Outdoor Excursions and the Riverside community garden hosted this year’s Harvest Fest at the R’Garden. The event featured a festival as well as a sleepover camping event for those interested in getting more acquainted with the outdoors. The Harvest Fest was oriented around those who weren’t familiar with outdoor activities, and was also a celebration of the R’Garden and its place in the Riverside community.
The festival was divided into two different events, the first one being a carnival with games, booths, snacks and various other activities. One of the more popular games was a corn-hole toss, in which a little ball was tossed into a specified area. The snack booth included various fruits that were grown on the R’garden, as well as free water bottles.
Moreover, guests were given a tour of the entire area, shown the different crops that are grown and taught the composting methods that the R’Garden utilizes so they can possibly cultivate their own garden. Participants were able to leave the garden with fresh produce in hand for their anticipated dishes as well.
The activities were also ways to introduce some of the visitors to the various events that Outdoor Excursions hosts, such as a caving simulation. The caving simulation, which was borrowed from Riverside’s caving club, featured two wooden boards, with space in between. The amount of space could be adjusted depending on the preference of the individual, who would then crawl through the space between the boards. This activity simulated the experience of having to crawl through caves and was one of the most interesting activities on display.
The second portion of the event was a sleepover, where guests had the option of camping over night for five dollars at the R’Garden. It began with a cooking demonstration in which staff from Outdoor Excursions taught individuals how to make backcountry lasagna using Dutch ovens. This dish is made using a very old method of cooking, perfect for the outdoors. After the demonstration, there was a discussion over campfire and s’mores of individual experiences and everyone’s relationships with the outdoors. Through storytelling and campfire activities, guests, were able to be revitalized and united with nature by the end of the experience.
The turnout for the event was strong, although slightly less than expected by the staff. Overall, the event successfully underlined the importance of agricultural sustainability and the great work that the community garden does. The R’Garden usually hosts about two events per quarter, which often center around social justice issues as well as sustainability.
According to Outdoor Excursions member Chris Connors, “We are trying to show the community crops, and that there are organic alternatives for produce.” The sustainability portion was very beneficial for many guests who did not actually know about the local crops that are grown, and how important buying locally grown produce can be for sustainability. The Harvest Fest was a wonderful celebration of the R’Garden and its contribution to the community.