Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

On April 16th the Vermont Senate voted 28-2 in favor of H.112, which would require the labeling of foods made with genetic engineering. This brings Vermont very close to final passage and enactment of the nation’s first GMO labeling law that does not include a multi-state “trigger, which would require indefinite postponement of its implementation.  

To visibly demonstrate to Governor Shumlin how important it is for him to sign the bill into law, the Coalition is calling for “honk and wave” events next Tuesday, April 22 (Earth Day) during morning “drive time” — not just in Vermont but all across the country. Our national partners and supporters are helping to organize this.

Use this online tool to set up and share your local honk and wave! Continue reading

Job Openings and Internships at NOFA!

We’re currently looking for two people to join the NOFA team – one as a Farm to Community Mentor for Orleans and Caledonia counties, and one to be our Mobile Oven Baker for the summer and fall event season. We also have a few intern positions still open. Read on for  full job descriptions and application information! (And check out more community job opportunities on our classifieds page!)

Farm to Community Mentor:
Orleans and Caledonia Counties

Families explore local farmers' tractors at Tractor Day.
Farm to Community Mentors help organize community activities, like this Tractor Day in Highgate.

NOFA-VT is seeking a Farm to Community Mentor for Orleans and Caledonia Counties to work in communities to help farmers, students and community groups build meaningful, long-term relationships within VT agriculture. A mentor represents NOFA-VT and serves as a regional contact for farmers who want to make school and community connections. The mentor position will average approximately 15-20 hours/month. Experience in education and farming/gardening preferred and the mentor must live in either Orleans or Caledonia County.

Please email or mail, a resume and separate letter outlining your interest and skills for this position, by April 15, 2014 to Abbie Nelson: abbie@nofavt.org

Mobile Oven Baker

Pizza ready to go into the wood-fired oven
The pizza oven is a fun and far-ranging outreach tool for NOFA. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.Mobile Oven Baker

We are seeking an experienced baker with great organizational and interpersonal skills to run our mobile wood-fired oven at up to 50 events this summer and fall, including farmers’ markets, farm field days, private events, and festivals. Requires a flexible schedule. Please contact Enid Wonnacott at enid@nofavt.org if you are interested and/or need additional information.

Internships

We still have two summer intern positions available. Each intern has a particular project area, and all interns also help at oven events and participate in a CSA research project. These positions are filling quickly, so we recommend submitting an application soon if you are interested!

The internship project areas are:

1. Organic Certification Marketing

This internship will focus on increasing consumer demand for local, certified organic food by targeting promotional efforts at retail locations. Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF), the certification branch of NOFA-VT, is looking for assistance with the development and implementation of a promotional program with one or more food coops to highlight the VOF logo and the benefits of certified organic. The retail promotion will focus on National Organic Month (September). Click here for a full job description.

2. Organic Certification Mapping

This internship will assist Vermont Organic Farmers (the certification branch of NOFA-VT) in geospatially locating certified organic farm fields in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. This project involves working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to collect shape files for farms that are currently or recently enrolled in FSA or NRCS programs. In addition, this internship will include locating and mapping the fields of organic farms not enrolled in these programs. Please note, this project does not involve fieldwork, instead most of the work is office based using records and documents provided by organic farmers. Ideal candidates will be familiar with working with ARCGIS or similar programs. Click here for a full job description.

GMO Bill Moves Forward!

Special update from NOFA’s policy advisor, Dave Rogers! Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOs

At 11am today, the VT Senate Judiciary Committee, after several weeks of work, voted 5-0 in favor of our GMO labeling bill. The bill contains no triggers and establishes a special $1.5M fund to cover implementation and legal costs, if necessary. Funds would come from Attorney General office proceeds from other cases and unrestricted donations from individuals, organizations, etc, both instate and out of state.

After a quick trip to the Senate Appropriation Committee to set up the fund, it will move to the Senate floor where it is expected to pass. Timing is uncertain but could be quite soon. Then it will go to the House for either approval of the Senate bill, or to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.

Then it will go on to the Governor’s desk.  Just before the Judiciary committee voted, one member, a Republican  whose vote was uncertain until the end, said, “Vermont is about to go where no state has gone before.”

So, we are all  quite pleased, but as we know, it ain’t over ’til it’s over! This is a great time to get in touch with your senators and let them know that you expect them to help pass this historic legislation.

Visit the Vermont Right to Know GMOs website to learn more and get involved.

Is Organic Certification Right for You?

Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.
Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.

Choosing whether or not to become certified organic is a decision that has a lot of factors, including environmental and social values, marketing channels, farm size and type, and more.

We’re working on developing materials to help farmers better understand the potential benefits and challenges of organic certification, including costs, recordkeeping, pricing, marketing, and political impacts.

As part of that effort – and in order to help us understand why farmers do or do not pursue certification – we held (and filmed) a workshop at the 2014 Winter Conference on the topic of “Is Organic Certification Right for my Business?”

This workshop featured three Vermont farmers discussing their experiences with organic certification, and we recommend it as a good starting place if you are considering certification for your farm.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with a team of UVM students to organize a few focus groups to explore more deeply what motivates or prevents certification on Vermont’s farms. We’re looking for both certified and non-certified farmers of all kinds to take part. If you’d like to talk with us about your experience with certification, please contact Charles.

You can learn more about the organic certification regulations and requirements on the Vermont Organic Farmers webpage. There are also a number of helpful resources from ATTRA and eOrganic, a program of the university extension network.

VTFMA Featured Market: Middlebury Farmers’ Market

NOFA-VT and the Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA) work closely to support  farmers’ market across the state. The latest in our series of featured markets is the Middlebury Farmers’ Market.

After a mid-winter break, the Middlebury Farmers’ Market has returned from its two-month hiatus as a refreshed market, eager to supply you with its bounty! Vermonters should be excited to learn that in its pursuit of a year-round market, the Middlebury Farmers’ Market will reopen its indoor farmers’ market on Saturdays beginning March1st and ending April 27th. During the winter (November-December) and spring (March-April), the Middlebury Farmers’ Market is located indoors at the Mary Hogan School on Saturdays from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm. In May the market will return to its outdoor location at the Marbleworks in downtown Middlebury.

Learn more about the Middlebury Farmers’ Market…

For a complete directory of all VTFMA member markets, please visit our Farmers’ Market Directory. Past featured markets, market shopping tips, and resources for market vendors and managers are available at www.VTFMA.org.

Join the Right to Know Roadshow!

We are at a critical stage in the two-year effort to pass legislation requiring foods made with genetic engineering to be labeled in Vermont.

After passing the Vermont House last year and the Senate Agriculture Committee last month, our GMO labeling bill, H.112, will now be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in mid-March.  If approved there, it will move to the full Senate for a vote and, hopefully, straight to the Governor’s desk for his signature later this spring.

This steady success has been due to the continuing engagement of tens of thousands of Vermonters, who have let their legislators know that they care about where our food comes from, how it is made, and what it contains.

Want to learn more & get engaged?

co-op_workshops_ALL.VTGMOOMGtheaterDates_2 Over the next few weeks members of the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition, including NOFA Vermont, will be be hosting a series of  consumer education workshops around Vermont. These are sponsored by community co-ops in different regions of the state so that you will have the facts you need to help H.112 become law.

 We will also be showing the highly-regarded film GMO OMG in six locations across Vermont.

Please plan to join your neighbors at one or more of these events – we need everyone to get this job done!

NOFA interns staff our mobile oven at event throughout the state.

NOFA Seeking Summer Interns

We’re looking for several motivated, articulate students who are passionate about local, organic agriculture and food systems – and who like to have fun – to join us this summer.

All interns will:

  • Participate in our summer outreach program by staffing the NOFA-VT pizza oven at statewide farm and food events, providing Vermonters with an opportunity to learn about NOFA-VT and organic/local foods.
  • Participate in the field in a CSA research project.

1. Direct Marketing Intern

Reporting to the Direct Marketing & Community Food Security Coordinator, the Direct Marketing intern will assist with farmers’ market and CSA-related projects, including coordinating a statewide CSA pricing study. Click here for full job description.

Preschool students fill their pots with dirt.
Local students learn in the NOFA-VT garden, coordinated by our garden intern.

2. Garden Intern

The garden intern assists with all aspects of caring for the NOFA-VT raised-bed garden, and will be responsible for coordinating educational activities and communicating with food pantries regarding harvest, needs and deliveries. Click here for full job description.

3. VT FEED/SNA-VT Intern

Reporting to Amy Gifford, the VT Food Education Every Day/School Nutrition Association of Vermont intern will assist with the development and implementation of marketing materials that highlight and promote local foods in school meal programs. In addition, the intern will assist in the planning and conducting of farm to school workshops at the Child Nutrition Programs Summer Institute. Click here for full job description.


4. Organic Certification Marketing Intern

The VOF Marketing intern will help reach customers in retail locations.
The Marketing intern will help expand our local & organic marketing campaign to retail locations.

This internship will focus on increasing consumer demand for local, certified organic food by targeting promotional efforts at retail locations. Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF), the certification program of NOFA-VT, is looking for assistance with the development and implementation of a promotional program with one or more food coops to highlight the VOF logo and the benefits of certified organic. The retail promotion will focus on National Organic Month (September). Click here for a full job description.

5. Organic Certification Mapping Intern

This internship will assist Vermont Organic Farmers (the certification program of NOFA-VT) in geospatially locating certified organic farm fields in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. This project involves working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to collect shape files for farms that are currently or recently enrolled in FSA or NRCS programs. In addition, this internship will include locating and mapping the fields of organic farms not enrolled in these programs. Please note, this project does not involve fieldwork; most of the work is office-based using records and documents provided by organic farmers. Ideal candidates will be familiar with working with ARCGIS or similar programs. Click here for a full job description.

“Organic Matters” film debut at the Conference!

We are exited to debut our new short film, Organic Matters, as part of the NOFA Vermont Winter Conference FarmsTED talks this morning! If you didn’t join us to watch it on the big screen in the Davis Center (or if you just want to watch it again!), take a look:

This 9-minute video features certified organic farmers across Vermont talking about why they believe in certified organic, how it defines their approach to their land and to food production, and why organic is important to the overall food movement.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of certified organic, locally grown!

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Children’s Conference – Space & Scholarships Available!

There are still openings for youth ages 6-12 at our Children’s Conference this weekend! The Children’s Conference happens at the University of Vermont, simultaneously to the adult conference, but you don’t have to be an adult attendee at the Winter Conference in order to send your child.

Full scholarships are available!

The Children's Conference is a great way to spend a wintry weekend.The conference is a great opportunity for kids to work with wool, participate in a community art project with Bonnie Acker, create songs with Chris Dorman of Bread and Butter Farm, and go on outside adventures with Earth Walk.

Click here for more information and to see our proposed schedule.

To register, contact Coordinator Lauren Lenz at laurenlenz@gmail.com or (603) 359-3160.  Walk-in registrations are welcome for both the children and adult conference.

Local Farms • Healthy Food • Strong Communities • • • the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont

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