Olivia Kefauver ’12 considers herself a systems thinker, focusing specifically on food. “Why not food?” she said. “I think at the most basic level it is the one thing that we are so intimately connected to on a daily basis.”
Food as an issue is complex, with environmental, social, and political ramifications, she said, with tremendous room for improvement. Fascinated by the course Global Food Policy, taught by Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Travis Reynolds, for Kefauver it wasn’t a matter of choosing between food and another interest, but deciding where in the food world she could have the most impact. After graduation she asked Reynolds for advice. “He asked me, ‘Have you ever thought of farming?’” Kefauver said.
She hadn’t but she did and soon was working on the 300-member Land’s Sake Farm, a CSA operation outside Boston focused on connecting people to the land to build community and inspiring lifelong stewardship. Kefauver, while helping to manage the growing operation, worked closely with six different hunger relief groups, and often worked with community members, starting an adult education program. “It was our conversations – to see how passionate others are in learning about their food system—that was the most rewarding thing for me,” she said.
Kefauver left the farm recently to work for Tellus Institute, a think tank focused on the mission of “advancing a just and sustainable planetary civilization.” She said she expects her work to continue to intersect with food, and plans to help split wood this winter for the farm’s sugarhouse.
Kefauver did an internship after graduation with Frances Moore Lappé, the food activist and author whose landmark book Diet for a Small Planet changed a generation’s consciousness 40 years ago. Now, Kefauver said, that movement is growing and inspiring her own generation. “I’m glad,” Kefauver said, “that we’re finally listening.”