Sommer Angelique Sibilly-Brown is a local foods system development advocate and the Founder and Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition. Sommer’s vision is to aid in the revitalization of agriculture in the Virgin Islands and unite local food producers, businesses, and consumers to create a sustainable network of local food options. She believes that collaboration, partnership, and the creation of a shared vision is the only way we are going to be successful in increasing local food production and bridging the gap between food producers and entities in the public and private sectors.
Sommer’s journey as a food system advocate began in the classroom in 2012 with 18 students from the Ricardo Richards Elementary School. The students created a project called “Sustainable Farms for Sustainable Schools” that proposed the use of school-based gardens and youth-led farm stands to raise money to offset schools’ local funding deficits. The research for the project was based on principles of the National Farm to School Movement and chartered the path to the territory’s first Farm to School initiative.
Serving as the territory’s Volunteer Farm to School Coordinator, Sommer has worked closely with the Virgin Islands Department of Education State Office of Child Nutrition, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, and the United States Department of Agriculture. She was instrumental in planning the Agricultural Expansion and Marketing Conference on St. Croix in September 2014, and she led the team that was awarded a 2015 USDA Farm to School grant which funded the territory’s first Farm to School conference.
Sommer’s service in the education sector also extends to training and leading workshops in the territory through the American Federation of Teachers Annual Teach Conference. Additionally, she organized farm tour field trips for teachers, and was awarded a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program through the Department of Education, resulting in three schools participating. Sommer also started a farm initiative that focused on increasing charitable giving to farmers and school-based gardens. She worked in conjunction with our sister islands and led the St. Croix arm of the School Based Garden Association. Through the Anderson Teacher Grant from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, she sponsored “slow-down” lunches for the 4-6 graders at Ricardo Richards Elementary School.
Sommer’s professional experience began when she became the first AmeriCorps Vista in the territory while serving at the Boys and Girls Club of the Virgin Islands. She also served as Guardian ad Litem for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program and has worked for the Department of Education, the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service as A Program Specialist and site coordinator for their Children Youth and Families at Risk program, in Luis E. Brown Villas and Life Skills Miami a charter school that served at-risk youth in the Dade County area. Sommer was also the Education Coordinator for the St. Croix Landmark Society at the Estate Whim Museum where she coordinated their Folk Life Experience Project.
Advocating for farm and farm-education programs continues to be Sommer’s life journey. Sommer was born on the island of St. Thomas to Angela & David Sibilly. She is married to Stephen Vaughn Brown Jr. and is a stepmother to Ajani Brown. Her family’s unconditional love and support keeps her grounded and allows her to chase her dreams.