Living Economically: Shelburne Farms – leading the way to local food sustainability

Laurie Caswell Burke

Laurie Caswell Burke

By Laurie Caswell Burke

We are returning to our roots on the food landscape. The chance of a young child knowing that the food at their table comes from the garden or a chicken or pig has increased significantly during the past decade. Before, they might have thought their food just came from the grocery store.

Thanks to Shelburne Farms and other partners in our state, the breath and depth of understanding our food system is changing. Shelburne Farms is a leader in this movement.

“Shelburne Farms’ work to build a healthier food system starts with the soil and extends to our regional, national, and international education for sustainability work. Our sustainable agricultural practices, award-winning farmstead cheese, farm-to-table restaurant, farm-to-school initiatives, and educational programs help connect the next generation to where food comes from, a sense to place, and food’s global significance,” said Vera Chang, Shelburne Farms public relations and marketing director.

A look at Shelburne Farms’ cheese is one example of their holistic approach to food. It begins with taking care of the soil where cows graze, rotationally grazing the cows, and growing hay organically. There is a reason this local cheese remains of top quality – being good stewards of the land and animals matters.

Chef David Hugo and farmer Josh Carter pose with Taste of the Fields campers in the greenhouse at Shelburne Farms. Photo by Vera Chang

Chef David Hugo and farmer Josh Carter pose with Taste of the Fields campers in the greenhouse at Shelburne Farms. Photo by Vera Chang

The market garden is certified organic and grows 150 crops. Chef David Hugo works with garden manager Josh Carter to plan meals for the Inn. They start with what is in season. Upon entering the Inn’s dining room, guests are greeted by a display of the day’s market garden produce.

Chef Hugo explains, “Shelburne Farms is like no place I have worked before. The farm brings together agriculture, craftsmanship, and culinary arts; chefs, farmers, and educators. As executive chef, I feel responsibility to show the young people, teachers, and others that come through the farm that chefs care about where and how food is produced.”

A collaborative effort between Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day) and other state partners, the nationally-released “New School Cuisine: Nutritious Seasonal Recipes for School Cooks by School Cooks” is hot off the press. The book is designed to help schools include fresh local food in their menus. Vermont FEED is a partnership of three Vermont non-profits: Shelburne Farms, NOFA, and VT Food Works at Two Rivers Center. Together, they are working with schools and communities to raise awareness about healthy food, good nutrition, and the role of Vermont farms and farmers.

Encouraging kids and adults to experience the Farms’ numerous gardens, animals, educational programs, summer camps, and meals at the Inn are just a few opportunities to appreciate the connection with our food. Shelburne Farms promises to be front and center as we continue to look at our food system through the lens of sustainability.

This article is the second in a three part series about Shelburne Farms.

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