The Vermont Studio Center is now a partner of Salvation Farms’ Vermont Commodity Program, a program that has taken several forms over the past ten years. In this new partnership, surplus produce gleaned by Salvation Farms from Lamoille Valley farms is made into minimally processed, frozen product. Based on Salvation Farms research, more than 1.1 million servings of edible produce are left on Lamoille Valley farms annually. The Studio Center hosts the Vermont Commodity Program during its interim week between artist residencies. During these weeks, the kitchen staff pauses from their regular program to focus on community service.
Liz Kauffman, Culinary and Community Engagement Director at the Studio Center, says “the Vermont Commodity Program team works alongside the Vermont Studio Center kitchen team - teaching packing and processing operations, while providing hands-on support. The laughter heard from outside of the kitchen makes it hard to believe so much work is getting done!”
Bringing the Vermont Commodity Program into the Lamoille Valley, where Salvation Farms is based, helps keep food from local farms in the local food system. This work provides food shelves and community meal programs with locally grown vegetables, that have a longer shelf life than their raw counterparts. The processing days result in approximately 300 servings of frozen product. The partnership also presents a future opportunity to integrate elements of workforce development.
“The point is to have more produce more accessible. Having it prepared is really handy for people to use.” says Morgan Wickstrom, Vermont Commodity Assistant at Salvation Farms.
“Season extension and shelf stability is one of the biggest challenges of produce, when there’s surplus you can’t consume it all…the idea is to capture and extend shelf-life so that product can be available after the harvest, and be eaten, not wasted.” says Tony Risitano, Clearinghouse Director at Salvation Farms.
Kauffman continues, “how can we support the local food system in a sustainable and community focused way? The partnership between the Studio Center and Salvation Farms allows the Studio Center access into this important work in a fun and supportive way. The Studio Center's work is centered around inclusivity, equity, and accessibility. The partnership between Salvation Farm's Vermont Commodity Program has given the Vermont Studio Center the opportunity to carry out our mission through food.”
To learn more about Salvation Farms, visit www.salvationfarms.org.
To learn more about the Vermont Studio Center, visit www.vermontstudiocenter.org.
Photo Caption: A Vermont Studio Center kitchen crew member prepares surplus potatoes for freezing.