Harvard Celebrates Sustainability with Earth Day Fair

Vendors from in and around Cambridge, including the Little Free Library and Book Exchange, Hubway, and Next Step Living, set up shop on the Science Center Plaza on Wednesday afternoon to promote sustainable living.

The Harvard Sustainability Fair was created out of a partnership between the Harvard Office of Sustainability, the Common Spaces Initiative, and Harvard University Dining Services. Hundreds of students, faculty members, and Cantabrigians passed through the fair, which was put on to celebrate Earth Day.

Sustainability Fair
Claire T. Lo ’16, left, a Winthrop Food Literacy fellow, has FAS SEAS postdoctoral fellow Xianming Zhang, right, name grains at the Harvard Sustainability Fair on Wednesday afternoon. Zhang studies environmental contaminants relating to food and said he found the fair interesting.

“It’s open to the community,” Residential Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability Kelsey V. Grab said, noting that the event was part of the Cambridge Science Festival. “All of Cambridge is invited.”

Many of HUDS’ local suppliers set up booths and distributed free samples.

“It’s tough for HUDS to show people what they do... to show people that we buy locally,” said Grab. “[The fair is] an opportunity for people to see that.”

The fair featured a booth by Backyard Farms, the 42-acre greenhouse in Madison, Maine from which HUDS purchases its tomatoes.

After having tried the tomatoes, Patrick T. Hansen ’18 was complimentary. But he was surprised to hear that they were among HUDS’ produce purchases.

“Those tomatoes are in the d-hall?” he asked. 

Crista Martin, a HUDS spokesperson, said that the dining halls are looking to expand their sourcing of local foods, although it is difficult since the majority of the school year occurs outside the peak of New England’s growing season.

“We are looking at all the ways we can use local food in the dining hall,” Martin said.

She added that, since HUDS cannot buy as much local produce as it would like, the dining halls instead buy local products.

Martin gave the examples of Teddie’s Organic Peanut Butter and Lily’s Pasta.

“Clearly, the wheat’s not grown here, but they are making the pasta and ravioli and gnocchi you eat in the dining hall,” Martin said. “Teddie’s peanut butter—they aren’t growing the peanuts here but they are grinding it.”