Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Katherine Sims
Founder and Executive Director, Green Mountain Farm-to-School

Lowell, Vermont
Farm Credit Affiliation
Yankee Farm Credit
Katherine's Perspective

Katherine Sims has dedicated herself to the idea that every Vermonter deserves access to healthy, local, and affordable food. She is the executive director of Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS),which she founded in 2008, and primarily works in the rural Northeast Kingdom (NEK), an area where 17 percent of the population lives in poverty and one in four children is considered food insecure.

“It's unfathomable that in areas like the Northeast Kingdom, where agriculture is abundant, families still face food insecurity every day while small growers are struggling to make ends meet,” says Katherine. “There is an inherent disconnect between people, their food and those who grow it that I believe needs to be bridged to ensure a healthier future for our children, farms and communities.”

Through GMFTS, Katherine has vigorously fought to better the communities in the NEK through food and education. Her commitment to the children, farmers and residents is unbridled. Through teamwork and collaboration with a wide-range of people, organizations and agencies, she has helped to create a network that tirelessly maneuvers the complex food system to improve access to healthy, local and affordable food for rural residents while concurrently fostering the economic growth of the local agriculture sector. In a collaborative effort, GMFTS has recently piloted the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Coupon Program which gave $75 dollars to NEK SNAP recipients to purchase produce at local retailers in addition to their monthly allowance.

“One of the things I’ve learned is there isn’t just one solution to tackling food insecurity and creating healthier farms and communities,” says Katherine. “I hope GMFTS will help lead to a generation of children and their communities becoming more familiar with local agriculture while developing a passion for sourcing locally. The more we eat from our neighbor farms, the better off we are as people and as a community.”

Last year GMFTS organization worked in 27 schools throughout the NEK teaching nutrition and agriculture curriculum, tending school gardens and sourcing local food in cafeterias. It also ran a regional food hub, Green Mountain Farm Direct, which distributed more than $350,000 worth of local food from 40 Vermont farms to over 130 schools, restaurants and institutions. It also operated the Lunchbox food truck, a summer meal program and mobile learning kitchen that provides kids with free, healthy and local lunches in the summer.

Katherine also leads a state-wide educational effort, Vermont Harvest of the Month, which provides ready-to-go curriculum and materials focused on seasonal, Vermont produce.

"My work through GMFTS has shown there is a great desire and need in communities for the products that small farmers are producing, a need that is only slated to grow,” Katherine says. “In the future, I’ll be excited to see more people on a first name basis with the person providing their food, and as the local economies continue growing, more people to have access to healthy, local food at an affordable price.”

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