Jolly Media Fellow Prepares to Tour Vermont

My name is Ivars. That’s me on adventure, self-mockingly mock-heroic, setting out. Though the photo was taken in New Mexico, the questing nature of the image conveys my feelings as I head out on a new adventure: three June weeks documenting the Vermont Food and Farm Study Tour.

I am gratefully accompanying the lead instructor Lisa and assistant instructor Elissa as the tour’s Media Fellow. The tour, both a moveable feast and an exploration at the instructional frontier of farm and food systems education, will include visits and lectures at six institutions of the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium. There will be tours also of local food enterprises and farms, and discussions and reflections on each day’s activities. I will be there recording it all (or a good part of it) in text and image through this blog and other social media.

My relationship to wholesome food and sustainable living has been extensive and varied. I have been a market gardener, producer of value-added food products, farmers market vendor, sustainability festival organizer, fine dining waiter, and I am married to a PhD student studying the social ecology of food. I read her texts, discuss them with her, and through her have gained an understanding of global issues surrounding food systems, monetary systems, ethnographies, etc. I have a long work history as well in media and publications.

My home is not in New Mexico. Most of my adventures, during the last twenty years or so, have taken place in Appalachia – specifically Athens, OH – which has a reputation as a food and farm economy to emulate. Our community is recognized nationally for its food systems vibrancy and cooperative green businesses. It has all the good things: a 30 Mile Meal initiative, a community kitchen and food business incubator, a worker-owned restaurant serving wholesome meals made with local produce and value-added products, a farmers market that brings in over $3 million into the local economy, several solar installation businesses, a local grain mill, etc. All the good things.

I will be looking through this lens at the Vermont food system. I expect that I will have a new, larger, lens to look back through at my state and community when I return.

The study tour runs from May 31 through June 20. See you on the road.