Episode 21 - Joseph Keifer
Joseph Keifer grew up on a small-diversified family farm in the Hudson Valley of New York State. As the oldest son of six kids his farm chores with cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and a mean old rooster, taught him much about caring for the land and being a farmer. He received his M.A. in Social Ecology from the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield Vermont in 1980. In 1982 he was asked to be part of a Community Task Force on Hunger with the Central Vermont Community Action Council in Barre, Vermont. As a result of this quiet crisis he started a Garden Science / Hunger Education Program with local schools. At the Main Street Middle school a Garden Lab of raised bed gardens, small fruits, fruit trees and a compost was set up with a bed dedicated for the Emergency Food Pantry. This Task Force quickly learned that this dramatic increase in demand for emergency food was being experienced around the state and decided to investigate starting a Food bank for the state. In 1986 Joseph Co-founded the Vermont Food bank
In 1985-86 he served on the Governor’s Task Force on Hunger attending six regional hearings around the state. Upon completion of these projects he cofounded Food Works with a mission to address the root causes of childhood hunger by starting school gardens and food education programs.
In 1997 Food Works teamed up with Shelburne Farms and NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) to start VT FEED (food education every day). In 2006 Food Works helped launch the first Food Bank farm in Vermont growing exclusively for emergency feeding sites in the state.
At Food Works Joseph was the Director of Education and offered professional development courses and workshops to teachers, food service staff and community organizers on how to grow, process, cook and store locally grown foods. He has taught at California Polytechnic University at Pomona, California, Trinity College, Goddard College, The Union Institute, The College of St. Joseph and Johnson State College and Castelton University all in Vermont. He is a co-author of “Digging Deeper” A comprehensive Guide to School and Community Gardening and “Living Traditions” Teaching Local History Using State and National Learning Standards.
Joseph now works as a Food Justice Consultant working with the Good Food Good Medicine Program at Highgate Housing and Green Acres Housing, the Vermont Community Garden Network as well as the Vermont Rural Partnership. He serves on the Boards of Just Basics Inc. in Montpelier and Highgate Housing in Barre Vermont, as well as on the cross cutting Food Access Team of the Vermont Farm to Plate Group.
He lives with his wife Amy and their two dogs Chester and Molly on the White Dove Herbal Sanctuary in East Montpelier.