Burlington, VT — On Wednesday, local food partnerships with the Catamount Educational Farm were highlighted at the Farm Fest, an annual event hosted by the UVM’s student-lead Program Board and the University’s food service partner, Sodexo.

“We know that our students really care where their food comes from, and we share that same value, so supporting local farmers and producers really supports the local economy,” said Nicole Reilly, UVM Dining, Sustainability and Campus Partnership Manager.

Reilly says the closer the food travels, the better, and notes UVM dining has a commitment to purchasing from local farms first.

The Catamount Educational Farm was created eight years ago, sustainably growing specialty crops and teaching farming to students.

“It’s a pretty unique collaboration, where students literally plant the seeds, weed the crops, harvest the crops, and sometimes eat those crops back in their dining halls,” said Terence Bradshaw, Director of Catamount Educational Farm. “A lot of people don’t even know we have a farm just four miles south of the main campus.”

Bradshaw is a lifelong Vermonter and farmer who attended UVM in the 90s and models sustainable farming practices. “We’re not going to have farming in Vermont if we don’t do it right and do it sustainably.”

“In conventional farming, it’s really just a lot of the times taking what you can from the Earth and not really putting as much back in,” said Melissa Ryan, a student in the Catamount Farmer Training Program. “Sustainability is so important because we only have one earth, one land, one soil.”

Ryan was drawn to farming to reconnect with the land and notes that students at Catamount Farms learn how to properly care for, and steward the land. “The greatest aspect for me personally is being able to work with the dirt, and seeing what comes from my actions, like having a tangible thing.”

Ryan is looking forward to starting their own farm next year and wants to name it “New Growth Farm.”