Direct Marketing workshops to be combined into Winter Conference

As we are gearing up for our winter educational offerings, we wanted to share that we have decided to not host a Direct Marketing Conference in 2015. Instead, based on feedback from past Winter Conferences, we will offer more direct marketing workshops in our commercial farmer track at the 2015 Winter Conference. These workshops will focus on issues relevant to farmers’ market vendors, and CSA and farm stand farmers. We hope that by re-combining these two conferences, more of you will be able to benefit from the workshops that have been spread out between two conferences in the past!

UVM's Davis Center serves as the conference hub. (Credit Elizabeth Ferry)The Request for Proposals (RFP) for Winter Conference workshops is currently open through September 15, 2014.

Even if you don’t have a workshop you would like to present yourself, we are also looking for feedback on specific workshops or presenters that you’d like us to consider for the 2015 Winter Conference. If you have ideas or suggestions, please contact our new Education Coordinator, Rachel Fussell as soon as possible, with a deadline of September 15th.

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention farmers’ market organizers in my workshop audience list above. We haven’t forgotten you! We will be collaborating with the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association (VTFMA) to host a day of workshops and the VTFMA Annual Meeting in March 2015. We will be sending more information later this fall on that event so please be on the lookout!

Lastly, we are looking forward to hearing from you after the Winter Conference about how this new set-up worked for you. While nine years ago we started a separate Direct Marketing Conference in order to accommodate more attendees when space at the Winter Conference venues was our major limiting factor, we are excited to again try to meet your needs by bringing the two conferences back together now that space is not an issue. Your feedback will help us determine if this is the best option moving forward or if we need to look at additional possibilities.

We look forward to hearing from you!

[By Erin Buckwalter,  Market Development and Community Food Security Coordinator]

Wholesale and Institutional Markets – a quick survey for producers

Hey farmers! We’re partnering with the Agency of Ag on a project to help determine the level of interest from producers in institutional and wholesale markets.

We’re hoping you can take about 10 minutes out of this busy season to fill out a short survey, which will help us understand the current supply and demand in this market, the level of interest amongst producers, the room for growth, and what kinds of support and technical assistance would be most useful.

We see wholesale and institutional sales (such as those to grocery stores, schools, and hospitals) as a key market for future local foods growth. These markets reach large numbers of customers, many of whom may not be seeking out local products or participating in direct-market channels such as farmers’ markets and CSAs. By making local foods more accessible to more people, we can increase awareness and create demand.

We hope that you’ll help us analyze and understand this market, your participation in it, and how best we can work with producers and other partners to make wholesale and institutional sales successful for Vermont farmers and processors.

Click here to take the survey now!

 

Helping Farmers Grow Up to Be Successful

There has been a lot of great discussion going on in response to the recent New York Times editorial, Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers. Author and farmer Bren Smith laments the fact that, despite a great resurgence of interest in food and in farming as a career, making a profitable business out of farming is still a huge challenge.

At NOFA-VT, we firmly believe that sustainable farming must include the farm’s financial stability.

That’s why we put so much energy into building diverse markets and educating consumers, and why our technical assistance and farmer training programs include business planning, enterprise analysis, and marketing alongside soil management and weed control. We advocate on state and federal levels for legislation that supports small-scale, family, and organic farms. Along with our six sister NOFA chapters (plus MOFGA!), we’re able to conduct regional projects and be a strong voice for New England farmers on national issues.

Smith suggests, rightly, that farmers and those who care about their food need to organize to make the substantial changes in the food system that will be required for farmers to succeed. We’ve been working with Vermont farmers and in the regional food system for over 40 years, and we hope that you’ll join us as we continue to work towards the goals of successful local farms, healthy food, and strong communities.

Join us buttonAll farmers and their supporters are welcome as members. Help us improve the viability of Vermont’s farmers and the vitality of our rural communities – become a member today!

Farmers’ Market Week Winners!

NOFA and the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association held a “selfie” photo contest in honor of National Farmers’ Market Week, August 3-9. What an amazing week it was! Fresh air, sunshine, outstanding food, and awesome friends. What more could we want?

Thank you to all of our photo contest participants and everyone who voted for their favorite photo. It was great to see how much enthusiasm Vermonters have for our local food producers. And without further ado, here is our photo contest winner and runners up!

Karin Bellemare "Queen Beet and King Carrot" at the Barre Farmers' Market
Karin Bellemare at the Barre Farmers’ Market, 1st place

Karin wins a $100 gift certificate to the market of her choice, and the Barre Farmers’ Market, where her photo was taken, will receive a $100 advertising stipend from NOFA-VT.

Manolo Zelkin
Manolo Zelkin, 2nd place
Beth Wallace
Beth Wallace, 3rd place

Farmers’ Market Week may be over, but it is still high season for Vermont’s bounty, and farmers’ markets are the best place to find fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, baked goods, gifts, and more. Click here to find a market near you!

Leahy_Cookbook

New School Cuisine finds its way to the White House

While visiting school kitchens around the state, representatives from the School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT) and Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED, a program of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms) took note of the delicious offerings being served to Vermont schoolchildren by talented school nutrition professionals.

Cookbook-Cover-DraftHow could they share these ideas, techniques, and recipes with other school food service? New School Cuisine: Nutritious and Seasonal Recipes for School Cooks by School Cooks is the result of their wondering, fundraising, and collaborating. With support from a USDA Team Nutrition grant, SNA-VT and VT FEED together with the Vermont Agency of Education began a year-long culinary adventure. Fourteen school chefs were invited to submit innovative cafeteria creations and worked closely with professional recipe developers and testers to learn how to modify and standardize their recipes. Each recipe underwent thorough testing—by the school chefs in their own cafeterias and students at the New England Culinary Institute.

Called “groundbreaking” by Ann Cooper, a powerful voice for school food reform, New School Cuisine is the only cookbook created by school nutrition professionals that meets the 2012 USDA guidelines, is kid-tested, and features farm-fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.

The cookbook, available as a free download from VT FEED  and for purchase through the Shelburne Farms online store, is being put to use in schools across the country, at last count in 25 states.

07.17.14 PJL letter to S. KassAnd now, thanks to Senator Patrick Leahy, it’s in the hands of Sam Kass, President Barack Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy and Let’s Move Executive Director. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Senator Leahy sent with the cookbook:

New School Cuisine represents Vermont’s commitment to transforming school meal programs by offering healthy and nutritious options that still taste good. By educating students about the local food found in their cafeteria, Vermonters not only gain an understanding about the origin of each ingredient, but they also cultivate a relationship with their local farmers and greater agricultural community. As nationwide problems such as obesity and malnutrition continue to rise, school cafeterias struggle to find options that are both healthy and delicious for children who rely on school meal programs. New School Cuisine offers school cafeterias recipes that prioritize the health and wellbeing of students, while educating them about the importance of where their food comes from.”

By sharing this first-of-its-kind resource with the White House Senator Leahy is providing Mr. Kass and First Lady Michelle Obama with a powerful tool they can use to advance their mission of changing the way we feed children across the country. We hope they will come to regard it as a valuable resource in their work toward improving the health of our nation’s youth.

 

kids

Kids in the NOFA Garden

Summer is here and the produce is  rolling in! Here at the NOFA office in Richmond, we have a raised bed vegetable garden in the backyard. The garden is used primarily as a learning space for several groups of local kids, who come by to help plant seeds, do garden-based activities, and, of course, taste-test whatever is ready to eat.

GraemeWhen the kids don’t eat all of the produce (which is rare so far) we take whatever we have left to the Richmond Food Shelf, which is right across the street. Thanks in large part to donations from Red Wagon Plants and Green Mountain Compost, our plants are thriving. It’s always fun to see kids devouring cucumbers, greens, herbs, and more!

What does “certified organic” mean?

What DOES certified organic mean? Who determines that definition, and how is it enforced?

Get the answers to these questions and more in our exclusive interview with Jean Richardson, National Organic Standards Board member and organic certification inspector for VOF.

Use the navigation menu at the beginning of the video to jump to the topic you’re interested in – organic standards, international regulations, the three organic categories for processed products, the NOSB, enforcement, and more – or watch the full 30-minute interview for a comprehensive overview of what, exactly, organic certification means.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the latest Policy Updates,Farmer Quick Tips, Farmers Talk interviews, and videos that feature our members and programs.
PS – Spread the word! Like, share, and comment on the video, and ask your local public access TV station to play it, too. They’ll find it on the Vermont Media Exchange by the name PolicyUpdateOrganicCertification.mpg. Thanks!

NOFA Summer Conference!

The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s (NOFA) 40th annual Summer Conference takes place August 8-10, 2014 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Appealing to a wide range of interests, 1400 consumers, gardeners, farmers, food policy experts, and urban agriculturalists travel from across the northeast and beyond to participate in 150+ workshops, pre-conference events, farms tours, and much more. This conference is a collaborative project of all seven NOFA chapters.

This is a family-friendly event, with special conference tracks for children 5-12 and teens 13-17. While parents attend great educational workshops on gardening, farming, nutrition, and ecological sustainability, children experience age-appropriate and fun workshops about these same topics with other youth. Childcare is available for children 2-4.

Affordable accommodations (like camping and dorms) are available, as are scholarships, group discounts, work exchange, and other creative financing options.

“At the heart of NOFA as an organization is the NOFA Summer Conference. A place of inspiration, awakening, reconnecting, and practical education, it is the event that for 40 years has brought the brightest, best, and most collaborative farming game-changers together for one packed weekend celebration of life and farming,” says farmer, former NOFA Summer Conference Coordinator, and current NOFA/Mass Executive Director, Julie Rawson.

Trained as a microbiologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham, this year’s keynote speaker, brings a unique perspective to her work with farmers. Her goal is to develop soils that foster thriving microbial communities. Her simple approaches to building soil biology require less labor and off-farm inputs and ultimately help save farmers money, while reducing adverse ecological effects of conventional farming. She maintains that by building soils teeming with the right kind of biology, growers can mitigate plant pests and diseases.

In addition to her Friday all-day pre-conference seminar titled “Changing Dirt into Soil: Specific Approaches for Different Soil Types and Crops”, Ingham will lead three workshops during the conference. Three half-day pre-conferences will also take place on Friday, including “Tools for Resilient Urban Ecosystems” with Scott Kellogg; “Healing the Gut and the Body through Nutrition” with Dr. Chris Decker; and “Bioregional Herbalism: Stocking the Home Apothecary with Locally Abundant Herbs” with Jade Alicandro Mace.

Saturday and Sunday’s workshops are geared to many skill levels and interests. Knowledgeable and experienced instructors will offer workshops on topics such as nutrition and health, food politics, land access, crop production, cooperative economies, urban and international agriculture, gardening, animal husbandry, farm economics, food preservation and cooking, permaculture, and mitigating climate change through agriculture.

There will be a sing-along event on Friday evening called “Singing for Food and Freedom: Carrying on the Legacy of Pete Seeger” (free for conference registrants and open to the public with a $5-$10 suggested donation). The weekend also features films (such as The Queen of the Sun, Out Here, and Food for Change), meet-ups for participants from a variety of interests, organic meals, a country fair, a contra dance, 100+ exhibitors, and more.

Learn more and register at www.nofasummerconference.org!

NOFA staff at the Winter Conference, 2012

NOFA hiring Education Coordinator

Are you a planner, educator,  organizer? Do you love farms, food, and fun? Join the amazing NOFA-VT team! We’re hiring for an Education Coordinator to manage our year-round schedule of events and our beginning farmer program.

The Education Coordinator is predominantly responsible for managing the educational events at NOFA-VT to engage current members (farmers, gardeners, and consumers) and attract new members through development of Winter Conference workshops, and seasonal on-site workshops (on farms, gardens, homesteads).  The Education Coordinator is a member of the technical assistance team and provides support to the Technical Assistance Coordinator.  In addition, the candidate will develop and oversee NOFA-VT¹s Beginning Farmer programs (apprenticeship tool, CRAFT program and Journey Farmer Program) and organize technical/networking events for beginner farmers.  The position will start in mid-August.

Click here to read the full job description and learn how to apply!

UVM Food Summit

UVM Food Systems Summit

NOFA Vermont is proud to be a featured partner of the UVM Food Systems Summit. Almost half of our staff plans to attend - if you’d like to as well, registration closes today at midnight. If you’d like to attend after that point, call call UVM Conference and Events Services at 802-656-5665. Walk-in registrations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Who should own and control the food system? How much additional food production capacity do we need and where? How do cultural values influence food practice? Food systems scholars and leaders will address these questions and more when they convene at the University of Vermont (UVM) June 17-18 for the third annual UVM Food Systems Summit to share research and engage in dialogue on the pressing food systems issues facing our world.

With a vibrant local food economy, Vermont is a hot spot of sustainable food system development, and a prime location to explore the innovative models that are providing solutions to the multitude of social, environmental, health and economic problems arising from our broken food system. During the day and a half conference, sessions will address the following themes: the biophysical constraints we face for food production globally, the impact of our geopolitical context on our food system, and the implications of behavior and culture for our food system.

“UVM is a leading academic institution in the transdisciplinary study of food systems, and Vermont is a national model in alternative food system development with its network-based, systems-approach,” said Doug Lantagne, director of the UVM Food Systems Initiative. “Our goal is for food systems researchers, leaders, practitioners, and engaged community members to come together at the summit and expand their knowledge, network with peers to generate future collaborations, identify needs and prioritize future work.”

The summit will transcend the boundaries of academia by incorporating food systems efforts happening outside the ivory tower. Unlike traditional academic conferences, the summit is designed to optimize engagement between scholars and practitioners outside of academia. As such, the summit is open to the public, and the organizers are seeking participation from nonprofits, government, farmers and food producers.

Three keynote speakers will each provide a one-hour talk as well as participate in a panel discussion at the end of the summit: Rosamond Naylor, director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, Eric Holt-Giménez, executive director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, and Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at City University of New York’s School of Public Health and Hunter College.

Panel discussions will feature research and examples of how local-level responses are responding to globalization in the food system. To promote dialogue among all participants, all sessions will include time for Q&A and engaged dialogue with the audience. Participants will enjoy local foods and drink during a Taste of Vermont reception.

[post from Alison Nihart, UVM]

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

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