Summer 2017

Final field trip

Final field trip

For our class field trip this past week we visited Rutland, Vermont where I was excited to explore the Rutland Area Farm & Food Link Center and later the Vermont Farmers’ Food Center. After a peaceful drive to Rutland, we parked our car and walked over to the RAFFL center where our tour guide greeted us and led us into a conference room where she delivered a slideshow about how RAFFL functions and her role in the corporation. I immediately liked our tour guide because I respected all that she was doing to better the community even though I imagine it can not be easy to live in an areas as economically depressed as Rutland without losing hope.One aspect of her presentation that stuck out to me was the Farm Fresh Connect program which functions in a way that is very similar to Middlebury Foods as the Farm Fresh Connect mission is to bring fresh, local products to community members. I have been looking at the Farm Fresh Connect model on the RAFFL website and think that it could be a great resource to use to adapt & better our own model at Midd Foods. Also I would be interested in getting in touch with our tour guide to speak more in depth about how the program functions more specifically and ask her about ways they have successfully been able to expand & reach more members of the community. This would be an awesome resource for our Midd Foods summer team as community outreach has been a major summer goal for us and we are constantly looking for ways that we can do this.

Next, our group wandered over to the Vermont Farmers’ Food Center which was just down the road from RAFFL. The VT Farmers’ Food Center is was so cool because it is a farmers market that operates year round even in the winter months, a feat that is essentially unheard of in many other places. It was clear from the moment that we started our tour of the center that community is a crucial element that keeps the Farmers Market running. The women who was giving us the tour then brought us upstairs and showed us a video that her team had made describing the future plans for the center. The VT Farmer’s mission was truly inspiring & the video was awesome. It described how the leaders behind the project were told that their plan was economically infeasible and were warned against proceeding but the project was currently in operation and doing well because the entire community was rallying around the cause and donating tons of their own time & money to better the project!I couldn’t help but think about the place where I grew up (suburbs outside of Philly) and wonder if people would do the same act of donating their own precious money and time to work on building a community center. I am not positive that they would. It also made me think about the possibility of having something like this at Middlebury. If the plans for Greg’s become a reality, we are going to need a huge community push & I think that the people in Middlebury would definity rally around it. I think it would be awesome to promote the cause to the student body at the school as well because I think that we could get a ton of really enthusiastic and committed student volunteers. I know that my friends and I would love to come every once and awhile on a weekend or week day when we didn’t have a lot of schoolwork and spend some hours working in whatever way we could. I also appreciated the VT Farmer’s Food Center’s Health Care Share program in which they work with health care practitioners in the area to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to obese children in the community who have been referred. Additionally, the program provides recipes and workshops explaining how to make healthy dishes with the food items that are given, including the key element of education into the program. I thought that this program was really creative and it sounds really effective. I appreciated how it similarly encompassed the theme of community as it is clearly important to everyone that all members of the society lead a healthy & sustainable lifestyle.

Our last activity included going to a nearby farm where we helped a local farmer weed his garden. Although this work was effortless for our large group of and only took about half an hour, the farmer was so appreciative, explaining that if we had not spared this small portion of our day then the task would have taken him hours to complete. While we were weeding it also gave us a chance to get to know our first tour guide from RAFFL a little better as she had accompanied us on the trip. It was interesting to hear her story as she explained her reasons for choosing to live and work in Rutland and her future aspirations. I really admired her reasons for choosing to work in Rutland, which is an extremely impoverished area as she described her desire to try to better the community through projects such as the VT Farmers Food Center. It was also impressive to hear her speak about her work in a non-profit such as RAFFL which seemed as though it could definitely be very difficult to work for at times. She was very hopeful for the future and had a vision for her life which was really inspiring. As we made our way back through the mountains I contemplated the inspiring programs and people that we had been introduced to and felt lucky to have gained a new perspective on the evolving situation of the food systems in Vermont. I feel very at peace to be spending this summer and the next two years in such a special place as Vermont in which the sense of community is so powerful & such a contributing factor in the way that the people lead their lives.



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