Side Dishes: University of Vermont inaugurates a food summit
Are you ready for the revolution? Participants in the University of Vermont’s 2012 Food Systems Summit  are. The first annual week of events brings together luminaries and emerging leaders in regional food systems for educational programs and talks.
Cynthia Belliveau , UVM’s dean of continuing education and a professor of nutrition and food sciences, credits “visionary” interim president John Bramley with the idea for the event. “He looked at me and said, ‘We need our own summit, a yearly occurrence to discuss these very gnarly issues with a group of people from around the globe and help us start to create intellectual research agendas for these topics,’” recalls Belliveau.
The summit’s largest event is a public conference on Thursday, June 28, from 1 to 6:30 p.m., titled “The Necessary (r)Evolution for Sustainable Food Systems Conference.”  Speakers will gather for 10- to 15-minute TEDx-style talks with titles such as “Businesses for a Hungry Planet.”
The conference is sold out, with a waiting list. The talks will be live-streaming, however, with several places in Vermont to join a viewing party. So far, hosts include Burlington restaurant ¡Duino! (Duende) , the Vermont Fresh Network , Chelsea Green Publishing  in White River Junction and the New England Culinary Institute  in Montpelier. The event will also be live-tweeted with the hashtag #UVMsummit.
Off campus, UVM is cosponsoring a NetSquared event, “Locavore 2.0: Food + Tech Entrepreneurs.”  On June 27 at 6 p.m., at Maglianero Café  in Burlington, speakers will discuss their farm- and food-focused start-ups. They’ll include Jeff Gangemi of FarmPlate and Kevin Lehman of Three Revolutions, a crowd-funding platform dedicated to food and agriculture.
As the kickoff to an annual event, Belliveau says she expects this summit to effect real change: “We’re calling it the revolution, so we’re not kidding around.”