Rural Vermont’s 29th Annual Celebration – It Came, It Went, It Rocked!
A Recap of Rural Vermont’s Biggest Farmer-Foodie Gathering
With almost 200 guests filling the American Legion hall to bursting, Rural Vermont's 29th Annual Celebration was filled with great food, lively conversation, music, moving stories about farm life, and an outpouring of support for our work. In the words of member Cara Taussig, "I felt so proud to be part of Rural Vermont tonight. The work we are doing is invaluable & critical."
Thanks to the generosity and creativity of attendees, the potluck spread was especially rich and abundant - an impressive feat this time of year! Taylor Farm's Jon Wright and his talented ensemble of local musicians provided a festive and fun soundtrack to the social hour and supper, and they helped kick off the evening's program by leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer".
As always, Rural Vermont's board and staff tremendously enjoyed this incredible opportunity to meet and greet so many members and friends. A warm welcome was extended to our newest Board members: Hayden Boska of Diggers' Mirth Farm Collective in Burlington, Graham Unangst-Rufenacht of East Montpelier, Katie Spring & Edge Fuentes of Goodheart Farmstead in Worcester, Katherine Fanelli & Peter Burmeister of Burelli Farm in Berlin, and Cynthia & Rich Larson of The Larson Farm in Wells. The Larsons' were also the recipients of the annual Jack Starr activism award for their leadership in our campaign to improve access to raw milk.
Chester local Lisa Kaiman of Jersey Girls Dairy was honored with the "Golden Spoon" award (for the activist most willing to "stir the pot"). In her acceptance remarks, she made the crowd chuckle when she said she would use one side of the spoon to continue feeding her community and the other side to smack anyone standing in the way!
In the words of member Kari Storm, "The storytelling portion was the best and reminded me again why I love Vermont and the people who work it." For the main program of the night, three of Rural Vermont's board members took the stage to share their perspectives about real food and the valued traditions it provides in their homes and communities.
Lisa McCrory of Earthwise Farm & Forest in Bethel spoke about bringing intimacy to the food that we eat, which she defined as making an investment of emotion and spirit in the land they cultivate, the crops they grow, and the animals that they feed and care for. They take great pleasure in then sharing the food they produce with people who want to be part of their food's story.
Tamara Martin of Chandler Pond Farm in Wheelock spoke of how bartering is a way of life for her family and in her community and her gratitude for the important lessons and values that her children have learned as a result of witnessing these neighborly exchanges on a daily basis.
Ben Hewitt of Fat of the Land Farm in Cabot shared his reflections on why butchering pigs in his kitchen is an important skill. He spoke passionately about the value of learning and carrying forward this crucial skill which is perilously close to extinction, and how sharing this process with friends and neighbors is helping his family reclaim a small but significant piece of their heritage as Vermonters.
If you want to read their stories in full or share them with others, you can find them at www.ruralvermont.org.
Also, at the Celebration, Rural Vermont announced year-long fundraising and membership goals in anticipation of our 30th anniversary which is coming up in 2015, as well as a $5,000 challenge grant provided by our friends at dealer.com. Rural Vermont is thrilled to report that the preliminary goals of $5,000 and 50 new members set for the month of May were not only met, but exceeded! The fundraising/member campaign is off to a strong start!