Taking Root Student Symposium – Save the Date!

We couldn’t be more excited to announce that we are hosting the Taking Root Student Symposium on October 28th at the University of Vermont, in partnership with Vermont Farm to Plate and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

This symposium is designed for all Vermont college students to celebrate farm to institution and learn about what it means to chart a career in food. We are pleased to

ben hewitt bio picture
Ben Hewitt, Taking Root Student Symposium’s Keynote Speaker

share that our keynote speaker will be Ben Hewitt, a Vermont-based author of many books including The Town That Food Saved and Making Supper Safe. Throughout the day, students will learn about:

 

  • Why farm to institution is important
  • Innovative work happening in Vermont’s food system
  • Career paths of many of Vermont’s leading entrepreneurs and thinkers
  • Resources available at each campus for students to pursue food systems-relevant coursework as well as food-related employment
  • Current food-related job opportunities; students will also have time to network directly with some Vermont employers in the food industry.

And let’s not forget about lunch!

  • Eat the Loop Supper celebrates innovative production practices, featuring Eat the Loop Supper LogoVermont producers who “close-the-loop” through the creation of their product.  From waste-free production to soil health management, Vermonters are leading the way in innovative practices.  Meet the producers and fill your bellies with the “loop.”

Are you a Vermont college student interested in attending? Here’s what you need to know:

  • We are looking for student representation from all Vermont campuses. We also have limited space for this event. If you are interested in attending, please email Annie Rowell at annie.rowell@sodexo.com.
  • Registration costs $25 for the full day, 9am-4pm.

I am excited to attend the Taking Root Student Symposium at UVM because I was inspired by Ben Hewitt’s book ‘The Town that Food Saved’ when I was introduced to it as an undergrad. Also, I will be looking to find employment soon, so getting to learn more about current food-related positions and Vermont-based employers is a great opportunity. Overall, I can’t wait to meet people with similar passions as me and people who want to learn more!
– Ann Chiarenzelli, UVM Food Systems Master Student & Taking Root attendee

 

The statewide college student gathering is a perfect opportunity for our students in our learning community “A Call to Action: Building Sustainable Communities”. […] The symposium lands at a perfect place and time to support our goals; we hope that many students, faculty and staff from other Vermont colleges and universities attend.

– Ellen Hill, Faculty, Northern Vermont University at Johnson

Here is a glimpse of some of the panelists, producers, and employers you can expect to see there!

Stay tuned for more to come! Be sure to follow us on Instagram @vermontfirst for more information!

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New School Year, New VT First Fellow!

It’s hard to believe it’s already September – and even harder to believe with 96 degrees headed our way tomorrow.  Nevertheless, campuses are once again a whirlwind of activity and we have piles and piles of updates for everyone, including this one here!

For the past two years, Vermont First has hosted a UVM Food Systems Graduate Student for a year-long fellowship. This graduate student does the critical behind-the-scenes work on our detailed local purchasing tracking system, is a member of the Vermont First Advisory Board, and this year will be very involved in planning for our very first Taking Root Student Symposium (much much more to come on this exciting development).

We couldn’t be more excited to announce that Ann Chiarenzelli is our 2018-19 Fellow.  Read on to learn a little more about our newest team member, in her own words! Welcome, Ann!

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I graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Psychology from St. Lawrence Ann Chiarenzelli bio picture.jpgUniversity. My passion for regenerative agriculture began when I volunteered at Bittersweet, a small diversified farm and continued on to intern with GardenShare, a food security non-profit. Over the past year, I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County in New York as the 4-H STEM Educator and Outreach VISTA. There, I worked to form curriculum in Animal Science, Environmental Science, Permaculture and more. This year, I am excited to pursue a graduate degree in Food Systems at UVM and be a Fellow with Vermont First.

End of the School Year: A Farewell and Report

Another school year has come to an end.  The flurry of end of semester projects and events is all-consuming and unfortunately does not leave us adequate time to say proper thank yous and goodbyes.

This past year, there was an additional person working behind the scenes on Vermont First, involved in everything from the trenches of data to presenting to the Vermont First Advisory Board to mapping out the regional dairy supply chain.  Katie Horner (pictured on far right) was the first UVM Food Systems Graduate Fellow to dedicate her fellowship year to focusing on Vermont First.  Her passion for food and food systems (in her “free” time she and her partner run a cafe, put on local burger nights for 500+ people at Bread and Butter Farm, to just name a few!), vibrant personality, and great attention to detail made her a real pleasure to work with.

Learn more about Katie here!

What better way to show our appreciation of her work than the culmination of her year’s work – the Vermont First Annual Report!

 

 

More Skin in the Game

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

– Benjamin Franklin

On the heels of the exciting announcement of Sodexo’s $500,000 gift to UVM’s Food System Initiative and Food Systems Graduate Program (read more here), we look forward to the ideas that will come from those dollars.

I’m writing this post at the Vermont Farm to Plate Network Gathering, which is the annual culmination of an idea factory network that generates tangible results.  I can’t help but reflect on how Vermont First’s origin story is closely linked to the dynamic forward-thinking of this robust network. Three years ago, this network partnered with Sodexo to put together a statewide forum geared towards training Vermont producers in scaling up to sell to a company like Sodexo.  The relationships built as a result of that creative collaboration laid the groundwork for what has become a Sodexo investment in the state of Vermont, Vermont First.

Let’s see where this batch of ideas to be spearheaded at UVM takes us.