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Beyond Basics: Feast Your Eyes, Heart, and Mind on Vermont Food and Farm Education

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2015-05-14

By Vicky Tebbetts, Published in Food Solutions New England

A quiet revolution is astir in Vermont. Food systems education, practical agricultural experience, entrepreneurship, and inspiration have blended into an elixir for community revitalization.

Advancing food justice, environmental sustainability, public policy, and resiliency, the Vermont Food Systems Study Tour runs May 31-June 20. The Tour invites students to discover the future of food in three weeks at six of Vermont’s premier food systems education destinations as they traverse the fields, forests, businesses, and offices that make Vermont one of the most unique food systems in the nation. This summer, Vermont is the classroom.

This isn’t just any summer study program.

The Summer Study Tour empowers students to become catalysts in local, regional, and global food systems. Through a blend of classroom learning, practical application, and meeting the people who wear the boots-on-the-ground, you will join an innovative global community, learning to lead while earning three undergraduate or graduate credits.

Connecting with community is essential to the sustainability and integrity of local food systems.

Vermont’s food system renaissance taps agriculture, education, and entrepreneurism to introduce students to new ways of thinking within more than twenty subject areas. A creative new generation of networked farmers are defining emerging areas of agriculture, science, community development, law, and policy, changing the way we think about, cultivate, and leverage food systems.  There are no boundaries for stewards of the future.

Vermont is beautiful – and regional food systems working in harmony are even more appealing.

You probably know someone who skis, hikes, or paddles Vermont, or have visited yourself. You may have tasted our artisan cheeses, maple products, beer and spirits, or purchased our value-added products. Now is the chance to experience Vermont behind the scenes, to peel back the layers underlying Vermont’s successes, learning from farmers, policy experts, food justice advocates, agricultural education specialists, land conservationists, and “Vermontrepreneurs.”

Where else can you experience six schools in three weeks?  

Think of it as a movable feast, a delicious and diverse six-course chef’s tasting menu. The Food Systems Summer Study Tour kicks off from the University of Vermont with building an urban food system. Next, head to Sterling College for an in-depth look at artisan cheese and rural revitalization. Vermont Tech will follow with an intensive on dairy and the carbon economy, after which you will proceed to Vermont Law School to study food system advocacy in the context of GMOs. Conservation is the theme at Green Mountain College, and then the course of study returns to the University of Vermont for the Food Systems Summit on food justice. The Tour concludes at Middlebury with an immersion in climate change and global food systems and a glorious celebration and overnight at Shelburne Farms.

There’s still time to take part in the Tour! See VermontFoodEducation.org for more information or contact Green Mountain College (VTFoodFarmEd@greenmtn.edu, 802-287-8000).

Real people. Real food. Real change. We invite you to sample the newest flavors of Vermont this summer.

Vicky Parra Tebbetts leads the marketing and communications for the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium, a seven-school collaboration of education and agriculture leaders facilitated by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. The Vermont Summer Study Tour is an initiative of the Consortium.