PORTLAND, Ore. – Ecotrust’s Food & Farms program has added Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe, Ph.D. to its team charged with bolstering the local food economy. As the new Farm to School manager, Ratcliffe will work to incorporate more regional food into Salmon Nation’s school lunchrooms. Ratcliffe will facilitate regional coalitions, oversee critical research that adds to the evidence based literature, pursue a legislative agenda, and collaborate with regional school districts and food processors to procure local and regional foods.
“With Michelle’s prodigious energy and drive I’m certain we’ll seamlessly integrate school food issues throughout all aspects of our work,” says Deborah Kane, vice president of Ecotrust’s Food & Farms program. “Helping children develop good eating habits and really understand where their food comes from is critical as we build a healthy regional food system. Michelle’s academic credentials combined with her professional experience have already proven invaluable.”
Ratcliffe brings to the table a full plate of experience in the intersecting worlds of agriculture, food, environment and education. She comes to Ecotrust having helped the Oregon Department of Education conduct a statewide needs assessment of farm-to-school and school garden programs. At Portland State University’s Learning Ecology and Culture Program, she teaches courses on New Agrarianism and helps prepare teachers in the instruction of garden-based education. With Urban Sprouts, a San Francisco based organization, she worked to develop theoretically based, behaviorally driven school garden programs that incorporate policy changes and the community into the school food system.
Prior to that, Ratcliffe could be found in and around school gardens from coast to coast. From Vermont to San Francisco, she has helped to develop, implement and evaluate the effects of food and garden-based education on children’s health, academic achievement and ecological literacy. Earlier in her career, Ratcliffe earned her green thumb gardening with her mom and by working as a Farm Apprentice on several organic and community supported agriculture farms in the Northeast.
Ratcliffe has also done her homework as she pursued and earned three degrees. A bachelor’s degree in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana; an Environmental Law degree from Vermont Law School; and a Ph.D. in Agriculture, Food and Environment from Tufts University; have prepared her for the many-pronged approach that a school food program demands – strong research skills, legal know-how and a science-steeped background.
About Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program www.ecotrust.org
Since 2001, Ecotrust’s Food & Farms program has been investing in building direct market connections between farmers, ranchers, and fishermen and restaurant chefs, grocery retail buyers, institutions and distributors. One of five major program areas of the Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit Ecotrust, the Food & Farms Program is building a vision for a sustainable food system.
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