Update from F2P ~ August 2012
In advance of Irene’s Anniversary that damaged farms and cropland across the state, a press conference was held on August 22nd to provide updates on agricultural and farm recovery, including progress to date and priorities for work to be done. Governor Peter Shumlin, VAAFM Secretary Chuck Ross, Stuart Comstock-Gay from the Vermont Community Foundation, Robert Paquin of the USDA Farm Service Agency, and Cyrus Scribner, farmer and owner of Settlement Farm were on hand to discuss:
- Latest figures from the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund
- Info on a new case manager at the Agency of Agriculture to help farmers with ongoing recovery efforts
- The continuing role of the USDA and federal funding
Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund -- Additional Grant Round
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, working with the USDA Farm Service Agency, the Governor's Irene Recovery Office, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, and Castleton State College, recently conducted a survey to assess remaining needs among Vermont farmers. Based on the results of their work, the Foundation announced an additional grant round to assist farmers with general recovery. The application deadline is August 27th, 2012. For more info: http://www.vtfloodresponse.org/IreneFunds/VTFarmDisasterReliefFund/tabid/184/Default.aspx
Vermont Food System Atlas Update
For the past month VSJF has been feverishly working with Vermont Design Works (Winooski) to develop the Vermont Food System Atlas. The Atlas has three main purposes:
- “Unpack” the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan: Let’s face it – the Plan is starting to get into Russian novel length territory! The accessibility of each section of the Plan will be greatly improved on the Atlas website: Each section or subsection will have its own page, and all pdfs, data, images, graphs, figures, goals, links, resources, and people/organizations relevant to that section will be conveniently displayed.
- Improve Farm to Plate Network communication and coordination: All Working Groups, Task Forces, or Cross-Cutting Teams of the Network will have their own pages, and documents, messages, members, goals, events, and action items will be super easy to access.
- Track progress toward 2020: Each of the now 25 goals (down from the unwieldy 33 goals in the Executive Summary) and indicators of the Plan will be depicted in a “scorecard” fashion to track progress.
As with the Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont, all people and organizations in our mega-database will also be depicted on a mapping interface. And, as with the awesome Dig In Vermont site, information (e.g., pdfs, profiles, goals) from the Food System website can be “grabbed” and added to a “collection” that can be shared far and wide. We’re excited about this website – and can’t wait to share it with the world.
Farm to Plate Strategic Plan Update
New Chapter Published! Understanding Consumer Demand
VSJF announces the release of Chapter 3.1: Understanding Consumer Demand, which looks at where we get and how much we spend on our food, and explores whether Vermont could feed itself with local production. Chapter 3.1 also highlights consumer education programs and campaigns to improve health and efforts to get more local foods in Vermont's schools and institutions. Download Chapter 3.1 (PDF, 6 MB): http://www.vsjf.org/assets/files/Agriculture/Strat_Plan/3.1_Understanding%20Consumer%20Demand_High%20Resolution.pdf
VSJF Welcomes New Member of the F2P Team!
After reviewing a number of well-qualified candidates, VSJF is pleased to welcome Sarah Galbraith to the VSJF team as the Farm to Plate Network Assistant. In this role, Sarah will improve VSJF’s capacity to serve as effective network coordinators for the Farm to Plate Network. She will also assist with the development of the Vermont Food System Atlas. Prior to joining VSJF, Sarah worked for more than six years at the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC), focusing on community-scale biomass energy issues in Vermont. Since leaving BERC she has been interning with Food Works at Two Rivers Center, assisting them with fundraising and donor development. Sarah contributes to several publications on outdoor recreation, holds a BS in biology, and lives with her family in Marshfield.
For VSJF, Sarah will provide overall logistical support to the Network, assist with writing, editing, and revisions to the F2P Strategic Plan, assemble success stories and work closely with other VSJF staff to accumulate content for the Vermont Food System Atlas. "I am passionate about Vermont's food system, whether I'm growing my own food, buying food from a neighbor's farm, or supporting one of our well-known brands. I am looking forward to my role in laying the groundwork in Vermont for improved viability for food production and increased consumer access to fresh and nutritious food that is grown locally. I am very excited to be working with the excellent team at VSJF towards such an important mission."
Sarah’s experience and enthusiasm will be an excellent addition to the Farm to Plate team and we hope you will join us in offering her a warm welcome! Sarah can be reached at email@example.com starting August 29.
Farm to Plate Network Update
Working groups have started their fourth round of quarterly meetings since the launch of the Network last October. This past year Network participants have been learning new processes (i.e. making decisions and working within a network framework), building relationships, and undertaking collaborative action toward strengthening our food system. Here’s a summary of recent activities.
Technical Assistance for Producers and Processors: The Meat Processing Task Force continues to move Vermont’s meat industry forward by addressing processing issues. The Working Group is also at the early stages of assessing what is needed to strengthen producer and processor organizations, to better coordinate technical assistance services, and to develop some shared data collection and metrics to evaluate the quality of technical assistance programs in the state.
Aggregation and Distribution Working Group: One of the subgroups within this working group has been meeting with Sodexo, which holds food service contracts with the majority of Vermont’s higher education institutions as well as some private employer commissaries, to develop a system to increase and track their local food purchases, with the overall goal of increasing the amount of local food purchased at Vermont institutions. A workshop with producers potentially interested in selling more product to Sodexo is being organized for early November. There is also a subgroup developing a project to assess the supply and demand for local food at traditional retail outlets in the state.
Education and Workforce Development Working Group: One of the core missions of this group is to develop a seamless food system education continuum, from elementary school through adult education. The VSJF and this working group have engaged two researchers who are conducting a workforce needs assessment to gauge the evolving needs of Vermont’s food system employers, and are assessing the depth and breadth of food system educational offerings already available in the state. Once the results of the on-line surveys and in-person interviews have been completed, a report of findings and recommendations will be published in late December. On January 15, a Food System Education & Workforce Summit will be jointly organized by the Working Group, VSJF, VT Agency of Ag, VT Dept of Education, VT Dept of Labor and VT Tech which will bring employers and educational leaders together to discuss the research findings and explore new opportunities for collaborating on implementing the report’s recommendations.
Dairy Development Working Group: This group continues to focus on expanding technical assistance to dairy farms through Dairy Management Teams and other avenues. At its August meeting, the WG honed in a tangible project to assemble into one document, all of the technical assistance and business planning services that exist in the state – that serve a wide range of dairy industry needs – and then publish and disseminate this information widely. Instead of promoting one program over another, the group felt that industry members have such varying needs and at different times. Having a catalogue of all the programs and services that are available, such as what PRO-Dairy puts out each year in NY state, will allow each industry member to access and utilize those services most needed at any given time.
Farmland Access and Stewardship Working Group: After a series of in-depth learning sessions on farmland access, water quality and conservation, and land use planning, the group will be meeting in September to finalize its work plan for the year ahead.
Consumer Education and Marketing Working Group: A subgroup recently met to discuss key findings from the newly released F2P Chapter 3.1 and identify possible projects. A couple of good project ideas came out of that meeting and are currently being vetted before being presented to the full WG at their next meeting
Soils and Water Cross-Cutting Task Force: This group is made up of UVM Extension staff, UVM researchers, farmers, and state agency staff. There are currently a lot of research projects related to this topic and the group will be tracking the progress of the research as well as identifying some actions steps for the coming year (e.g., soil monitoring).
Food Access Cross-Cutting Team: This group will meet again in September. It is made up of many organizations and agencies working to increase access to healthy and local foods to all Vermonters.
Financing Cross-Cutting Team: This group is having its first meeting on September 5 to identify financing needs and gaps for farms and food businesses and will discuss how capital providers can be more engaged with Vermont’s food system especially across different stages of development and scales of operation.
If your organization or business is interested in joining the Farm to Plate Network, please contact Erica Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Spotlight: Rutland County
Each month, we’ll highlight Farm to Plate related activities in a different region of the state. If you’d like to have your region’s activities highlighted, please email us at email@example.com
There are some really exciting things happening within Rutland County’s food system. Read below to find out more, and also check out the Events section of this newsletter to learn about Rutland’s upcoming farm and food events.
Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL): RAFFL provides a vast array of support and resources to farmers and the community in the Rutland area. RAFFL works to support farmers in several ways. They produce a Locally Grown Guide (http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/guide/) each year to connect consumers with local producers. They hold a successful Summer Workshop Series (http://raffl.wordpress.com/new-farmer-workshop-series/) on topics that range from marketing to greenhouse production. To further support farmers, they hold a variety of Farmers Gatherings & Events (http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/events/) throughout the year.
RAFFL also works with the community to improve access to healthy, local food. Through their Grow a Row (http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/growarow/) program, they gather farm-fresh produce and donate it to area food-service agencies for distribution. This year, they are teaming up with Salvation Farms to maximize the amount of food they distribute. RAFFL’s Farm to Workplace Delivery (www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/workplace/) program delivers CSA shares of fresh farm food to 10 area workplaces. They offer cooking demos and recipes to participating workplaces through their Every Day Chef (http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/) program.
Rutland Farmers’ Market: The Rutland region boasts 15 farmers' markets, including a highly successful year-round farmers’ market in downtown Rutland.
Restaurants Highlighting Local Food: Local food delicacies can be found in several Rutland area restaurants, including Roots Restaurant, Ana's Empanadas, and Three Tomatoes in Rutland, Victorian Inn in Wallingford, Red Clover Inn in Mendon, and Sissy’s Kitchen in Middletown Springs. Since its inception in February of 2011, Roots' chef Donald Billings has poured his boundless energy into creating a strong connection to the local farms and the community as a whole. In his first year of business, Donald purchased over $90K of local farm products creating a whole new market opportunity for a number of small farms.
Food Coops: The Rutland Area Food Coop (http://rutlandcoop.com/) is still going strong after 17 years, and the Stone Valley Community Market (http://www.stonevalleymarket.com/) is a coop that recently opened in Poultney. Both of these markets emphasize fresh, local produce. Primarily serving the Green Mountain College community, Stone Valley is also attracting shoppers from the greater Rutland area and New York State.
- Evening Song Farm Before Irene Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4ZCKKtmJkY&feature=youtu.be)
- Evening Song Farm After Irene Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUrh2v0d0bs&feature=youtu.be)
Other Food System News
Farm Viability Enrollment Deadline
The Vermont Farm Viability Program is currently accepting applications for the August 31st deadline for in-depth farm business planning. The program has helped more than 375 farmers to increase profits, improve farm management, develop new, value-added products, and plan for farm transfers. Farmers are matched with consultants to provide individualized business assistance. For more info: www.vhcb.org/viability.
Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Available
USDA Rural Development has announced that grant funds are available to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. The application deadline is October 15, 2012. Goals of the program are to generate new products, create and expanding marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Funds may be used for eligible economic planning activities, such as conducting feasibility studies or developing business plans for processing and marketing of value-added products. Funds may also be used for eligible working capital expenses, such as processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and some inventory and salary expenses directly related to the value-added project. Funds may not be used to purchase property or equipment or to construct facilities. For more info: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html
Production Space Available, South Burlington
Production space for lease in South Burlington starting November 1st -- 2,500 total square feet including process room with wash down walls, floor drain, existing infrastructure for air, water, 3 phase power, some infrastructure equipment offered including water boiler, pallet racking, compressed air, ventilation, dry fill machine, office furniture. Facility has current FDA and VT Dept of health inspection compliance. Adjacent 2,500 square feet of storage or retro fit is available too.
No processing equipment is offered other than a Dry Fill Machine at this time. This is a great opportunity for a food company to move in to a location that is in compliance with low fit up cost. For more info: Contact Jeff Mitchell or (802) 846-7639.
Vermont Farm Fund
Thanks to the Vermont Farm Fund, a program of the Center for an Agricultural Economy, over a dozen loans were given to Vermont farmers totaling $125,000. The farms helped were Kingsbury Market Garden, Evening Song Farm, Joe’s Brook Garden, Elmore Roots, Jersey Girls Farm, Arethusa Farm, Crystal Springs Farm, Harlow Farm, Hartshorn Farm, Jericho Settlers Farm, Little Village Farm, MacLennan Farm, Sweet Rowen Farmstead.
Youth Agriculture Individual Development Account Program
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture is seeking youth who are involved or interested in agriculture for a one-year program that will both help them save money towards the purchase of a business-related asset and acquire important business management skills. Recruitment for the Youth Agriculture Individual Development Account program has begun, and the program will begin in January 2013. Young farmers will exit the program possessing both seed capital and financial literacy skills -- key components in establishing an independent enterprise or assuming more of a management role in the family farm operation. For more info: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/youth/vtyouthagida/
Vermont Farm to School Salons
Vermont Farm to School Salons combine delicious local food and juicy conversation about the current essential questions of the farm to school movement and will take place in living rooms of practitioners throughout Vermont during fall 2012 and winter/spring 2013. Each salon is co-hosted by two to three people from a region, with group sizes ranging from about 8-20. The salons are a time to reflect on the larger questions, as well as practitioner nuts and bolts. The goal is to have between 6-10 Salons from October 2012 through May 2013. If you'd like to host a Salon in your area, contact Anne Bijur from Vermont FEED at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 985-0318.
Food System Events
Farm-to-Table Sunset Dinners and Tours
from August - October
Sandiwood Farm, Wolcott
Enjoy a freshly harvested meal on the farm by professionally-trained NECI chef Sandi Woody who will prepare a truly farm-to-plate experience that promises to be an exceptionally unique event. Dinners held monthly from August through November. These intimate meals will be capped at 20 people, so RSVP early. For more info: http://www.vtpuresyrup.com/sunsetdinners.html
Nutrient-Dense Forages and Soil Health Field Day
Tuesday, August 28 from 10AM-3PM
Butterworks Farm, Westfield
Learn more about forage crops, nutrient-dense land management, soil health and amendments, and ongoing research at UVM Extension. John Kempf of Ohio’s “Advancing Eco-Agriculture” will be on-hand to answer questions about whole farm health and explain his work with nutrient-dense soil amendments. For more info: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/nutrientdenseAugust282012.pdf
Goodnight Irene Pig Roast
Wednesday, August 29
Roots the Restaurant, Rutland
Roots the Restaurant and Long Trail Brewing will host Good Night Irene Pig Roast to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene and celebrate Vermont’s resiliency on Wales Street in Rutland. The event is free and open to the public and will feature live music, dancing and children’s entertainment. Roots will be serving a complimentary pig roast dinner, and Long Trail will have their signature Good Night Irene brew available on tap. Donations of $4 for all drafts and $1 for nonalcoholic beverages will go to Restoring Rutland, the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link and Evening Song Farm. A 50/50 raffle will also be held to help raise funds. For more info: http://rootsrutland.com/community/
Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival
Saturday and Sunday, September 1-2
Junction VT Routes 7 & 9, Bennington, VT
Join garlic-lovers from throughout New England as they come to sample food and crafts from over 100 different vendors all made from garlic and herbs! Garlic growers, garlic products, live music, herbal workshops, garlic ice cream, children’s activities, workshops on growing and cooking garlic, and more! For more info: http://lovegarlic.com/
Twilight in the Meadow
September 9 at 4:30 PM
Woods’ Market Garden, Brandon
A September Celebration of Seasonal Food & Area Farmers during RAFFL’s annual fundraiser at Wood’s Market Garden with a meal highlighting the region’s best local food prepared by Village Roots Catering. Comedian Rusty DeWees, live auction, dinner, and more! For more info: http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/twilight/
Save the Date! 5th Annual Tour de Farms
Sunday September 16
Shoreham Green, Shoreham
This annual event draws 500+ participants and offers three bike routes and one walking route, each with designated stops along the way where farms and restaurants provide samples of locally-produced foods. Registration opens August 1st. The Tour is co-organized by ACORN, Rural Vermont, and the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and is a fundraiser for all three organizations. For more information: www.ruralvermont.org.
Bounty of the County: ACORN's 1st Annual Auction and Fundraiser
Saturday, October 13 from 5-9PM
Tourterelle's, New Haven
ACORN is partnering with Tourterelle (http://www.tourterellevt.com) to host an evening to remember. Dinner will feature products grown in Addison County and will be served buffet style. Accompanying the meal will be an auction, creative entertainment, and an Autumn Night dance party.
2nd Annual Food Day
Wednesday, October 24
Food movement leaders are gearing up for the second annual Food Day, the nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food. Food Day brings together organizations and individuals working on food issues as varied as hunger, nutrition, agriculture policy, animal welfare, and farmworker justice. To help make Food Day host an event and get involved, go to www.FoodDay.org.
The Weight of the Nation: Confronting America's Obesity Problem
Thursday, November 1 from 5:30-8PM
South Burlington High School, South Burlington
Documentary screening of the one-hour segment on “Challenges” which examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic, including agribusiness, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry. The screening will be followed by panel discussion about local efforts to support Chittenden County residents' ability to choose to lead active lives and incorporate nutritious, local foods into their meals. For more info: http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/films/trailer
Vermont Women's Economic Opportunity Conference
Saturday, November 10
Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center
This year's conference will explore Vermonters' resiliency in the wake of an economic downturn and Tropical Storm Irene. There will also be new offerings for Vermont's value-added food producers and for recent college graduates looking to stay in Vermont. The conference will continue to feature the vital "how-to" workshops that provide the basic tools for women at all stages of their professional and personal development. For more info: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/issues/the-womens-economic-opportunity-conference
2nd Annual Financing the Working Landscape Conference
Thursday, November 15 from 8:30AM-4:30PM
American Legion, Middlebury
The Financing the Working Landscape conference will bring together the regional capital community and Champlain Valley entrepreneurs with businesses involved in food, agriculture and forestry. Capital and service providers, foundations, entrepreneurs and businesses involved in food and agriculture and the working landscape, and students are all welcome to attend. For more info: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=rm4yijdab&oeidk=a07e4vv5mia5360c5fb
Food System Jobs
Food Systems Program Coordinator, University of Vermont
Support development of doctoral program in food systems including assembling database of related courses and assisting the Director of the Food Systems Graduate Program in support of the Food Systems Spire of Excellence. Coordinate activities of the Food Systems Graduate Program, including answering correspondence from program faculty, students and prospective students; coordinate functions such as committee meetings, program courses, seminars, and recruitment visits; develop and maintain database on program faculty, students, prospective students, alumni and events; help develop and maintain program web pages and published brochures; assist with all aspects of admission procedure. For more info: https://www.uvmjobs.com/applicants/jsp/shared/frameset/Frameset.jsp?time=1345469775968
Farm Business Specialist, Intervale Center
The Intervale Center seeks a full-time Farm Business Specialist to deliver high quality farm and food business planning services throughout Vermont. A minimum 5-years experience in agricultural development and/or business development and Bachelor’s degree in agricultural management, economics, business administration or related field is required. Advanced training in farm business management, production or economics preferred. Position requires strong project management and business coaching skills, the ability to work independently and within deadlines, excellent communication skills, demonstrated success helping farmers or other entrepreneurs improve their businesses and a passion for agriculture. Travel throughout Vermont is required. Submit resume, cover letter and 2 references to email@example.com by August 27, 2012. For more info: http://www.intervale.org/wp-content/uploads/Farm-Business-Specialist-Job-Description-Aug-20121.pdf
Nutrition Education Coordinator, Hunger Free Vermont
This position coordinates Hunger Free Vermont’s Learning Kitchen program, a statewide nutrition and cooking education program for limited resource Vermonters. Duties include developing and maintaining relationships with program hosts statewide; providing outreach, technical assistance, and training to program partners; managing and maintaining detailed records of program data.
Position requires excellent verbal and written communication skills, experience in nutrition education development or implementation, and strong attention to detail. In state travel required. A more detailed description is available upon request. Send one PDF of cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Nutrition Education Program Coordinator.
Part-Time Milker, Willow Moon Farm
Part-time milker wanted for small goat dairy/creamery in Plainfield, VT. Evenings and some weekend shifts. Eventually looking for a herd manager or perhaps someone to own the herd with milk being sold to our creamery exclusively. Plenty of opportunity for the right person. Contact Kim at email@example.com
Urban Agriculture in Burlington
A film, created by Hillary Archer at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, was inspired by graduate research work with the Urban Agriculture Task Force. Featuring Fletcher Allen’s rooftop garden, New Farms for New Americans, Burlington Permaculture, and Alison Nihart, UVM graduate student and a member of the Farm to Plate Network’s Farmland Access and Stewardship Working Group. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=godg7xefPvQ&feature=youtu.be
Cheese in Space
Jasper Hill Farm (http://www.cellarsatjasperhill.com/) launches a wedge of Bayley Hazen Blue into space! http://www.wcax.com/story/19036815/cheesemakers-in-vermont-think-big
Food Systems Summit – UVM
In late June 2012, UVM held its first-ever Food Systems Summit to highlight innovative ideas and initiatives for transforming the food system from 15 food movement experts. Of the many takeaways, five key points became common threads.