A More Sustainable Tu B'Shevat Maya Epelbaum '16

This year, W&L Hillel teamed up with Slow Foods (a new group on campus dedicated to the production and preparation of high-quality local foods), the Sustainability Office, and the Student Environmental Action League (SEAL) to celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the traditional new year of the trees. Tu B'Shevat, occurring this year from sundown on February 3rd until sundown on 4th, marks the end of winter. During this time, we embrace the growth and renewal that comes with the new year of the trees. Because everyone should care about the trees, we invited the student body and local community members to join with us in encouraging local restaurants, the Farmers' Market, and students to contribute dishes that celebrate nature and the local foods movement. University Dining, the E. Café, Counter Culture Café, Sweet Things, Sweet Treats, Southern Inn, and Paradox Farms all donated tasty treats to support the cause. Two crowd favorites were Mitch Wapner and the Farmers' Market vendors' homemade preserves and dried apples, and, of course, Sweet Things' ice cream. All dishes were fresh, vegetarian, and Kosher. In addition to their contribution of delicious food, students from SEAL and Slow Foods also utilized their own personal dishes, which functioned to reduce waste in the spirit of the holiday. Around eighty people joined the celebration and learned about the holiday. Most importantly, the combined efforts of the donors (Full Circle Catering, the W&L Office of Sustainability and W&L Hillel) and celebrators planted fifteen new trees in Israel through the Jewish National Fund. It was the perfect break from a stressful midterms week. As the first event of its kind at Hillel, I hope it continues growing and more students-Jewish and non-Jewish-become aware of sustainability movements on campus and just how important trees and nature are in our daily life.