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February 29, 2024

Maryann Tebben Named Board President of Berkshire Agricultural Ventures


Maryann Tebben

Dr. Maryann Tebben, Professor of French, Head of the Center for Food Studies, and the Director of the Center for Food and Resilience at Simon’s Rock, has been named Board President of Berkshire Agricultural Ventures. Tebben succeeds Tom Gardner, who led the Board since BAV’s founding in 2017.

“I am honored and excited to take on this role. It has been a privilege and inspiration to work alongside my Board colleagues and BAV staff,” said Tebben. “I want to especially acknowledge Tom for his vision and tenacity in growing BAV to meet the specific, real-world needs of local farmers and help expand access across our region to local, sustainably produced food.”

Tebben said one priority as President is to help spread the word about BAV. Since its 2017 founding, the nonprofit has provided $1.8 million in low-cost loans, $1.5 million in grant awards, and over $250,000 in technical assistance to local farmers and food entrepreneurs. In addition, BAV’s grant planning and writing services have resulted in $2 million in public grants awarded directly to local farms and food businesses.

“Behind those numbers are people across our region empowered to sustainably grow, produce, and eat local food. It feels good that BAV has made a real difference, and our Board and staff are working to further widen our impact — for the sake of people, the local economy, and the health of the land and environment,” said Tebben.

Tebben has been a Professor of French at Simon’s Rock since 2000 and headed the Food Studies Program since 2013, as well as organizes the annual ThinkFOOD conference at Simon’s Rock, which connects farmers, activists, and community members on issues of sustainability, the future of farming, and other topics. Her scholarly interests combine food history and literary studies; she is the author, most recently, of Savoir Faire: A History of Food in France (2020), the first comprehensive treatment of the subject in English. Tebben has served on the BAV Board for four years, most recently as Vice President.

Dr. Tebben previously taught at Syracuse University and SUNY-Oswego. Her primary specialty is early modern French and Italian literature and she has published articles on Molière, Du Bellay, and courtesy books in the Renaissance. She has also explored the relationship of food culture to national identity in France and has published pieces on iconic French dishes, sauces, and the history of dessert. Dr. Tebben regularly presents papers on food culture at national and international conferences, including the IEHCA International Conference in Tours, France (2016), the Umbra Institute Food Conference (2012), and the Colloquium Pomme de Terre at the Université de Tours (2008). She has been teaching at Simon’s Rock since 2000.

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) supports the development and viability of local farms and food businesses. Founded in 2017, the nonprofit works to build a thriving local food economy, improve access to fresh food for everyone, and address climate change through regenerative agriculture. BAV brings together technical assistance, financing in the form of low-interest loans and grants, and other professional resources for food makers in the Berkshire-Taconic region of New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.