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Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest’s first Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest’s first Entrepreneur-in-Residence

March 17, 2011

The Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest is proud to have Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield Yogurt and Middlebury parent, serve as the inaugural - Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Center. The residency builds upon a relationship with Middlebury that began in 2009 when Gary presented the commencement address and received and honorary doctorate degree.

The goal of the Franklin Environmental Center residency is to bring today’s bravest and most influential thinkers to campus, and ask them to engage with the community on timely, provocative topics, and that is just what Gary did during his visit to Middlebury on March 14th and 15th. Additionally, we hope that the residency will  strengthen the individual’s bond with the College.

During his two day visit, Gary had lunch with students interested in food issues, toured the biomass gasification facility for his own interests, connected with the Solar Decathlon team as a potential sponsor and donor, met with Dining Services Director and staff, spoke in an Environmental Studies course, discussed the proposal for a Food minor with faculty and senior administrator, described links to a food donor network with the Dean of Environmental Affairs, and he and his family joined Ron and Jessica Liebowitz for dinner. Through these meetings, members of the College community were able to benefit and learn from Gary’s experience as a leading entrepreneur in the organic industry and as an advocate for a more level playing field for organics in American food policy.

Gary also engaged a larger audience though a screening of the film Food, Inc. followed by a Q&A on Monday evening and a lecture entitled “Why Organic is a Better National Policy than Genetic Modification” on Tuesday afternoon. The full lecture can be viewed here and a clip can be viewed at the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest's Facebook page. The lecture addressed many of the health and environmental problems caused by conventional agriculture, and in particular by the increased use of toxic herbicides that accompanies the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Gary also explained his latest campaign against unrestricted approval of GE crops at a national level that are now working their way through congress. He urged the audience to take part in his efforts to protect the freedom of choice - to choose organic foods, which is threatened by the lack of biodiversity, drift of GE pollen and seeds, and other complications that accompany unrestricted use of GE crops.

This visit marks the beginning of the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest- professional residencies and what we hope will be a long and mutually enriching relationship between Middlebury College and Gary Hirshberg. To learn more about Gary and about Stonyfield Yogurt, visit