Update from F2P ~ February 2012
Farm to Plate Regional Meetings
A New England-wide buzz is starting to happen around food system planning, thanks to the release of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. Other states in the region are beginning to explore conducting their own planning processes. On January 26, VSJF Executive Director Ellen Kahler spoke at a Maine Funders Network gathering in Freeport to provide an overview of the F2P planning process that was used. Because of an unsupportive Governor and Legislature, the non-profit community along with the private sector and the philanthropic community are coming together to advance food system planning in their state.
Then on February 2 & 3, Ellen met with key leaders in Hartford and Storrs Connecticut who are also exploring a farm to plate like planning process. In contrast to Maine, presentations and meetings were held with various Legislative leaders, members of the Governor’s Council on Agriculture Development, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Dean of Agriculture at UConn and the Governor. They are very excited to initiate a planning process as they too are experiencing growing consumer demand for local food.
We have also been talking with leaders in New Hampshire and Rhode Island about early stage planning efforts there as well. Ideally, all 6 New England states would develop their own state level strategic plan so that a regional plan could easily be knit together. With any luck (and a whole lot of hard work!) we may achieve a regional food system plan within the next 3 years.
F2P Strategic Plan Update
After much vetting by stakeholders, we are pleased to release the final appendix of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan! Nearly two years in the making, Appendix B: Revitalizing Vermont's Dairy Industry takes a comprehensive look at the characteristics of Vermont dairy farms and northeast milk production. Appendix B examines the challenges faced by dairy farms – including federal milk pricing, supply management, and workforce issues – and explores local, regional, and national strategies for strengthening the industry and improving dairy farm viability over the next ten years.
For those of you daunted by a 75+ page document, stay tuned in the next couple of weeks as we release the abbreviated version, Chapter 3.3 Food Production: Dairy.
F2P at the 2012 Farm Show
The Vermont Farm Show was bigger than ever this year and we were very excited to be part of it for the first time. Special thanks to the Intervale and Vermont Food Venture Center for helping staff the F2P table. Throughout the three day event, we got a chance to meet lots of farmers, farming enthusiasts, and food entrepreneurs — old and new friends alike — and talk about strengthening Vermont’s food system from farm to plate. There was certainly lots of very positive energy during the farm show, despite the challenges many farmers have faced from flooding this past year. A few highlights from the Farm Show include:
- Hearing several exiting ideas for recipes and products to potentially make at the Vermont Food Venture Center
- The Capitol Cook-Off: An Iron Chef-like localvore competition between the Agency of Agriculture, House Agriculture Committee, and Senate Agriculture Committee (congratulations to the Agency for its win!)
- Buy Local Market featuring dozens of vendors sampling and selling their amazing products
Farm to School Grants Awarded
At the Farm Show, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Vermont Farm to School Network awarded five Farm to School grants. Implementation grant recipients received up to $15,000 to initiate a Farm to School program, while planning grant recipients received $1,500 to develop a plan for implementing a Farm to School program in the future. Recipients were selected based on a competitive application process. Congratulations to the winning schools!
- Stockbridge Central School
- The Dorset School
- Weathersfield & Albert Bridge School
- Brookfield Elementary
- Middletown Springs Elementary
New Funding Opportunities
Vermont Local Food Market Development Grant Program
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is now accepting applications, of up to $5,000, from Vermont farmers, producer groups, food community groups, and food hubs to further institutional market development through the Vermont Local Food Market Development Grant Program. This program was designed to encourage local food market development opportunities with an institutional focus across the state.
Applicants must either be a Vermont producer in pursuit of institutional market development, a community group, producer group, or a food hub that will directly support Vermont producers’ access to institutional market expansion. Applications must be received at the office of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620 by 5PM on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Submission via email is preferred.
USDA Funding Opportunities for Farm to School Efforts
The grants section of the USDA Farm to School website has been updated to include an extensive list of Farm to School related funding opportunities by USDA and other Federal agencies. The information is organized by target audience, which includes farmers, schools and community, and can be accessed through the following webpage: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/f2s/f2s-grants.htm
Request for 2012 State Priorities and Review Committee for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is now accepting comments on the state priorities for the 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. In Vermont, approximately $200,000 will be granted out during this funding cycle allocation. VAAFM identified the following program goals for FY2011:
- Increase the competitiveness of organic and/or sustainable production systems.
- Increase access to Vermont-grown specialty crops by low-income Vermonters (including but not limited to: nutrition and/or cooking education; incentives for purchasing fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets; and increasing availability of local fruits and vegetables at rural convenience stores).
VAAFM is also soliciting nominations for members of the SCBGP review committee. The committee will be composed of at least five people, including at least three farmers, and will review all grants and make recommendations to VAAFM on grant awards. The total time commitment for each team member is estimated to be approximately 12 hours between March 15 and June 15, 2012. Most meetings will be held in Montpelier. Self-nomination is encouraged. Nominations should be no more than 1 page, and should include:
- Nominee’s current profession and employer
- Relevant experience
- An explanation of why this person would be a valuable addition to the advisory team.
Please submit comments and/or review committee nominations to Chelsea Bardot Lewis at Chelsea.firstname.lastname@example.org by February 13, 2012.
Working Landscape Bill Update
House and Senate versions of the Working Landscape Enterprise bill are making their way through the two agriculture committees. Much of the original bill has been stripped away due to lack of support and predicted lack of funding. The committees are focusing much of their time on refining the purpose and composition of the Working Landscape Enterprise Board and trying to secure funding for the bill. If this bill passes, it would provide much needed funding (grants and loans) for farm to plate related implementation (infrastructure and business assistance) projects as well as forest products industry projects. The language in both bills has been changing daily and it’s still too early to predict the ultimate outcome of this Bill. For more up to date info: http://vtworkinglands.org
UVM Extension 21st Annual Reception
February 15 from 3:30-5:30PM
Vermont Statehouse Cafeteria
Join UVM Extension and the VT Agricultural Experiment Station for the release of the 2011 Annual Report and reception discussion about “Helping Farmers Get Back to Business After Irene” at the Vermont Statehouse. Read the annual report online.
Webinar: Starting a New Buying Club, Food Co-op Initiative
February 21, 2012 at 5PM
This webinar is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about the co-op start-up process. What is a buying club and how is that different from a food cooperative? When might one be better than the other? What do new buying clubs need to do to get started? Are there software or other resources out there that can make the effort easier and more successful. If you’re starting a new buying club, you might have these questions and others. Please register early so that FCI can send you a preparation survey to ensure the webinar will better suit your goals. To register, go to: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/641221592
Webinar: UVM Extension New Farmer Project - Pricing for Profit
Learn how to set the "right" price for your products. We'll explore practical approaches to cost-based pricing, and learn how to integrate market information — what your competitors are charging — and your own profit goals in your pricing decisions. Participants will learn how to use the new, online “Vermont Direct Price Reporting” tool to get a snapshot of market conditions, and growers will share their approaches to integrating production costs, market information and farm goals into their pricing strategies.
Participants in this webinar will be eligible for small-group pricing clinics and farmer-to-farmer mentoring in March through the UVM Extension Vermont Direct Market Price Project. For more info: http://www.uvm.edu/newfarmer/?Page=webinars/upcoming_webinars.html&SM=webinars/sub-menu.html or contact Mary Peabody at email@example.com.
Winter Hops Conference
March 19 from 9:30AM to 4PM
Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, Burlington
Registration is now open for the 2012 UVM Extension Winter Hops Conference! The event will take place on March 19, 2012 at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington, VT. Daniel Sharp, Oregon State University, will be conducting a hops sensory analysis. Chris Callahan and Roger Rainville will present the new and exciting small-scale hops harvester and small-scale oast designs. A Farmer Panel will discuss growing hops in the northeast, sharing lessons learned. And Heather Darby and Rosalie Madden will present data collected from the UVM Extension research hops yard, including varietal differences, yields, hop pests, and brewing quality.
UVM Extension New Farmer Project Intensive Clinics: Direct Market Pricing Strategy
March 15 and March 20; Locations TBD
These FREE one-day clinics will provide hands-on opportunities to learn about various cost-based pricing techniques using your own production and financial data. Participants will also explore market placement and promotion considerations related to the price points you want to achieve. Follow-up mentoring and technical assistance will be available. Pre-registration is required, please register at http://www.uvm.edu/farmpricing/sign-2012-pricing-clinics. For more info: www.uvm.edu/farmpricing or mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
VT Food Safety Stakeholder Summit
Thursday March 22 from 8:30AM to 4:30PM
Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee VT
This summit is the first step toward creating a state food safety task force to improve food safety from farm to plate in Vermont. The goals of the summit are: 1) Introduce food safety stakeholders and facilitate their interaction with each other; 2) Identify regulatory, education and communication issues to be addressed by a state food safety task force; 3) Recruit members to participate in future task force meetings. Registration information wil l be available in early 2012. Please note that space for the event is limited to 100 participants, so we are aiming to have as broad of representation across all stakeholder groups as possible. For questions contact Londa Nwadike, UVM Extension Food Safety Specialist at Londa.Nwadike@uvm.edu or call (802) 223-2389 ext. 216 or (866) 860-1382 (toll free in Vermont).
Best Management Practices Coordinator
The Vermont Farms! Association (http://www.vtfarms.org) is looking for an individual to work half-time as a Best Management Practices Coordinator. The position will develop and deliver technical assistance to members on several key management practices, initiate collaborative projects and events with for-profit sponsors, members, their communities and VT non-profit organizations, and develop pilot Mentoring Program for agritourism. Additional duties include assisting the Board of Directors in pro-active implementation of a fundraising strategy and general administrative tasks. This is a 20 hour/week position with possibility for growth to full time based on additional fund-raising. Hours are flexible, with some nights and weekends required for special events. Please submit cover letter, resume and references by email to: email@example.com.
A 100 cow tie stall dairy in Enosburg Falls is looking for a herd manager. A small apartment is available for housing. The herd is well managed and has very good genetics. The current manager has recently had back surgery and his son who has been working on the farm just left for a job in the city. For more info: Steve Wadsworth firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting New Tool for Talking About Local Food
Check out The Lexicon of Sustainability website — a cool new national conversation about local food and sustainability. For the past three years Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton have crisscrossed the USA to converse with the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming. In all, over one hundred leaders in food and farming from across the country have contributed their valued experiences to this rapidly growing Lexicon of Sustainability. These insights have been translated into large format “information art” photo collages and a series of short films. Study guides, a book, a traveling show, installations, and lastly a website where people can dig deeper into these terms (and even add to our ever-evolving lexicon) are also under development.
Full Moon Farm Joins Lawsuit Against Monsanto
Earlier this month, Full Moon Farm of Hinesburg joined Rural Vermont and NOFA-VT and over 80 other plantiffs in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto to prevent the seed manufacturer from suing farmers whose crops become cross-pollinated with the company’s genetically engineered seeds. Read more: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120201/NEWS02/120131033/Hinesburg-farmers-join-lawsuit-challenging-Monsanto?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
FAHC Goes Local
Fletcher Allen Health Care was recently recognized for its’ commitment to local food in a segment on WCAX. Serving over 5000 meals a day, and purchasing over $1.5 million in local produce, meat, and dairy products, FAHC is taking the lead in institutional sourcing of local foods towards their goal to have the most sustainable health care food service in the country!