The 2015 Summit: Food, Mindfully

 Wednesday, June 3 through Friday 5 — Downtown Brattleboro, Vermont



The fifth annual Summit brings food in focus. 

Join us for a mindful exploration of the journey of food,

from farming and food entrepreneurship

to food systems to nourishment

to food justice and policy.

Explore the five

Summit tracks


  • What is Slow Living?

  • Session details

Food Entrepreneurship

How can locally-oriented farmers and food producers flourish in the face of a globalized food industry?

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What are the right kinds of new farms or food businesses in any particular region? How do they identify the missing links and opportunities within the local food system? And how can these businesses best get off the ground and possibly affect the global economy of food? Can larger national or multinational businesses be responsible players in local food systems? What are the challenges with adapting your food business model amidst a changing environment? We will explore that question through conversations with the principals of recently-launched farm/food enterprises, with leaders of larger, established businesses, with investors, and with other professionals who work in the farm/food sector, using a case-study approach as well as topical panels.

Food Systems

How do we develop food systems holistically — serving the entire community, using the entirety of available food resources?

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Can local food systems be holistic? How is it possible to distribute all food products and not just the cherry-picked ones (i.e. the whole pig, the whole crop cycle)? These sessions will explore some of these questions and cover other topics within food systems like: transportation, aggregation, processing, distribution (localism versus globalism, rightsizing the food networks), Urban farming — food hubs — CSAs and other direct-to-consumer sales systems.

Nourishment and Wellness

How do we strengthen connections between food, body, mind, spirit, community?

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How do we eat not just to nourish but to secure our wellness? What are the challenges of eating for right now versus eating right for long-term personal health? How do we empower ourselves with the knowledge and understanding about food rather than suffer from analysis paralysis while navigating the food terrain? Food is not just our nourishment and in this track we will explore the connection between food, body, mind and spirit. Other topics to be explored within the Nourishment and Wellness track include: concepts about slow medicine, herbs, health, wellness, additives, and some practical demonstrations.

Food Justice and Access

Is good food just for those who can afford it and easily access it? Why are there food deserts?

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Food and access to it has become controversial in our country. In addition to eating right and supporting local questions arise about who can gain access to good food. As we explore Food Justice and Access, we will not only discuss the accessibility to the food movement but also workers’ rights (the migrant farm workers involved in helping to supply the good food), humane treatment of animals, and access. Is good food just for those who can afford it and can easily access it?

Food Policies

What policies can maximize the value of our food systems? An exploration of local, state, national farm/food policies and trends.

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Should our local, state, and federal government be involved in setting the parameters for how we access food to encourage healthier habits (for example, junk food and soda tax)? Can our policy makers play a role to help small business maximize the value of local food economies? The Food Policy sessions will explore local, state, national farm/food policies and trends.

Summit Speakers

(more still being added!)


MichaelFinkelsteinDr. Michael Finkelstein

The Slow Medicine Doctor

Food for Mind, Body and Soul

Alisa GravitzAlisa Gravitz

CEO, Green America

Growing the Green Economy

Laura-LengnickLaura Lengnick

Local Food Research Center, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, NC

Cultivating Sustainable Food Systems for a Changing Climate

Allison HooperAllison Hooper

Vermont Creamery

Land, Legacy, and Leadership: A food entrepreneur’s journey

Judith SchwartzJudith D. Schwartz

Author, Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth

How Changing the Way We Grow Food Can Restore Ecosystems and Reverse Global Warming

Ali BerlowAli Berlow

Author, founder of Island Grown Initiative

Fresh, Healthy Food For Your Community: The big and small things you can do



Alex WilsonAlex Wilson

Resilient Design Institute

Resilient Food Systems

Additional speakers:

  • Dr. Gary Kleppel — Professor, Department of Biology, State University of New York at Albany; Co-Owner/Operator, Longfield Farm, Altamont, NY

  • Sara Newmark — New Chapter

  • Nancy Cain — Against the Grain

  • Richard French — Owner and CEO, The Works

  • Drew Gradinger — Kindle Farms

  • Cindy Conner — Permaculture Educator, founder of Homeplace Earth LLC

  • Bonnie Hudspeth — Outreach Director, Neighboring Food Co-op Association

  • Keith Wilda — Island Grown Initiative

  • Thomas Moffitt — Commonwealth Dairy

  • Carol Hazen — Director of Advocacy Resources, Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

  • Brendan Kelly — Acupuncturist and herbalist at Jade Mountain Wellness, author, teacher

General registration

  • All sessions +Receptions Wednesday and Thursday evenings +Add spouse/SO for only $149
Register now!

One-day rate

  • Thurs. or Fri. +Includes Thurs. reception +Add Wed. plenary & reception for just $25
Register now

Student rate

  • For full-time students +All sessions +Receptions Wednesday and Thursday evenings
Register now

Stipended sliding scale

for Summiteers with limited means
  • Pay what your are able +All sessions +Receptions Wednesday and Thursday evenings
Register now

Come and discover Brattleboro!

The Summit takes place in the non-traditional conference surroundings of Main Street, Brattleboro — a small community in southern Vermont, long renowned for its commitment to healthy, local, sustainable living and technology, for its vibrant communities of visual and performance artists, craftspeople, poets and writers, and for the diversity of its shops, restaurants and galleries. In turn Brattleboro is a gateway to the Green Mountains and Vermont.

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting

and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.

Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food. Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land. Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things: What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what it really cost. If that was the reality, then every meal would have the potential to be a perfect meal. We would not need to go hunting for our connection to our food and the web of life that produces it. We would no longer need any reminding that we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and that what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world…. Imagine it: Every meal would connect us to the joy of living and the wonder of nature. Every meal would be like saying grace.

Michael Pollan

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2014 Summit videos

About 300 people gathered in Brattleboro, Vermont on June 5-7, 2014 for the 4th annual Slow Living Summit. They experienced an exciting interplay between speakers, artists and audience, as artistic content — music, dance, drama, visual art — was woven into Summit, not as preludes or warm-ups, but as a seamless, natural part of the Summit’s fabric.

In a Slow lifestyle, the arts are integral to community well-being. Modeling this essential presence, in the Slow Living Summit artistic expression was not simply window-dressing or warm-up exercises — we sought to weave it seamlessly into the fabric of the Summit, amplifying and interpreting the messages of speakers, and involving the audience in participative ways.

If you missed the Summit, or would like to re-experience it, here are complete videos of the five plenary sessions, and a breakout discussion called “No More Throwaway People” featuring Time Banking founder Edgar Cahn.

The Opening Plenary, Wednesday, June 4

Orly Munzing, Linda McInerney: “What’s this all about?” — Samantha Eagle, John Sheldon, Lindel Hart: “The well being” —  Samantha advocates a “sustainable healthcare movement” for preventing and reversing chronic conditions. Instead of the fast-food mentality—take this pill for that—she discusses incorporating a new approach that involves the application of evidence-based environmental, social, psychological and behavioral science to balance the Mind/Body/Spirit.

Plenary 2 — Thursday morning, June 5, 2014

Charles Eisenstein and Eugene Friesen: “Time is running out, let’s Slow Down” — In a time of grave and urgent crisis, the “Slow” movement might seem a little bit frivolous. Don’t we need to sacrifice everything in order to deal with the enormity of the crisis at hand? Or is it that urgency itself is part of the problem? Join Charles and Eugene for a deep dive into a paradox that unlocks a new defining story of the people.

Plenary 3 — Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014

Amit Sharma, Amy Johnquest: “The Free-co-system: Investing for personal and community wealth” — Through several interesting examples – globally, nationally and locally – this dialogue explores the organic nature of markets and communities. How might institutions and individuals consider their “investment” (in civic engagement, energy, and economics) to strengthen our collective resilience and achieve greater “wealth” for ourselves and our communities?

Plenary 4 — Friday morning, June 6, 2014

Martin Ping with Seamus Maynard, Jonathan Talbott and Jonah Thomas (Quiet in the Head): “Soil, Soul, and Society: A love story in three movements” — How can we navigate the paradoxical journey between our sense of urgency and our need to pause and reflect? How can we cultivate the fertile soil of a rich inner life? How can we foster meaningful relationships in family, work, and community? Based in large part on experiences gained at Hawthorne Valley over 30 years, we will explore these themes through words and music.

Plenary 5 — Friday afternoon, June 6, 2014

Linda McInerney and John Sheldon: “Arts, humor, love and story: Finding the creative connection” —  Linda McInerney shares her process of creative collaboration and one of her projects, The Red Guitar, by John Sheldon, in which John shares the journey of his life through music. “The intent is to describe and enact a journey of the spirit, and to encourage others to find their own path and walk it.”

Breakout: No More Throwaway People — Friday afternoon, June 6, 2014

Edgar Cahn, founder of Time Banking, author of No More Throwaway People; Stephanie Rearick, Director of the Dane County, Wisconsin Time Bank, and Gwen Hallsmith, author, founder of Global Community Initiatives. Moderated by Linda Weil, former Time Bank coordinator

Merchants BankThanks to our Presenting Sponsor, Merchants Bank!

And thanks to our friends at Brattleboro Community Television for their video work on these plenary sessions!

Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.

John Muir

What is Slow Living?

The concept of Slow Living is built on the metaphor of “Slow,” as used by other visionary organizations like Slow Food and Slow Money.

“Slow” encompasses several layers of meaning that go beyond simply “sustainable.” Slow is the opposite of “fast” — fast food, fast money, fast living — and all of the negative consequences “fast” has had for the environment and for the health of people and societies. “Slow” embodies cooperation, respect, sustainability, gratitude and resilience.

When we Live Slow, we give back, we are mindful, and we connect to our communities and our bioregions.

The Slow Living Vision

The Slow Living Vision is of an Earth where humankind, honoring and celebrating the profound connectedness of all people, places and living beings, gives back by co-creating mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems — and where we combine the wisdom of the past with a vision for the future to ensure a balanced, fulfilling way of life for all generations to come.

The Slow Living Vision is being realized all over the world by an amazing array of people who are working on new pathways. These include not only health, healing and wellness, sustainable agriculture, community building, renewable energy, reforestation, social justice, new economic models and resource conservation, but also deeper explorations into the wisdom of indigenous people, feminine and masculine wisdom, and the roles of the arts, ethics, philosophy, science, spirituality and religion in healing the Earth.

We come from all walks of life. We live in rural areas, small towns, and large cities. We are young and old, wealthy and struggling. We are all seeking a better way, a saner way, and a happier way to live and organize their lives.

We will come together in Brattleboro, Vermont, June 3-5, 2015.


About Strolling of the Heifers

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.

In a major new initiative to further our mission, in November 2013 we acquired a prominently-located downtown Brattleboro building, the Robert H. Gibson River Garden (where Summit lunches and receptions take place), which has 4500 square foot of open space used since 2001 for public events, performances, lectures and exhibits. Under our stewardship of this community resource, we plan to maintain the public uses of the building, but also to create exhibits and programming that are related to our own focus areas of local food, food systems, and healthy sustainable living — a Farm/Food Education Center.

Come for the Summit, stay for Stroll Weekend, June 5-6-7!

More information at


Photo credits

Brattleboro Rainbow: photo by Craig S. O’Connell, used under Creative Commons License

Apple: Photo by James UK, Used under Creative Commons License