Faculty in Sustainable Food Systems

Allison Van Akkeren 

Email: avanakkeren@sterlingcollege.edu

Phone: 802-586-7711 x162

Allison Van Akkeren focuses on living lightly on the earth. She built her first home, a mile by foot from the road, using hand tools. The home she currently lives in, she built and designed with her husband and co-faculty member, Adrian Owens, to be energy efficient and off the grid. They are able to commute to work by bike, foot, or skis. She grows and preserves most of their family’s fruits and vegetables for the year. She was instrumental in implementing Sterling College’s Environmental Food/Kitchen mission in 1994 and changing over the Food Service that was externally operated to an internally run kitchen, which allowed for more control to connect what is taught at Sterling College to what the college eats and to give the students the opportunity to become involved in a vital community process. She was the Kitchen Manger and oversaw the Sterling College kitchen utilizing the mission for 14 years. Van Akkeren has a passion for eating whole and local foods, and she has been an active educator and implementer in that regard for more than 30 years.

Allison cultivates students’ wisdom, skills, and values for sustainable living in classes. In her courses the students integrate classic academic studies with involvement in the Craftsbury community. Some of activities that are part of her courses include; teaching Environmental Education and Farm to school programming at the local elementary school, setting up taste tests at the schools, food shelves and low income housing, producing a harvest dinner for the community, helping at ski races or ski events and trail work. She has been teaching at Sterling College since 1991.

She enthusiastically participates and excels in endurance activities and racing including, but not limited to; adventure racing, orienteering, running, x-country skiing, canoeing, biking, hiking, swimming, triathlons. She recently won the overall woman’s category in the local Mud and Ice Quadrathalon. She has worked at outdoor centers and camps throughout the U.S. She is most at peace when on wilderness trips.

In the Craftsbury community she teaches and co-coordinates an Environmental Education program for elementary children and a Nutrition and Food course at the high school (as part of a grant through HungerFree Vermont). Her work has been crucial in implementation of the Farm-to-School program in Craftsbury, including collaborating with Shelburne Farms through a grant to bring more programming into schools. She is on the school Food Committee at the Craftsbury Academy and supervises a Farm to School Advocate, a Work College position for Sterling students. She volunteered coordinated an afterschool kids cross country ski program, and continues to support the program as it expanded into having paid staff. She is co-coach for the Craftsbury Academy Cross Country ski team.

Van Akkeren is certified in Mediation from Woodbury College, a certified American Heart Association BLS instructor, SOLO Wilderness Medicine instructor and is a Wilderness First Responder.


Texas Woman’s University-Houston, M.S. Nutrition, December 1984

Dietetic Internship, Texas Woman’s University, August 1984

University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. Dietetics, May 1983.

Mediation Certificate, Woodbury College, 1991


Articles for local newspaper, school newsletters and Sterling College Common Voice.

A Guide for Using Placed –Based Learning to Connect Schools, Farms and Communities, December 2008. Helped with the sections specific to the Craftsbury Project Seasons grant.

Vermont Fruit and Vegetable Handbook, to be published Summer 2012. Involved in editing and layout of this publication that is a tool for the use of donated gleaned food. Sterling College students over several years produce specific information sheets as an assignment in their Human Nutrition Class.


Governor’s Award for Excellence in Employment and Training for innovations as director of a Summer Youth Employment Program held at Sterling College. 1993

Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and Pollution Prevention for the Sterling College kitchen. 2006


Following is a list of some of the more recent presentations:

Keynote speaker, Farm to School conference, Newport Vermont, November 2011.

Incorporating Beans in School Meals, School Food Service conference, Burlington Vermont, October 2011.

Wilderness Medicine for cross country ski touring enter staff, Craftsbury Outdoor Center, December 2011.

Weekly Sports Nutrition talks at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center though out the summer.

Incorporating Farm to School Education in the Classroom, Farm to School Conference, Burlington, VT 2009.

Various AEE conferences over the years, Woman and Body image in the Wilderness, Incorporation Hands-on Education in the classroom, Nutrition for Wilderness Trips and more.