Chapter 4: Crosscutting Issues Add to Collection

Chapter 4 examines crosscutting issues that impact the whole food system, including food insecurity; education; workforce development; technical assistance and business planning; financing; energy; regulation; and leadership, communication, and coordination across the food system. 

4.1: Food Security in Vermont

The combination of the recent economic recession, unemployment, and climbing food and fuel prices has driven record numbers of Vermonters to seek assistance from the supplemental and emergency food systems, as well as increased participation in community food security projects. Leveraging resources to effectively and efficiently reduce food insecurity while continuing to develop Vermont’s food system economy is a formidable—but solvable—task. 

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4.2: Food System Education

This section summarizes the range of educational opportunities—from preschool to college and beyond—that Vermonters can experience relating to food systems. 

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4.3: Food System Labor and Workforce Development

A wide variety of businesses make up Vermont's food system: about 60,000 Vermonters are employed as farmers, cheese makers, brewers, bakers, butchers, grocery stockers, restaurateurs, chocolatiers, manufacturers, distribution drivers, vintners, and in other food related jobs.

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4.4: Food System Business Planning and Technical Assistance

This section summarizes the range of business planning and technical assistance services currently available, identifies service gaps and needs, and makes recommendations for how the field can continue to make a positive impact on Vermont’s food system.

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4.5: Financing the Food System

This section reviews the wide variety of financing options available to assist with the capital needs of Vermont’s startup, growth stage, and mature food system enterprises.

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4.6: Food System Energy Issues

Vermont’s food system businesses are already major contributors to renewable energy generation: from the siting of large solar and wind projects on agricultural land, to agricultural and woodland crops, animal waste, and food scraps that are used as feedstocks for electricity, heat, and liquid fuel. Vermont’s food system consists of more than agricultural activities— large roofs at grocery stores and manufacturing facilities can support solar installations, several thousand buildings can be more energy efficient, and many dozens of delivery vehicles can be more fuel efficient. The intersection of energy systems and food systems is fertile ground for developing sustainable solutions to pressing problems. 

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4.7: Food System Regulation

This section identifies the resources needed to increase the ability of food producers and processors to grow their businesses in compliance with existing regulations, laws, and policies. This section follows the basic structure of the most comprehensive currently available guide to rules and regulations for farmers: A Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont by Annette Higby.

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4.8: Leadership + Collective Impact

In October 2011 the Farm to Plate Network was launched as the leadership and coordination structure to implement the Strategic Plan. Working Groups, Crosscutting Teams, and Task Forces were formed around high-impact leverage points, including technical assistance, education, and financing. 

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Resources

Christa Alexander in a year round greenhouse at Jericho Settlers Farm
Photo: Efficiency Vermont

Jericho Settlers Farm grows year-round

Written by JJ Vandette Fifteen years ago, Christa Alexander and Mark Fasching started selling the extra produce from their prolific vegetable garden. They invested in some chickens, then some livestock, some more land, and before they knew it they were farming full-time. Fast forward to today. Jericho Settlers Farm is a…

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Vermont Smoke and Cure employees
Photo: Vermont Smoke and Cure

Vermont’s workforce dilemma

Written by Ellen Kahler Vermont’s struggle to grow its workforce weakens our economy, inhibits the ability for Vermont businesses to expand their operations, and threatens the ability for Vermonters and future generations to grow and thrive here in the Green Mountains. An aging workforce, stagnant wages in jobs without career ladders,…

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Consumer shopping for local food
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

Economic Development in the Local Food Economy

Written by Jake Claro When you ask people their definition of the Vermont food economy, they’ll often talk about farms, farmers’ markets or CSAs. What’s often missing from the conversation are the supply chain of local businesses such as distributors, food processors and manufacturers, and seed, feed, and equipment dealers.  Vermont’s local…

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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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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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Rooted in Vermont

What is Rooted in Vermont? Rooted in Vermont is a grassroots movement to increase consumer demand for local food. Rooted in Vermont is shifting the local food narrative on social media and in Vermont communities to be inclusive of the many ways Vermonters enjoy and acquire local food. Traditions like gardening,…

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Long Trail Brewery
Photo: Vermont Brewers Association

Craft beer industry growth

Written by Celia Riechel Maple syrup and outdoor adventure may have put Vermont on the map, but increasingly, breweries are showcasing the best of the Green Mountain State. Vermont is at the forefront of a nationwide growth trend in the craft beer industry, ranking 1st in number of breweries and production…

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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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Meat processing class at Vermont Tech
Photo: Mad River Food Hub

Educational Contributions to the Food System

Written by Molly Willard Vermont Tech is one of several educational institutions in Vermont helping to strengthen the food system. In collaboration with other educational institutions, degrees and certificate programs are offered to help meet Vermont’s Farm to Plate food system plan goal to offer a wide range of curricula,…

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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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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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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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Fall pumpkin harvest
Photo: Land For Good

Farmland investment companies

Written by Kathy Ruhf Farmland access and affordability are top obstacles for new and beginning farmers in New England and nationally. Many new farmers cannot afford to purchase land to start or expand their operations. At the same time nearly 30% of New England farmers will exit farming in the next decade.…

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Food preparation skills are developed through cooking for Meals on Wheels in the Cornucopia program in the NEK.
Photo: NEK Food System Plan

Food Justice on the Menu in the NEK

Written by Taylar Foster The Northeast Kingdom Food System Plan was re-released in December of 2016, marking a substantive update to Vermont’s only regional food system plan. The Center for an Agricultural Economy, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association, and a steering committee composed of Northeast Kingdom cross industry experts and social…

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Vermonters find purchasing season products direct from farm stands to be a good value.
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

True Cost of Local Food

Written by Rachel Carter When choosing to purchase food, cost is often a deciding factor for consumers. Why buy a 12-ounce package of local bacon for $7.99 when you can get it for $4.98? Purchasing local food means you know where your food comes from, you’re buying food that is generally healthier,…

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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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Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds, Clean Yield's first direct local agricultural investment.
Photo: Delia Gillen

A Taste of Farm to Plate Investments

Written by Karin Chamberlain                                                          Clean Yield Asset Management clients aim to align their money with their values, and for many that means finding…

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Farm to School program gleaning at Pete's Greens
Photo: Center for an Agricultural Economy

Farm to School: Good for kids, economy & communities

Written by Betsy Rosenbluth Vermont has much to celebrate as a national leader in the Farm to School movement and it hasn’t happened by accident. Nearly a decade ago, in 2007, Vermont was one of the first states to pass a Farm to School bill. That legislation has supported more than…

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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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Vermont Commodity Program crew members bag potatoes at Salvation Farms’ facility in Winooski gleaned from Barber Farm in Jericho.
Photo: Salvation Farms

Training Workers, Rescuing Food

Written by Marcella Houghton Pick a food – and you are likely to find a Vermont-made version. From coffee to peanut butter, from to bread to beer, the abundance of edible goods with the Vermont brand is just one measure of how we value our state’s food system. But one place we’re…

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Farm to Institution distribution at the Intervale Food Hub
Photo: The Intervale Center

Tips to Grow Farm to Institution Marketplace

Written by Nessa Richman New England food distributors play a significant role in how people eat both in and outside of institutional dining facilities and have a strong interest in local food, according to “Getting It There: Understanding the Role of New England Food Distributors in Providing Local Food to Institutions”…

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School Lunch at Edmund's Middle School
Photo: Hunger Free Vermont

Universal Free School Meals

Written by Alida Duncan Hunger Free Vermont’s vision is for Vermont’s school cafeterias and classrooms to be a welcoming place where all kids equally share meals together, and that school provide a learning lab for healthy eating—including exposure to local foods and creating localvores for life. This vision aligns with Vermont’s…

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Woodchuck Hard Cider employees pick for their neighbors
Photo: Vermont Foodbank

Pick for Your Neighbor

Written by Judy Stermer September is National Hunger Action Month, a time when food banks across the country work to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. But hunger in Vermont is a 365 day-a-year problem. In Vermont, the Foodbank provides food assistance to 153,000 Vermonters. Nearly…

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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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Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vermont
Photo: Efficiency Vermont

Vermont brewers save money

Written by Tim Perrin Beer matters in Vermont. Not only do we have more breweries per capita than any other state, we also consume 25 percent more beer than national average per capita. That’s not surprising -- if everyone else’s beer was as good as Vermont’s, they’d drink more of it…

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Tim and Magnolia at Laughing Child Farm
Photo: Vermont Housing and Conservation Board

Sweet potatoes a viable farm business in Vermont

Written by Lindsay Quella Tim and Brooke Hughes-Muse, owners of Laughing Child Farm in Pawlet, knew they had great idea for their farm when they enrolled in the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) Farm & Forest Viability Program, but weren't so sure about its feasibility. “When we came across sweet potatoes, we thought it…

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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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Des Marais Farm wetlands in Brandon
Photo: Vermont NRCS

Spotlight on Wetlands in Vermont’s Otter Creek Watershed

Written By Amy Overstreet  Here in Vermont, wetlands help filter polluted runoff that could otherwise carry chemicals and bacteria into Lake Champlain and other waterbodies. But, half of the world's wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Development continues to pose threats to wetlands, even though their value and importance are obvious. Here in…

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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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No One to Take Over the Farm

Written by Erica Housekeeper The original version of this post was published on the UVM Food Feed blog. Nearly 30% of New England’s farmers are likely to exit farming over the next decade, and nine out of 10 of those farmers do not have someone else ready to take the reins, according…

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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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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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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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Farmer Jack Lazor and UVM Extension agronomists Sid Bosworth and Heather Darby discuss results of a small grains research trial with funding from NE-SARE.
Photo: NE-SARE

Funding VT Food System Research

Written by Debra Heleba, University of Vermont Extension Research and outreach activities are crucial to building our collective knowledge about the food system and moving it forward to meet our Farm to Plate goals for 2020 and beyond. However, funding these activities can be challenging; while a number of local, state,…

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The Vermont Tech greenhouse with nutrient management specialist Sosten Lungu (right)
Photo: Vermont Higher Education Food System Consortium

Lessons from Students: Making the Most of Vermont’s Food Web

Written by Vicky Tebbets Students from around the country plunged into a whirlwind tour of Vermont last June with one goal: immersion in Vermont’s food systems. For 21 intensive days they traveled 404 miles, learned from leaders at five colleges, one university, and a law school, and spent 54 afternoon hours…

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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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Eden Ice Cider
Photo: Homepage: DigInVT; detail page: Eleanor Leger

Icing the Apple

Written by Jen Rose Smith Published in Vermont's Local Banquet 2015 was a banner year for apples. By early October, Vermont’s trees were bowed low with ripe fruit. At Windfall Orchards in Cornwall, Brad Koehler’s century-old trees groaned under cascades of apples he would sell at farmers’ markets or ferment into a…

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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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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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Caledonia Spirits whiskey cask.
Photo: Jennifer Rose Smith

Forest to Flask

Written by Jennifer Rose Smith Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Do you know a cooper? It’s a query likely to produce confusion, as Caledonia Spirits’ founder Todd Hardie learned by putting the question to just about everyone. “For most of a year, each time I met someone, I’d say ‘Hello, do you…

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The work crew at Chappelle's Potatoes.
Photo: CAE.

Vermont Veggies Find New Markets

Written by Alissa Matthews and Sarah Waring Vermont's Local Banquet There’s no vegetable more basic than a potato. This humble, tuberous root crop, Solanum tuberosum, grows in the dark, hidden from view most of the year, and emerges late when the air is frosty. It’s not as exciting as kale, not as…

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Packaging meat at Vermont Packinghouse.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Our Meat, Made Visible

Written by Caroline Abels Vermont's Local Banquet Ironically, given that it’s the only slaughterhouse in Vermont with public viewing windows, the new Vermont Packinghouse doesn’t have a single window on the outside, save on the front door of the main office. I peered through that office window when I visited the newly…

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Understanding the Vermont Food Consumer

In 2014 Farm to Plate’s Consumer Education and Marketing Working Group conducted a target audience analysis to identify and map customers and potential customers of Vermont’s food products. Spearheaded by co-chairs Beth Cullen of Root Consulting and Chris Howell of Vermont Farm Tours, the “Understanding Vermont’s Food Consumer” project is…

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Salvation Farms' gleaning programs are changing lives through community engagement and food systems work.
Photo: Salvation Farms.

All Hands on Deck

Written by Suzanne Podhaizer Vermont's Local Banquet At some of Vermont’s correctional facilities, inmates are required to labor while serving time, so it’s not uncommon for those in the custody of the state to spend their days picking up trash on the side of the road or punching out Vermont license plates. But…

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Agricultural Land Use Planning Modules

In 1994, the then Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets issued the land use planning guide "Sustaining Agriculture: A Handbook for Local Action". Prepared by Deb Brighton and Jim Northup of Ad Hoc Associates, the guide was a valuable resource for citizen and professional planners interested in maintaining the…

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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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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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Karyl Kent (Richmond Elementary), David Horner (Chittenden East), and Alison Forrest (Brewster Pierce Elementary, Huntington), school nutrition directors holding the new school cookbook they contributed to.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Cafeteria Cooking: A New Era In VT Schools

Written by Bonnie North We all know that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Similarly, as any parent knows, you can put good, healthy food on kids’ lunch plates but that’s no guarantee they’ll actually eat it. But who can blame them? Consider what they’re…

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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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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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Pick up time.
Photo: Bonnie North

Delivering the Goods in Windham County

Written by Bonnie North Read more in Vermont's Local Banquet Winter 2014 issue. “Eat Fresh! Eat Local!” Back in 2008, teacher Hans Estrin’s ecology students at The Putney School heard that rallying cry and launched a well-intentioned project: Take the surplus from the 3-acre garden at the private and progressive Putney School and…

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Charles Dodge of Putney Mountain Winery pours a sample for tasting.
Photo: Barbi Schreiber

Thinking Outside the Bourdeaux

As skills are wont to do, the production of fermented drinks fell away with the growth of cities and electricity, but the process is now making a comeback. The high sugar content of grapes, and their suitability for European growing conditions, made them de rigueur for wines around the world,…

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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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Joe Bossen of Vermont Bean Crafters producing bean burgers at the Mad River Food Hub.
Photo: Mad River Food Hub

Mad River Food Hub

White walls and stainless steel sinks and industrial-sized freezers and workers in smocks may not form our image of “local food.” But if Vermont agriculture and food production are to remain viable, places like the Mad River Food Hub might become increasingly necessary. Opened in October 2011, the Mad River Food…

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Harvesting wheat; bagging croutons.
Photo: David Caccavo

Olivia's Croutons

Olivia’s Croutons has grown from a small, home kitchen operation—where 20 bags was a large order—to occupying an 8,000 square foot facility in a renovated barn in New Haven that ships to stores across the US. While the move to the new facility was prompted by a need for a…

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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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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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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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Kathryn watering the seedlings at High Mowing Seeds.
Photo: High Mowing Seeds.

High Mowing Organic Seeds

A healthy food system begins with seeds. But a healthy Vermont food system requires seeds that are well adapted to Vermont. If farmers and growers sow varieties that don’t thrive in local soils and micro-climates, local agriculture doesn’t thrive. This is why High Mowing Organic Seeds is one of the…

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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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Tony Brault.
Photo: Julia Shipley

Brault's Market

Tony Brault has cut things all his life, everything except his own hair, and he’s so busy lately, he hasn’t gotten around to letting someone else at it. One of his earliest memories as a kid in the Northeast Kingdom is “standing on an overturned soda crate, cutting meat beside…

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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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RAFFL Farm to Workplace event.
Photo: RAFFL.

RAFFL's Farm to Workplace Program

In the summer of 2009, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) piloted a workplace farm share delivery program to 65 employees at the Rutland Regional Medical Center (RRMC) and the Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice. Initially, RRMC wanted to establish a farmers’ market at the hospital, but area farmers were disinclined to start another market…

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A sampling of Liz Lovely cookies.
Photo: Liz Lovely, Inc.

Liz Lovely Cookies

Recently, the Mad River Valley’s Liz Lovely Cookies received the long sought after capital needed to grow the popular gluten free, vegan, and non-GMO cookie company located in Waitsfield. Last fall owners Liz and Dan Holtz competed on Shark Tank, a national television show where entrepreneurs pitch their business to…

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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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Filling Greek yogurt containers at Commonwealth Dairy.
Photo: Gregory Nesbit Photography

Efficiency at a Dairy Processor

Prepared by JJ Vandette, Planning and Development Associate, Efficiency Vermont Highlights: $150,000 in first year savings ● $2.1 million in lifetime savings ● 1.5 million in annual kWh savings ● Refrigeration system, compressed air system, motors, lighting, heating, and ventilation optimized Download the pdf. When German Company Ehrman AG partnered with Commonwealth Yogurt,…

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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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Ayers Brook Goat Dairy’s new barn in Randolph, central Vermont, is designed to house 500 goats, including state-of-the-art facilities for milking, breeding, and for raising goats for the dairy and for the region’s goat farmers.
Photo: Aegis Renewable Energy

Solar Energy on a Dairy Barn

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 180 kW (AC) of installed capacity ● ≈200,000 kWh generated annually ● Minimal changes to the roof structure required ● Largest PV installation on a barn in Vermont  Download the pdf.  Upon retirement, Carol and Perry Hodgdon sold…

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