Sommer Angelique Sibilly-Brown is a local Foods System Development Advocate and the Founder and Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, a sponsored project of the St. Croix Foundation. Her organization seeks to raise awareness about the importance and impact of a healthy local food system in the territory. She believes collaboration, partnership and the creation of a shared vision is the only way we are able to rectify some of the seemingly insurmountable issues that plague our territory, especially as it pertains to food and food production. She strives to bridge the gap between food producers and entities in the public and private sectors. Her vision is to aid in the revitalization of agriculture in the Virgin Islands and unite local food producers, local businesses, and local consumers to create a sustainable network of local food options. The overall goal of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition is to build a healthy local food economy that supports farmers, locally-owned food businesses, and ensures that healthy food is available and accessible to every resident in our territory.
Sommer’s journey as a food system advocate began in 2012 with 18 students in the Intermediate Multiage Classroom at the Ricardo Richards Elementary School and their project entitled Sustainable Farms for Sustainable schools. The project proposed the use of school-based gardens and youth led farm stands to raise money to offset school funding deficits that many of our territories school face. The research for the project was based on principals of the National Farm to School Movement. That was the birth of the territory’s Farm to School Initiative. Serving as the territories Volunteer Farm to School Coordinator she has worked closely with the Virgin Islands Department of Education State Office of Child Nutrition, Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service and the United States Department of Agriculture. Sommer was instrumental in planning the Agricultural Expansion and Marketing Conference that took place on the island of St. Croix in September 2014. She has led the team that has applied for USDA’s Farm to School grant application for the past three years of which we were awarded a 2015 conference and events grant which will allow the territory to host its first farm to school conference in May. Her service also extends it hands towards schools via training and workshops in the territory through the American Federation of Teachers annual Teach conference. Additionally, she has organized farm tour field trips for teachers and successfully applied for the first Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program application on the island of St. Croix through the Department of Education since the first award in 2013. As a result, three schools in the District now have the program. Sommer has also started a fund a farm initiative which focuses on increasing charitable giving to farmers and school-based gardens. She works in conjunction with our sister islands and leads the St. Croix Arm of School Based Garden Association. Through the Anderson Teacher Grant from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands she will be sponsoring slow down lunches for the 4-6 graders attending the Ricardo Richards Elementary School.
In the past, she was the 1st Americorp Vista in the territory and served at the Boys and Girls Club of the Virgin Islands where her efforts where focused on building the organizations capacity to adequately meet the needs of the youth they were serving through a community needs assessment. She also served as Guardian at Litum for the 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 Dade County area. Currently she is the Education Coordinator for the St. Croix Landmark Society at the Estate Whim Museum where she coordinates their Folk Life Experience Project. Sommer is also the St. Croix Foundations Youth Advisory Council Advisor.
Advocating for Farm to School has been an amazing and life altering journey. Through the guidance, prayer and support of many people, she has been able to have an impact on large issue, which is our territories broken food system that contribute to our territories food security, health, and economic development.
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 families’ unconditional love and support keeps her grounded and allows her to chase her dreams.