F O O D  l e a d e r 
certificate program

 
 become a leader
 
        learn about the food system
 
              grow your own food

The Food Leader Certificate Program teaches emerging food leaders to grow their own food, learn about the food system, and lead food projects in their communities. Food Leaders who complete the full program will graduate with a formal certificate.

LEAD - LEARN - GROW - CONNECT  


 "The Food Leader retreat was a powerful experience. I learned so much about the failing food system in our country, but did not feel discouraged because of the tremendous positivity and hopefulness that was encouraged by the retreat leaders. A large group of like-minded people can sometimes tend to be judgmental and negative, however I found the Food Leader program to be different. I was inspired and empowered to change our community for the better!"

-Mary O'Connell, Wauwatosa, 2012 Food Leader




Lead


photo credit: kate nelson


Food Leaders learn leadership and community organizing skills on two weekend-long retreats, forming the core of the program. Our kickoff retreat in October brings the group together for the first time to build community and learn the basics of what it takes to organize a community food project.

Food Leader retreats are a time for students to refine their skills, share experiences, and check in with our instructors about their ongoing projects. 

Each participant implements a Food Leader Project in his or her community over the course of the year. Projects range from helping to start a workplace compost system, to organizing the planting of a neighborhood orchard, to starting a microgreens business that supports fighting hunger internationally.

Food Leaders will also have an opportunity to participate in future Food Leader Programs to continue to share the program's culture, offer on-going support to new leaders, and help hold Food Leaders accountable to their goals in hopes of building a better food system. In this mentor role, Food Leaders will have the opportunity to facilitate programs, tell their food stories, and develop greater leadership skills.

At Left: Food Leader '13 Laura Stevens fundraised and organized for a hoop house to be constructed at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

Learn

 
photo credit: alysse gear


The Food Leader Certificate Program places a strong emphasis on understanding our current food system and how it impacts our bodies and our environment. 

Victory Garden Initiative believes that our food system does not feed everyone equally. During the Food Leader Retreats, program participants will work with our instructors and in small groups to understand the challenges and injustices of the food system. Here are just a few of the problems we'll discuss:
  • Many of the tomatoes found at grocery stores were picked by modern day slaves or workers who receive wages well below the legal minimum. 
  • The average bite of food travels 1,500 miles before arriving on your plate
  • 20% of our nation's greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to agriculture

Grow



 
Food Leaders learn to grow their own food by attending our gardening class series, Move Grass Class. The full 15-class schedule can be found here.

The Move Grass Class series takes students from the very basics of starting seeds and planning the garden, to caring for fruit and nut trees, to extending the harvest into the fall season. Each class is 2.5 - 3 hours long and includes community building activities and interactive activities or discussions. 

Food leaders should plant to attend at least 10 classes over the course of the year. After signing up, each student will have one full year of free classes (beginning with your first class). 

2014 Class Topics:
  • Community Organizing 101
  • Introduction to Permaculture
  • Community and School Garden Design
  • Healthy Cookin' From the Garden
 
Connect



 
One of the most important aspects of the Food Leader Program is the connection you will make with your fellow Food Leaders. The FLCP encourages community building from the outset with an intensive two-day retreat.

You'll also build community through regular potlucks (organized by Food Leaders), attendance at the Edible Gardening for Sustainability Series, and a spring weekend retreat. In between events, Food Leaders stay connected with each other and their instructors through an email listserv. 

We believe that an individuals can make change, but that an individual acting in community is much more likely to succeed. Community is the key to effective action and will support you as your take your Food Leader journey towards a healthier, more sustainable future. 

Program Details



The Food Leader Certificate program is a year-long certification that builds students' skills and bolsters their resumes. The program requires a significant time commitment, which must be taken into account before signing up for the program. Space is limited to 20 participants.

Fall Kickoff Retreat: October 11-12, 2014
Spring Retreat: January 31, 2014 - February 1, 2015
Graduation: August 22-23, 2015
Move Grass Class:
 View full schedule here. Food Leaders should plan to attend at least 10 classes over the course of the year. 

Program Fee: $699, $499 for students
Limited scholarships are available to qualifying participants. Please contact us to apply. Scholarship applications due September 1st!

Registration: Apply for your spot>>

Contact: Program Manager, Ellie Jackson
Ellie.Jackson@VictoryGardenInitiative.Org or 414-431-0888

Food Leaders in Action

read their stories


pictured above: vgi intern opal dennis
photo credit: anthony farrell

Every Food Leader is required to articulate his or her own food story as part of the graduation ceremony at the end of the year. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in a community organizer's toolbox. Stories help us build bonds of community, they heighten emotional response, and are an effective, memorable means of communicating.That's why we spend so much time encouraging our Food Leaders to develop a compelling narrative of their own journeys towards more sustainable, healthy, and just relationships with food. Check back soon for some of the 2013 Food Leaders' stories!

Here's what recent grads are saying about the program:

"I dream of having the time to help my friends develop a one hundred and fifty acre permaculture farm on the outskirts of Chicago‚Ķ My wonderful experience with the Victory Garden Initiative has given me the confidence and skills to pursue this."

-
Laura Herzog, Glendale, 2012 Food Leader

"Looking back on a year in the Victory Garden Initiative's Food Leader Certificate Program I am filled with gratitude. I have learned a lot and made many new friends. This program has been truly transformational for me. It has empowered me to think more grandly about my goals. It has inspired me to do more. Thanks VGI for providing such an amazing environment for us to incubate our inner leaders!"

--Will Martens, Vertical Techniques, 2013 Food Leader

 "The Food Leader Certification Program changed my life! Learning and growing with an eclectic group of like-minded people was the ideal environment for me to flourish and turn my dreams into reality. And the resources offered to us were invaluable as well. Who needs grad school? Now I'm connected to my community and have support I can count on as I join the VGI in changing our food system."

-Alysse Gear, Milwaukee, 2013 Food Leader

   "I have really enjoyed the food leader program, I have learned so much about how to be a leader in the local food movement. I have especially enjoyed connecting with other like minded individuals. This program has given me the knowledge and confidence to take the ideas I have around the food movement and bring them to life."

-Katie Felten, Milwaukee, 2013 Food Leader


 








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