Taking Root Student Symposium – VIDEO

Last October, we organized and hosted the first Taking Root Student Symposium in partnership with Vermont Farm to Plate and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Overall, 83 students from 7 Vermont campuses, joined by 67 staff, faculty, and community members heard from entrepreneurs, farmers, and policymakers to learn about current food systems issues and engaged with leaders in the field to discuss potential careers working in Vermont’s food system. If you missed it, or if you attended and want to see scenes from the day, check out our video from the day here!

A huge thanks to UVM Video and everyone who took the time to speak on our video covering the day of the Student Symposium!


Taking Root Student Symposium – Save the Date!

We couldn’t be more excited to announce that we are hosting the Taking Root Student Symposium on October 28th at the University of Vermont, in partnership with Vermont Farm to Plate and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

This symposium is designed for all Vermont college students to celebrate farm to institution and learn about what it means to chart a career in food. We are pleased to

ben hewitt bio picture
Ben Hewitt, Taking Root Student Symposium’s Keynote Speaker

share that our keynote speaker will be Ben Hewitt, a Vermont-based author of many books including The Town That Food Saved and Making Supper Safe. Throughout the day, students will learn about:


  • Why farm to institution is important
  • Innovative work happening in Vermont’s food system
  • Career paths of many of Vermont’s leading entrepreneurs and thinkers
  • Resources available at each campus for students to pursue food systems-relevant coursework as well as food-related employment
  • Current food-related job opportunities; students will also have time to network directly with some Vermont employers in the food industry.

And let’s not forget about lunch!

  • Eat the Loop Supper celebrates innovative production practices, featuring Eat the Loop Supper LogoVermont producers who “close-the-loop” through the creation of their product.  From waste-free production to soil health management, Vermonters are leading the way in innovative practices.  Meet the producers and fill your bellies with the “loop.”

Are you a Vermont college student interested in attending? Here’s what you need to know:

  • We are looking for student representation from all Vermont campuses. We also have limited space for this event. If you are interested in attending, please email Annie Rowell at annie.rowell@sodexo.com.
  • Registration costs $25 for the full day, 9am-4pm.

I am excited to attend the Taking Root Student Symposium at UVM because I was inspired by Ben Hewitt’s book ‘The Town that Food Saved’ when I was introduced to it as an undergrad. Also, I will be looking to find employment soon, so getting to learn more about current food-related positions and Vermont-based employers is a great opportunity. Overall, I can’t wait to meet people with similar passions as me and people who want to learn more!
– Ann Chiarenzelli, UVM Food Systems Master Student & Taking Root attendee


The statewide college student gathering is a perfect opportunity for our students in our learning community “A Call to Action: Building Sustainable Communities”. […] The symposium lands at a perfect place and time to support our goals; we hope that many students, faculty and staff from other Vermont colleges and universities attend.

– Ellen Hill, Faculty, Northern Vermont University at Johnson

Here is a glimpse of some of the panelists, producers, and employers you can expect to see there!

Stay tuned for more to come! Be sure to follow us on Instagram @vermontfirst for more information!

Sodexo’s Vermont First is Underway

On March 25th, Sodexo held a soft kick-off for moving forward on the Vermont First Pledge at Vermont Technical College.  Vermont First, as some of you may know, is Sodexo’s commitment to support the production and purchase of local food across Vermont.  Vermont First was presented to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in September 2014 in the form of a pledge, specifically committing Sodexo to :

  • Hire a local food coordinator

    Bonnie Kelsey and Jennifer Wood of Best of Vermont visiting with Abbey Willard of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.
  • Develop a plan to meet the production needs of Vermont producers
  • Enable Sodexo Vermont accounts to buy local
  • Create a steering committee of Vermont stakeholders
  • Sponsor an annual summit meeting and two working group sessions

In early March, we happily announced that we have successfully hired a local food coordinator, Annie Rowell, who is tasked with moving the remaining commitments in the Vermont First Pledge forward.  Learn more about Annie and Vermont First from our interview on Vermont Public Radio’s Morning Edition with Mitch Wortlieb on March 23rd.

As we think about goals for the future, we look back to all that has been done this past year.  In 2014, Sodexo purchased $3.2 million of local products across Vermont accounts, just under 15% of the total Vermont account purchases.  Now we look to that 85% of non-local dollars spent and think critically about how we can convert those dollars to local in a way that is both responsible to all parties and creates lasting relationships.

Hue Wetherbee and Millie Heidenreich of Sodexo
Delicious local lunch provided by Vermont Technical College dining team after the morning meeting.
Vermont Technical College students lining up for sugar on snow, using Vermont maple syrup.