Dishes for Harvest Dinner Project 2018 were created at the College.

Hartwick College, Autumn Café Team Up for Harvest Dinner Project

October 29, 2018

Hartwick College and The Autumn Café in Oneonta are teaming up to help raise awareness of food insecurities in our community through the two-night Harvest Dinner Project. This special farm-to-table dinner and charity auction event will be held at The Autumn Café November 27 and 28, from 6 – 10 p.m. Tickets are $100, and include tax and gratuity; 50 seats are available each night. All proceeds will benefit The Lord’s Table Soup Kitchen.

Hartwick College Associate Professor of Art Stephanie Rozene and her students are partnering with Autumn Café owner Wayne Carrington and manager Tim Masterjohn to bring together students and the Oneonta community, and raise money for a local organization that feeds 60 – 100 people each day.

But this won’t be a typical turkey dinner, as one might expect for late November. “We are specifically avoiding all Thanksgiving-related flavors,” Rozene said.

Carrington and Masterjohn are creating a special five-course meal for the dinner, with much of the food sourced locally. The bill of fare each night will feature two shared courses (including chips and dip), French Onion soup, and pasta carbonara for the main course.

Rozene and Masterjohn partnered on a previous Harvest Dinner Project, held in 2015 at the former Red Caboose Restaurant in Oneonta. That event raised several thousand dollars.

Ten students in Rozene’s “Dinnerware: The Harvest Dinner Project” class are creating ceramic dinnerware specifically paired to the menu. Carrington and Masterjohn have been working with Rozene’s class since the beginning of the fall semester. The students have even taken trips to the restaurant for inspiration.

Diners will take home a handmade bread plate at the end of the evening.

Additionally, diners will hear from the students and Masterjohn about their creative processes, and will have an opportunity to bid on serving dishes and artwork from local artists.

“This is about participation, community engagement, and spotlighting the issue of feeding our neighbors,” Rozene said. “It also crystalizes the experiential learning and community involvement opportunities we promote at the College.”

Each of Rozene’s students will have created 50 – 60 pieces in total for use during and after the dinners; Autumn Café will even be using the ceramic dinnerware at the restaurant after the event.

Students are working with two types of clay, White stoneware and flameware, and practicing handbuilding and clay throwing techniques. They are also learning about different ideas like the power of food, ceramics, and memory, through course readings and videos.

“I am in my third year of ceramics, so I’ve spent lots of time creating pots that have a function,” said Diana Bechdol ’20, one of Rozene’s students. “That function may be as vast as a cup that holds a liquid, or as specialized as a mug that holds a particular drink at an exact time of year for a certain person, but I have dealt with function.”

“However, the pots we are making for the Harvest Dinner Project have been asked to fulfill a different, more meaningful purpose: to bring people together and start a conversation about making change toward food insecurity in our community,” she continued.

The project has also had a deep impact on Bechdol, the artist, as well as Bechdol, the concerned citizen.

“The responsibility I have as a potter has a whole new meaning, and presents new questions, to me now in terms of what it means to make art…something I imagine I will spend a lifetime trying to answer,” she said.

For tickets to the Harvest Dinner Project, contact The Autumn Café at (607) 432-6845 or stop by in person at 244 Main St., Oneonta.

For additional information, contact Rozene at (607) 431-4833 or