The Columns

W&L Hosts Cultivating Sustainability Conference

— by on September 28th, 2009

In these economic times, it makes sense for institutions to buy their food locally. Every dollar spent buying locally yields $1.80 in economic benefit to the local area and the state, according to Chris Carpenter, special projects coordinator at Washington and Lee University.

W&L is the leader in promoting this type of sustainability program, with 27 percent of W&L’s food products coming from local sources, said Carpenter, adding that he expects that figure to increase this year.

Encouraging other institutions to follow W&L’s example is a major reason for the Cultivating Sustainability conference to be held at W&L on Wednesday, Sept. 30. “This is a very important event for local stake holders in the building of a regional local food economy and how institutions affect that system,” said Carpenter, one of the conference organizers.

Institutions such as public K-12 schools, universities and hospitals will learn about the critical role of their institutions in helping the state develop a local food economy. They will also discuss the challenges and successes associated with such an effort.

Hosted by W&L’s Dining Services, the conference is expected to attract school nutrition and food service personnel, school and university officials, local legislators, administrators, farmers and producers, and anyone involved in food system development.

Featured speakers include:

Washington and Lee University, Virginia Foundation for Agriculture Innovation and Rural Sustainability (FAIRS), Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council, Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), Standard Produce Company, and Whole Foods Market are sponsoring the conference along with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

The conference will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, call the Virginia Cooperative Extension at (540) 432-6029. The registration cost, which includes a locally grown lunch, is $20 before Sept. 28 and $30 after that date.