It Takes a Village to Make a Summit

button_food_summitBy Olivia Percoco

“Unity is strength…” Mattie Stepaneck

We’re gearing up for the UVM Food Systems Summit June 17-18! As we near the event, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the many people and organizations who helped us make the event what it is.

We know that the answers to food systems issues, like those being addressed at this year’s Food Systems Summit, won’t come from a single person’s perspective. That’s why the Summit was designed to optimize engagement among academic disciplines as well as between attendees (academic researchers, food producers, activists, students, government officials, and community members). This cross pollination helps us foster a wide range of ideas and opinions regarding solutions to our broken food system.

The making of the Summit itself has been no different. The Summit team is collaborating with a variety of partner organizations and local food producers to engage a broad range of people and highlight the powerful food systems network in Vermont. Our sponsors and partners include the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Developmentthe Vermont Fresh Network, fellow members of the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium like Green Mountain College and the Vermont Tech Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems, Sodexo (the UVM campus dining provider), and others.

JAFSCDlogoOur collaboration with the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development (JAFSCD), of which UVM is an underwriting sponsor, gives panelists who are presenting research papers at the Summit a chance to submit their work to a special issue edited by UVM faculty. An online publication, JAFSCD focuses on the practice of food systems and agricultural development, which provides a perfect complement to the presentations that will be provided at the Summit.

vfn-logoWe’re also using the Summit as an opportunity to highlight Vermont food producers and restaurants. The Vermont Fresh Network compiled a list of restaurants within walking and driving distance of UVM so attendees can easily find and dine at establishments that feature local foods. On the evening of Wednesday, June 18, a Taste of Vermont Reception will feature local food producers.

UVM is a leading academic institution in the transdisciplinary study of food systems, and Vermont is a national model in alternative food system development with its network-based, systems approach. And it’s this systems approach that we utilized when developing the interactive model and program of events for the Summit.

When it comes to our food system, we have an incredible opportunity to be instrumental in promoting change. As an agricultural state exploring the benefits, challenges, and trade-offs of regional and sustainable agriculture, we feel it’s our responsibility to spur the dialogue and spread the word about solutions. While our world’s current food system isn’t working, Vermont has proven what is indeed possible. Let’s work together to show how much we can accomplish.

Olivia Percoco is a first year student in the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics at UVM and an intern with the Food Systems Summit.

Posted in: Economic, Environmental, Health, Social, UVM.