The Bread Loaf Writers' Conferences


Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers' Conference
June 1-7, 2015


The Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference is an annual, week-long writers’ conference, based on the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference model, that’s designed to hone the skills of people interested in producing literary writing about the environment and the natural world. The conference is co-sponsored by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Orion magazine, and Middlebury College’s Environmental Studies Program.


Monday, June 1 – Sunday, June 7, 2015.  The conference will take place at the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont.


The conference will incorporate the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference model of small, focused workshops coupled with specialized classes focusing on the craft of writing. Workshops will be limited to ten participants so that each manuscript will receive individual, focused attention and critique. All participants will also meet individually with their workshop leader to amplify and refine what was said in the workshop itself. Established editors, literary agents, and publishers will give presentations on placing work in magazines and navigating the environmental book publishing world.

This week-long conference of workshops, classes, lectures, readings, and discussions is for writers who want to improve their writing about the environment; for writers who seek to become better advocates for the environment through their writing; for poets who are drawn to writing about the natural world; for teachers and scholars who wish to write for a more general readership; and for environmental professionals who want to bring better writing skills to bear on their work. For those who are interested in learning more about environmental and nature writing but who do not wish to workshop their writing, there is also an auditing option available.


Bread Loaf Orion will feature seven workshops with ten participants in each group. Faculty will include acclaimed nature and environmental writers Rick Bass, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Ross Gay, Pam Houston, Scott Russell Sanders, Ginger Strand, and Luis Alberto Urrea. In addition to their literary accomplishments, each faculty member has been specifically chosen for their skill at guiding developing writers.

Click here for the list of faculty Bios.


The conference will take place at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College, nestled in the Green Mountains and under the shadow of Bread Loaf Mountain. Writers will be inspired by the breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains, the hundreds of miles of trails surrounding the campus, the imposing original Bread Loaf Inn, and the stillness of the surrounding forest. The influence of Robert Frost and his love of nature is still felt at Bread Loaf, in part because Middlebury College owns and maintains the Robert Frost Farm as a national historic site near the Bread Loaf campus. Participants will be housed in historic buildings on the Bread Loaf campus, which provide simple but comfortable lodging.  Meals are catered by Middlebury College Dining Services, which incorporates locally-sourced food from over fifty Vermont companies into its menus and is ranked in the top 20 college dining services by Princeton Review. The Bread Loaf campus has Wi-Fi access available in virtually all common rooms and most private rooms. The campus has a fully equipped computer lab with printers and the cozy Davidson Memorial Library, a reference and literature library. Please note that cell phones generally do not work at the Bread Loaf campus.

Conference participants desiring to stay off-campus must do so at their own expense. A list of hotels and other accommodations can be found at the Addison County Chamber of Commerce site.


The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference is the oldest writers' conference in America. Since 1926 it has convened in mid-August at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College. Envisioned by Robert Frost, the Conference has featured eminent writers such as Willa Cather, Toni Morrison, Wallace Stegner, Eudora Welty, John Irving, Natasha Trethewey, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, Julia Alvarez, William Kittredge, Scott Russell Sanders, and Luis Alberto Urrea.  The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference has a long legacy of commitment to the environment, dating back to early naturalist Joseph Battell who created the original Bread Loaf site as a mountain retreat in 1866. 

Founded in 1982, Orion is the foremost magazine for the publication of the highest quality creative nonfiction, fiction, narrative journalism, and poetry dedicated to nature and the environment. Through writing and art that explore the connection between nature and culture, Orion inspires new thinking about how humanity might live on Earth justly, sustainably, and joyously. Orion was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in 2010 and 2013. From 2005-2013, Orion co-sponsored the week-long Wildbranch Writing Workshop, dedicated to writing about nature and the environment and this new conference builds on the successful tradition established by Wildbranch.

Dating from 1965, the Middlebury College Environmental Studies Program is the oldest undergraduate environmental studies program in the United States and one of the College's largest majors. The Environmental Studies Program brings together a community of scholars and students engaged in the study of the human relationship to the environment. Students choose from foci across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Ten core faculty members and forty affiliated faculty colleagues from 24 departments on campus together offer an interdisciplinary major and minor in which students learn to observe, explore, listen, analyze, question, discuss, and pursue answers through creative work, research, and problem-solving.


Applications to the conference will be accepted between November 1, 2014 and March 15, 2015. Acceptance is based on the strength and promise of the writing sample and on the Admissions Board's judgment that the applicant will benefit from the conference. The application cover letter is also considered. Two workshops will be offered in poetry (Deming, Gay); one in fiction (Urrea); and four in creative nonfiction (Bass, Houston, Sanders, and Strand).

Acceptances will be made on a rolling basis and applicants will be notified whether they have been admitted approximately four to six weeks after they apply. With rolling admissions, those who apply early increase their chances of acceptance; therefore, we encourage you to apply early.

Applicants will submit a manuscript of current work: up to 4,000 words of fiction or nonfiction, or up to 8 pages of poetry. Applicants should send their strongest unpublished work.
• The applicant's name and a page number must appear on each sheet of the manuscript. (For example: Smith, p.1.)
• Prose manuscripts must be double-spaced with 12 pt. font and margins of at least 1.25". The total word count should be noted at the top of the first page. Applicants may include one or more stories as long as the overall total number of pages is within the 4,000-word limit. Please include a short note to let readers know if the piece is a short story, an excerpt from a novel or non-fiction. Manuscripts excerpted from a longer project should include a one-page synopsis placed at the back of the piece.
• Poetry manuscripts should have 12 pt. font and can be either single- or double-spaced. A poem can exceed one page, as long as the complete manuscript submission is within the eight-page limit. Please do not squeeze more than one poem to a page.
• Please do not send children's or young adult literature, co-authored work, or self-help literature. 


Participant--$2,060 (tuition, $1445; room and board, $615)

Auditor--$1,750 (auditors attend the conference without a manuscript; tuition, $1,135; room and board, $615)

There is a $15.00 application fee. A $200.00 deposit to hold your spot within the conference is due within two weeks of notification of acceptance.


The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference is making available a limited number of $300.00 grants-in-aid to participants accepted into the Environmental Writers’ Conference. In addition, there will be at least one full scholarship offered. The intent of the grants and scholarship is not only to support promising emerging writers but to broaden the community of nature and environmental writers to ensure that nature and environmental writing as a genre represents the relationship between people and nature regardless of race, ethnicity, geography, or socioeconomic standing.

A request for financial aid must be submitted at the time of the application. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to consider a financial aid application submitted at a later time.


Middlebury College student scholarship applications are accepted online and must be submitted by March 1, 2015. These scholarships are available for current students of Middlebury College. The scholarships are awarded based on the quality of the work submitted. Middlebury College student scholarships cover tuition, room, and board at the Conference ($2,060).

For this particular scholarship, we also require a completed recommendation form. You will need to ask a Middlebury College instructor to complete the form and send it in. (The instructor can fill in the form or simply answer the questions in the body of an email—more details are noted on the form.)


Bread Loaf Orion uses the Submittable online application program. Applicants who already have a Submittable account in place will be asked to login; those new to Submittable will be prompted to set up a free account before accessing the Bread Loaf Orion application.



H. Emerson Blake, Co-Director, Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference; and Editor-in-Chief, Orion
Michael Collier, Co-Director, Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference; and Director, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

Administrative staff:
Noreen Cargill, Administrative Manager, The Bread Loaf Conferences
Jennifer Sahn, Editor, Orion

Faculty Liaison:
Dan Brayton, Associate Professor in the Department of English and American Literatures and in the Program in Environmental Studies


The Bread Loaf campus is a 20-minute drive from Middlebury in the Green Mountains.  The address to use with Google Maps is 4229 Ripton 125, Ripton, Vermont 05766.

The nearest airport is located in Burlington, VT (BVT), about an hour and twenty minutes from the Bread Loaf Campus. Shared taxis will be available to transport people from the airport to campus. Details will be included with acceptance materials.


The Bread Loaf Conferences
Attn: Bread Loaf Orion Conference
204 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802-443-5286
Fax: 802-443-2087