3.6: Retail Distribution Add to Collection

The soup aisle at Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier includes local products from Two Guys in Vermont (Montpelier). Photo: Hunger Mountain Coop

The consolidation and concentration of retailing, distribution, and processing over the past 25 years has made it difficult for small- and medium-sized farms and food enterprises to gain access to traditional retail markets. Given the scale limitations of Vermont agriculture, competing in a volume-oriented, low-cost environment is extremely challenging. At the same time, demand for locally sourced food is growing throughout the Northeast region, and direct sales (e.g. CSAs, farmers' markets, farm stands) are booming. Online markets like Your Farm Stand and listings like the Local Growers Guide connect individuals, chefs, and institutions to available local food. Increasing Vermont producers' access to all types of local and regional grocery stores, restaurants, and institutions - where the large majority of food is purchased - is a necessary precursor to expanding the consumption of locally grown products.

What can be done to improve connections between local producers and local, regional, and national markets? Chapter 3, Section 6 explores this question in detail and covers the variety of locations where Vermonters purchase food, such as grocery stores, country stores, food co-ops, farmers’ markets, CSAs, restaurants, superstores, schools, and hospitals. It is scheduled to be published in June 2014.

If you would like to contribute to this chapter or serve as a reviewer, please contact Farm to Plate Program Director Erica Campbell.



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Resources

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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Kale harvest at Good Heart Farmstead in Worcester, Vermont
Photo: Good Heart Farnstead

NOFA-VT Farm Share Program

Written by Kate Spring In 2013, writer Kate Spring and her husband started Good Heart Farmstead with the mission to make local food more accessible. Not only did they aspire to make it easier for people to find local food, but they wanted to make it easier for them to afford…

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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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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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Volunteers at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf prepare fresh food donations
Photo: Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf

Food Recovery Feeds Vermont

Written by Helen Labun The University of Vermont may not be a traditional restaurant, but it moves a lot of food. Their dining units serve an average of 12,812 meals each day—enough to feed dinner to every resident of Montpelier with plenty left over for everyone to grab dessert and a…

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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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Chelsea Wagner works to get local food in front of consumers in the Hannaford Local program.
Photo: Mainebiz/Tim Greenway

Championing Local Food

Written by Erica Houskeeper Chelsea Wagner wants more consumers to buy local food. A specialist for Hannaford’s Local program, Wagner works with farmers and producers across the region to give them shelf space at Hannaford supermarkets across five states. The Portland, Maine-based supermarket chain owns 181 stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts,…

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Intervale Food Hub delivers fresh produce to UVM.
Photo: Intervale Center

Farm to Institution Lessons Learned

Written by Bobby Young For over 10 years, the Intervale Food Hub has been working with Sodexo and the University of Vermont to increase their procurement of local foods. The Intervale Food Hub, a social enterprise of the Intervale Center, works with nearly 40 Vermont producers to sell local food direct…

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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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Slow and Steady: Vermont’s “Snail of Approval”

Written by Caroline Abels Published in Vermont's Local Banquet The Williamsville Eatery’s website features a list of local farms and food purveyors that’s even longer than its menus. The impressive list shows where the Eatery buys its local food—but the length of the list is just one reason why the two-year-old restaurant…

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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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Green Mountain Farm-to-School AmeriCorps members teach food preservation at Old Stone House in Brownington
Photo: GMFTS

Nutrition & Local Agriculture in NEK Schools

Written by Shane Rogers, Green Mountain Farm-to-School Be on the lookout, AmeriCorps members serving with Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) as farm-to-school coordinators are bringing place-based nutrition and agriculture education into schools across the Northeast Kingdom – 27 to be exact. Using original, grade-specific curriculum, created with the financial support from the Stony Point…

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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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Seth Gillim and Mike Ingalls are managers of the Intervale Conservation Nursery, founded in 2002 and dedicated to growing native, locally sourced trees and shrubs for riparian restoration projects throughout Vermont.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Waterway Sidewalks: Native Trees & Shrubs

Written by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly Native trees and shrubs intertwine with one another, keeping 350-acres of flood plain intact along the banks of the Winooski River, best known as the Intervale. Located within the city limits of Vermont’s urban metropolis (42,000), Burlington boasts a solid urban farming culture,…

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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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Royally Local

Written by Alex Brown Published in Vermont's Local Banquet The Chelsea Royal Diner’s 1939 dining car has been in its present location on Route 9 just outside Brattleboro since 1987, but today it’s home to a successful demonstration of the modern resurgence in serving locally grown food. Todd Darrah, enjoying his 25th…

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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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The chalkboard at DownStreet Eats, Cabot.
Photo: Caroline Abels

The Challenges of Sourcing Locally

Written by Elena GustavsonVermont's Local Banquet The sun is up, the kids are stirring, and as I sit at my kitchen counter in Cabot with a cup of strong black coffee in hand, I review my list: 7 a.m., Kids to School; 8 a.m., Craftsbury; 9 a.m., Hardwick; 9:45 a.m., East…

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The menu changes daily at Hen of the Wood, and also includes regional seafood.
Photo: Hen of the Wood.

Hen of the Wood Serves Up Local

Written by Carrie Abels Chef Eric Warnstedt would rather switch to an entirely different line of work than run a restaurant that’s not committed to local food.  At 38 years old, he’s been cooking since he was 21, always at restaurants that skew local – “so there’s simply never been another…

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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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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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Vermont Fresh Network 16th Annual Forum at Shelburne Farms (2012).
Photo: B. Harrewyn | Hoverfly Photography

Vermont Fresh Network

Chefs and farmers couldn’t have more opposite schedules. Chefs work primarily in the late afternoon and well into the evening. Farmers are early risers, falling into bed soon after summer poultry are locked in for the evening. The fact that chefs and farmers are like ships passing in the night is…

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Good Food Good Medicine community meal.
Photo: Food Works

Good Food Good Medicine

Food Works at Two Rivers Center’s Good Food Good Medicine program takes a seasonal approach to good health and nutrition at two low-income housing sites in Barre. In the spring and summer months, residents at Highgate and Green Acres apartments grow their own food in community gardens or in raised…

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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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Farms Program class of 2009.
Photo: Intervale Center.

The Intervale Center's Farms Program

The Farms Program, a nationally recognized farm business incubator, has supported the growth of dozens of farms since 1990. Farms are accepted into the program after a rigorous application process that includes developing a business plan and presenting it to staff and existing Intervale farmers. New farmers have access to land…

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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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