In partnership with the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and the Vermont Farm to Plate Network we have worked on a project to connect our local schools with people in the food system. From production to distribution and maintenance, we are getting creative with teachers and students to create fun ways for kids to learn about what happens on the farm.
As Vermont’s population ages and many young Vermonters leave the state for work opportunities, it is important to educate our youth on the importance of the local food system and what it would look like to work within that system. Those who grow, process, distribute, and market the food we eat are the bedrock of our local and sustainably grown foods.
Sarah Danly, Liz Kenton and Elizabeth McCarty of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network walk with Sam in our recent visit to the Green Mountain Technical and Career Center in Johnson, VT to learn about how Career Profiles is being used in their programs.
The South Royalton Community Garden
The South Royalton Community Garden, located within walking distance of the South Royalton village center is more than just a collection of individual garden plots used by community members. The three-person management team has a larger vision of community and education that took root in the “Open Space” in the original garden area. Here, community members are welcomed to share in growing vegetables and to share in the bounty. Extra produce is donated to local food shelves. In 2020 over 550 pounds of fresh produce went to the Royalton and Sharon Food Shelves. The community garden’s open space program focuses on agricultural literacy, climate resiliency, & food security. It is a self-organized, volunteer-based group that gardens together using best practices for growing food in an ecologically mindful manner.
The Community Garden work extends beyond the garden plot. The co-managers, Caroline Gordon, Ellie Shermann and Megan Fuerst organized events at local farms in which community members helped with harvest and learned about the farmers’ growing practices. They hosted a home canning workshop and hope to do more in the future. In 2019, the Community Garden partnered with Luna Bleu Farm and others to formalize a “4-Town Food Resiliency Committee” to begin exploring the potential for a “Community Center for Agriculture” as a way to expand connections between gardeners, farmers, and the community. They conducted a survey in 2020 that showed strong support for educational events and shared agricultural equipment and tools. The survey results also painted a clear picture about what market gaps farmers see in their area and what prevents local consumers from accessing more local food. This information will help inform the work of the Community Garden and Resilience Committee moving forward.