Experts gather in Vermont for global forum on food systems, agroecology

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 3:43 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Experts from around the world are in Vermont this week for a forum on resilient agriculture, and to discuss their overlapping challenges and solutions.

Wilberforce Laate traveled all the way from Ghana to talk agriculture in Burlington. His verdict: agricultural issues in the United States and Ghana are more similar than he expected.

“For us to realize that they are interested in some of the things that we are also interested in, I think for me is a very good inspiration,” said Laate, of the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development.

Laate is one of dozens of agricultural leaders at the University of Vermont this week for Seeding Transformation, a global forum on food systems and agroecology.

UVM Agroecology Professor Ernesto Mendez defines agroecology as an exploration of structural issues in agriculture.

“Why are food systems not working, using research that is with people and for people, and also centering equity,” Mendez said.

Over visits to the Intervale Center and UVM’s Horticultural Farm, leaders from Latin America, Europe, North America, Africa and Vermont shared their community’s agricultural struggles and successes.

This summer’s flooding was a major talking point among local attendees. Mollie Wills with the nonprofit Rural Vermont points out that some international visitors have dealt with more frequent and intense flooding and have a lot to teach the state.

“We have so much to learn from folks who have developed networks of mutual aid and resiliency and how we can support each other through catastrophes because they’re going to keep coming,” Wills said.

The forum ends on Friday but UVM will continue to address local issues in agriculture through its new Institute for Agroecology which debuted this spring.

As for cross-cultural solutions, UVM staffers say they want to help bring agroecology efforts to other countries. They also hope to create an exchange program so students, faculty and staff from universities across the world can engage in this work together.