2018 program has been postponed until july/august



Food Leader Certificate Program

lead     connect   learn   grow

The Food Leader Certificate Program provides professional and personal leadership development by equipping emerging food leaders to grow their own food, learn about the food system, and lead food projects in their communities. Upon completion of the program, Food Leaders will be presented with a  formal Food Leader certificate.


Learn leadership and community organizing skills during three weekend-long retreats, forming the core of the program. Our kickoff retreat brings the group together for the first time to build community and learn the basics of what it takes to organize a community food project.

Lead a personally developed food system project that impacts individuals and communities. develop as a leader by practicing leadership, project planning and management, and team skills throughout your project. Each participant implements a Food Leader Project in his or her community over the course of the year. Projects range from helping to start a workplace compost system, to organizing the planting of a neighborhood orchard, to starting a microgreens business that supports fighting hunger internationally.

Food Leaders have an opportunity to participate in future programs to continue the program's culture, offer on-going support to new leaders, and help hold Food Leaders accountable to their goals in hopes of building a better food system. In this mentor role, Food Leaders will have the opportunity to facilitate programs, tell their food stories, and develop greater leadership skills.


An important aspect of the Food Leader Program is the connection you make with fellow Food Leaders. The FLCP encourages community building from the outset that flows throughout the program. In between events, Food Leaders stay connected with each other and their instructors and mentors through an email listserv.

Connect with fellow Food Leaders through a active participation in weekend retreats, unite with past leaders as mentors throughout your project, and learn important community building strategies that instill community connection. 

We believe that individuals can make change, but that individuals acting in community are much more likely to succeed. Community is the key to effective action and we will support you as your take your Food Leader journey towards a healthier, more sustainable future. 


The Food Leader Certificate Program places a strong emphasis on understanding our current food system and how it impacts our bodies and our environment. 

Victory Garden Initiative believes that our food system does not feed everyone equally. During the Food Leader Retreats, program participants will work with our instructors and in small groups to understand the challenges and injustices of the food system. 

Learn about the current food system, how it impacts health and the environment all while gaining crucial project management skills associated with leading a food system changing project. Discover important leadership, project management, and team building skills that benefit personal and professional lives daily.


Food Leaders learn the basics of growing their own food during retreat sessions. This is integrated into each Food Leader's personally chosen food project that include sharing these concepts to others.

Grow your own food, inspire others, and build a community that benefits from a socially just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.

2018 Food Leader Certificate Program Schedule 


The FLCP is a intensive learning program that builds skills and bolsters their resumes. The program includes three weekend retreats that provide take place over three days and participants are encouraged to stay overnight at the retreat location.



  • Big Picture: The Food System
  • Food Policy (Local, Regional, National)
  • Identifying Resources
  • Developing Your Mission
  • Project Planning & Design



  • Creating an Action Plan
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Budgeting
  • How to Present Your Project
  • Funding Resources - Inside and Outside Your Community



  • Servant Leadership
  • Project Management and Resources
  • Nutrition
  • Celebration!

"I have a Master's in Education - Professional Development. In one weekend The Food Leader Certificate Program achieved greater success than I experienced in two years pursuing this degree. They know where they want to go, know how to get you there, and most importantly, know how to win emotional commitment of the individuals to a common vision with complete freedom of individual projects. If you have a heart for connecting with food and community, I would say, do not miss this retreat and leadership program."    -Valerie Vervoort, Stoughton, 2014-15 Food Leader

This program is made possible with the generous support of the following:


food stories

Every Food Leader is required to articulate his or her own food story as part of the graduation ceremony at the end of the year. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in a community organizer's toolbox. Stories help us build bonds of community, they heighten emotional response, and are an effective, memorable means of communicating. That's why we spend so much time encouraging our Food Leaders to develop a compelling narrative of their own journeys towards more sustainable, healthy, and just relationships with food. 

Here's what people are saying about the FLCP!

Participating in the VGI Food Leadership program was a dream come true for me. Spending time with this network of optimistic leaders in our state was inspiring, uplifting, and energizing. Gave me hope for our future. I LOVE YOU GUYS & GALS!!!”                         - Kim Diaz, 2016 Food Leader

I dream of having the time to help my friends develop a 150-acre permaculture farm on the outskirts of Chicago… My wonderful experience with the Victory Garden Initiative has given me the confidence and skills to pursue this.
 -Laura Herzog, Glendale, 2012 Food Leader

One of the best parts of the food leader program are the retreats. The retreats are uplifting, personal, educational with a very down to earth approach. The program encouraged me to be a better leader by living a more authentic life. A unique experience with amazing people. - Lori Everson, 2016 Food Leader

This program has given me the knowledge and confidence to take the ideas I have around the Food Movement and bring them to life.                                                -Katie Felten, Milwaukee, 2013 Food Leader

The Food Leader Certification Program changed my life! Learning and growing with an eclectic group of like-minded people was the ideal environment for me to flourish and turn my dreams into reality. And the resources offered to us were invaluable as well. Who needs grad school? Now I'm connected to my community and have support I can count on as I join the VGI in changing our food system.
                          -Alysse Gear, Milwaukee, 2013 Food Leader

Looking back on a year in the Victory Garden Initiative's Food Leader Certificate Program I am filled with gratitude. I have learned a lot and made many new friends. This program has been truly transformational for me. It has empowered me to think more grandly about my goals. It has inspired me to do more. Thanks VGI for providing such an amazing environment for us to incubate our inner leaders!                                                                      -Will Martens, Vertical Techniques, 2013 Food Leader

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