From the Director's Desk - Centering and Belonging

June 29, 2024

From the Director's Desk - June 2024

This is part of a quarterly series on changes at Northeast SARE click here to subscribe to future editions.


We have once again transitioned into the summer and the agriculture season is peaking. The labor of love that many of you call work (whether as a producer or ag stakeholder) is so important to our regions viability and I wish to extend my heartiest THANK YOU.

In this summer communication, I would like to take time to discuss a vision of Centering and Belonging within Northeast SARE. To do this, I would like you to picture a circle. Our centering process involves drawing people who are located outside and on the periphery/circumference, inwards.

In doing this, we may have to first draw the circle wider so that all are within. Once in the circle, we must draw people inwards and to do this we have to be receptive, welcoming, and focused on placemaking and community. Once again, envisioning the circle, the more welcoming our community the less we are segmented and sectioned apart. Silos are smashed in our efforts to build a community of communities.

What do we center around?  Northeast SARE is a granting entity that is administered through the University of Vermont and funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA.  

Northeast SARE provides competitive funding for, and education about, sustainable agriculture.  Thus, we center around sustainable agriculture and assist in supporting the regions nutritional and textile needs while at the same time being in partnership with our environment and all living organisms comprising our ecosystem.  Through our sustainability, we strive to protect nature’s flora and fauna for generations to come.

To allow us all to become centered, we must create a community where people genuinely feel that they are welcome.  

In this process, sometimes we will have to practice active listening and decenter personal identity to know and understand others better. We must not rely on assumptions of what we think we know about one another. This process may be difficult in the beginning, but the more we practice this, we will truly begin to value each other’s humanness, but also our interconnectedness to all living things.  These are critical first steps when nurturing authentic relationships, building trust, and sustainable living.  

It brings me great joy to invite you to become a part of our community. We have recently launched a Slack channel and invite you to join. Learn about our grants and tell us what you are doing.  Learning about each other and being in relationship with each other will allow us to serve you better!

Warm regards,

Dr. Teresa E. Leslie

Topics: Community Development
Related Locations: Northeast