MIDDLEBURY — An event this week will help draw closer connections between local farms and the school children they feed.
On March 27, the central Champlain Valley’s school community will come together for a day of inspiration, celebration and networking at the fifth annual Stone Soup Summit. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, farmers, food service managers, nurses and community volunteers will share stories of challenge and triumph and work in diverse groups to address the issues facing farm-to-school programs and school nutrition in our region.
The Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) and Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) will present the conference all day at Middlebury College’s Bicentennial Hall. The Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center’s student restaurant, the Glass Onion, will prepare a local foods lunch using recipes from New School Cuisine Cookbook. Kathy Alexander, director of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union Food Service Cooperative, will deliver the keynote speech.
Emily Hoyler, Addison County farm to school network program director and curriculum specialist at Shelburne Farms, emphasized the diverse applications for farm to school principles.
“Farm to school provides such an engaging and relevant opportunity to use food, which is already part of the school day, to cultivate an understanding about economic systems and the community,” Hoyler said. Farm to school “goes beyond carrots in the cafeteria to building sustainable communities, and it offers a rigorous platform to dive into core academic content.”
This year Stone Soup will offer 12 hands-on workshops, including K-12 curriculum connections, composting, school garden maintenance, funding and sustaining a farm to school program, Harvest of the Month integration, planning community dinners and harvest festivals, and more. A series of TED-style talks in the afternoon will inspire with the “Next Big Idea in Farm to School” from our homegrown visionaries.
“There’s wonderful grassroots energy here in the Champlain Valley, and coming together to discover the exciting new trends in farm to school is a powerful tool for investing in the future,” said Ethan Bodin, Shelburne Farms educator and Vermont FEED professional development coordinator.
“It’s not only about sharing the best of what we do right now, it’s about visioning where we wtake this work,” said Hoyler.