3.3: Food Production Add to Collection

Early morning harvest at Wellspring CSA, Marshfield. Photo: Ali Zipparo

The market value of food grown in the United States was about $394 billion in 2012. About 54% ($212 billion) of this value was for crop production, while livestock production was 46% ($182 billion). In 2012, the six New England states generated 0.72% ($2.8 billion) of the value of national production. Within New England, crop sales accounted for 55.5% ($1.57 billion) of the market value of agricultural products, while animals and their products accounted for 44.5% ($1.26 billion).

Vermont ($776 million) was neck-and-neck with Maine ($763 million) for the highest market value of food production in New England. Sales from milk, nurseries/greenhouses/floriculture, and vegetables accounted for 61.47% ($1.7 billion) of the market value of New England agricultural products-- which points to the extraordinary impact of milk production in Vermont, flowers/bedding/garden plants in Connecticut, and potatoes in Maine.

Milk, dairy products, and animal feed account for the vast majority of the market value generated and the amount of food produced in Vermont. Many Vermonters are interested in expanding the array of food produced in Vermont-- to satisfy demand for local food and expand access to local food for all Vermonters; to build resilience against climate change, peak oil, and other threats; to generate new revenue, and so on.

This section looks at issues impacting growing and raising food products in Vermont, including expanding food production for local and regional markets. Major categories covered include dairy production, livestock grown for meat, eggsmaple syrup, fruits and vegetables, grains, honey, hops and beer, hard cider, spirits, and wine, and fish.



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Resources

Meat processing in Vermont
Photo: Over the Hill Farm

Gathering the Herd

Gathering the Herd: A Vermont Meat Processing Case Study captures lessons learned over a three year period from the Farm to Plate Meat Processing Task Force through interviews conducted by Carrie Abels with members of the task force and industry leaders. The Meat Processing Task Force within the Farm to Plate…

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Retail training to boost local food sales

Take 5 is a series of 12 local food sourcing and merchandising training videos for Vermont retail stores to help increase local food sales. The Farm to Plate Independent Grocers Task Force launched the Take 5 series of five-seven minute training videos for convenience, general, grocery and other retail stores…

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Greenhouses at new Mighty Food Farm location in Shaftsbury
Photo: Mighty Food Farm

Mighty Food Farm Finds New Home in Shaftsbury

Written by Nadine Berrini In 2006, Lisa MacDougall and a business partner started Mighty Food Farm on five leased acres in Pownal with a 1953 Ford Golden Jubilee and an old Troy-Bilt rototiller. She now has 200+ members in her year-round CSA and 10 employees. Lisa spent six years searching for…

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Wellspring Farm
Photo: Corey Hendrickson

NEK Farms Rooted at Local Schools

Written by Shane Rogers Green Mountain Farm Direct, a food hub run by Green Mountain Farm-to-School, is working to connect local farmers with schools, restaurants, and institutions across northern Vermont to increase the farm’s sales and boost consumption of local food in institutions and the overall region. Those partnerships have created…

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Energy efficient maple production at Scrag Mountain Sugar House
Photo: Efficiency Vermont

Saving Time, Energy & Money in Maple Industry

Written by Liz Gamache Each spring, many Vermont sugar makers are already looking ahead to producing the next year’s crop and they may be considering what equipment upgrades they’ll need to save time, energy, and money next season. With over 1500 maple sugar makers in the state, Vermont is the largest producer…

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Berry picking is a low cost way to bulk up on local food.
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

Low Cost Local Food

Vermonters enjoy local food and beverages in a variety of ways—growing or foraging their own, purchasing directly from a farmer or at the store, hunting or fishing, eating at schools and institutions serving local food, finding food from a community food shelf or the Vermont Foodbank, or just by trading…

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Melanie and Jeff Carpenter of Zack Woods Herb Farm
Photo: Vermont Farm Fund

Herb Production Ramps Up

Written by Kate Stephenson Zack Woods Herb Farm grows a wide variety of medicinal herbs sold as dried herbs, live plants and fresh herbs. Based in Hyde Park, their products are all certified organically grown or ethically wild-harvested on the farm. After 16 years in business, Jeff and Melanie Carpenter recently authored…

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Healthy and local dining options at UVM Medical Center
Photo: UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Advances Farm to Institution Goals

Written by Alison Nihart New research from the University of Vermont has quantified the economic impact of local food purchasing by the University of Vermont Medical Center. This study, the first of its kind in the state, shows how Vermont’s largest hospital is contributing toward Vermont reaching its institutional consumption…

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CRAFT greenhouse learning session in Addison County
Photo: NOFA VT

Fostering New Farmers

Written by Maria Buteux Reade A group of farmers gather in a pasture and stare intently at a young man struggling to push a long probe deep into the ground. He shakes his head sheepishly and hands off the penetrometer to the next volunteer. No luck for her either. The…

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Regenerative Agriculture: Taking Root in Vermont

Written by Katie Spring Published in Vermont's Local Banquet In 2012, new farmers Jesse McDougall and his wife, Cally, decided not to spray the kinds of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that had long been applied to their hayfields in Shaftsbury. Their 50-acre farm, which had been in Cally’s family since 1936, was…

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Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt owner partner Jeannine Kilbride
Photo: Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Yogurt Speeds Up with Slow Money

Written by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly Creamy farmstead frozen yogurt in vanilla, chocolate, maple, and coffee flavors is pumped into 300 Cobb HillFrozen Yogurt pints a week—a number that has more than doubled from this time last year. “A year ago, it took us three production days to do what we…

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Workers at Black River Meats (Springfield)
Photo: Black River Meats

Building Brands in Small Farm Food System

Written by Mark Cannella Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Small farms in Vermont contribute tremendous value to our evolving food system by being nimble enough to respond to shifting consumer demand quickly. Small farms have pioneered niche products, such as multi-variety mesclun mixes and hybrid CSA memberships. They are engaged in cutting-edge production…

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Full Sun Company sells sunflower and canola oil.
Photo: Full Sun Company

Set the Table with Local Oils

Written by Cheryl Herrick Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Netaka White remembers going to some of the first local food challenges in Vermont—potluck meals to which attendees would bring food that was entirely grown or raised within Vermont, or a 50-mile radius. “There would be all this great stuff,” he recalls, “but there…

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Maggie Atherton, an 8th generation future dairy farmer
Photo: Aires Hill Family Farm

New Generation Helps Preserve Dairy Farm

Written by Laura Hardie, New England Dairy Promotion Board Karie Thompson Atherton, 35, is the seventh generation to grow up on her family’s dairy farm in Berkshire, Vermont and always knew she wanted to continue the tradition of dairy farming. “There's definitely easier ways to make a living, but none as fulfilling,"…

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Happy consumer at Nea-Tocht Farm during last year's Breakfast on the Farm
Photo: UVM Extension

Changing Consumer Local Food Perceptions

Written by Julie Smith, UVM Extension, Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Ted Ferris, MSU Extension, Animal Science The first Vermont Breakfast on the Farm event gave consumers and farm neighbors a first-hand look at modern food production. Hosted by Nea-Tocht Farm in Ferrisburgh in August 2015, the event was organized and…

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Grinding Masa! All Souls Tortilleria packaged tortillas are now available at City Market in Burlington VT
Photo: All Souls Tortilleria

Tortillas with Soul

Written by Sarah Bhimani, City Market, Onion River Co-op City Market, a community-owned food co-op in Burlington, VT, has a list of Global Ends that guides their business and all that they do. One of their Global Ends is “strengthening the local food system,” which is met through a myriad of…

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David invites guests to visit with the cows and help with daily chores in the barn.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Agritourism: The Authentic Farm Experience

Wrtitten by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly  Tucked delightfully in the foothills of the Green Mountains along scenic Rte. 100 in Rochester, Vermont, sitsLiberty Hill Farm—a working dairy farm defined by the 1890’s red barn with cupola—one of the most photographed in all of Vermont. Beth and Bob Kennett milk…

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A loan is helping kickstart Rob Rock’s agriculture machinery and fabrication business, a bonus for Vermont farmers in need of his custom farm equipment and metal-working services.
Photo: Farm Fund

Five Years of Funding Farms

Written by Caitlin Gildrien Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Early on a January morning in 2011, Pete Johnson of Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury heard a funny noise. When he looked out his window, he saw his barn engulfed in flames. The building and all of the equipment and product inside was in…

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Bread & Butter Farm
Photo: Erica Housekeeper / Happy Vermont

Complex Dough

Prepared by Carrie Abels for the Financing Cross-Cutting Team Bread & Butter Farm, which straddles the South Burlington/Shelburne border, sells an array of farm products and experiences—everything from grass-fed beef to fresh-baked German bread to winter vegetables to farm-fresh burgers served on Friday evening “Burger Nights.” But the diversity of Bread &…

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Montpelier's farmers' market.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Market Trends

Written by Caroline Abels Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Over the past 10 years farmers’ markets in Vermont have burst forth like a backyard garden in July. Currently there are 63 markets in the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association, and a dozen or so that aren’t members. But every now and then you…

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Hoop house at Little Village Farm.
Photo: VFF

Little Village Moves from Recovery to Growth

You know things are moving in the right direction when you see a farmer whose fields were completely underwater a few years ago going on to invest for growth in their business. A 2-acre family vegetable farm dedicated to bringing the benefits of a CSA to their tight-knit Proctorsville community, Little…

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Many small producers use VAT pasteurizers, but the LiLi processes more quickly, at 2 gallons per minute, and uses heat more efficiently, resulting in a less energy-intensive process and milk that retains more of its nutritional value and flavor.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Planting a LiLi

Written by Caroline AbelsVermont's Local Banquet To understand what the LiLi pasteurizer—conceived and developed in Vermont—could mean to the dairy community of Orange County, New York, I drove to the Hudson Valley in early July and chatted with some longtime dairy farmers.They told me—a few minutes before the ribbon-cutting ceremony that…

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Guascor engines are commonly used with methane digesters in Vermont.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Digester on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 225 kilowatts of installed capacity ● 1.75 million kWh of electricity generated per year ● 7-year payback ● Cow Power farm generates electricity and uses waste heat for greenhouse Download the pdf. Lois and Maurice Maxwell started…

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Vote with your dollars.
Photo: Anna Svagzdys

The Thorny Issue of Farmer Pay

Written by Mari Omland Read more in Vermont's Local Banquet Spring 2014 issue. At a wedding last summer, I sat next to a neighbor who buys her Thanksgiving turkey from our farm. She described her daily drive-by dose of the farm, and her ritual of slowing down to see where the goats, pigs,…

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Dan and Marda’s daughter, Abby, with beehives.
Photo: Vermont's Local Banquet.

Planet Pollinators

Written by Dan Childs and Marda Donner Read more in Vermont's Local Banquet Spring 2014 issue. As I look out my window in early January at my beehives, I’m in awe of how bees do what they do. The temperature is well below zero, the wind is blowing, and snow is falling. Yet…

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Roger Rainville with BioPro 190 automated biodiesel processor at Borderview Farm.
Photo: VSJF

On-Farm Biodiesel Production

Prepared by Sarah Galbraith, Vermont Bioenergy Initiative Program Manager, VSJF Highlights: Cost of biodiesel production = $2.29 per gallon ● Seed meal used as a co-product for livestock feed or crop fertilizer ● Central processing facility and shared equipment use maximizes efficiency for neighboring farms Download the pdf. Roger Rainville’s dairy-turned-energy farm in Grand…

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McKnight Farm solar array in East Montpelier.
Photo: Catamount Solar

Solar Energy on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 95 kW (AC) of installed capacity ● ≈120,000 kWh generated annually ● Payback period = 6 years ● Fixed rack solar PV systems and trackers are common throughout Vermont Download the pdf. McKnight Farm, an organic dairy…

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Alex explaining how the variable frequency drive holds the vacuum level on his milk pump.
Photo: Gregory Nesbit Photography

Efficiency on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by JJ Vandette, Planning and Development Associate, Efficiency Vermont Highlights: $7,600 in first year savings ● $94,000 in lifetime savings ● 58,300 kWh in annual electricity savings ● Close relationship with the equipment vendor and Efficiency Vermont led to major cost savings and business improvements Download the pdf. Brace Farm Inc. is…

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Lila in former mobile slaughterhouse.
Photo: Local Banquet.

Pastured Poultry in Aisle 9

Whiz by it on Route 2 between Richmond and Bolton and you might think it was an abandoned rail car, a housing unit for migrant farm workers, or a storage shed. Bland and inconspicuous, the boxy structure doesn’t look like it has the potential to re-shape Vermont’s local food scene…

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Trout fry.
Photo: Cheryl Herrick

Brown trout thrive on Mountain Foot Farm

On a sunny spring day earlier this year, steam was pouring out of sugarhouses, calves and lambs and kids were being born, and greenhouses were teeming with plant starts. And on Curtis Sjolander’s Mountain Foot Farm in Wheelock, in the barn just behind his house, hundreds of brown trout were…

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Technical assistance providers on a tour of Misty Knoll Farm.
Photo: VHCB/Farm Viability.

Vermont Farm Viability Program

Perhaps long ago, in a simpler world, farmers needed only tools, the support of helping hands, a market for their products, and advice from their neighbors to successfully grow vegetables and raise animals. But farmers today need a lot more than that. Complex equipment, well-designed facilities, marketing skills, and a…

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Taylor and Nick Meyer in a field of sunflowers at North Hardwick Dairy.
Photo: Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

North Hardwick Dairy

Everyone in the Hardwick area knows the North Hardwick Dairy —“it’s the one on the hill with the wind turbine.” The turbine is evidence of farmer Nick Meyer’s focus on meeting his goal of greater self-sufficiency. “I want to produce everything the farm needs on the farm.” The higher and relatively stable…

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Rob Litch with turkey flock.
Photo: Caroline Abels/Vermont's Local Banquet

Misty Knoll Farms

Yes, there is a knoll—and it’s misty. At least it was on the day this past October when I visited Misty Knoll Farms, Vermont’s largest chicken producer. Standing on the small rise at the eastern edge of the farm in New Haven, facing a swath of Addison County dairy land below…

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Grazing cattle on a cloudy day.
Photo: Maple Wind Farm.

Maple Wind Farm

At Maple Wind Farm in Huntington, the beef cattle “harvest their own feed,” as farmer Bruce Hennessey likes to say. They’re grass-fed cattle, meaning that for six and sometimes seven months of the year they eat grass on pasture, using their own energy to walk around and fatten themselves. Bruce, who…

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Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge.
Photo: Monument Farms Dairy.

Monument Farms Dairy

Monument Farms Dairy began in 1930 as a home delivery route run by Richard and Marjory James in the Weybridge area. Today, the company is managed by their grandson Jon Rooney and two of his cousins, Bob James and Pete James. And their responsibilities are doled out equally, just as you’d…

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Just after Memorial Day in 2013, the Audet family hosted a community celebration of the installation of a 100-kilowatt wind turbine.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Wind Energy on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 100 kW of installed capacity ● ≈150,000 kWh generated annually ● Unique partnership with Green Mountain Power facilitates community-scale wind energy installation Download the pdf. The Audet Family has operated Blue Spruce Farm since 1958 and currently…

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The Central Boiler Maxim 250 boiler installed at River Berry Farm in Fairfax, VT. These boilers may look like outdoor wood boilers common around Vermont, but they are EPA Phase II qualified due to improved emissions controls.
Photo: Chris Callahan

On-Farm Heating with Biomass

Highlights: 220,000 BTU/hr biomass boiler ● $13,000-21,000 installed cost ● 12-14 year payback period ● 5,910 pounds of CO2 avoided ● Advanced pollution controls in new boilers reduce emissions Download the pdf. David and Jane Marchant of River Berry Farm—an organic vegetable and fruit producer in Fairfax—were early adopters of biomass heating…

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