Common Roots Celebrates

Local products were featured at the Common Roots anniversary party, where a highlight of the evening was a gift presentation to Rhonda Ketner and Karyl Kent. PHOTO: Nilima Abrams

It was the Party of the Year! Close to 300 people came out to Shelburne Farms to celebrate the eighth anniversary of Common Roots, the South Burlington project to engage the schools, children, and adults of the community with the nourishing foods they eat and how they are produced.

What makes a gathering “Party of the Year” worthy? Paramount to success is generous sponsors. (check) Another essential, you need a great place – the Coach Barn at Shelburne is simply magnificent. (check) Next, you’ll want lots of great food – the venue was loaded with local chefs and a fantastic array of foods featuring local produce and meats and cheeses. There were crepes and Ethiopian curries, local beef and pork and sausages, breads, and finger foods. Yum! (check) And don’t forget dessert; local chocolates, cupcakes, and donuts satisfied everyone’s sweet tooth. (check) Last, but not least, we needed YOU and YOU showed up! (check)

But wait … there’s more. An award-winning party needs great live music and dancing too. Josh Panda and his band filled the bill. They rocked the barn for hours and had almost everyone on the dance floor, even we aging boomers. (check) And to top it all off, there were live and silent auctions of truly wonderful donated items to help raise funds for Common Roots and its programs. (check) And the huge crowd provided lots of good energy as it filled that space, ate that food, danced their little hearts out, and generously bid up those auction items. (check)

But what really makes this event so noteworthy is Common Roots and the dedicated, inspiring, and visionary people who turned the dream of offering kids in our schools fresh, locally produced, and good tasting foods into a growing reality. Carol McQuillen, one of the “Founding Mothers” of the group was on hand and gave the crowd a heartfelt overview of Common Roots’ history and a peek into where the group is headed in years to come.

A highlight of the evening was a gift presentation to Rhonda Ketner, Director of Nutritional Services for the South Burlington School District, and Karyl Kent, the Food Production Manager for the five school cafeterias. They have been instrumental in making the transition from conventional school cafeteria fare to the wonderful offerings that feature fresh, tasty, nutritional, and locally produced foods. We thank them both and their cafeteria staff as well!

Common Roots is planning to expand its farming operations; from a pilot year at the Underwood property on Spear Street and growing in structures at the Farm at South Village for the first time this past season, to a fuller mapping of food education and production. Interns, students, and the community at large will have growing opportunities to take part in a changing local food systems. Look for opportunities to purchase a Common Roots subscription for the 2017 season after the holidays.

Carol McQuillen paid tribute to the many volunteers and funders over the past eight years who have brought Common Roots so far, and reminded the crowd that new volunteers are always needed and welcome. If getting involved with the food you and our children eat sounds appealing to you, learn more about Common Roots at and contact them at 802-652-0188.

SOURCE: Fred Kosnitsky

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