August 26, 2013–Craftsbury Common, Vermont—Today, Sterling College announced the launch of The Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems.
The Center, named for the late founder of Clean Yield Group Inc. and a Sterling College trustee, will be the centerpiece of the College’s nationally known Sustainable Agriculture program. The facility will encompass new and improved farm and draft horse instructional spaces, including new construction and renovation of existing structures.
President Matthew Derr said, “I loved working with Rian; he was a wonderful person and a gifted Trustee, whose loss will be felt for years to come. The Fried Center will continue his mission to transform the local economy and to Sterling College’s curriculum so we can continue to be a boot camp for a revolution in the stewardship of our food system.”
The Center will also be an incubator for collaborative programs with nonprofits in the Northeast Kingdom, as these relationships were of great interest to Fried. One such partnership under development is with the Center for an Agricultural Economy. Collaborations with local businesses are being explored with the Cellars at Jasper Hill, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and others.
“Sterling College has for years given new students a generous introduction to the local socio-economic environment,” said Sarah Waring, the Executive Director for the Center for an Agricultural Economy. “The launch of TheRian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems will both deepen this existing network, and harness the creative power of young adults into our local, regenerative food systems.”
She added, “We are proud to be at the table, bringing students closer to food businesses, infrastructure, and systems challenges. To integrate Sterling College into the emerging local and regional food systems is the next step in changing our economy and the future of our rural opportunities.”
It was recently announced that Sterling is to be the recipient of a challenge grant from an anonymous foundation to support the development of the new center, which will bear Fried’s name. The foundation will match up to $250,000 in donations for the Center. The College hopes to raise a total of $500,000 or more for this project.
“Rian was a fierce critic of business as usual, especially when it came to food and farming on a community scale,” said Tom Stearns, founder and president of High Mowing Seeds. “My hope for the new center is that innovation and creativity will abound at every level—classroom, community partnerships, entrepreneurship, finance and more. That would make Rian proud.”
Eric Becker, the Chief Investment Officer of Clean Yield Group Inc., said, “Rian was passionate about developing local, organic and sustainable food enterprises, both to serve local communities and to become working models that could be replicated broadly. He was devoted to building bridges between social investors and sustainable food enterprises, as well as sharing his business acumen with Vermont's emerging food entrepreneurs. I can think of no finer or fitter way of honoring Rian.”
Journalist Marian Burros said of the Center: “Rian did more than anyone to bring town and gown together, working tirelessly to connect the sustainable agriculture community of the Hardwick area with Sterling College’s sustainable agriculture programs.”
She continued, “He turned acquaintances into friends, who are now working together for the benefit of the community and the students. The Center is the perfect coda to his life’s work.”
For more information about the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems visit www.sterlingcollege.edu/friedcenter.
About Sterling College
Founded in 1958 in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, Sterling College is a leading voice in higher education for environmental stewardship and the liberal arts. The College was among the first colleges in the United States to focus on sustainability through academic majors in Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Outdoor Education, and Sustainable Agriculture. Sterling College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is one of only seven federally recognized Work Colleges in the nation.