This week, word spread about our Healthy Food Transition at two conferences that were hosted locally but had global scope. Beth Hooker, Director of Food, Farm, and Sustainability at Hampshire College presented at a Global Megatrends forum about the interrelationships between food, water, energy, and climate change at the Smith-Tuck Global Leaders Program for Women. Beth explained key issues in our global industrial food system in the context of water use, energy consumption, and climate change while highlighting the steps that Hampshire College has taken to address those challenges. Hampshire’s Healthy Food Transition and commitment to socially responsible investing serve as examples of how institutions and corporations can be bold leaders in the movement toward sustainable food systems.
While Beth was presenting to global executives at Smith, Jess was down the road at UMass, connecting with other institutions and programs that are working to build and promote regenerative campus food systems at the Revisioning Sustainability Conference. Representatives from the Real Food Challenge, Farm to Institution New England, and universities and colleges from across North America were there including students, administrators, and dining service directors from Kentucky, Colorado, Canada, and of course from our local Five Colleges. Topics of discussion ranged from campus farms and permaculture gardens, to local food procurement strategies, season extension, and food processing and preservation. Hampshire College was highlighted in a panel discussion: “Campuses as Catalysts for Regenerative Food Systems” where Jess explained the goals of Hampshire’s Healthy Food Transition and the steps we are taking toward our 100% Local Foods Challenge. It was exciting to hear about the work that is being done across the country to establish campus farms and gardens, to develop better standards for our food and our health, to build institutional networks for local foods purchasing, and to hear that students are the ones who are initiating these changes at their institutions.
Meanwhile, students at the Hampshire College Farm were working hard shoveling manure out of the barns to make room for the first cutting of hay. While the work may not always be glamorous, the continued success our Healthy Food Transition relies on the passion and dedication of our students. We’re awfully proud of our crew!