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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Update from F2P ~ July 2012

Farm to Plate Network Update 

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June was a busy month for Farm to Plate – so busy that we missed publishing our June newsletter! All six Working Groups have met for a third time since the launch of the Network last October. The Food Access Cross-Cutting Team met for the first time in late May with strong attendance and enthusiasm. New and existing relationships are being forged and strengthened across organizations and value chains and project work plans are either under development or underway.

Here is a brief update describing the progress of some of the Farm to Plate Network groups:

Food Access Cross-cutting Team (CCT) – At the first Food Access CCT meeting in May, several people from almost twenty organizations met to discuss food access and food security issues in Vermont and how best to collaborate to meet the needs of low income Vermonters. The CCT will meet again in September to determine next steps.

Aggregation and Distribution Working Group (WG) – Subgroups within this WG are working on three projects: defining local food for institutional purchasing (developing a common definition for data tracking purposes), assessing what local products are most in demand by traditional retailers, and exploring compensation/tax credit options for producers who donate food.

Consumer Education and Marketing Working Group – This group is working to develop stories and messaging for local food, and to better define market segments, particularly consumers who are on the “edge” of purchasing more local food. Several organizations in this group also work on food access and consumer education issues, such as community gardens, cooking and nutrition classes – and these topics will likely be a focus of the group in the future.

Dairy Development Working Group – One subgroup within the Dairy Development WG is made up of a variety of organizations working to expand Dairy Management Teams and other forms of advisory support for dairy farms. Another subgroup is working on messaging about the positive impact of dairy production and processing on Vermont’s economy.

Technical Assistance for Producers and Processors Working Group – The Meat Processing Task Force within the TA Working Group continues to make great strides to improve Vermont’s meat processing industry (see below). The WG also has two subgroups that are working to strengthen producer and processor associations and to better coordinate technical assistance service providers by developing a client referral tool.

Farmland Access and Stewardship Working Group – At the onset of the F2P Network, this Working Group decided to spend its first year in a series of learning sessions about topics related to the group: soil and water quality, farmland access, land use planning, and financing. These learning sessions have revealed new insights about how member organizations can work together more effectively and in a more coordinated fashion. Several members of this group are also part of the Soil and Water Task Force.

Education and Workforce Development Working Group – This Working Group identified a need for a comprehensive food system workforce assessment and has worked with VSJF to secure funding to hire a Vermont-based consultant team to conduct the research. A portion of the funds came from The Farm to Plate Network Fund, allocated by the F2P Network Steering Committee. The results of the study will be available in December of this year and will inform the WG as it moves forward with developing a seamless Pre-K through adult food system education and workforce development system.

Meat Processing Task Force - This group is part of the TA Working Group and continues to make great strides to improve Vermont’s meat processing industry. There are now thirteen members who meet on a monthly basis, with additional guests invited to speak on pressing industry issues as they arise. Next steps include the development of a dashboard of industry indicators, as well as two upcoming workshops: 1) Pork Production and Value Added Processing at Vermont Smoke and Cure in Hinesburg on August 14th and 2) Custom Slaughter and Regulatory Literacy at Full Circle Farm in Wells River on September 11 (http://nofavt.org/upcoming-events-calendar).

Soils and Water Task Force – Several people recently met at UVM for this Task Force’s second meeting. The Task Force began as a subgroup of the Technical Assistance (TA) Working Group, and has now evolved into a cross-cutting task force with members from TA, Farmland Access and Stewardship, and Dairy Development Working Groups, plus several UVM researchers, UVM Extension staff, and Vermont agency staff. The main focus of the group is to help develop more soil monitoring in Vermont and promote practices that lead to healthier soils – which ultimately leads to better water quality and the improved ability to adapt to extreme weather events.

Building a Regional Food System

During the last week of June, many Vermonters attended the UVM Food System Summit and the New England Food Summit. Earlier in the week, Erica Campbell (F2P) presented to students at UVM’s Breakthrough Leaders program, a cross-disciplinary certificate course addressing problems and opportunities related to sustainable food systems. At the public summit on June 28—The Necessary [r]evolution for Sustainable Food Systems—influential thinkers and change makers from throughout the country exchanged their best ideas to stimulate and strengthen individual and collective action for a sustainable food system. The talks were very inspirational. Highlights include: 

  • Niaz Dorry of Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance spoke about the challenges of small scale fishing and the need to integrate seafood into the local food movement
  • Ladonna Redmond inspired many with her stories of working in urban Chicago communities to expand the availability of fresh food
  • Vermont farmer Corie Pierce shared her poignant story of becoming a farmer
  • Rich Pirog of Michigan State University talked about the power of networks for large-scale social change from his work at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa
  • UVM Extension’s Vern Grubinger illustrated the need to create more horizontally connected relationships to offset the vertically-integrated relationships dominant within the industrial food system

We anticipate that these inspirational talks will soon be available on UVM’s website. For now, you can watch UVM's food systems graphic video which debuted at the event last week at http://www.uvm.edu/foodsystems/?Page=summit.html.

On June 29, food system delegates from all over New England converged to discuss how to strengthen our regional food system. Food Solutions New England is an initiative designed to facilitate networked collaboration among the six New England states. Delegates considered and discussed the New England Good Food Vision: a bold vision that calls for our region to build the capacity to produce up to 80% of clean, fair, just and accessible food for all New Englanders by 2060. The vision includes a set of guiding assumptions and calculations that sketch a future in which diverse local and state food systems are supported by and in turn build a regional sustainable food system. Delegates also discussed how to collaboratively develop regional strategies and action plans that build regional food system capacity and sustainability.

Vermont is seen as a regional leader by our New England neighbors because our Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, Farm to Plate Network, and the many innovative farm and food system businesses and organizations we have in the state. Forging relationships between states and sharing “lessons learned” will help each state develop their own food system plans and networks, and ultimately create the coordinated infrastructure, policies, and economic support needed to propel us toward a common vision.

Regional Spotlight: Washington County

Each month we 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 farm2plate@vsjf.org.

For many years Washington County has been a quiet innovator in the local foods movement. The county had one of the first localvore groups in the country and one of the earliest Farm to School programs in the nation. The area has many successful pioneering farms and food system businesses. More recently, organizations and businesses in the county have begun working together to coordinate activities to maximize their impact to create a vibrant, just local food system.

Food Works at Two Rivers: This year, Food Works celebrates 25 years of helping Vermont build lasting, local food security through farm, food and nutrition education and the subsidized distribution of healthy, local food to people throughout the region. Food Works started as one of the nation’s earliest organizations working on farm to school education. Their Two Rivers Center farm provides a wide array of agriculture and food system educational opportunities. Food Works also connects farm fresh food to a variety of schools and institutions. Their Farm to Table aggregation and distribution program helps local farmers increase market opportunities and helps improve community food security.

Mad River Food HubMad River Food Hub: Opened in 2011, the Mad River Food Hub (MRFH) is a fully equipped, licensed vegetable and USDA inspected meat processing facility located in Waitsfield. Processing rooms are available for rent by the day and the facility also offers dry, refrigerated and frozen storage as well as weekly distribution services to retail markets throughout the northern part of the state. The MRFH also offers a variety of technical assistance services including business planning assistance, HACCP plan development, and access to a vast network of other food enterprises. Washington County businesses currently using the MRFH for their processing needs include: Vermont Salumi, Screaming Ridge Farm, Joe’s Soups, Vermont Bean Crafters, Tonewood Maple, and Knoll Farm. Learn more about the Mad River Food Hub in the June 4th episode of “Across the Fence.”  

Mad River Localvores: One of the first local food groups in the country, The Mad River Localvores have recently reorganized after its co-founders had taken some time off. The revamped Localvores have a new director, natural chef and food educator Lisa Barnes, and will be focusing on a few key areas, including farm to school activities. The Localvores are closely collaborating with several area organizations, including the Mad River Food Hub and the Waterbury-Duxbury Food Council, to expand the amount of local food produced and consumed in the region, and to celebrate the local food system.

Waterbury-Duxbury Food Council: The Waterbury-Duxbury Food Council recently completed a community food system assessment with funding support from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. The assessment has led to new partnerships, and the findings are being used by various community stakeholders to prioritize projects that can be collaboratively implemented, such as a Waterbury area agritourism marketing campaign. The Food Council is also working with the Vermont Land Trust and Land For Good to help plan a July workshop for non-farming landowners interested in leasing land to new and existing farmers.

Center for Sustainable Systems: For several years Montpelier High School science teacher Tom Sabo has been a statewide leader in developing sustainability and food system curriculum. He recently created the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS), an organization dedicated to bringing relevance and rigor to high school education in Central Vermont. Interdisciplinary service learning-based projects, developed by certified teachers in their respective disciplines, will be carried out at the Two Rivers Center farm in Montpelier. Summer programs which offer academic credit and stipends will be the only one of its kind in the region, and may serve as a prototype for other areas of the state and country. The food produced through the CSS will be sold through student-run businesses and provided to community organizations serving those in need.

Farm to Plate Plan Update

New Chapter Published! Food System Business Planning and Technical Assistance

Section 4, Chapter 4: Food System Business Planning and Technical Assistance summarizes the range of business planning and technical assistance services currently available to Vermont farm and food system businesses, identifies service gaps and needs, and makes recommendations for how the field can continue to make a positive impact on Vermont’s food system. The information in this chapter will be searchable once the Vermont Food System Atlas has been launched and will serve as a resource tool for producers and processors seeking business and technical assistance.

Vermont Food System Atlas Update

VSJF recently hired Vermont Design Works to develop the web-based Vermont Food System Atlas. The Atlas is intended to be used my multiple audiences, and will include the following features:

 

  • Farm to Plate Strategic Plan - Information, charts, and graphs, all within an easy-to-use, searchable database
  • Getting to 2020 – A dashboard of indicators that illustrate how we are doing at reaching the goals of the F2P plan
  • F2P Network - A communications platform for the F2P Network – where members can read meeting notes and documents, send messages, and find pertinent information
  • People and Places – A “filmstrip” will appear throughout the Atlas with people and places relevant to that section of the food system (e.g. a search for dairy will bring you to a page with dairy information, as well as a “filmstrip” of people and places in Vermont’s dairy industry.)
  • The Atlas – A series of maps with many attributes of Vermont’s food system – intended to help people locate and examine spatial relationships between farms, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and state entities all working to expand our local food system
  • Regions – Each region within Vermont will have a dedicated place in the Atlas designed to support regional coordination
  • Extras – This section will be a portal to many other agriculture and food system resources (e.g., Dig In VT, VAAFM, NOFA-VT, UVM, etc.)

 

Food System Events

NOFA-VT Summer Workshop Series

NOVA-VT has been producing a summer workshop series for more than a decade—and there’s never been a better time to learn more about local food production. Whether you’re an experienced or beginning farmer, a devoted homesteader, or a new gardener, you'll find many workshops to choose from all summer long. For more information: http://nofavt.org/annual-events/summer-workshops/

UVM Extension Food Safety Training Courses

Understanding Food Regulations and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
Wednesday, July 11 from 9AM to Noon ($10 registration fee)
Department of Health Conference Room, 108 Cherry Street, Burlington

Introduction to HACCP (geared for non-meat products)
Thursday July 12 from 2PM to 5PM ($20 registration fee)
Vermont Food Venture Center, Hardwick

Meat and Poultry Processors HACCP Training Course
Monday, July 16 – Wednesday, July 18 ($325 registration fee)
UVM Extension Office, 617 Comstock Road, Berlin

Understanding Acidified Foods Regulations
Thursday, August 2 from 6:30 to 8PM ($5 registration fee)
Vermont Food Venture Center, Hardwick

Introduction to HACCP (geared for non-meat products)
Wednesday, August 8 from 9AM to Noon ($15 registration fee)
Department of Health Conference Room, 108 Cherry Street, Burlington

Understanding Acidified Foods Regulations
Wednesday, September 19 from 9AM to 10:30AM ($10 registration fee)
Department of Health Conference Room, 108 Cherry Street, Burlington

Value Added Grains

Thursday, July 12 from 11AM to 3PM
Olivia’s Croutons, 1423 North Street, New Haven

Grain grower Francie Caccavo will describe how she’s adapted her love of farming to fit with Vermont’s localvore demands by processing farm-grown grains into value-added products at Olivia’s Croutons in New Haven, Vermont. During this workshop, we will tour the fields and processing facilities. Register online: www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil

Island Bike Tours – Farms, Food, Wine, Art

Saturday, July 14 from 9AM to 4PM
Snow Farm Vineyard, South Hero

The Islands Bike Tour offers cyclists of all levels the opportunity to explore the Champlain Islands during a leisurely (and spectacular) 10 or 25-mile ride with stops at farms, art studios, food venues, and vineyards. $35 adult, $20 youth. Finish your ride with a free massage and wine tasting. For more information: www.VermontFarmTours.com/biketour.html

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival 2012

Sunday, July 21 from 11AM to 4PM
Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms, Shelburne

Experience the passion for making fine cheeses, taste local and fresh foods and wines, and meet the artisans who make them. Spend a high summer day along the shores of Lake Champlain at the historic Shelburne Farms Coach Barn sampling, buying, learning, and networking. For more info: www.vtcheesefest.com/event-schedule.html

Leasing Your Land to a Farmer: An Informational Workshop for Landowners and Community Groups

Saturday, July 21, 2012 from 3-6PM
Big Picture Theater, Waitsfield, VT

This workshop is for private landowners interested in making their land available to farmers for agricultural production, and for members of community organizations interested in assisting local farmland owners to keep agricultural land in active production. Please RSVP. Email info@landforgood.org or phone 603-357-1600.

Integrating Oilseeds into Diversified Agriculture

Tuesday, July 24 from 3PM to 6PM
Wood's Market Garden, 93 Wood Lane, Brandon, VT

Jon Satz and the crew at Wood’s Market Garden will describe how they have integrated oilseed production into their vegetable operation, and the benefits and challenges they have had in doing so. Satz harvested about five acres of sunflowers for oil and meal in 2011 and will talk about some of the production, management, harvesting, and processing issues that are specific to his operation. Registration is a $15 per person fee and includes light refreshments. For more info: Integrating Oilseeds into Diversified Agriculture or register online at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil.

6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Thursday, August 2 from 8AM to 12PM Noon on Sunday, August 5
Davis Center, UVM, Burlington

This important conference will bring together food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, representatives from government agencies and nonprofits, entrepreneurs, students and others who are breaking down barriers and expanding the impact of Farm to Cafeteria. There will be skill-building short-courses, field trips to innovative Vermont farms and institutions, a diverse workshop program, and plenty of opportunities to network with inspiring individuals from across the country. For more info: http://farmtocafeteriaconference.org/6/

Annual UVM Extension Crops & Soils Field Day

Thursday, August 9 from 10AM to 4PM
Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh

The Northwest Crops and Soils Program, under the leadership of Dr. Heather Darby, has been conducting research on grains, forage crops, hops, oilseeds, nutrient and fertility management, water quality, and soil health for 8 years! The Field Day will give you an opportunity to tour Borderview Research Farm, where many of the experiments are conducted, as well as getting an overview of research results. $15 includes a terrific locally produced lunch. To register: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/

11th Annual Harpoon Point to Point Fundraiser for the VT Foodbank

Saturday, August 11 from 7AM to 6PM
Williston, Bethel, and Windsor

The Harpoon Point to Point is a collective effort between the Harpoon Brewery, the Vermont Foodbank, and The Point Radio Network, to raise awareness and funds for neighboring Vermonters in need. Riders choose from three beautiful rides, all of which finish at the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT with hot showers, fresh beer, live music, and a delicious BBQ. This is the largest fundraising event for the Vermont Foodbank, raising $446,000 to date. For more info: http://www.vtfoodbank.org/

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.

Food System Jobs

Farm to Plate Network Assistant, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

VSJF seeks a Farm to Plate (F2P) Network Assistant to become part of our dedicated, hardworking team focused on strengthening Vermont’s food system. This position will assist with the coordination of the F2P Network and the development of the Vermont Food System Atlas. The ideal candidate should have at least 2 years of experience in agricultural or food system work. A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree is preferred. This position is fully funded through June 30, 2013 with the possibility of continuation beyond that timeframe. For more info: http://www.vsjf.org/news/61/vsjf-seeks-full-time-farm-to-plate-network-assistant

Program Coordinator, Energy Action Network

EAN seeks a Program Coordinator to provide operational leadership and support to the network’s Leverage Point working groups and participate in providing overall strategic leadership for EAN as a whole. This work will be accomplished utilizing a systems approach to change and fostering collaboration among diverse interest groups.The Program Coordinator will serve at various times in the roles of entrepreneur, teacher, bridge-builder, and facilitator. For more info: http://www.vsjf.org/assets/files/temp/Job%20Description-%20Program%20Coordinator.pdf

Executive Director, Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association

The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association (VMSMA) has officially launched a search for an Executive Director following a successful merger of three Vermont maple related entities into one viable organization. This will be a part time position with the potential to become full time. Those interested may request a full job description from VMSMA Secretary, Mary Croft at mcmaple@wildblue.net, VMSMA 491 E. Barnard Rd. So. Royalton, VT 05068.

Marketing and Communications Manager, Highfields Center for Composting

Highfields Center for Composting is hiring a Marketing and Communications Manager. If you care about soil, food, and building resilient communities and strong local economies, plus you have some solid marketing and communications chops, this may be the job for you. For more info: http://www.highfieldscomposting.org/MarketingAndCommJob_June2012.htm

Other News

New England Farmland Finder

A new online service that helps farmers and landowners find each other. This farm property clearinghouse is free, simple, up-to-date, and privacy protected. It contains information and resource links to inform and support farm seekers and landowners. Read more.

Farm Bill Jackpot – How Much do Corporations Benefit from SNAP?

Report examines the role of three powerful industry sectors that benefit from SNAP, including major food manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Mars; leading food retailers such as Walmart and Kroger; and large banks, such as J.P. Morgan Chase, which contract with states to help administer SNAP benefits. Read more.

New Food Co-Op Plans to Open in Bennington

A downtown food co-operative is expected to open on Main Street this fall under the name Southshire Community Market. Read more.

Become a Price Reporter to UVM Extension

This season, UVM extension is building a robust, bi-weekly report of direct market prices. The report will be a downloadable PDF with the maximum, minimum, average, and median prices for produce sold directly to consumers around the state. To make the information useful, farmers need to report prices for the crops they are selling. UVM needs more reporters – any farmer selling produce directly to Vermont customers can participate, including farmers from NH, NY, and MA selling at Vermont farmers markets. For more information: http://www.uvm.edu/farmpricing/

Vermont Soy Receives Award

Vermont SoyMichael Carr, Business Manager of Vermont Soy in Hardwick, was presented with a Creative Workforce Solutions 2012 Employer Award. Vermont Soy was recognized for their outstanding efforts to employ individuals working with CWS member employment programs, assisting candidates to engage in workforce development and become successful, and contributing members at Vermont Soy and within their community. The award was presented by DJ Masi, Business Account Manager, CWS, Lamoille County. In addition to supporting local businesses, Vermont Soy supports the CWS goals of placing qualified individuals with disabilities or other barriers in rewarding and productive jobs. For more information: www.cwsvt.com