Vermont Farm to Plate Investment Program
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund serves as the administrator of the Farm to Plate Investment Program to strengthen Vermont’s food system.
In 2009, the Farm to Plate Investment Program legislation was signed into law and added to the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s governing statute. This led to an extensive 12-month public engagement process to identify opportunities to strategically coordinate a systematic approach to developing Vermont’s food system. In January 2011, the first 10-year Farm to Plate Strategic Plan was released and work began. In 2019, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) was reauthorized by the Vermont state legislature to continue this work and create the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030. The final version was published February 8, 2021.
The legislation directs Farm to Plate to achieve the following outcomes, which mirror the definition of sustainable development – development that is economically successful, environmentally sound, and socially just:
(1) Increase sustainable economic development and create jobs in Vermont’s food and farm sector
(2) Improve soils, water, and resiliency of the working landscape in the face of climate change
(3) Improve access to healthy local foods for all Vermonters
With reauthorization came acknowledgement that despite Vermont’s long history of agricultural production and the recognized strength of our food enterprises, a number of recurring issues, gaps, barriers, and structural problems threaten the health of our food system. Climate change, water quality, a generational transfer of assets, development pressure, changing consumer preferences and markets, racial equity, income inequality, and food insecurity are informing and accelerating the need for adaptation.
To meet these opportunities and challenges, the Plan contains a vision for Vermont’s food system in 2030, 15 strategic goals with 87 measurable objectives, and 34 priority strategies (recommendations for action). It is based on a series of 54 food system product, market, and issue briefs highlighting current conditions, bottlenecks and gaps, opportunities, and recommendations.
To implement the Farm to Plate food system plan, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund convenes food system stakeholders through the Vermont Farm to Plate Network. The Farm to Plate Network is comprised of farms, food production businesses, specialty food producers, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, funders, capital providers, and government. Our network development approach creates the space for strategic conversations across multiple stakeholders and perspectives to make systematic food system change that no one organization can accomplish alone.
Vermont's Food System
Vermont’s farm to plate food system plan is the most comprehensive in the country and the only state that has complete government engagement. Vermont’s food system generates more than $11.3 billion in economic output and supports more than 64,000 jobs and 11,500 businesses. From 2007 to 2017, Vermont food system economic output expanded 48%, from $7.5 to $11.3 billion. From 2009 to 2019, net new food system employment increased by 6,560 jobs (11.3%).
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund serves as the administrator and backbone organization to the Farm to Plate Network and executes the analysis and goal tracking of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan implementation. As a backbone organization, we guide vision and strategy; support aligned activities and facilitate dialogue across the network; establish shared measurement practices; mobilize funding; manage communication; provide professional development and leadership training opportunities; build public will; and coordinate community outreach.
More than 350 members of the Farm to Plate Network are working together to create a viable, sustainable, and resilient food system which produces and distributes our food and generates positive economic, environmental, and social impact in Vermont’s economy.