November 25, 2017
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COA to hold Sustainable Foods Conference

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BAR HARBOR, Maine — College of the Atlantic’s Sustainable Food Systems conference will offer a feast for the mind, mouth and eyes. The conference, Food Connections: Reconnecting Hands, Mouth and Mind through Food Systems Education, will begin Friday, April 20, with a local foods reception in the college’s Blum Gallery to celebrate an associated Maine farming photography exhibit, continuing with talks by John Piotti of Maine Farmland Trust and the executive director of Food First, Eric Holt-Giménez.

Eric Holt-Giménez’s talk is the first keynote of the weekend focusing on food justice, food sovereignty and how these subjects are treated within our schools and colleges. After a Saturday morning welcome by COA President Darron Collins, MacArthur Fellow Gary Nabhan, author and research scientist at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, will give a talk, “Redesigning Local Food Systems for Land Health, Human Health and Community Economic Health.”

A panel discussion with Chef Stu Comen of Yale University and several representatives of campus food teams will discuss what they are doing to improve their institution’s food systems. The global perspective on food systems education will be offered by members of the Trans-Atlantic partnership, including Angelika Ploeger of the University of Kassel, Suzanne Morse and Anderson of COA, and Nic Lampkin of the Elm Farm Organic Research Centre and University of Reading, England.

Sunday morning will offer  field trips, including one onto Frenchman Bay with COA alumni, Natalie Springuel of the Maine Sea Grant Extension and Toby Stephenson, COA boat captain.  Other groups will visit COA’s farms and Acadia National Park.

There are numerous smaller sessions throughout the day on Saturday. Among the discussions are those on the intersections of farming, fishing, and forestry policies; the current farm bill; sustainability standards and certification; questions about sustainable meat; and the concept of “public goods” which farms provide beyond food, fiber and fuel. Students have additional special events, including a discussion of organizing for social justice in the food system, and an interactive workshop led by COA students, Additionally, students can join a Real Food Challenge training session Sunday morning.

Holt-Giménez is the editor of the 2011 Food First book, “Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform Our Food Systems,” and “Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America’s Farmer to Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture.” Nabhan, who has been called “the father of the local food movement” by Mother Earth News, most recently published “Desert Terroir: Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands.” Signed books from both authors will be on sale after their talks.

Registration is $120, or $60 for students with identification. The conference will be held at College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St. For information, visit To register or for information, contact Matthew Doyle Olson, COA Sustainable Food Systems coordinator, at or 207-801-5688.