University of Vermont

Food Systems Initiative

About the Food Systems Initiative

The Food Systems Initiative is the latest transdisciplinary effort in UVM's long-standing commitment to food systems research and education. The Initiative is a community of university professionals, researchers, students and local partners who generate, teach, and apply new knowledge while contributing to the present and future viability of small scale, regional food systems. The Food Systems Initiative is one of three Transdisciplinary Research Initiatives at the University of Vermont. For additional background, view the original proposal to establish the Food Systems Spire of Excellence.

The Food Systems Initiative is directed by Doug Lantagne, guided by the Food Systems Steering Committee, and supported by Alison Nihart. For more information, read Doug's Message from the Director or contact the Food Systems Initiative.

Food Systems at
           UVM: The Big Picture

Through integrated domains of transdisciplinary research the Initiative seeks viable, regionally based additions/alternatives to the global food system. These alternatives target a revitalization of regional agriculture while improving public nutrition, protecting the environment and advancing the local economy. The Initiative’s transdisciplinary nature allows strategic collaboration across all academic disciplines, ensuring dynamic and innovative results.

The Initiative's advancement is built on three strategic tools: outreach, research, and education. Each of these tools are woven throughout the three overarching themes of UVM's work:

  • Working Landscapes & Value-Added Food
  • Innovative Food Systems Organizations
  • Food: Health & the Environment

Unlike other research universities, UVM is positioned in the heart of a vibrant regional food system. Community commitment to food issues and the vibrant food community in Vermont propel the Food Systems Initiative’s research initiatives. Through local partnerships with farmers, purveyors of food products, and active community members UVM is the perfect home for community driven and supported food systems research.

The Food Systems Initiative currently supports over 140 transdisciplinary research initiatives that address local and regional food systems issues. One research initiative currently underway is the UVM Extension’s New Farmer Project under the direction of Beth Holtzman. The research will bolster an aging farmer community and reduce the conversion of farmland for development.

New farmers from the research extension are invited to participate in UVM's educational programs. In addition to conferences and workshops Continuing Education offers an intensive 6-month New Farmer Training Program. Taught by both professors and expert farmers, participants in the program focus on sustainable agriculture through hands-on, skill-based learning.

If a 6-month New Farmer Training Program only begins to satiate an individual’s interest in food systems perhaps a undergraduate minor or graduate program is in order. UVM launches its groundbreaking Master of Science in Food Systems graduate program in 2012. Based in transdisciplinary research and real-world experience the MFS in Food Systems will focus on local to global solutions while integrating a wide array of disciplines concerning food systems including sustainability, nutrition, policy development, food production, distribution, marketing.

It is an exciting time to be a part of food systems research at UVM. For more information on any of our programs whether you’re interested in the graduate program, research initiatives or continuing education please continue to explore our site.


Our faculty and students are connected to a network of scholars and professionals working on food systems issues. Many of our faculty participate in the Vermont Farm to Plate Network and UVM is a member of the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium. UVM is also a founding sponsor of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Last modified November 17 2015 10:12 AM