This year marks the 3rd annual Harvest Dinner at Harvard University Housing. Hosted by the Graduate Commons Program and Harvard University Housing's Sustainable Community Program, this Dinner was organized by Sustainable Community Leader Inga Sergienko, SCL 2015, and Bernice Dy, Graduate Commons Program Family Coordinator. 

Harvest Dinners are a chance for Housing residents to gather together and celebrate the season sustainably.  The goal is for residents to leave the event understanding how they can make their own holidays more sustainable by encouraging local and seasonal food choices, reducing food waste, opting for reusable products, and choosing composting.

Here are some event suggestions:

1. Play a game

At this year's Harvest Dinner, the residents played "Understanding your food's environmental footprint," a trivia game. The game served as an icebreaker and helped spur conversations throughout dinner. 

2. Make it educational

Before dinner the organizers played a short educational film about food waste and composting. They chose the Harvard student-created film "Leftovers." This set the tone for the sustainable potluck. 

3. Hold a contest

This year, residents participated in the "Best Sustainable Dish Potluck Contest." Residents were given a list of local and seasonal produce to create their dishes from. The winning dishes included; Apple crisp and fried sweet potatoes with caramel sauce. Other dishes brought to the dinner included: butternut squash soup, pumpkin bread, and roasted spaghetti squash. The winners received a “Local Organics” Box to further their sustainable culinary skills at home.

The fall seasonal list included:

  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Apples
  • Cranberries
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Arugula

4. Make it a zero waste event

The organizers ensured that the event would be as close to zero waste as possible by having composting bins available and encouraging attendees beforehand to "BYOD," bring your own dish. They also made signs prompting residents to be mindful of food waste when selecting from the various dishes. The leaders also supplied alternatives to disposables. Following the event, they encouraged guests to take home leftover food and create and share new recipes made from their leftovers.