On an unseasonably warm recent Sunday, Vermont farmers and representatives met at nine farms covering almost every county in the state, from the Northeast Kingdom to the most southwestern corner, for the second annual State House to Farmhouse event. A coalition of statewide and regional agriculture and food nonprofits organized these gatherings, where rich and meaningful conversations were shared, and where direct relationships were grown between farmers and the legislators who represent them in the State House.
State House to Farmhouse events are grounded at the host farms with a farm tour and lightly facilitated dialogue about the needs, concerns, barriers, opportunities, and hopes farmers experience - and their visions for the future of agriculture in Vermont. The conversations and topics are determined as we go by the farmers and policy-makers in attendance. This year, we covered a lot of ground including some common themes: land access and succession, the dairy crisis, low incomes from farming, healthcare access and affordability, accountability and enforcement related to current laws and policies, soil health and conservation practices – and how all these topics relate to and overlap with each other.
This event has been well received by farmers and representatives: "Statehouse to Farmhouse is really a unique, valuable and important event. It allowed for us all to have an open conversation and dialogue in a way that I don't think would have ever happened anywhere else and I feel very fortunate to have experienced it," said Family Cow Farmstand farmer Aubrey Schatz who hosted the Chittenden county event.
The annual State House to Farmhouse event is a collaborative effort among a dozen food and farm organizations: Center for an Agricultural Economy, Food Connects, Franklin County Conservation District, Healthy Roots, Merck Farm & Forest, NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont, Vermont Farmer-Veteran Coalition, Vermont Grass Farmers Association, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, Vermont Young Farmers Coalition, and Vital Communities.We invite other agricultural organizations, farms, and farmers to join this event - please be in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be involved in 2020!