By: Monique Gallant, Team Vermont
A 10 minute meeting with Martin Kemple, the Executive Director of Food Works at Two Rivers Center in Montpelier, has been one of the most inspirational parts of the summer thus far for Team Vermont. Food Works recently had their 25th anniversary, which they celebrated by bringing Bill McKibbon to speak about food security in the face of climate change. As Kemple told us about the event, he spoke eloquently and conveyed the urgency with which we must address climate change. An important part of his message was that although most people focus on the fate of the planet when discussing climate change, in reality, it is humanity that is at stake. The planet will survive, though altered, but human life as we know it is in jeopardy.
In their own words, “Food Works at Two Rivers Center is a non-profit, farm-based agricultural education and training center and the region’s only nonprofit food hub, providing subsidized distribution of local food to people throughout the community.” They have a number of programs, many of which assist low-income populations and focus on food security.
We took a tour of their farm and the original farmstead that was built in 1836. The most impressive part of the tour was meeting a group of young adults who are learning new and practical skill sets through this non-profit organization. Many are still in high school or are recent high school graduates and were referred to this program through the Department of Labor. They spend half their time working on the farm tending the crops and the other half of their time learning carpentry. They are doing a significant amount of hands on work to restore the farmstead so it can be used as a visitor’s center, teaching kitchen, museum, and community space. By working on the farm they are learning where their food comes from and how to cultivate sustainably.
One young man commented on how he now understands what an “honest day’s work” entails and that it felt good to be doing this type of work. This project helps to empower individuals. They are building a community amongst themselves in addition to contributing to the larger Montpelier community. These are all life lessons that will help sustain them throughout their lives and we are grateful to have shared in their experiences.