University of Vermont

Fixing a Broken Food System: UVM to Host Second Annual Food Systems Summit

The nation's leaders and change-makers gather in Burlington June 23-28, 2013

Summit graphic

Major leaders in food systems and sustainability will convene at the University of Vermont this summer to offer solutions and engage in discussion about the ways that we can remedy our broken food system. Academics, organizational leaders, farmers, food producers and the public will have the opportunity to examine closely the recent food systems innovations that have resulted in economic, environmental, health and societal benefit.

Titled “Leading the Necessary [r]Evolution for Sustainable Food Systems,” the Summit seeks to answer the pivotal question: “How can we create regional food systems that are viable alternatives to the conventional one that exists now?” Among the food experts and leaders at the conference will be Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, Gary Paul Nabhan, author of The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods, Tanya Fields, Executive Director of Bronx-based BLK ProjeK, and Karen Washington, a NYC-based community activist and recipient of Ebony magazine's 100 Influential African Americans.

The summit consists of two key events:

The Necessary [r]Evolution for Sustainable Food Systems Conference – On June 27, the public is invited to participate in a conference that highlights innovative ideas and initiatives for transforming the food system. This important event will inspire, focus, and strengthen individual and collective action for a sustainable food system. Topics covered will include food sovereignty, regional food systems, resilience, health, advocacy and more. To register or learn more, visit the public conference website. This event costs $25 per person and is open to the public; registration is required as this event sells out quickly.

Breakthrough Leaders Certificate Program for Sustainable Food Systems – A three-week long certificate program for emerging food leaders to learn about systemic issues and how to effect change on an individual and organizational level. This program includes online learning between June 10-22 and a week-long residential session on-campus June 23-28. Participants will also engage with a broad base of stakeholders through a public conference on June 27, and meet in a small group for deep dialogue with influential thought leaders on June 28. To apply or learn more, visit the Breakthrough Leaders website.

The summit is part of UVM’s Food Systems Initiative. The stated vision of the Food Systems Initiative is to develop solutions to pressing problems in food systems through world-class research, teaching and outreach. UVM’s approach integrates four central domains: 1) food, culture and health; 2) energy and food; 3) policy, ecology and land use; and 4) regional food chains. These domains reflect current
research and outreach strengths within the University. A recent survey of UVM research projects identified 149 food-systems-related projects.

The University of Vermont has a history of innovative solutions to building and maintaining sustainable food systems – and is itself situated within a state with a proven model of sustainable food systems. "Vermont and UVM are uniquely positioned to host The Food Systems Summit," said UVM President Tom Sullivan. "Vermont always has been a leader in innovative methods of natural food production and delivery systems, especially in the areas of farms to consumers. At UVM, our world-class academic community is actively engaged in aligning research in the classroom with a new generation of farmers who are rediscovering the benefits of local sustainable farming. As scholars and as practitioners, we know that local means healthy fresh food for all segments of our community."

In addition to the Food Systems Summit, the University of Vermont offers a Farmer Training Program, an entrepreneurial approach to small-scale farming; Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture courses for undergraduates and graduates; and a Masters of Science degree in Food Systems. Additionally, Summer University offers more than two dozen courses centered on food systems through UVM
Continuing Education.

To register for the University of Vermont Food Systems Summit programs, conference, or general course information, please visit

Connect with UVM Food Systems on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.