Appendix C: Connecting the Dots Add to Collection

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Delivery driver for Black River Produce. Photo: Black River Produce

Appendix C: Connecting the Dots focuses on the distribution chain that links farm production, processing, and market outlets and provides strategies for aligning these elements of Vermont’s food system more closely. Distribution is defined as the process of delivering food from the primary producer to end consumers, whether they are found at supermarkets, restaurants, schools, farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, or convenience or general stores. Distribution requires organizing transportation and logistics in an economically efficient manner to deliver a marketable mix of products to meet consumer demand. At times, it also requires short-term storage, en route to store shelves.

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., via farmers markets, CSAs, farm stands, the Internet) are booming. 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 significantly expanding the consumption of locally grown products. A key insight of our research is that, to be successful, food enterprises must align their stage of development and the type and scale of their operations with suitable market outlets. Improved access to all types of markets can be strengthened by improving the connections between (1) small-scale producers who self-distribute and direct sales venues (e.g., farmers markets); (2) medium-scale producers, wholesalers, and medium-sized retailers (e.g., co-ops, restaurants); and (3) large producers, wholesalers, and large markets (e.g., grocery stores). A number of emerging models that embrace supply chain collaborations, including regional aggregation facilities and incubators, regional food centers, and subscription services, hold great promise and opportunity for the future of Vermont’s food system.



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Resources

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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