The Northeast Kingdom is home to some of the state's best known agricultural businesses, yet the region has one of Vermont's highest food insecurity rates. That is one of the puzzles to be addressed at next month's Northeast Kingdom Food System Plan Summit.
The summit aims to bring together farmers, food producers, distributors, service providers, food access advocates and chefs – in short, anyone interested in advancing the region's food economy.
In 2011, the Center for an Agricultural Economy compiled a Regional Food System Plan for the Northeast Kingdom. Now, five years later, the goal of the summit will be to gather ideas and data to update that plan.
"The summit is the opportunity for anyone working in agriculture, food, education and markets to add their voices to the next stages of planning for the food system," Sarah Waring, executive director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy, said in a press release.
According to the release, over the last five years the number of farms in the Northeast Kingdom increased 24 percent, with agricultural sales increasing 9 percent.
"The Food System Plan is unique in Vermont, partly because the Northeast Kingdom has such a unique connection to agriculture and food production," Taylar Foster, program manager for the plan update, commented in the release. "Having a variety of local food producers and businesses in the room to talk about working together for the future will be invaluable."
The all-day summit will be held March 26 at Sterling College, on Craftsbury Common. A keynote address will be delivered by Vermont Farm-to-Plate Network coordinator Ellen Kahler. Registration is free but space is limited.