Background

 

In 2003 the 1st Educational Farm Symposium was held at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm in Dayton, Ohio and has occurred every other year since then.  Hosted by the Association of Nature Center Administrators with the leadership of Charity Krueger, Aullwood’s Executive Director, this first Symposium launched the idea that a growing group of farm based education programs needed another venue to network and discuss their successes and challenges beyond existing farming and education conferences.


In 2003 the 1st Educational Farm Symposium was held at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm in Dayton, Ohio and has occurred every other year since then.  Hosted by the Association of Nature Center Administrators with the leadership of Charity Krueger, Aullwood’s Executive Director, this first Symposium launched the idea that a growing group of farm based education programs needed another venue to network and discuss their successes and challenges beyond existing farming and education conferences.

The movement and excitement grew into 2005, when the 2nd Educational Farm Symposium was held at the Delaware Nature Society’s Coverdale Farm under the enthusiastic leadership of Michele Wales, Agriculture Education Coordinator.  The growing group of participants left this event rejuvenated and dedicated to the importance of this gathering. At this symposium, the idea of creating the now named Farm-Based Education Association continued to gather momentum and in May 2006 the FBEA was established by 18 representatives from 11 farm programs.

In 2007, the 3rd Educational Farm Symposium was held at Shelburne Farms in Vermont drawing more than 175 participants from the United States, Canada and Europe to participate in 43 workshops and 9 field trips.  This event continued to leverage off the tremendous success of the 2 prior events in partnership with ANCA.  Following this event, with the FBEA officially launched, ANCA and the FBEA felt it was best for the Educational Farm Symposium to live within the programs of the FBEA – with marketing and communications support from ANCA. 

In 2009, we changed the name and co-hosted the 4th Farm-Based Education Conference with Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY.  Nearly 200 professionals attended more than 40 workshops and 5 field trips. In 2011, the 5th Farm-Based Education Conference, more than 200 participants attended the event and helped celebrate the FBEN's 5th anniversary.

In 2016 the 6th Farm-Based Education Network National Gathering was held in Concord, Massachusetts in partnership with The Trustees, the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, and Concord-Carlisle Community & Adult Education. View photos from the event We celebrated the FBEN's 10th birthday (!) over the course of the 3-day gathering. The missions of the organizing partners of the 6th Farm-Based Education National Gathering overlapped around education and community engagement. We shared a vision of building an informed and engaged citizenry and a vibrant agricultural landscape where everyone has access to healthy food. We have joined forces through the 2016 Gathering to convene practitioners and professionals who, like us, believe in the power of public engagement on farms, in gardens, and in kitchens and know the strength of Connections That Lead to Change.

Nearly 400 attendees came to the 6th Farm-Based Education National Gathering in Concord, MA. Friday, November 4th brought attendees into the field on their choice of six trips to over 16 farms. The workshop program commenced at Concord Carlisle High School on Saturday, November 5 and concluded on Sunday, November 6.  View the conference brochure and workshop schedule!

The Gathering marked the first time in 5 years that the Farm-Based Education Network has convened a National event. Making the event financially accessible was of utmost importance. No scholarship applicant was turned away; 235 of the 400 attendees paid a reduced or zero registration fee.  Educators, administrations and food service staff from Concord and Carlisle schools were welcomed for free.  View photos from the event

Tremendous gratitude goes out to all the volunteers, workshop presenters, field trip leaders, and sponsors who gave generously of their time and resources, and to all host sites past, present and future. This broad support and dedication to the community of farm-based education professionals is critical and inspiring. The event was held in partnership with The Trustees, the Massachusetts Farm to School, Concord-Carlisle Community & Adult Education, Shelburne Farms in Vermont, and the Concord Food Collaborative.

 

2016 National Gathering Planning Committee

Appleton Farms, a Property of The Trustees, Ipswich, MA

Common Ground H.S. Urban Farm and Environmental Learning Center, New Haven, CT

Fernbrook Farms, Chesterfield, NJ

Gale Woods Farm, Minnetrista, MN

Holly Hill Farm, Cohasset, MA

Farm Discovery at Live Earth, Watsonville, CA

Massachusetts Farm to School

Retreat Farm, Brattleboro, VT 

Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT

Soule Homestead, Middleborough, MA

Spence Farm Foundation, Evanston, IL

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY

Suzie’s Farm, San Diego, CA

Three Sisters Garden, Ipswich, MA

"It was a welcoming space, and I got the sense that all participants felt like they were valuable to the larger group
and that they all had something they could take home with them regardless of their interest/profession." 
- Gathering Attendee

2016 Sponsor Partners

Green Mountain Creamery is committed to locally made and locally affordable. They've prioritized funding support for the Gathering because they believe in the importance of connecting people to delicious, healthy food. Their delicious Greek Yogurts can be found in markets all over the country and was selected by the USDA as a protein source in the Federal school lunch program.

Emerson Hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 people in 25 towns. They are as committed to the high-quality health care they provide as they are to connecting their doctors, nurses and clinicians and the community to impactful resources and information. Look for the Farm Based Health and Wellness series at the Emerson Wellness Center for Mind and Body.

Colonial Inn. This 18th c. Historic Inn in the center of Concord, MA was once a storehouse for arms and provisions during the Revolutionary War and a welcoming place for Henry David Thoreau to reside when he was a student at Harvard University. In addition to offering a block of rooms at a discounted price to Gathering attendees (book now!), Concord's Colonial Inn has generously offered the entire Inn to the Gathering for the Taste of the Commonwealth Celebration on the evening of Saturday, November 5th.

Woods Hill Table Restaurant, the Farm at Woods Hill and the film Farmagaddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms are the culmination of filmmaker and speaker Kristin Canty's passions for food, family farms, and sustainable sourcing.

Woods Hill Table Restaurant, the Farm at Woods Hill and the film Farmagaddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms are the culmination of filmmaker and speaker Kristin Canty's passions for food, family farms, and sustainable sourcing.

Kristin's enterprises have provided underwriting support for the Gathering to ensure people of all ages have access to the information they need to make healthy food choices and to support the farmers nationwide doing this important work.

 

 

 

 

 

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Shelburne Farms is the coordinating organization for the Farm-Based Education Network 

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