Tasmanian Visitors at the Intervale Center!

In early June, we spent a week hosting visitors Michael Higgins and Chris Devenish, co-coordinators of Geeveston Community Centre, a community organization in the Huon Valley in Southern Tasmania. They received an international travel grant to come to Burlington for three weeks and shadow Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Office (CEDO) and the Intervale Center with a goal of seeing how Burlington has addressed community development and food/farming programs over the past 30 years. In Tasmania, they have been working on local food security, establishing community market gardens and promoting healthy food choices for the local community. They were excited to see how food security, etc has been addressed in Burlington through the Intervale Center.

Michael and Chris spent their time at the Intervale Center learning about our various programs through hands-on work and one-on-one interviews with staff. They will take all that they learned and present in September at the conference of Neighborhood Houses Tasmania, their organizing body, and in November at the Tasmanian Council of Social Services.

Michael and Chris were particularly inspired by our Gleaning & Food Rescue program, which takes food that would otherwise be left in farm fields and gives it away as a “Fair Share” to low-income Vermonters. They got first-hand experience with gleaning by volunteering for an afternoon at Diggers’ Mirth Collective Farm with Andrea Solazzo, Gleaning and Community Outreach Coordinator at the Vermont Food Bank. They are excited to bring the idea of gleaning back to Tasmania and get more healthy food to more people. They also hope to incorporate elements of our social enterprises, the Intervale Food Hub and Intervale Conservation Nursery, into their community centers as well.

Michael said, “It’s inspiring to see the amount of stuff you all do here with a relatively small amount of money. The passion and commitment of everyone involved has really made us smile.”

We love hosting visitors like Michael and Chris who bring an infusion of fresh perspective and enthusiasm to our everyday work, and who can hopefully take some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past 30 years back to their home communities to create stronger food systems across the globe.

Abby Portman