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Ben Hewitt, Author of The Town that Food Saved, to Speak at MANP Annual Conference

by LK Gagnon

Ben HewittIn 2010, Ben Hewitt wrote The Town That Food Saved, a book about a small, economically depressed town in northern Vermont attempting to revitalize itself by creating a localized food system. When he started writing the book, Hewitt assumed it would be as simple as the book title suggests: Town creates local food system, and all the shiny, happy town-folk start bartering organic arugula over freshly whitewashed picket fences and the place is saved forevermore. It turned out to not be that easy.

It also turned out that Hewitt wasn’t really writing about food. This came as something of a surprise to him, considering there were no fewer than a dozen small-scale, agriculture-based startups in the area that had opened their doors over the past few years. Ultimately, though, all of the things that made this story more complex were not food things, they ended up being people things, community things.

Make no mistake: Hewitt believes it is essential to move toward small-scale, decentralized food systems, and argues that it is essential that we revitalize our local economies and communities, and begin to reimagine prosperity in this country. He believes we cannot continue to extract wealth from the land and its people without giving something tangible in return. He says: too big to fail must become too small to fail.

But mostly, The Town That Food Saved and Hewitt’s speech is a story of the power of food, community, and people. It is at once a blueprint for a restorative future and durable prosperity, as well as an inspiring story of one town’s attempt to reinvigorate itself.

Ben Hewitt was born, raised, and currently lives in Northern Vermont, where he operates a diversified 40-acre farm with his wife and two sons.  Hewitt speaks frequently on the subjects of small-scale agriculture, regionalized food systems, and relocalizing economies to create durable prosperity.

Join us April 6 & 7 for the MANP Annual Leadership Conference at Colby College, Building Movements: Food as a Metaphor for Systems Change. This year’s event will feature  two keynote addresses – one by Donald Sussman, a Maine philanthropist and generous supporter and advocate for sustainable food systems in Maine, and another by Ben Hewitt, the author of The Town that Food Saved, an examination of one rural Vermont town’s efforts to implement a localized food system. A lively panel discussion on the elements necessary for successful movement building will follow the keynote, using lessons learned from Maine’s local food movement. The conference will conclude with a luncheon recognizing recipients of the Dirigo Awards for Nonprofit Excellence.

Visit our website for more information and to register:

Many thank to the Lead Sponsor: Healey and Associates, Co-Sponsors: UNUM and NE Delta Dental, and Media Sponsor, Mainebiz.

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