By: Elizabeth Aurand, Boston University Student, New England Dairy & Food Council Nutrition Intern
September 23rd marked the 2nd Annual Health and Wellness Meeting hosted by New England Dairy & Food Council. It is an event that brings together some of the most creative nutrition and health focused minds from Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to form a think tank to brainstorm ideas and goals for the coming year. The meeting embodied many themes around Food Day including the connection between food and farming and solutions to food insecurity in our region.
NEDFC and their Health and Wellness Advisory Council tour Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, MA
The morning began with a tour of Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, MA led by dairy farmer Marlow Duffy. This farm is a property of the Department of Recreation and Conservation (DCR). This was a wonderful opportunity to be able to visit a working dairy farm. Being from Ohio, I am not a stranger to farms, but this was my first trip to a dairy farm. Perhaps more impressively, this is the only dairy farm in Massachusetts with a robotic milker. This machine is entirely hands free, and the cows choose to visit the milker on their own accord. We were able to watch a cow mosey into the milker where the robot went through the process of milking the cow. I heard Marlow describe the robotic milker at a previous event, but I did not truly understand the machine until I witnessed it in person. It is something you have to see to believe. My favorite part was getting to pet the cows who were quite curious about who was visiting their barn. Minutes after we left the farm, Marlow let us know that a calf had just been born which the group had the honor of naming, Autumn. The tour of the farm provided insight into where milk comes from and the amount of work it requires to produce such a quality product.
Elizabeth Aurand meets a dairy cow!
After returning from the farm, it was time to get down to business. The topics for discussion centered on programs that New England Dairy & Food Council are looking to improve and build on over the next year. This meeting looks to combine the expertise and unique points of view that each attendee brings to work on creative solutions and ideas. As a dietetic student, it was an honor to talk with such influential people and hear how they would approach situations based on their past experiences. Amidst all the work being done, the room was always filled with laughter and an energy that comes from being around inspiring people. It was wonderful to attend an event with people who are passionate about health and nutrition and are using that passion to improve our communities.
Engaging in group work to discuss the issue of hunger in our communities.