FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shelburne, VT, October 7, 2013 – The historic barns, hillsides dotted with cows, and steaming sugar houses of Vermont’s working landscape have been iconic images of the state for many years. Increasingly, visitors want to do more than drive by these pastoral images. They want to roll up their sleeves, milk a cow, dig potatoes, and learn more about the food system with all five senses.
On October 22 and 23, the Farm-Based Education Network and Vermont Farms! Association are collaborating with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Shelburne Farms, and University of Vermont Extension to offer the Farm-Based Education Forum: Agritourism, Education and Economics on Your Farm. This two-day, skill-building event will support farms that are currently open to the public, or considering this step, as well as educators and agricultural service providers who work with farms, and tourism enterprises that partner with farms in their communities. The forum is geared towards those experienced in agritourism as well as those just starting out. This is the first time farmers, educators, and tourism enterprises will come together alongside representatives from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Department of Tourism and Marketing.
The Farm-Based Education Forum will offer hands-on workshops and field trips throughout the state on October 22. Participants will tour farms that engage the public in various ways in the Champlain Islands as well as Chittenden, Addison, and Rutland counties. Shelburne Farms, a nonprofit education organization, will host a day-long workshop focused on developing educational programs on its 1,400-acre working farm and campus for learning in Shelburne, VT. Also at Shelburne Farms, University of Vermont Extension will provide training for service providers who support farms that offer agritourism and direct marketing.
The evening of October 22 will be capped off with a dinner prepared by the Inn at Shelburne Farms, an internationally recognized seasonal inn and farm-to-table restaurant. The Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Secretary of Agriculture will speak about the importance of agritourism to our state’s economy and working landscape.
October 23 will follow a conference format with workshops, networking, lunch, and more at Shelburne Farms. Attendees can choose between workshops on marketing, social media, and business planning as well as innovative ideas around events, tours, dinners, and other offerings to expand direct sales and partnerships with tourism enterprises.
As interest in farm experiences is surging throughout the country, Vermont is well positioned to reap the benefits. Whether it’s a family seeking a farm fresh festival, a couple looking for a scenic country wedding venue, or school children interested in learning how maple syrup is made, more people are thinking “farm to table” and beyond. Many Vermont farms are already engaging neighbors and visitors from out of state. According to Lisa Chase, Director of the Vermont Tourism Research Center at University of Vermont Extension, “Vermont leads the nation in per capita sales of farm products sold directly to consumers. Just twenty percent of Vermont farms account for those sales and a much smaller percent of farms are open to visitors. The growing demand for authentic farm and food experiences provides tremendous opportunities for farmers, educators, and tourism enterprises working together.”
For more information, visit http://www.farmbasededucation.org/events/forum. Register by October 11 http://vtfarmedforum2013.eventbrite.com/. Attendees can mix and match the full and half day offerings on October 22 and 23. Registration costs $45 for the October 23 workshops, with additional costs for field trips and dinner. Lodging at the Inn at Shelburne Farms is available for a reduced rate. To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Lisa Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 257-7967 by October 11.
About University of Vermont Extension
University of Vermont Extension provides timely, research-based information and education for the families, communities and businesses of Vermont. The mission of University of Vermont Extension is to improve the quality of life of Vermonters by providing research-based educational programs and practical information concerning Vermont communities, families and homes, farms, businesses, and the natural environment.
About the Farm-Based Education Network
The Farm-Based Education Network is an open and free member network established to support and strengthen the work of farm-based educators and administrators who contribute to the vitality of working agricultural landscapes and local food systems, human and community health, and education of current and future generations. Comprised of teachers, farmers, gardeners, land trust administrators, and related professionals, the Farm-Based Education Network fosters professional development, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and exchange of ideas through programming (e.g., conferences, workshops, webinars) and a clearinghouse of online resources (e.g., library, events calendar, job board, discussion forum). A nonprofit education organization working to cultivate change for a sustainable future, Shelburne Farms serves as backbone organization to the Farm Based Education Network. Shelburne Farms’ campus for learning is a 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont.
About Vermont Farms! Association
The Vermont Farms! Association (VF!A) represents 44 farms and agriculturally oriented enterprises that are open to the public. Membership includes dairy farms, maple sugarhouses, pick-your-own fruit and berry orchards, llama, alpaca and sheep farms, wineries, Christmas tree operations, agriculture museums, dairy-yogurt-cheese-ice cream producers, farm research and education facilities, and other agriculture enterprises that offer farm experiences and farm tours to the public. VF!A represents the diversity of agriculture in Vermont. Working farms open to the public provide fun farm experiences and intimate knowledge of actual farm life in Vermont.
About Shelburne Farms
Shelburne Farms (www.shelburnefarms.org) is a nonprofit education organization working to cultivate change for a sustainable future. The Farm collaborates with educators, schools, and partners to offer learning experiences that inspire a culture of sustainability and advance education for sustainability initiatives in Vermont, nationally, and internationally. Shelburne Farms is the backbone organization to the Farm-Based Education Network, Regional Lead for the Northeast Farm to School Network, coordinator of the Vermont Farm to School Network, and a partner in Vermont Food Education Every Day (VTFEED). Shelburne Farms is integrated with a 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont. Recognized by Yankee Magazine in 2013 for “Best Hands-On Farm Programs” in New England, Shelburne Farms serves more than 140,000 program participants and visitors annually on-site alone. The nonprofit is supported by the charitable contributions of supporters from 44 states and several countries, as well as its enterprises, including a Certified Humane grass-based dairy and award-winning farmstead cheese operation, organic market garden, pastured meats, sustainable forestry, and internationally recognized seasonal inn and farm-to-table restaurant.
About the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is a nonprofit association of farmers, gardeners, and consumers working to promote an economically viable and ecologically sound Vermont food system for the benefit of current and future generations. NOFA Vermont was founded in Putney in 1971, making it one of the oldest organic farming associations in the United States. Today, NOFA Vermont has over 1300 members throughout the state and certifies over 580 farms and processors to the USDA National Organic Program Standards.