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Mac Mansfield-Parisi

UVM interns work at Common Roots kitchen’s “Flatbread Friday” event in South Burlington April 22.

UVM interns support Common Roots

April 27, 2022

Internships at Common Roots are unpaid but offer students college credit and valuable experience, said Lauren Jones, Farm to School program overseer.

Twenty-two UVM interns volunteer this spring at Common Roots, according to their 2022 Spring Intern Data and Contact Information. Interns receive academic credit and gain firsthand experiences with agriculture, environmental advocacy, dietetics and education, though they are not paid.

“[Interns] are a huge support of our mission,” Internship Coordinator Jennifer Sutton said. “We could not afford to run some of our programs without having interns to assist us.” 

Common Roots is a nonprofit organization in South Burlington that aims to create a sustainable future through the practice of community-oriented education and service programs, according to their website. 

Five programs and four business enterprises make up Common Roots, according to their website. 

Common Roots’ programs include Farmstand at the Food Shelf, Farm to School and Farm to Go educational programs for kids, as well Gatherings on the Land, a program which gives people opportunities to connect with land, according to Common Roots’ 2021 Strategic Plan. 

Common Roots funds these programs through profits from a  farmstand, renting of one of their properties for special events, running a community meal service called Farm to Fork, a weekly pizza event called Flatbread Fridays and special events hosted at the Wheeler Homestead, according to the strategic plan.

The funding for Farm to School comes from the Farm to Fork enterprise, according to the Common Roots website.

Farm to Fork creates new dishes every Tuesday at the Wheeler House on Dorset Street, where anyone can purchase their meals for takeout. Meals are $17 per entrée, according to their website. 

“[Interning] is a really great career building experience,” Jones said. “You can learn a lot of different aspects of an organization and get a taste of a lot of different things.”

Throughout her internship experience in the Farm to School program, senior Tabitha Slingluff learned public speaking skills and how to communicate to children from various age groups, she said. She also learned how to work in a professional environment with teachers, parents and students. 

Farm to School provides lessons to preschool through fifth-grade students in the South Burlington School District to develop healthy eating habits while learning about local food systems and land stewardship, according to the strategic plan. 

Land stewardship involves finding harmony between the shared ecosystems of humans, plants and animals through restorative methods, such as Common Roots’ regenerative soil practices, according to their website.

UVM interns assist with lesson planning and curriculum development and teach a portion of each monthly lesson, Jones said. 

“It’s a great experience for me,” Slingluff said. “Every class is different, every kid is different. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Learning to work in a kitchen was a cool experience, said sophomore Josephine Koeck, an intern working in the Farm to Fork enterprise. 

“We cook meals using locally sourced ingredients either from the farm that Common Roots is a part of and that they own, or other farms in Vermont,” Koeck said. “Proceeds from that program go toward their other educational programs.”

Interns involved in the Farm to Fork enterprise learn basic kitchen skills before advancing to following recipes and preparing Tuesday meals, Head Chef Anthony Jones said. 

UVM interns learn to cook a variety of dishes since the menu changes weekly, Koeck said. 

“Whether it be homemade lasagna with homemade pasta noodles one day, and then the next week is enchiladas, and then the week after that is stir fry,” Koeck said. “You’re never really bored of cooking.” 

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