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‘Harvest Week!’ culminates ‘Food’ series

SUNY Cortland will culminate its yearlong series of events on the theme of “Food” with a “Harvest Week!” featuring a community group’s sustainability presentation, a film, a lecture, a book discussion and a bestselling author’s talk from Monday, April 8, to Friday, April 12.

“This has really been a team effort across campus,” said organizer Benjamin Wilson, an associate professor and chair of the Economics Department, regarding “Harvest Week!” in particular. Wilson also chairs the series presenter, the Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee (CICC), an all-campus committee of faculty and staff appointed by the provost.

This year’s interdisciplinary series has focused on how sustenance is taken for granted until weather disasters, invasions, wars, supply chain issues or corporate greed place this urgent topic on America’s own dinner table. The 2023-24 “Food” series events are free and open to the public.

SUNY Cortland's Bistro off Broadway in the Student Life Center is where many students' food choices are made.

One feature of each year’s series is a common read book, with a goal to build community through literature. MacArthur Fellow and author Robin Wall Kimmerer, who wrote Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, will discuss her work that comprises this year’s common read on the final day of “Harvest Week!”

The CICC organizers have arranged the following “Harvest Week!” events:

  • Cortland Food Project (CFP). The campus community is invited to learn about local food systems and interventions by members of this local organization from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Monday, April 8, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. Formed in 2016, CFP is a multidisciplinary group representing the Local Agricultural Promotion committee, Sustainable Cortland and the Cortland County Hunger Coalition.
  • Film screening. The documentary “Food, Inc.,” will be shown, ensuring the audience will never look at dinner the same way. The two-hour film will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, in Sperry Center Hobson Lecture Hall.
  • Book discussion. On Wednesday, April 10, students in Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, will discuss the “Burning Sweetgrass” book section. The program will run from 7 to 8 p.m. in Corey Union, Room 209.
  • Dyed Green’ podcast. Podcast hosts Max Sussman and Kate McCabe will hold a conversation from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
  • Visiting author lecture. Kimmerer will lecture on “The Good Harvest” Friday, April 12, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Corey Union Function Room. A book signing will follow.

Kimmerer’s award-winning Braiding Sweetgrass eBook is available for free through the “Library” tab on MyRedDragon.

Braiding Sweetgrass offers a series of beautiful and thought-provoking essays in which Kimmerer brings together Indigenous wisdom and practices in Western botany to emphasize and embrace our reciprocity with the natural world.

Braiding Sweetgrass provides us with a new approach to food, showing us that the plants and animals that feed us are not just a source of bodily nourishment, but also our family and our teachers, said Abigail Droge, assistant professor of English and a CICC “Food” series organizer. The book features interwoven narratives that take place locally in the Central New York landscape.

Kimmerer, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She founded and directs the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at ESF and was named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow, which is awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to talented individuals in a variety of fields who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits.

Organizers may arrange additional events during the semester. For more information on this year’s common read, contact Abigail Droge, assistant professor of British literature and culture, at 607-753-4331; or Wilson at 607-753-2436. To volunteer to support this year’s activities and programming or for more information, visit the “Food” website or contact Wilson.

Kimmerer's lecture is co-sponsored by the Student Government Association, Student Activities Board, ASC, the Provost’s Office, the Haines Fund, the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, the Surette Fund, and numerous academic departments. The Cortland Food Project is also supporting and promoting the event.