Central Vermont Food System Forum Recap

On Tuesday, April 16 at Goddard College, more than 80 farmers, food processors, educators, nutritionists, planners, advocates, home gardeners, and consumers shared a meal of local foods and identified critical action steps for six focus areas within the Central Vermont food system.

The evening began with a warm welcome from Joseph Kiefer of Food Works at
Two Rivers Center, and Acting Chair of the Central Vermont Food Systems Council. Joseph gave a brief history of the last six years of the Council’s work and set the stage for the remainder of the evening with the theme of A Call to Action. This was followed by short presentations from Abbey Willard with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Erica Campbell with Farm to Plate and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, and Jackie Cassino with the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission.

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Six focus areas were featured throughout the evening: education, food access, home food systems, land use and conservation, economic development, and food hubs. Guest speakers Tom Sabo, Sandra Lory, Gail England, Jackie Cassino, Joe Bossen, and Robin Morris gave Pech Kucha-style presentations, as moderated by Daniel Stein of Farm to Table. The assembly then broke into small group discussions focused on each of these areas.

These small groups answered a series of questions to identify the top action steps needed within their focus area to strengthen Central Vermont’s food system. Home gardeners, for example, identified the need for increased access to central space for food preservation and storage, and better coordination for workshops on growing and preserving food. Educators said that better integration of food system curricula across all school subjects is needed.

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Members of the Central Vermont Food Systems Council, which is housed at the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, will collect all of the action steps to form this year’s work plan. Working groups made up of organizational representatives and citizens will form around each of the focus areas to make progress on the action steps identified during the April 16th forum.

The Central Vermont Food System Council is a community-based group that works to cultivate Central Vermont’s emerging sustainable food system, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality food. The Central Vermont Food System Council is administered by the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, with assistance from Food Works, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the City of Montpelier, Farm to Plate, and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

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