UVM welcomes back Cheese and Dairy Fest

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 4:29 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It was the event to brie at -- the University of Vermont Tuesday brought back their annual Cheese and Dairy Fest after a pandemic pause. Elissa Borden paid a visit to see what makes the event grate.

The Davis Center atrium was chock block full of UVM students Tuesday afternoon all making the most of the annual Cheese and Dairy Fest. A dozen vendors had all sorts of dairy delights up for grabs from yogurt to ice cream to cheese.

UVM dining officials say it was no struggle getting college kids to come get free treats, but they add it was a learning opportunity, too. With the help of the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, Sodexo -- who handles food services at UVM -- has committed to increased use of local organic dairy and the event was a chance to connect students with the farmers and producers who make the products students eat every day.

“We serve a lot of these products in our dining halls, in our dining spaces, and we really work to educate our students about the purpose of dairy, a huge economic driver in our state. We feel that introducing students directly to those farmers and producers is going to help engage them,” said Nicole Reilly, UVM Dining’s sustainability and campus partnerships manager.

The event also gave vendors the chance to share their perspectives with students. “I think that it’s really a struggle right now to be an organic dairy farm in Vermont, and one thing I appreciate is all of the students asking us questions about how we differ from what they see in the store and we have a lot to say about that. So, it’s great to have the opportunity to tell people,” said Jenny Price with Butterworks Farm in Westfield.

“The institutional market has lots of opportunity for our small organic farms. It is a place that we all can be working on by asking as consumers, as students, as parents, as educators in schools -- can we somehow get this organic dairy into our cafeterias? Which would create -- it’s like a floodgate -- there’s so much opportunity for our farms,” said the partnership’s Olga Moriarty.

Though it hasn’t been held in this capacity since 2019, the UVM officials say they plan to bring it back as an annual event. They also put on other food festivals including Farm Fest and Maple Fest, calling attention to many sectors of Vermont’s agricultural industry.