“Meet Up to Eat Up” Comes to Gardner-Webb University

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Guests should bring potluck dish made with at least one locally produced ingredient 

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— To support the growing local foods initiative in Cleveland County, Gardner-Webb’s Office of Community Engagement will host a “Local Foods Meet Up to Eat Up” event on Saturday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ritch Banquet Hall, located in the Dover Campus Center.  This potluck dinner is open to all who want to learn more about the economic and health-related benefits of eating local foods.

If possible, guests should bring a potluck dish made with at least one local ingredient.  To promote sustainability and limit trash, guests should also bring their own utensils and dishes. Those interested in attending should RSVP to Stephanie Richey, GWU’s community engagement coordinator, at srichey@gardner-webb.edu.

Prior to the dinner, Brian Underwood of Suncatcher Homes will offer a tour of an energy efficient home he is building using green materials.  The home features systems like a concrete temperature regulator and a passive solar system.  The home will open at 5 p.m. and the tour will begin at 5:30.  For directions, click here or call 704-691-5787.

The Meet Up to Eat Up program, sponsored by the Foothills Farmers’ Market, is a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about local foods issues and to promote fellowship, conversation and community among Cleveland County residents. Richey, a charter member of the Farmers’ Market board of directors, said the event has been “a hit.”

“Since Meet Up to Eat Up started about a year ago, more and more people have been coming.  We even drew nearly 100 people to a recent dinner event at the Don Gibson Theatre in Shelby,” Richey said. “The best part about this event is that, like the local foods movement itself, it’s entirely grassroots.  People come on their own initiative, because they believe in supporting local farmers, boosting our local economy, and building closer friendships with their neighbors.”

The event will also feature a seed exchange, where farmers and growers can trade organic seeds, and swap useful information on planting and seed-saving techniques.  Even guests who have never planted are invited to participate.  The importance of such exchanges, Richey said, cannot be overstated.

“The seeds the farmers bring are entirely organic, meaning they are not genetically modified,” Richey explained.  “What tends to happen in the agriculture industry is that large corporate farms patent their genetically modified seeds, which essentially allows them to monopolize the industry.  Sometimes that forces smaller, local farms out of business.”  The seed exchange, she said, is a “beautiful cooperative effort” to share with one another and to keep local farms in business.

The Meet Up to Eat Up event is just the latest local foods initiative to receive Gardner-Webb support.  In the past year, GWU students, faculty and staff have also maintained their support for the Cleveland County Potato Project, and even started a community garden on campus.  For more about how Gardner-Webb is involved in supporting local agriculture, or to get involved, call 704-406-2135.

For more about the Foothills Farmers’ Market, visit foothillsfarmersmarket.com.