About Farm to Plate
Farm to Plate is Vermont’s food system plan being implemented statewide by the 350+ member organizations of the Farm to Plate Network to increase economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector and improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters.
Collectively, we strive for a viable, sustainable, and resilient food system to produce and distribute our food.
Farm to Plate Intended Outcomes:
The Farm to Plate Network creates the space for strategic conversations across multiple audiences and perspectives to make systematic food system change that no one organization can do alone to:
- Increase jobs and economic activity in Vermont’s food system;
- Improve access to healthy, local food for all Vermonters (especially low income Vermonters);
- Improve the quality of our environment (e.g., soil, water, energy); and
- Improve the ability of the local food system to support the health of Vermonters.
Defining Farm to Plate Network Strategic Priority Areas and the Work Ahead:
The Farm to Plate Network is focusing on five strategic priority areas for the next five years to move Vermont towards reaching the intended outcomes of Vermont’s Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. The strategic priority areas emerged from Network group activities, work plans, and analysis of data trends for the 25 Farm to Plate goals. Applying a collective impact approach, the Farm to Plate Network is governed by an elected Steering Committee and coordinated by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Montpelier, Vermont.
Farm to Plate Strategic Priority Areas:
1.) Meet Food System Employment Needs in Positive Work Environments
As the farm and food economy grows, more jobs are created which creates workforce opportunities and challenges for both employees and employers. The Farm to Plate Network is coordinating activities to help prepare and educate students to meet the growing workforce needs of food system employers. They are also addressing how farm and food businesses can improve their human resources management so that workers have better working conditions and wages, while businesses have a competitive advantage to recruit the workers they need.
2.) Improve Viability of Farms and Food Businesses
If farms and food businesses are not profitable, Vermont's agricultural economy cannot be sustainable. Cost and scales of production, sales in different market channels, food safety, business management, infrastructure and equipment, distribution, and environmental impacts all play roles in overall business viability. The Farm to Plate Network addresses these variables by identifying effective business models and building trust and transparency along entire supply chains (e.g. Vermont's meat industry) to help farmers and producers profitably sell into wholesale, retail, and other markets.
3.) Increase Local Food Availability and Affordability in All Market Channels
Local food sales currently account for approximately 7% ($189 million) of total food sales in Vermont. In order for local food to be accessible to all Vermonters, it needs to be more readily available and affordable where most Vermonters purchase food. The Farm to Plate Network works to open new wholesale market channels at retail stores (country stores, co-ops, specialty food stores, grocery stores) and institutions (schools, hospitals, prisons) in Vermont and New England, while supporting increased access at Vermont's restaurants and direct markets (farm stands, farmers' markets, CSAs). The Network seeks to make local food available in these market channels more affordable to consumers through incentive programs, procurement policies, business and technical assistance, and more efficient supply chain logistics.
4.) Increase Consumer Engagement and Demand for Local Food
When consumers demand more Vermont food products, it sends a powerful market signal to producers, distributors, and retailers to provide more local food. The Farm to Plate Network is focused on efforts to improve the ability of Vermonters to find, purchase, and use local foods and ensure these efforts reach Vermonters at all income levels. The Network provides consumer education connectivity across different Vermont regions to help increase awareness and engagement in the local food movement so statewide marketing and regional outreach efforts are mutually supportive and aligned.
5.) Protect and Expand Affordable and Environmentally Sustainable Farmland in Agricultural Production
Access to affordable and environmentally sustainable farmland is imperative to increase our local food supply and grow our agricultural economy. The Farm to Plate Network is creating strategic partnerships and tools to address a continuum of farmland access issues including farm succession planning, farmland conservation, and farmland investment, leasing, and matchmaking. The Network is also working to improve soil and water quality through research, monitoring, information sharing, and training.
Farm to Plate is policy initiated by the Vermont Legislature in 2009, which tasked the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund with conducting a public engagement process, analyzing the state’s food system and creating the 10-year Farm to Plate Strategic Plan (2011-2020). All of the activities and implementation efforts through the Farm to Plate Network and how Vermont is reaching the 25 Farm to Plate goals to strengthen the food system are available for full disclosure on this website, which also hosts the Vermont Food Atlas, a comprehensive and interactive mapping directory of the food system in Vermont. Learn more about Farm to Plate background and structure.