Update from F2P ~ November 2012
Farm to Plate Annual Gathering
From the expansion of Black River Produce into a 50,000 square foot meat processing facility and the 19 value-added food producers crafting away at the Mad River Food Hub, to Green Mountain Farm-to-School’s “Lunchbox” mobile farmers’ market and the emergence of several large in-state milk processors, Vermonters are working to “save the world in our own little way” says Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.
These were just some of the developments that flew fast and furious at the Annual Farm to Plate Network Gathering on October 9th and 10th, 2012 at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee. The Annual Gathering presented a timely opportunity for nearly 200 Farm to Plate Network members to meet and reconnect with each other, review progress made in the first year of work, and plan for the coming year.
A full summary of the event is on the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s website.
Vermont Food System Funding Opportunities
Vermont Farm Women’s Fund Grants: DEADLINE NOVEMBER 15!
Take advantage of learning opportunities with financial assistance from a grant, stipend or scholarship to build new skills or grow your farm business. For more information or to apply online, visit the Vermont Farm Women’s Fund.
Financial Assistance for Farmers and Forestland Owners
Financial and technical assistance is available for agricultural land and non-industrial forestland. Applications are accepted year round, but the next application cut-off date is November 15, 2012. Contact your USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to begin the process.
Vermont Food System Education News
Reading Elementary Honored at SNA-VT Conference
At this year’s School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT) conference, Reading Elementary received the School Nutrition Advocacy Award in recognition of their shared kitchen project. The project provides meals not only to their students but also to the 100+ students of the Albert Bridge School in Brownsville, which has never had a school meal program. For more information, see the full online press release.
Vermont Technical College Launches GroundWork Conference Series
Vermont Technical College's Institute of Applied Agriculture and Food Systems is offering a four-part series of conferences focused on agriculture, education, innovation and the future of the regional economy. The series kicked off on November 13 with a focus on entrepreneurship. For more information or to register for a conference, visit the VTC website. The next conference will be on December 4th – Enacting Sustainable Practices that Reduce Food Processing Waste.
As part of the series, on January 15th, VT Tech will partner with the F2P Network’s Education & Workforce Development Working Group to focus on how we can connect food system education with the needs of food system employers. Educators, education administrators and employers will be gathering to hear the results of a soon to be released research project that has identified the training and education needs of food system employers. The aim of this effort is to work with the education community to create clear pathways to careers in the food system. The event is open to all.
Other Food System News
VSJF Flex Fund Invests in Farmers to You
The VSJF Flexible Capital Fund (the “Flex Fund”) is pleased to announce our most recent investment in Farmers to You LLC (FTY), a web-based direct marketer and distributor of Vermont-grown meats, dairy products, produce, and specialty foods from over 30 Vermont farmers to 325 Boston area families. The Flex Fund’s investment will be used to support the expansion and relocation to a new, larger hub facility, purchase additional equipment, add key staff and streamline their website and ordering system. Learn more on the Flex Fund website or contact Janice St. Onge, President, by email. For a full press release, please stay tuned to the "What's New?" section of the VSJF website.
Vermont Dodges a Bullet, VAAFM Hires Emergency Response Coordinator
Thankfully, damage from Storm Sandy was limited, but the storm presented an opportunity to practice our preparedness. VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets helped staff the Vermont Emergency Operations Center to address agricultural concerns and has hired an Emergency Response Coordinator, Ken Hafner. Ken will be working in the coming months to learn from all of us what our emergency preparedness needs are, and will be developing a strategy for moving forward.Stay tuned for the release of his contact information.
Vermont Cheese Council Members Take 51 Awards Home from 2012 Big E
The list of awards from the 2012 Big E cheese competition is dominated by Vermont companies! Best In Show was awarded to Naked Cheddar, a natural-rind cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company in Grafton, VT. Gold prizes went to Grafton Village Cheese Company, Cabot, Vermont Farmstead Cheese, Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, Cellars at Jasper Hill, and Sawyer’s Artisanal Cheese (listed as hailing from Ver-Hampshire). Many more Vermont companies received silver and bronze awards, too. Good cheese is one of the many reasons we are lucky to be in Vermont! For a full list of awards from the Cheese Competition (and a guaranteed craving for cheese), visit the Big E’s website.
NOFA Vermont Releases Farm to Institution Report
Scaling up Vermont's Local Food Production, Distribution, and Marketing shows that more than $11 million currently spent annually on non-local fruits, vegetables and eggs at Vermont’s schools, colleges, hospitals, prisons and other institutions surveyed for this study could be re-directed to locally-sourced products. This study provides a baseline measurement of institutional local food purchasing and identifies key barriers and recommends strategies. This work is an important first step towards accomplishing Goal 2 of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan: Consumers in institutional settings will consume more locally produced food. A full copy of the report, executive summary and appendices are now available on the NOFA Vermont website.
Scaling up New England’s Value-Added Meat Industry
The Agency of Agriculture and NOFA Vermont were awarded a USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Grant for “Scaling Up New England’s Value Added Meat Industry.” With research, education and marketing, the project will promote viability and vibrancy of New England’s value-added meat industry. A series of producer-processor workshops and a first-ever New England Meat Conference will offer opportunities for strategic partnership and innovation and a New England-branded meat program will promote locally-sourced, source-verified meat for large-scale buyers. For more information, contact Chelsea Bardot Lewis, Senior Agriculture Development Coordinator with VAAFM at (802) 828-3360.
Vermont Dry Cured Meat Study
Demand for pork products produced in Vermont is strong, and Vermont producers are expanding to meet this demand. Cured meats in particular, such as prosciutto and coppa, are a sector with significant growth potential in the coming years. To provide support for these expanding operations, the Vermont Farm Viability Program, with funding from the Vermont Agricultural Innovation Center and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, commissioned a report on the market opportunities for Vermont producers of cured pork products. Read more about the study online.
Farm to Institutions Forum a Great Success
On November 7, over 75 people gathered in a forum at UVM on scaling up local food sales to institutions. The event, sponsored by Sodexo, the Farm to Plate Network Aggregation & Distribution Working Group, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, allowed producers and processors to directly interface with Sodexo chefs and purchasing managers in an attempt to increase the amount of local food being served at Sodexo’s 18 food service sites throughout Vermont (totaling 34,000 meals per day in aggregate). Farm to Plate Network members are currently writing up a summary of the event, and hope to convene additional forums with other institutional food service companies. Look for a more comprehensive write-up in Agriview’s December publication or email Annie Harlow to learn more.
FDA Supports Strengthening Vermont’s Food Regulatory Standards
The Vermont Department of Health has been awarded $300,000 per year for the next five years from the FDA to build capacity and implement the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards. The standards promote the development of high-quality state manufactured food regulatory programs. Funding will support two additional Public Health Sanitarians, modernization of the program's licensing and inspection database and field collection equipment, and more inspection training. Complementing this grant, the Health Department Laboratory received an additional $300,000 from the FDA for accreditation and increased food testing capacity.
Working Lands Enterprise Fund: Webinar for Service Providers
Thursday November 15 from 8-9:30am. Join here.
Tuesday November 27 from 9-10:30am. Join here.
(Nothing will be downloaded, but Flash is required on a PC or Mac.)
Conference number: 1-800-689-9374
Conference ID: 962618
Organizations that work with Agriculture and/or Forestry & Forest Products businesses are invited to join a “Working Lands Webinar” to communicate the details of the Working Lands initiative and upcoming funding opportunities. This seminar will serve to “train the trainers” in order to ensure a broad reach to eligible applicants. Topics covered will include the Working Lands Initiative, investment areas of the initiative, and dates, deadlines, and key contacts. Time will be available for Q&A. Participants will log in to view the presentation and call in to hear the presentation and ask questions.
For questions, or if you wish to attend in person, please RSVP by email or call (802) 585-9072. Seating is limited.
VT ALMa Workshop Series
The Vermont Agricultural Labor Management Program (VT ALMa) was created to address the specific needs of Vermont farms that employ Hispanic workers. Farmers and managers are invited to attend a series of workshops aimed at teaching better techniques and strategies for managing their Hispanic employees. On-farm consultation is available for farms that have attended two or more workshops. Workshops are free but require pre-registration by contacting Christi Sherlock by email or at (802) 223-2389 x200.
Workshop 1: Cultural and language barriers, health, housing and worker safety
November 15, 2012 from 1-4pm at sites around the state
Workshop 2: Hiring, job descriptions, initial training and legal issues
November 20 and 27, December 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 2012 and 18 from 1-4pm at locations around the state
Workshop 3: Worker training and standard operating procedures
January 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 29, 31, 2012 and February 1, 2013 from 1-4pm at locations around the state
Agricultural Literacy Week
November 12-16, 2012
NOFA-Vermont is partnering with educational professionals and their institutions for a week dedicated to activities focused on agriculture. Read more on the NOFA website.
Whole Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmers
Application Deadline Extended to November 15
Course runs from January 8th to May 21st
UVM Extension Office in Berlin
This course offers in-depth training in goal setting, time management, and multiple aspects of business planning and development for women farmers with 2-10 years of farming experience. Full scholarships are available. Apply online. For more information, visit the course website or contact Jessie Schmidt at the UVM Extension New Farmer Project by email or phone (802) 223-2389 x203.
No Kid Left Behind Symposium
Wednesday November 28th from 9am-12pm
Noble Hall at Vermont College in Montpelier
At this symposium participants will explore what it will take to create a chevon market in Vermont by exploring the challenges and solutions on how to bring more value to Vermont's dairy goat farms by converting surplus livestock into a premium meat source. Call 1.802.535.4110 or email Shirley Richardson to reserve your place at the table.
Financing the Working Landscape Conference
Thursday November 29th from 8:30am-3:30pm
American Legion in Middlebury
The Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), the Addison County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) are pleased to announce a local money conference for networking Champlain Valley food, agriculture, and forestry businesses with regional capital providers. Visit the event website to learn more or register.
Food Export Seminar Focusing on Caribbean Market
Friday November 30, 2012 8:30am-5pm
Vermont Technical College, Randolph
Cost: $50 (includes lunch and light breakfast)
Join the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Food Export-Northeast to discuss what it takes for a company to become export ready and capitalize on new exciting opportunities in the Caribbean market. For more information, contact Chelsea Bardot Lewis by email or at (802) 828-3360.
GroundWork: Cultivating a Sustainable Future Through Education, Applied Research and Innovation
Vermont Technical College
Cost: $25 per conference or $75 for all four
Vermont Technical College's Institute of Applied Agriculture and Food Systems is holding a series of four conferences focused on agriculture, education, innovation and the future of the regional economy. Register in advance online. For more information, contact VTC by email or call (802) 728-1339.
Tuesday December 4, 2012
Reducing Food Waste Through Source Reduction
Tuesday January 15, 2013
Connecting Education with Employers
Tuesday March 12, 2013
Aligning Educational Needs and Resources
Building a Sustainable Business
December 5, 12, & 19, and January 9, 16, 23 & 30, from 1-4pm
Berlin, Middlebury, Morrisville, and White River Junction
Cost: $150 (early registration) or $175
The Building a Sustainable Business course guides participants through developing a business plan for farm businesses. For more information or to register, visit UVM’s website or contact Jessie Schmidt by email. Scholarships and financial aid are available to those who are eligible.
Vermont Food System and Sustainable Energy Jobs
Animal Health Specialist, VAAFM
This position will be responsible for inspection, compliance, regulatory and administrative work for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets involving enforcement of state and federal animal and food safety-related laws and regulations. For a full job description and to apply, visit the Vermont Department of Human Resources Career Center (Reference #: 31114). For more information, contact Shelley Mehlenbacher.
Agricultural Specialist, VAAFM
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets seeks an Agricultural Specialist to address the Act 250 caseload and coordinate District involvement in the Act 250 criteria 9(b) review process. Qualifications: knowledge of the ACT 250 process, legal training, agriculture, soils, and land use planning education or 5 years of applicable work experience; VT agricultural soils, GIS for map making, and interpretation of NRCS Soil Survey Information; experienced in public speaking, meeting organization, and conflict management. 24 hrs/week, located in Montpelier, VT, $20-$22/hr. Please send resume and cover letter by November 26, 2012 to: Diane Bothfeld, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620 or submit by email. E-mail preferred. For more information, please e-mail Diane by email.
FDA Regulations SCAM
Some dairy farmers in the region have gotten emails from someone offering to register their farms with FDA's food establishment registry for $250. Please note this is a SCAM. Dairy farms are exempt from registering as a food establishment. For more information, contact VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.
Vermont Cheese Trail Map Now Available!
After reading about all the excellent Vermont cheese recognized at the 2012 Big E Cheese Competition, you’ll want to hit the road and sample some. Fortunately, the Vermont Cheese Council has released the Vermont Cheese Trail Map!
Jr. Iron Chef VT is Looking for Teams!
Middle school or high school students looking to show off their skills in the kitchen are invited to apply to enter the 6th Annual Jr. Iron Chef VT, a statewide celebration of school food programs, local agriculture, student leadership, and the culinary arts. Teams of middle and high school students will create delicious dishes using seasonal, local ingredients that can be served in school cafeterias. Apply online.
Vermont Fresh Handbook Now Available
Wondering what to do with all that squash? And how good are beets for you, really? ‘Vermont Fresh – A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook’ provides information on the produce grown in the Vermont region, including nutritional information, storage, preparation and simple recipes for forty different fruits, vegetables and herbs. This handbook was produced by Salvation Farms, Sterling College and the Vermont Foodbank. To order a copy, visit the Salvation Farms website.
183-Acre Farm for Sale in South Hero
The Vermont Land Trust (VLT) and South Hero Land Trust (SHLT) are actively looking for buyers for a 183-acre farm in South Hero. The farmland and buildings are excellent for multiple types of agricultural uses. The Land Trusts are accepting proposals from any interested buyer(s) by December 7, 2012. For more information or a copy of the Request for Proposals, contact Jon Ramsay by phone at (802) 533-7705 or by email.