Our staff recently attended a conference at University of Vermont called the UVM Food Systems Summit. The conference was dedicated to answering the question “what makes food good?” with a specific emphasis on creating a more sustainable food system.
The topics ranged from food rescue programs to farming techniques to incorporating food justice into initiatives.
We learned a lot about sustainable food systems that we will continue to strive to bring to our work at UMass. Thank you to UVM for hosting the summit and sharing your inspiring food initiatives!
Last week during the Chef Culinary Conference, our staff hosted a garden tour featuring many of the herbs that we grow in the permaculture gardens. While most people have some experience with using herbs to build flavor in dishes, many herbs have been used for centuries for their medicinal and preservation properties.
Thyme, for example, has a plethora of medicinal properties. It can be used as an anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, detoxifying, digestive aid. Using herbs like thyme in recipes is an extremely easy way to incorporate medicine, tradition, and love into the food you create.
For the garden tour, we prepared a couple unique recipes to highlight the medicinal powers of some of these herbs. We made a pesto derived from chives, an herb that lowers cholesterol. We also served a rhubarb, strawberry, honey, and lemon balm refreshing drink made entirely from garden items, except for the honey.
Thank you to everyone that came for our garden tour and took in our message that food is medicine and food is love.
An important change has come to our staff. We have said goodbye to our longest tenured staff member on the Sustainability team, Lilly Israel. Her presence on the team will be sorely missed and we are all so grateful for the contributions she has made over the last few years to UMass Permaculture and UMass Dining.
While Lilly’s accomplishments will not be forgotten, there is no one more capable to take over the position of Sustainability Coordinator of Campus Gardens than Xochi Salazar.
When Xochi Salazar was 4 years old, her father placed a kernel of corn in her hand and asked her to grow it. When she did, he asked her what it took to grow that corn. She responded with water, and soil, and sun, and when she had exhausted all the options her young mind could allow, her father looked at her and told her, “that seed needed you mija.”
Xochi’s father planted a seed in her that day, a seed that would grow into a love for all things food, nourishing both humans and the planet.
In April of 2014, Xochi received an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America, ranking first in her class. Although cooking will always be her first love, Xochi recognized the serious environmental implications plaguing our food systems, and wanted to be a part of the solution.
So, she applied to the Sustainable Food and Farming (SFF) program at UMass Amherst for the Fall 2014 semester. It was then that her love for UMass Permaculture grew, during her enrollment in the one credit permaculture practicum sponsored by the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Xochi received a Permaculture Design Certification through courses offered at UMass in 2016, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in SFF that same year.
All of her experiences have contributed to her well-rounded expertise of food that is so invaluable in this position.
Permaculture inspires Xochi because its principles reflect indigenous practices that have been applied to agriculture for thousands of years. The buzzword “permaculture” was only coined by white Australian men in the 1970s to describe and synchronize these ancient methods of tending to land. Since then, the permaculture community has been largely white, exclusive, and inaccessible.
Xochi, however, hopes to raise consciousness among those she reaches through her work that indigenous communities deserve credit for their contributions to regenerative agriculture. Empowering inclusion and diversity in permaculture is a goal that Xochi will always strive for.
We wish the best of luck to Lilly going forward and congratulations, Xochi!
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