Reflection Pool: Connecting to Farms, Land and People by Chelsea Frisbee


Connecting to Farms, Land and People

Chelsea Frisbee, Intervale Center

For the past seven years, I’ve worked at the Intervale Center, a leader in the community food revolution that has pioneered game-changing initiatives like community-supported agriculture, large-scale composting, food hubs and farm incubators over the past 30 years. Working as part of a development team responsible for joyfully procuring resources to support this work, I’ve had the privilege to connect with thousands of people who come to eat, work, play, learn, and volunteer at this unique community hub for agriculture, conservation and recreation in Burlington, VT.

My most vibrant memories from the past seven years are moments of connection:

· Helping a volunteer group harvest carrot “seconds” from our neighbors at Intervale Community Farm that would otherwise be plowed in, instead destined for the plates of food-insecure Vermonters.

· Sitting with hundreds of happy families gathered on the lawn to listen to live music and eat local food at Summervale, our weekly summer community Event.

· Learning about the 20 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes grown by Half Pint Farm just down the road and the taste of that just-picked, juicy tomato in my mouth.

· Rejoicing at the sound of ospreys circling overhead just a few weeks ago on Earth Day with 25 volunteers who were helping transplant shrub willow and speckled alder into our native tree nursery.

The Intervale is truly a place that brings people together.

350 acres of reclaimed floodplain - once abandoned and misused, now a vibrant community hub for sustainable agriculture, conservation and recreation- the Intervale is woven into the fabric of the vibrant community of Burlington, VT. In an increasingly physically disconnected world (though virtually more connected than ever), the moments of connection this special place allows– to other people, to place, to how our food is grown and who grows it for us – are so important .

As we use this special place to connect with daily visitors and food systems leaders from all over the world, we also seek to amplify, inform, and find inspiration for our work by participating in networks like the Food Systems Leadership Network, Vermont Farm to Plate, NESAWG, NIFTI, National Young Farmer Coalition, and more. These are awesome networks, many with a combination of online and in-person opportunities for connection. I love reading what other organizations and people are up to, and I’m often inspired by the words on my computer screen. And yet, as I prepare to leave the Intervale Center in June to return to my family farm in Delhi, NY, what sticks with me isn’t the last blog post that I read or an email exchange I had three years ago. What is lodged in my cells, in my memories, and in my heart are the inspiring people I’ve met, the delicious food I’ve eaten, and feel of the Intervale’s sandy soil on my hands.

These are the experiences that we seek to create for our community – engaging directly with farmers, with the land, and with people – so that they may become more active participants in our local community food system. I’m so honored to have been part of the Intervale Center and can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned about connecting with community into the next chapter of my life.

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