Salvation Farms reduces farm fresh food loss and increases local food access through the responsible management and use of Vermont’s surplus crops. Our mission is to build increased resilience in Vermont’s food system through agricultural surplus management by fostering collaborative, cross-sector partnerships that create efficient management practices for Vermont’s farm surplus through the engagement and utilization of available resources, skills and knowledge. We are guided by the philosophy that farms are, were, and always will be our salvation: small, diversified farms are the cornerstones of healthy, wholesome and stable communities.
Salvation Farms is building a proactive statewide management system for Vermont’s farm surplus. Unmarketable farm surplus exceeds two million pounds annually in Vermont and, at best, only 12% of this resource is currently being captured; yet our state has a 14% food insecurity rate, we serve 54,000 school meals daily and more than 600,000 meals in our hospitals annually. The institutions serving our vulnerable populations are often restricted by budgets that impede their ability to access Vermont-grown foods resulting in an excess of $14,000,000 being spent on food from far away sources.
The Vermont Gleaning Collective and Vermont Commodity Program are our foundation. We are creating a statewide blanket of gleaning initiatives, increasing the state’s capacity to capture greater volumes of wasted farm fresh surplus by supporting Collective member organizations as they develop and manage effective gleaning programs. Volumes of farm surplus too great for a gleaning initiative to distribute in their local community will be aggregated into the Commodity Program for raw case packing or light processing.
Salvation Farms’ model for agricultural surplus management does not exist anywhere in America. America’s strategy to capture and distribute surplus is based in charity, not in building resilience, and is segmented – rarely engaging the potential mix of community stakeholders important to addressing food waste and food inequality.
Our system works in tandem with our for-profit food system and will increase 1) local food consumption, 2) farm production awareness, 3) regional food processing, 4) workforce development, 5) in-state investment in local agriculture while lessening our social and environment impact of investing outside of Vermont. We will build greater awareness and appreciation for our natural resources, our management and demand of these resources and how we can collectively decide to creatively use them.