Craftsbury Common, VT – Sterling College, a small, year-round liberal arts college in northern Vermont, will inaugurate a new academic program in farm-to-table food studies in summer 2011. “Vermont’s Table: Farming, Cooking, and the Rural Experience” combines hands-on culinary training using locally sourced vegetables and meats with in-depth examinations of Vermont’s most innovative farms, cheesemakers, and agricultural businesses.
Sterling College is fortunate to be situated in one of the nation’s leading hot-spots for sustainable food economy. The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont has received national acclaim for its entrepreneurial initiative and the diversity of successful food-related businesses. “Vermont’s Table” exposes college-level students and adult learners to the inner workings of this vibrant local food economy.
Environmental studies form the core of Sterling’s curriculum, and the addition of a semester program in food studies underscores the link between healthy food and a healthy environment. Sustainable agriculture is one of six areas of study at Sterling, and participants in the food studies program will work alongside and shadow agriculture students on Sterling’s diversified organic farm.
The inaugural program will be held in two 5-week sessions during Sterling’s summer semester. Students are encouraged to attend both sessions, but can apply for only one. Courses include Whole Farm Thinking and Farm-Scale Production of Value-Added Products, in addition to seminars in Food Writing and Food Entrepreneurism and a field study in Vermont Food Systems.
“We have an awesome lineup of hands-on-the-cheese-press, toes-in-the-soil, and eye-on-the-books activities in the works,” said Anne Obelnicki, Sterling’s Sustainable Food Systems Coordinator and lead faculty for the culinary program. “Sterling is surrounded and supported by so many amazing regional resources – in terms of people, businesses, ecology, and landscape. It’s going to be a dynamic and engaging semester.”
The new program and most of its 12 students will be centered in Houston House, at the south end of the college’s campus, a former 19thInn with its own kitchen and dining area. The curriculum benefits from advice from food writer Marian Burros, a trustee of Sterling College, and Marion Nestle, professor of food studies at New York University, among others.