We’ve heard in many times, there are nearly 7 billion people who need to eat every day and more coming. And we have a global food system that degrades our land, our health, and increasingly our humanity through short-sighted practices and policies that benefit a few at the top. The University of Vermont has decided to do something about it by hosting a Food Systems Summit this June to discuss solutions for change. We believe that change must come from the ground up — both literally and figuratively — through innovative regional food models that have proven workable, sustainable and inclusive to many here in Vermont.
Vermont is full of positive deviants. Yes, you heard it right, I said positive deviants. The definition is simple: positive deviants are people whose uncommon, but successful. behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite facing similar challenges and circumstances. Vermont’s tradition of positive deviance and cutting-edge innovation, in the face of adversity, makes it a rich site for the creation of more sustainable food systems models adaptable around the world.
Considerable intellectual capital has been invested by the University of Vermont in this domain in recent years, and we are now engaged in addressing a substantial agenda over the next decade. At the core of our work is no more dauntless a question than “How does a regional food system feed the world?”
To address this question and others, we have set in motion a Food Systems Summit that will bring together emerging international leaders in food systems study and work, as well as in practice with prominent national and international researchers and educators in the field, for in-depth examination of obstacles and opportunities facing us in the decade ahead. It is our expectation that the Summit will translate discussion and exploration into policy and research that can be brought into practical application — first regionally, then nationally and even globally.
As we have assessed the dimensions of the challenges before us, certain themes tend to surface again and again. Among them is the suitability of the State of Vermont, with its human scale, as a “living laboratory” for exploring new solutions to chronically unsolved problems. As Vermont’s research university, UVM is already a leading contributor of knowledge that helps to shape the state’s and New England region’s food system.
A strong existing network of partnerships among UVM researchers, experimental farms, and commercial and community organizations amplifies the impacts of food systems work being done in Vermont.
For all of these reasons, we believe the time is ripe for a systems approach to a regional food system in New England that builds on our existing strengths and resources. The Food Systems Summit is the conduit to bring together like-minded leaders interested in finding solutions and then sharing them with other regions worldwide.
Are you ready for the revolution? Come join us! We will be hosting a livestream of the public conference on June 28 right on this blog and on our UVM CE Facebook Page and tweeting at the hashtag #UVMsummit. Follow us at @uvmCE or @UVMFoodFeed.
While you’re reading this blog, read some of the latest posts from our summit speakers and participants.