Leaders from across the nation who are studying how communities source, grow, process, purchase, and contemplate food will soon arrive in the Green Mountain State for the inaugural three-week Vermont Food Systems Summer Study Tour, May 31 – June 20. One of the only study tours of its kind in the world, students will earn transferable credits while accessing a “movable feast” of Vermont food systems education.
The group, which is primarily comprised of graduate students but also includes a handful of undergrads, is gathering from states including New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio, as well as Vermont. Non-traditional learners have also joined, including a former banker in the finance industry and a Culinary Institute of America instructor. The Tour’s students come from diverse backgrounds with common interests, including passion for the social aspects of food, practical land-based experiences, sustainability and diversification, connection to working land, global health, and local food.
Media Fellow Ivars Balkits, a writer from the Midwest with a background in agriculture and ecology, will chronicle the tour through its blog, “Field Day,” as well as via images that will be shared on the Vermont Food and Farm Education Facebook page, Twitter feed, and website (VermontFoodEducation.org). Two instructors, Lisa Trocchia, a doctoral student from Ohio, and Elissa Johnson, a Masters student currently studying at the University of Vermont, will accompany the group.
Together, they will travel 404 miles in 21 days to six schools and countless Vermont food and farm destinations, traversing the state in a one-of-a-kind experience that is anchored by classroom instruction at the University of Vermont, Sterling College, Vermont Technical College, Vermont Law School, Green Mountain College, and Middlebury College. During the second half of the day, students will advance to the fields, forests, and offices that make Vermont a model for food systems implementation.
The Summer Study Tour curriculum includes afternoon field work at the Burlington Intervale, Shelburne Vineyard, Shelburne Farms, Vermont Compost Company, the town of Hardwick, the Royal Butcher, Chelsea Green Publishing, Woodchuck Cider, and Kirk Webster’s Champlain Valley Bees & Queens, to name a few. Students will also meet with the policy makers and non-profit organizers that make Vermont one of the most unique food systems in the nation, including Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross, the Vermont Land Trust, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, and many more. For information about the Summer Study Tour, please see: vermontfoodeducation.org/summer-study-tour.
The Vermont Food Systems Summer Study Tour is a project of the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium, which advances Vermont as the premier destination for the study of food systems. Paul Costello, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development and Consortium facilitator, noted, “We built this program collaboratively to celebrate and share Vermont’s leadership as the epicenter of the nation’s food system renewal. Through exposure to education, entrepreneurship, and policy, we have invited students to Vermont for a transformational immersion on food systems.”
The Consortium is comprised of Green Mountain College, Middlebury College, New England Culinary Institute, Sterling College, University of Vermont, Vermont Law School, and Vermont Technical College.