Press contact:
Shane Rogers
Communications, Outreach, and Development Associate
Green Mountain Farm-to-School | 802-334-2044

For Immediate Release

Farm-to-School Conference Sows Ideas in Northeast Kingdom

Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS), in collaboration with Sterling College, hosted over 100 farm-to-school enthusiasts, advocates, and professionals for a day of networking and education at the 2nd Annual Northeast Kingdom Farm-to-School Conference in early November.

The keynote address by former White House pastry chef, Bill Yosses, capped off a day of great workshops touching on topics from best practices for using the Vermont Harvest of the Month program to composting to federal and state funding for farm-to-school initiatives. Presenters came from all over the state and included representatives from federal and state agencies, such as the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Vermont Agency of Education,Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, Vermont farm-to-school professionals, and those on the ground running programs throughout the state.

“It was great to see the enthusiasm from all the teachers and farm-to-school advocates who attended our “Using School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms” workshop,” says River Ostrow, an AmeriCorps and GMFTS farm-to-school coordinator, “It’s our hope that they walked away excited and with new ways to educate the children in their classrooms and communities through food and agriculture.”

For a second year, Sterling College, which is steeped in a rich tradition of teaching sustainable agriculture practices andsourcing local food for their students, was a fitting partner for the conference. The Sterling College Kitchen, led by Simeon Bittman, executive chef, provided a local and homegrown meal of coconut curry over basmati rice for participants. In addition, Sterling College’s student farm-to-school coordinators, supervised by Allison Van Akkeren, a Sterling College professor, ran a taste test featuring November, December, and January’s Vermont Harvest of the Month. Conference goers were also treated to free samples of yogurt and ice cream from Kingdom Creamery in between workshops.

Of the evaluations that were returned, over 90 percent of participants ranked the conference as “very good” or “excellent” with the same percentage saying they were likely to recommend the conference to others.

“We are really encouraged with the overall interest and turnout for our second farm-to-school conference in the Northeast Kingdom,” says Catherine Cusack, program director for GMFTS, “Farm-to-school is, clearly, growing throughout the region and the commitment of schools, advocates, and institutions to collaborate and expand their programming helps us to continue bringing in high-profile presenters and growing the conference.”

The conference was sponsored by the Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District, Stony Point Foundation, The Abbey Group, Northern Vermont Regional Hospital, and Black River Produce.