Celebrating 10 years of Green Mountain Farm-to-School

Cultivating healthy communities since 2008

2018 marks Green Mountain Farm-to-School’s 10-year anniversary. Over the past decade, GMFTS and our partners have worked together to increase access to local, healthy food in the Northeast Kingdom, resulting in a stronger local food economy, improved nutrition education in area schools, and healthier communities.

In 2008, our founder, Katherine Sims, recognized that despite Vermont’s vibrant local food systems, many of the regions most vulnerable populations were being left behind – particularly here in the Northeast Kingdom. Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans counties have the highest rates of poverty in the state as well as the highest rates of diet-related disease. One in four children in the region were and still are, food insecure.

Presented with this gap in economic and physical health, Katherine dreamt of a Vermont in which every child had access to fresh, local food and the state’s farms were thriving. Armed with a shovel, a few seed packets, and this dream, she started the first garden at Jay Westfield School.

The impact the garden was having on the community quickly became apparent. Katherine watched as students got excited about trying kale for the first time, teachers hosting math lessons out in the garden, and food service staff starting to order food from local farms. More and more schools started reaching out inquiring about how to get involved and in 2008, a dedicated group of farmers, parents, and funders launched Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS).

Since, the organization has evolved and grown tremendously – blossoming from a single school garden to a leader in the farm-to-school and local food movements with four robust programs that aim to strengthen Vermont’s local food systems. GMFTS now staffs six full-time individuals and is a yearly host site for five AmeriCorps members serving through the Lydon Economic opportunity AmeriCorps Program (LEAP).

Over the past 10 years, GMFTS has worked to promote positive economic and education relationships among schools, farms, and communities through a regional food hub – Green Mountain Farm Direct, a summer meal program – The Lunchbox, a statewide marketing campaign – Vermont Harvest of the Month, and in school programming – Farm-to-School.

Some of our key achievements from the past ten years include:

  • Distributing $1,404,199 worth of local food to area institutions via Green Mountain Farm Direct;
  • Over 20,700 pounds of food produced from school gardens since 2009;
  • Over 4,200 after school and in school workshops with kids;
  • Over 223 farm field trips;
  • Over 560 taste tests with students;
  • 6,063 free lunches to children in the summer months from the lunchbox;
  • Over 31,700 children reached.

As a result of solid achievements, strong community engagement, and growing donor support, the organization continues to provide quality programming to farms, school, and institutions in the region. GMFTS is proud of its reputation as a fixture in the community and leader in regional farm-to-school and local food conversations. We have much to celebrate and much to look forward to, including ensuring that programming contributes to multiple statewide Farm-to-Plate goals. We look forward to the next ten years of cultivating healthy communities through food and education.

Support Green Mountain Farm-to-School and help us continue our work by joining our community on June 1st for our first-ever Giving Day in celebration of our ten-year anniversary. Learn how to make a matchable donation here.