Sustainable Food Systems in the Northeast Kingdom
May 26th - June 28th and July 8th - August 9th
Application Deadline: Friday, April 12th
Vermont's Table is an intensive academic program in sustainable food systems that includes practical culinary experience, frequent field trips, lessons in sustainable agriculture, and seminars in food writing and food entrepreneurism. Courses are offered in two 5-week sessions. The program is open to current Sterling College students, students from other colleges and universities, and adult learners. Some previous culinary experience and background in food systems is helpful, but not required. All participants have the option to receive college credit or audit the courses at a reduced tuition cost.
AS211 - Farm-Scale Production of Value-Added Products - 2 credits (6 hr/wk)
This is a practical skills course investigating various types of farm-scale production of edible value-added products. Readings and discussion will focus on the food science, technical skills, cultural knowledge and economic information necessary to understand how a product is made and sold. The core of the course will be a hands-on opportunity to learn and practice production skills of various value-added products. Session 1 will focus on animal products: dealing with whole animals; sausage production; meat curing, smoking and aging; dairy practices: yogurt, kefir and cheese production and aging, among other topics. Session 2 will focus on fruit and vegetable products, including preservation: lacto-fermentation, pickling, sugar-preserving; vinegar production; fruit vegetable and herb drying; herb products; soy products: tempeh, soymilk, tofu, among other topics.
Session I Topics:
- Butchering and Sausage Making
- Smoking, Curing, Aging and Drying
- Fermentation and cooking other value-added meat products
- Dairy culturing basics and fresh products
- Beyond fresh cheese: pressing, ripening and mold
Session II Topics:
- Herbal products
- Fermentation: Lacto-fermentation and Alcoholic fermentation (Mead)
- Jams, jellies, chutneys, vinegar pickles and canning
- Cider and Vinegar; Grains and Bread
- Oil, Sprouts & Soy products
HM216 - Seminar in Food Writing - 1 credit (3 hrs/wk)
In this workshop, a wide range of food writing will be explored from journalistic profiles, reviews, personal essays and memoir. Published works by noted food writers such as MFK Fisher, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Ruth Reichl will be used as models of craft and style. Drawing on the setting of Sterling College with its working farm and the surrounding area of Craftsbury for inspiration, participants will complete weekly writing assignments, both in and out of class. All aspects of the writing process will be explored from brainstorming, drafting, to revision. Student writing will be workshopped weekly.
SS245 - Seminar in Food Entrepreneurism - 1 credit (3 hrs/wk)
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. Through a series of five 2-hour weekly sessions, this workshop is a seminar-style ‘master class’ in which students meet with local and regional entrepreneurs and explore ideas related to food and agricultural entrepreneurialism including the production, marketing, and distribution of farm-fresh and value added products.
INT247 - Food Systems - 2 credits (3 hrs & 1 day / wk)
This course integrates field work, systems thinking and visits to local and regional farms, processing and distribution centers, and restaurants to help students develop a broader reflection on Vermont’s food system. The food systems component will introduce students to the basics of systems modeling and will consider the role of ethics, priorities, expectations, economics, culture, and accessibility in developing sustainable systems. A hands-on session at Sterling’s organic farm will support this foundational theory with practical experience and will help illustrate the working relationship between farmers and the land. Capitalizing on Sterling College’s location in the midst of a vibrant agricultural region, this course is an opportunity for students to explore first-hand both the interconnected nature of rural Vermont’s food system and set the foundation for a broader understanding of our relationship with food.
Anne Obelnicki is director of Sustainable Food Systems at Sterling College and the lead instructor for Vermont's Table. Anne comes to Sterling from Chefs Collaborative where she was project manager for RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions). Among other responsibilities Anne coordinated farmer-chef networking and farm to restaurant sales across three states and 65 farms and restaurants. She has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and a master’s of science degree in Agriculture, Food and Environment from Tufts University.
Lynne Christy Anderson teaches the Seminar in Food Writing for Vermont's Table. She is the author of Breaking Bread: Recipes and Stories from Immigrant Kitchens. Lynne teaches writing and literature courses at Boston College and Bunker Hill Community College. In 2008, she was the Bread Loaf Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholar in nonfiction. Prior to teaching, Lynne cooked professionally in restaurants.
Costs and Financial Aid
Tuition and fees for each session of Vermont’s Table are the same as tuition and fees for a regular summer semester session at Sterling College. The current cost of tuition per summer session is $7,245. Please reference the tuition and fee chart
for details. Sterling College students receive their normal financial aid package. Students enrolled in other colleges or universities must talk with our Director of Financial Aid prior to their enrollment in the program to establish a consortium agreement between schools. Adult learners who are not currently enrolled in a degree program can audit the summer sessions for 70 percent of the tuition cost. Adult Learners should also check with their state of residence for available state and private scholarships.
Additional scholarships are available on a case by case basis, and Sterling College will make every effort to support students who are accepted to the program and require financial aid in order to attend.
Craftsbury Common is home to a lively community of summer and year-round residents. The weekly Craftsbury Farmer's Market is where community members come together for fresh food and conversation. Canoeing, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and birding in the beautiful Vermont countryside are popular extracurricular activities. The Wildbranch Writer's Workshop, sponsored by Orion Magazine, is also held every summer at Sterling College.
Comfortable student housing is provided in Houston House, the former Inn on the Common, an historic building complete with kitchen, dining room and landscaped grounds adjacent to the Sterling College farm. All participants have the opportuniry to work alongside students in Sterling College's sustainable agriculture program to produce fresh, organic ingredients for the culinary classes.
The biggest strength of the Vermont's Table program is its setting at Sterling College. The students and teachers there, and the way a sense of community is such a big part of the experience, truly made the program for me. Vermont has no shortage of farms, food producers, and other wonderful 'case examples' for our studies in food systems. The program gave a good overview of many important aspects necessary to understanding food at a deeper level.
- Sueli Shaw, Vassar College student
Sterling is alternative in a big way. It is brimming with bright, motivated, and skilled people of all ages and backgrounds who are striving to create a world that promotes conservation, good food, sustainable agriculture, and value for all things wild and worth saving. The energy here is contagious and will keep you inspired and pushing for the change this world so desperately needs.
- Eliza Mutino, Sterling College student, farming and food justice major
Vermont's Table was a well-rounded program that encouraged me to reconsider my basic food principles and really look at what role our food choices play in societal problems - like environmental concerns, health concerns, and poverty issues. At the same time, the experience was entirely fun, characterized by blueberry and raspberry picking, adventures in the kitchen, and amazing conversations with the other Sterling students. It's the perfect program to dive headfirst into the world of sustainable farming, cooking, and living.
- Alexis Zimba-Kirby, New York University student, food studies major
Questions about the program? Please contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.