo and Amy Cantrell from BeLoved Asheville and more.
While enjoying the performances on stage, a committee of students, faculty, staff and UNC Asheville Dining Services crafted the kind of meal you didn’t realize you’d been craving. From smoked trout dip, “three sister” stew served over Carolina rice, local apple pound cake and buchi kombucha, one thing was for sure: nobody left hungry.
Not only did Farm-to-Table create a great experience on stage and on the plate, but surrounding the dining tables were projects from the Asheville community focused on creating an impact on everyone’s idea of home.
Davi Cheshire, a UNC Asheville alumna who is now the volunteer manager at BeLoved Asheville, enjoyed the way the theme of Farm-to-Table related to values of BeLoved Asheville, a local nonprofit organization that creates intersectional community targeting tough situations with innovative solutions.
“From my understanding, this is all about ‘home sweet home,’ and at BeLoved we really care about there being home for everyone, and what ‘home sweet home’ means to people who maybe historically haven’t had access to home,” Cheshire said.
BeLoved Asheville is an organization consisting of community builders with the goal of transforming lives through community. They aim to reach this goal by creating affordable micro-homes in the BeLoved Village, providing street medics and free farmers markets and creating opportunities for children and minority groups. BeLoved Asheville is also a partner with UNC Asheville’s McCullough Fellowship, and partners with UNC Asheville through Food Connection, through which uneaten meals from the dining hall are shared with people facing homelessness in Asheville.
“We’re really interested in the concept of home for a lot of different groups of kids who haven’t had a stable home in a long time, and this is a space to kind of show from a more creative standpoint what people visualize home being,” Cheshire said.
Visions of Home
With recycled art pallets, an assortment of paint colors and wooden blocks, UNC Asheville students at the Farm-To-Table Dinner were allowed the opportunity to artistically display their vision of home.
Any art created by students came together to create a larger message by building a wall displaying everyone’s artistic talents and personal message.
BeLoved Asheville displayed two pieces of artwork on opposite sides of the mainstage on the Quad. One was a Mayan symbol representing unifying positivity and negativity, while the other was an Aztec symbol representing welcome, explained Ponkho Bermeyo, a co-director of Beloved Asheville.
Bermeyo considers the message of being welcomed to be a significant influence for indigenous people. He is passionate about Beloved Asheville since they are working to create affordable housing for different communities in Asheville, giving them a sense of home and community.
“We are making art to bring awareness to the housing crisis we have in Asheville. It’s very expensive, people that work in downtown cannot live in downtown,” Bermeyo said.
More than a Meal
Sonia Marcus, UNC Asheville’s director of sustainability, started Farm-to-Table with the goal of providing a sense of community along with an educational experience.
“I think the Farm-to-Table Dinner in particular is an event that’s a meal, it’s a show, it’s an educational program, it’s an opportunity to celebrate our community partners, it’s a fun way to meet people, it’s a band, it’s a lot of things at the same time,” Marcus said, “and I think that it demonstrates the ability of a lot of different campus partners and departments and beyond that, our community partners, who come together to create an experience together that really serves to educate people in a different way than just having a lecture or a classroom experience.”
The idea of home is understood differently by all individuals that attended the event, which made the experience unique to everyone.
“Somebody said the event was soulful, and I think by that what I was understanding from them is that they feel like it has integrity and it addresses some deep issues,” Marcus said.
For more information about sustainability at UNC Asheville, visit their webpage.