I have only been here a few months, but one of the things that has been wonderful to see is the commitment Bennington students have to sustainable agriculture, as well as to promoting more sustainable food systems. In my first week, I met the interns (Forest Purnell and Emi Reyes) of the newly-formed Student Garden, a project ushered into existence by the student-run Bennington Sustainable Food Project with assistance from the campus Sustainability Committee.
Not long after, and I was joining an enthusiastic group of Bennington students on a pre-orientation “localvore” trip, exploring farms, farmers markets, co-ops, and local businesses all over southern Vermont and eastern New York. Between lots of delicious farm snacks, new friends, an alpaca or two, and even a demolition derby at a county fair, I’d say the trip was a success!
Student trip leader Emily Mikucki agrees. As she puts it,
“I think the best way to get to know someone is when you can bond over something that you really care about. In our case, we all bonded over our love of food. The LocalVore Pre-Orientation Trip had a mix of people from all walks of food life: people who grew up on farms, people who love to eat, people interested in the science of food production and even one person who went to culinary school in Italy. Together we toured local farms and farmers’ markets, meeting some of the people responsible for the food we get to cook, eat and enjoy. It was a lot of fun getting our hands dirty while getting to know new fellow classmates!”
And speaking of classmates, as of October 25, the Environmental Studies Colloquium has begun, entitled “Seeking Change: Food, Farm, and Society.” In addition to being a 2-credit course option, the colloquium features an impressive roster of guest speakers, who form the public lecture series portion of the course. Melanie DuPuis of UC Santa Cruz did a great job kicking off the series, challenging students and community members alike to think critically about how sustainable knowledge is formed and communicated. Up next, our own Valerie Imbruce will be sharing from her work studying contract farming of export crops in Honduras (Imbruce will be standing in for invited guest Sally Hamilton, who unfortunately needed to cancel at the last minute).
All of this, and Bennington still does not rest when it comes to food and sustainability. The Bennington Sustainable Food Project and the Sustainability Committee are both working away on additional projects to improve the ecological footprint of our own campus community. Keep your eyes out to see more coming from both of these groups!