UMass Amherst Offers ‘Revisioning Sustainability’ Conference

AMHERST, Mass. – As part of its national leadership role in campus sustainability and sustainable local food and permaculture programs, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Dining Services and Permaculture Initiative will host its third annual hands-on, skill-building conference, “Revisioning Sustainability,” from June 22-25 on campus.

Cost ranges from $225 per person for early student group registration before April 22 to $475 for professionals. The conference is for students, academic staff and faculty, food service staff and administrators, and businesses.

Kicking off the conference will be keynote speaker Pandora Thomas, co-founder of Earthseed Consulting LLC, a holistic consulting firm whose work deepens the impacts of environmental advocacy in the lives of diverse communities. A certified permaculture teacher, she most recently directed the Environmental Service Learning Initiative and served as the environmental educator for Grind for the Green, both of which reconnect youth of color to the earth using innovative strategies.

Participants in the UMass Amherst conference will learn how to create successful action plans and marketing strategies, build a garden, learn about campus permaculture initiatives, waste recovery and composting systems, food justice, the Real Food Challenge, and much more, says Meghan Little, assistant manager for UMass Auxiliary Sustainability and this year’s conference manager. Not least, she adds, participants will become part of an international network of people creating a culture that supports regenerative food systems.

Nathan Aldrich, a campus sustainability coordinator and co-organizer, says, “The mission is to gather change makers from across the country and beyond to re-envision food systems sustainability, recognizing campuses as key leverage points for solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. Food can serve as an apt entry point for community growth because it is so central to culture and identity. Everyone eats. Food systems shape all of our lives for good or for ill.” 

Aldrich says the conference organizing team believes “campuses are hotspots for this kind of deep-digging culture shift work, and their large-scale food service programs and educational missions provide an incredible leverage point for systemic change. We believe campuses can serve as catalysts for food systemregeneration.”