Rites of Passage

by Gretchen Mead
Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Once or twice per month I receive an email from someone whose soul is on fire. S/he is burning on the inside—flipping through seed catalogues, Netflixing food documentaries in rapid succession, locating every farmers market in town, trying new recipes—her heart beating ever so loudly to live a life that has deeper meaning.

Food Leader Retreat at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, 2013

Food Leader Retreat at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, 2013

This burning goes with her everywhere: in line at the bank; project managing for ABC Corp; while ordering a pizza. At night, there comes an intangible longing for more—deeper community; healthier living; kinder, gentler interactions; depth and presence. The chatter in the back of the mind is loudening and the heart requires a response. The dissonance between values and lifestyle grows. And then this person emails me:

“Dear Gretchen,
I have been thinking about the work you do for a long time. I currently work at ABC Corp. I go to work every day to pay the bills, but I need something more. I need to find a way to change to live the life that I believe in.”

This person is a Food Leader waiting to happen, they just don’t know it—yet. They don’t know that they can live the life they want.

I have a theory about this fire and our Midwestern sensibilities. We Midwesterners hold this fire back; we suppress it for as long as we can. We say things to ourselves like, “I don’t have time,” or “I don’t have the money,” or “I’m not that kind of person.” We ponder, “Who am I to call myself a leader? Who am I to make a difference?”

My question to you is this: Who are you NOT to act on your deepest desire to live a life that fuels your soul’s fire?

You are blessed with a burning fire in your heart that drives you to do something more.

Food Leader Retreat at Wellspring, August 2015

The Food Leader Program has, for many people, been the response to their fire. Increasingly, we care about those who grow our food, the land that it is grown on, the quality of the food, the cultural relevance, the sustainability, and the economic implications of the food system. We are awakened enough to know that we want something else. The Food Leader Program helps people know what they want and gives them the skills to go for it.

In a world where we can sign up for a college degree online, we know that skill-building is not all there is to it. The Food Leader Program acknowledges the need for more. We develop a strong network, walk our talk, and focus on the transformative process each person needs to turn the burn into action.

Past graduates have said these things:

“Mindful consumerism. For me it started with watching Food Inc, Super Size Me, King Corn, Growing Cities, and How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. Watching these films lit a spark which quickly led to a burning inferno. What could I do? How could I become more self-sufficient? Could I inspire others in my community to do the same?

It led to late-night discussions with friends looking at seed catalogs and dreaming of what we’d grow for ourselves and our families. I planted my first garden, starting with a pack of radishes, and boy did I have a learning curve…but the fire was lit. We began sharing our harvest, coming together to can/preserve, and also trading family recipes.

In March 2014 I followed a path to support the local food system, and at a time when I wasn’t sure what my future would hold, I saw an advertisement for the Food Leader Certification program.

On day one, lifelong friendships were made. VGI gave me the courage to stand in my own truth as a consumer, a community member, and most importantly as a leader in the food system. Moreover, VGI has served as a model for the development of Grow It Forward, the food-based project I lead.

I encourage anyone who has a desire to grow your own food, is interested in learning more about our food system, and desires the emotional and professional support to develop and lead your own food project in your community: Sign up today!” 

  • Amber Daugs, FLCP 2015

“I spent two years in a learning community graduate program. I earned a Master’s in Education-Professional Development in 2003. In one weekend, the FLCP achieved greater success than I experienced in two years pursuing this degree. They know where they want to go, how to get you there, and most importantly how to win emotional commitment of the individuals to a common vision with complete freedom of individual projects. If you have a heart for connecting with food and community, do not miss this retreat and leadership program.”

  • Valerie Vervoort, FLCP 2015

“Sometimes changing the world starts with changing one’s self, home, lifestyle—and these are not easy shifts to make. The Food Leader Certificate Program has been and continues to be tremendously supportive and helpful for us to achieve massive wins for our own family and also share our knowledge and experience with others.

Whether you’re called to work on your inner garden, outer community, or both and everything in between, you’ll be radically supported, inspired, and empowered by this year long program.”

  • Farmer Tony Farrell, FLCP 2013

Reading this message from start to finish is the first step in your rite of passage.

Registration is now open. We can’t wait to meet you.


This entry was posted in Letter from the Director and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s