VOF’s Organic Guidelines Protect Water Quality

The April 1st Seven Days article Sacred Cows pointedly highlighted the relationship between accepted (and some unacceptable) agricultural practices and the need to protect water quality in our state. Vermont’s farmers are some of the greatest stewards of our state’s lands and waters, the vast majority of whom care deeply about the land that sustains us all. That said, there can always be bad actors.

For Vermont’s organic farmers, there are established guidelines and clear standards in place to prevent soil erosion and other factors than can negatively impact water quality. Under the Vermont Organic Farmer (VOF) guidelines for organic certification, farmers are required to take certain measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, and other natural resources.

In order to maintain certification, organic producers are required to implement crop rotation, which (among other benefits) provides erosion control to prevent soil loss and runoff. Livestock yards and feeding areas must be managed in a way that prevents waste runoff into nearby surface waters, and pastures must be managed in a manner that does not put water quality at risk. Organic farmers’ pasture plans must specifically include a description of practices used for erosion control and protection of natural wetlands and riparian areas. These are just a few examples.

While there can be instances of non-compliance on organic farms as any other, all organic farms in Vermont are monitored through annual inspections. VOF (Vermont’s organic certification program, operated by NOFA Vermont) is also required to conduct a certain number of unannounced inspections each year. In part to help support these monitoring and enforcement efforts, organic farmers pay substantial certification fees each year.

NOFA Vermont supports the State’s efforts to improve water quality and believes that every farmer and in fact, every citizen must be a part of the solution. As Vermont’s organic certifier, one way VOF can help to support water quality protection is to assist the state in verifying organic farmers’ compliance with updated AAPs (accepted agricultural practices) as part of the established inspection process. Such a solution would avoid excessive and expensive repeat inspection visits, since organic inspectors already visit organic farms at least once per year. Furthermore, since organic farmers already pay significant fees in order to have their operations regularly monitored and inspected, certified farmers should be exempt from the State’s proposed permit fees under the current water quality proposal.

As the State moves forward with its plans to improve water quality, care should be taken to find a solution that is practical, enforceable, and provides appropriate protections for our state’s waters, as well as farms and farmers at the heart of Vermont’s rural economy and character.

Journey Farmer Social

The new cohort of NOFA-VT’s 2015 Journey Farmers gathered in Richmond, Vermont for a Sonoran-themed lunch and educational workshop on April 18.

Everyone shared a delicious meal together and were able to share various farm challenges, successes and excitement for the coming summer season. They were joined by Richard Wiswall from Cate Farm who gave an in-depth workshop on cost benefit and enterprise analysis.

With full bellies and minds, the Journey Farmers left the social abuzz with new ideas and connections.

Read more about NOFA-VT’s Journey Farmer program »

Vermonter honored at the White House

by Laura Nunziata, Vermont Organic Farmers

Congratulations to Red Hen Bakery’s Randy George!

Red Hen Bakery co-owner honored at the White House Red Hen Bakery co-owner honored at the White House (courtesy photo)Randy was honored at the White House on Monday as a “Champion of Change” for working families by providing equal and livable wages, paid sick days, and health benefits to its 43 employees.

Not only is this small Vermont Business a champion for change in the workplace, they have also been champions of organic production for well over a decade now. These folks first became certified organic before the National Organic Program Rule was enacted and have remained true to those practices through the years.

Red Hen’s dedication to supporting their local community, their employees, organic production, and creating an exceptional product is certainly something to be celebrated and recognized. Way to go friends!

Read more about this:

Times Argus article »
WCAX video & story »
White House blog »

NAMING CONTEST: we need your creative imagination!

Our double-value voucher needs a new name, and we need your help

In case you missed it, NOFA-VT recently received over $225,000 in Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) funding to support our double value program for EBT customers at farmers markets over the next three years! In the past, this program has been called  Harvest Health Coupons, but with changes to the program coming, we’ve decided now is the time for a little rebranding.

Harvest Health Coupon
While we are good at program coordination and grant writing, we need  your creative imaginations to help come up with a new name!

Here’s a little bit about the program:

  • It is only available at farmers markets in VT that accept 3SquaresVT;
  • It can only be utilized by 3SquaresVT customers;
  • It matches your 3SquaresVT benefits in $2 increments up to $10 (per market day) with a $2 paper voucher; and
  • The paper voucher can only be used to purchase fruits and vegetables.

This is an exciting time for NOFA-VT, farmers markets and communities across VT. The program needs a new name – keep it SHORT, SNAPPY, and INSPIRING. Comment with your best ideas or email them to mike@nofavt.org. totebag

We are accepting ideas until May 6th and the winning name will be revealed shortly after. In return, the creative genius behind the selected name will receive a NOFA-VT tote bag as a thank you, just in time to use at your favorite farmers markets!

~ Your food friends at NOFA-VT!

Spring Policy Update

By Maddie Monty, NOFA Vermont Office Manager and Policy Advisor

If there’s one policy issue that has been making waves in Vermont’s farming community in this early part of 2015, it is water quality. While the condition of Lake Champlain and Vermont’s other waterways has been a source of concern for years, Governor Shumlin’s inaugural address in January cast new light on the subject, calling for changes to common agricultural practices and stricter enforcement of water quality regulations.

House bill H.35, introduced in late January, aims to carry out this agenda. A Senate version, bill S.49, is also under consideration. Though there are some differences between the bills, they share a common goal: to enhance protections of Vermont’s waters. One key component of both bills is a requirement to revise existing accepted agricultural practices (AAPs), a set of practices with which all farms are expected to be in compliance. The bills also propose to create a statewide definition for “small farms” for the first time ever, and to require that small farms certify their compliance with the revised AAPs and all water quality regulations. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the proposal is a provision that ties participation in the Current Use Program to compliance with AAPs and other water quality regulations. The Current Use penalty was removed by the House Agriculture Committee, but could still be reinstated at a later stage.

The good news for organic farmers, and Vermont’s waterways, is that many of the protections called for in H.35 include practices already being used on organic farms to improve soil health, reduce soil erosion, and curtail nutrient runoff into Vermont’s streams, rivers, and bays. Organic farms are required to use tillage and cultivation methods that minimize soil erosion, to maintain buffer zones between tilled land and waterways, and to manage pastureland as well as manure and other nutrients in a way that does not put water quality at risk. Vermont’s organic farmers are setting a standard for practices that protect our state’s natural resources, and can be leaders in this critical effort to improve water quality.

USDA funds will increase access to fresh local foods in Vermont

NOFA-VT will receive $227,661 through USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program as part of Wholesome Wave’s $3.77 million grant

Fresh Produce
This funding will make a tremendous impact in the lives of the over 87,000 Vermonters who currently receive SNAP benefits every month,” says Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT.

NOFA-VT celebrates USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of $31.5 million granted through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program. The national nonprofit organization, Wholesome Wave, received a $3.77 million FINI grant, of which NOFA-VT is a sub-grantee. NOFA-VT will receive $227,661 through this award, which will be used to support increased access to fruits and vegetables for the food insecure of Vermont, while also benefiting small and mid-sized farmers in the region.

“This program is a key way that we help to bridge the gap in access for limited-income Vermonters to fresh, local and organic foods while supporting the viability of Vermont farms,” says Enid Wonnacott, Executive Director of NOFA-VT.

Since 1971, NOFA-VT has been committed to increasing the acreage of certified organic land in Vermont while also increasing the access of local, organic food to all Vermonters. The grant issued to NOFA-VT will increase affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP consumers across Vermont, while also supporting local agriculture.

“Over the last five years we have seen a tremendous increase in SNAP consumers looking for an outlet to use their SNAP benefits to support local farmers. With this FINI award, these consumers can more easily support Vermont’s local food economy while enjoying a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This funding will make a tremendous impact in the lives of the over 87,000 Vermonters who currently receive SNAP benefits every month,” says Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT.

NOFA-VT received this award as a sub-grantee on a larger $3.77 million grant, which the nonprofit organization, Wholesome Wave, obtained from the USDA to support their national network of nutrition incentive partners. NOFA-VT is one of 32 community-based organizations that will join Wholesome Wave in this Large-Scale FINI Project. Wholesome Wave’s network is a robust community of innovation and learning, linking incentive programs through uniform data collection and evaluation to support the expansion and adoption of incentives through policy. Wholesome Wave’s project is one of many that received support as part of the total $31.5 million granted by USDA in this cycle. With the award from Wholesome Wave, NOFA-VT will implement incentive programs at over 40 summer and winter farmers markets across the state.

“We are thrilled to be working with such a diverse and competent group of incentive operators across the nation. This network brings together organizations ranging from a flourishing farmers market group to a large scale nonprofit, capitalizing on the grassroots expertise of community leaders, while also building regional and national impact that allows us to enact the kind of large-scale policy change we see in legislation like FINI,” says Wholesome Wave founder and CEO, Michel Nischan.


Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, we enable underserved consumers to make healthier food choices. Our innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies. Our initiatives are implemented nationwide in collaboration with community-based partners at farmers markets, community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets. Each year, our initiatives reach more than 50,000 underserved consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers. To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit http://www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

Save the Date for Open Farm Week 2015: August 3-9

If you are a farmer that wants to sign-up to participate, please visit www.diginvt.com/blog/openfarmweekforfarmers before July 1!

Open Farm Week is August 3-9; a time when many farms and farmers markets are at their peak of production and have a variety of different products to showcase to visitors.
Open Farm Week is August 3-9; a time when many farms and farmers markets are at their peak of production and have a variety of different products to showcase to visitors.

Building off of the success of NOFA Vermont’s 2014 Open CSA Farm Day, several organizations from around the state are coming together to organize Open Farm Week, expanding both the scope and the length of the event.  Our goal is to strengthen consumers’ connections to their growers, while teaching them how to access Vermont-grown products.  We envision this will become an annual event that engages both locals and vacationers in building relationships with our farmers and interest in our amazing working landscape.

Based on feedback from last year’s Open CSA Farm Day, we chose early August as a time when many farms and farmers markets are at their peak of production and have a variety of different products to showcase to visitors.  We also recognize that one specific day might not work well for everyone, so have expanded the event to a whole week to provide the opportunity for farmers and food lovers to participate on whichever day(s) work best.

NOFA Vermont has received funding from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program to augment our CSA-focused Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in order to expand our outreach for this event to all farms that market directly to consumers. We are excited to be able to promote Vermont certified organic CSAs and farmstands as well as those that are members of NOFA Vermont.  In addition, the Open Farm Week coincides with the annual National Farmers Market Week and we will be promoting markets that are members of the Vermont Farmers Market Association.

To find more information or if you are a farmer that wants to sign-up to participate, please visit www.diginvt.com/blog/openfarmweekforfarmers.  The list of participating farms will be updated on a rolling basis.  Sign-ups end July 1 and by mid-July the final list will be set.


NOFA-VT is working with the following partners to organize this event  this event: City Market, Dig In Vermont, the Farm-Based Education Network, the Intervale Center, the Neighboring Food Co-ops Association, Shelburne Farms, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, the Vermont Farm to Plate Network Agritourism Task Force, Vermont Farm Tours, the Vermont Farmers Market Association, Vermont FEED, and the Vermont Fresh Network.

AFTER WINTER, SPRING: Vermont premiere of award-winning documentary

When: Wed, May 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Where: Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas, Burlington, VT
Tickets: $15 general / $12 NOFA-VT and City Market Members

Award-winning feature documentary AFTER WINTER, SPRING, directed by Judith Lit, will have its Vermont premiere at the Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington on Wednesday, May 6 at 7:00 pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker and a reception sponsored by City Market. The event will be a partial fundraiser for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-VT). Please Join us!

ABOUT THE FILM — One hundred years ago, half of the population of France were farmers. Now less than 3% farm. In the Périgord, a rural community fears they may be the last generation of family farmers in a region continuously cultivated for over five thousand years. Filmed over four years, AFTER WINTER, SPRING captures the roots of farm-to-table and the tenacity of a people who have taken one season at a time for generations.

"I love this film. After Winter, Spring makes a compelling case for reimagining the policy assumptions that take us down a no-exit pathway for larger scale, increased efficiency, and standardization...Must see! Must share with USA farmers whose link to traditional practices has faded. This is an important and original film."  Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA
“I love this film. After Winter, Spring makes a compelling case for reimagining the policy assumptions that take us down a no-exit pathway for larger scale, increased efficiency, and standardization…Must see! Must share with USA farmers whose link to traditional practices has faded. This is an important and original film.”
Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA

The farmers’ stories are recorded by one of their neighbors, an American filmmaker who grew up on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. Inter-weaving her story and theirs, the film explores the nature of the farming life and the impact of rapid modernization on families whose survival is tied to the land. As the farmer’s stories unfold, we see their responses to change…the losses and the surprising adaptations. AFTER WINTER, SPRING reveals the human story of family farming at a turning point in history.

The film was chosen to tour in France as part of the Mois du Documentaire and has played to sold-out screenings in numerous festivals including The Seattle International Film Festival, The Environmental Film Festival in the Nations Capital (Washington, DC), The International Ecological Television Festival “To Save & Preserve” (Russia), and many more. It has garnered wonderful press and won a number of awards including: the Audience Favorite Award (Mill Valley Film Festival), Best Foreign Documentary (Arizona International Film Festival), Jury Award (Caméras des Champs Festival in France) and was chosen as one of the Best of Festival at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.

More information on AFTER WINTER, SPRING   |  Film trailer  Facebook  |  Twitter: @afterwinterdoc

Farmer Profile: Benjamin Pauly of the Woodstock Inn and Resort Farm

Ben Pauly
Ben Pauly

By Johanna Setta, Certification Specialist Assistant for Vermont Organic Farmers


Benjamin Pauly of the Woodstock Inn and Resort Farm grew up on a diversified homestead with his family, farming a one acre plot. While working on this small farm, the family focus was vegetable and fruit production. To this day Ben still works in agriculture, but his work has taken on a different scope – he is actually a trained architect. The combination of his past and present specialties has allowed him to excel at directing landscape design and high yield and variety crop cultivation.
Ben started working at the farm in 2009 and is entering his third season of growing on the property, and his second season being certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers, the certification program of NOFA-VT. Ben’s job extends beyond farm manager into landscape architect and florist. He is passionate about growing flowers that he can then arrange for guests and public space at the Inn.

Once you start farming organically, you realize the soil is healthier and the output will be better and more nutritious.

Everything Ben grows is for the Woodstock Inn and Resort restaurant. The kitchen likes to think of itself as “farm inspired,” as the chefs source everything they can from the farm during the growing season and adjust menus based on what is available for harvest. In order to keep up with the demand of the kitchen, the farm will be expanding its facility with the construction of a high tunnel this season. Ben works closely with the chefs at the Inn to discuss which vegetables and fruits they are interested in utilizing during the upcoming season. He chooses a wide seed variety to allow for creative menu options. He makes sure to throw in some uncommon produce that might not be available wholesale like lemon cucumbers and malabar spinach. Malabar spinach is an all-time favorite of Ben’s; this heat loving vining plant can grow up to eight feet and is great for cooking with its thick fleshy leaves. In the 2015 growing season, the guests at the Inn can look forward to baby ginger and hops!

The Woodstock Inn and Resort Farm chooses to be certified organic because it forces them to be acutely aware of their growing practices and the condition of their soil. Although they would be growing in this manner regardless of certification, the organic certification process allows them to keep checks and balances on their practices.

“Once you start farming organically, and realize the soil is healthier and the output will be better and more nutritious, then it’s a no brainer,” says Ben. “You would never want to do anything that’s not organic.”

He feels organic certification helps tell a story about the farm; where they grow and how they grow. The Inn knows that is has a large presence in the village and feels that it is a huge accolade to show the community they are certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers. It is not only a source of pride for the Farm, but for the community as a whole. Although Ben enjoys explaining his farming practices while leading guest tours, being certified organic is an easy way to market the farm prior to guests arrival.

Ben Pauly
Ben Pauly

Ben has worked carefully on the design of the Farm’s two-acre plot and all of its steep slopes to create a space that is versatile. It is a multi-use farm in the sense that it is for production as well as a functioning educational space. On any given day in the summer you may find Ben giving tours of the farm to guests, hosting workshops for local groups like the gardening club, or tending to the two acres with his summer farm staff. Adjoining the farm is a half acre plot used for an event space. The Woodstock Inn and Resort is excited to use this beautiful space for weddings, meetings, and events. The farm allows guests to enjoy this bountiful land and experience where the tomatoes and shitake mushrooms they are having for dinner come from. Next time you are nearby, stop in and say hello to Ben and the Woodstock Inn and Resort staff for a special farm-to-table meal and a tour of the organic farm.

Bulk order leftover items for sale

Get great deals on items  left over from our annual Bulk Order!
Get great deals on items left over from our annual Bulk Order!

Get some great deals on items left over from NOFA-VT’s annual Bulk Order, a buying program that gives NOFA-VT members and the general public the chance to purchase quality farm and garden products that meet the National Organic Standards at volume discounts. All income generated from the Bulk Order goes to support NOFA Vermont’s Farm to Community Mentor Program. To place an order please contact Rachel at 802-434-4122, or rachel@nofavt.org

All products are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Smaller items can be mailed; shipping will be added to cost. Large items must be picked up at our Richmond office. We will update this list as items are sold.

  • 1 – 1/20 yard  McEnroe premium potting mix – $11.66 ($11 BO, $0.66 tax)
  • 1 – ½ bushel waxed boxes (15 count) – $35.78 ($33.75 BO, $2.03 this price because it is prorated)
  • 1 – 1.35 bushel greens waxed boxes (20 count) – $51.94 ($49 BO), $2.94 tax)
  • 1 – yellow sticky strips – $11.66 ($11 BO, $0.66 tax)
  • 2 – peas/vetch inoculant – $7.42 ($7 BO, $0.42 tax)
  • 1 – alfalfa/clover vetch inoculant – $6.36 ($6 BO, $0.36 tax)
  • 1 – 5 gal kelp (from last year) – $87.45 ($82.50 BO, $4.95 tax)
  • 2 – 50# bags limestone – $12.72 ($12 BO, $0.72 tax)
  • 1- 50# Planters Trace Minerals Fertilizer – $40.28 ($38 BO, $2.28 tax)
  • 2 – boxes rubber bands – $6.36 each ($6 BO, $0.36 tax)
  • 1 – Burlap bags (3 count) – $7.42 ($7 BO, $0.42 tax)
  • 1 – 45# hairy vetch/rye – $81 (all exempt)
  • 1 – bag 50# K mag $37.10 ($35 BO, $2.10 tax)
  • 2 – bag 25# Zeolite Garden Aid Natural Soil Amendment – $19.08)
  • 1 – bag 50# OG Alfalfa Seeds- $330

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

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