Statewide youth culinary competition now accepting teams….early bird registration deadline is December 16, 2015
Applications are now being accepted for the 9th annual Jr Iron Chef Vermont, a culinary competition for Vermont middle and high school students who are looking to show off their skills in the kitchen. Jr Iron Chef Vermont challenges teams of students to create healthy and delicious dishes made from local ingredients, which will ultimately inspire the menus of school meal programs.
“This competition is a really fun and exciting way to get kids excited about food,” says Jr. Iron Chef coordinator, Amy Gifford. “The tweens and teens who participate learn so much…not just about cooking, but about working together and tapping their own creativity!”
Applications will be accepted until January 16, 2016 on a first-come, first-serve basis. The early bird registration fee is $130.00 until December 16, 2015. After that, the registration fee increases to $150.00. Registration is limited to the first 75 teams, consisting of three to five students in 6th-8th grade, or 9th-12th grade. Applications are available online at www.jrironchefvt.org.
The Jr Iron Chef VT 2016 competition will be held on March 19, 2016 at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction. The contest guidelines are rigorous, intended to demonstrate the real-life challenges that food services face in creating healthy meals for schools. Two heats will be held the day of the competition, with 90 minutes of cooking time per heat. Winning teams receive prize packages, and have an opportunity to feature their recipes in the Vermont Statehouse Cafeteria.
Jr Iron Chef VT is hosted by Vermont FEED, a collaborative Farm to School Project of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms. From the start, the event has been committed to providing middle and high school students with a hands-on experience cooking nutritious, farm-fresh foods. When the event began in 2008, 35 teams participated. Last year, 260 students from every corner of the state competed on 61 teams.
Paul Winter has chosen the interstate NOFA as the “cause” group for their upcoming Winter Solstice Celebration. This will help the NOFAs reach the 7,000 people who attend the event to learn more about our collaborative carbon restoration project (more information on www.nofa.org).
The Winter Solstice Celebration will be held December 17-19, 2015 in four performances at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. The event celebrates the spirit of the holidays with an extravaganza of music and dance. These performances mark the turning point of the year, a universal, ecumenical milestone when people gather together to welcome the return of the sun and celebrate light overcoming the dark. This year’s event will present special guests from Brazil: singers Renato Braz and Fabiana Cozza, along with a samba band and Brazilian chorus. The performances also feature seven-time Grammy-winning saxophonist Paul Winter, his 10-piece ensemble, powerhouse vocalist Theresa Thomason, and the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre.
The venue is also utterly unique: the largest cathedral in the world, New York’s St. John the Divine is two blocks long inside and tall enough to house the Statue of Liberty. The Winter Solstice Celebration inhabits the entirety of this titanic space, taking advantage of its mystery and beauty to create a forest, or a deep night sky, where a giant earth globe spins from the vault like a tiny planet in the cosmic vastness, and the world’s largest gong rises with its player 12 stories high.
For more information on tickets and directions, go to: http://paulwinter.com/winter_solstice/ NOFA members will receive a $15 discount on $55 seats, Thursday night only, redeemable online and through Ovation Tix or call 866-811-4111, use the code: NOFA
Here is a collection of the artists who will be performing: http://music.paulwinter.com/album/winter-solstice-collection-2015
Here are some highlights of our work in 2015:
Dear Friend of NOFA-VT,
As NOFA-VT enters its 45th year, I have been reflecting on the growth of the organic food movement, NOFA-VT’s historic role in building a strong, local food economy, and the focus of our work, moving forward. As a friend, you can play an important role in supporting our work, and we appeal to you, at this time, to contribute to our annual fund.
I think two things are critical for Vermont organic agriculture to thrive—people need to have a connection with farmers, and farms need to be as strong as they can be. We will continue our work to achieve both of those goals.
We will build relationships between Vermont consumers and food producers, like the farmers who write letters to classrooms statewide in our Farmer Correspondence Program, or the farm tours and Celebrate Your Farmer Socials held on organic farms every summer. And, we will provide technical assistance to beginning and established organic farmers to help them be as profitable as possible—from matching them with farmer mentors, developing marketing materials, or growing our Journey Farmer Program.
At the recent Farm to Plate gathering, organic producer Joe Bossen (quoting author Annie Dillard) stated, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
It is the compilation of days, and the progression of good work, that makes the difference over time. NOFA-VT has been committed to growing organic farms, healthy food and strong communities since 1971, and we are motivated and passionate about our work moving forward. We so value the annual support of our friends to make this work possible and visible. Please consider a year-end gift to NOFA Vermont. Every donation matters.
Thank you, in advance, for your important contribution.
Enid Wonnacott, NOFA Vermont Executive Director
Over 20 years ago, NOFA-VT began the Farm Share Program with two goals in mind: 1. Increase access to local food for Vermonters with limited income and 2. Support the efforts of CSA farmers to feed everyone in their communities. From November 24 – December 1st, NOFA-VT has the opportunity to turn $10,000 into $20,000 with a challenge from one of our program supporters, Newman’s Own Foundation.
Why you should support the NOFA-VT Farm Share Program
Every year, NOFA-VT turns away over 180 Vermonters trying to access a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm because of limited funding for the program. By contributing to the NOFA-VT Farm Share Program between November 24 and #GivingTuesday (December 1), you are taking a stand with NOFA-VT and CSA farmers across Vermont and endorsing the belief that everybody deserves consistent access to healthy produce that supports local and organic farms.
Impact Of Donation
A donation of $75 helps us provide one family with a CSA share (18-22 weeks of delicious and nutritious produce) and strengthens the local farm economy.
For one week, and one week only, Newman’s Own Foundation will match every dollar raised to support the Farm Share Program, up to $10,000. This means that $10,000 from donors like you will turn into $20,000 to support the Farm Share Program.
How to Donate
Support our commitment to feed all Vermonters, and double the impact of your donation today: https://www.crowdrise.com/northeastorganicfarm2 . Celebrate with us and #SharetheHarvest
Vermont Organic Farmers releases videos and brochure to convey the benefits of buying organic, and growing organically
“We are really excited for consumers to get to know the growers of their food better,” said Nicole Dehne, who directs the VOF certification program. “This is a chance for folks to hear directly from the farmers about why they feel it is important to farm organically.”
As a companion to the videos, VOF has created an brochure for farmers interested in pursuing organic certification (http://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NOFA-VTBrochure.pdf), which outlines five benefits of becoming certified organic and also addresses concerns, such as the burden of record keeping and the cost of certification.
The project was funded with support from the USDA National Organic Program’s “Sound & Sensible Initiative,” a campaign that aims to make organic certification more accessible, affordable and attainable. Other resources from the campaign can be found on the USDA website: http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/11/09/organic-sound-and-sensible-resources-why-go-organic-and-where-to-start/
The Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) Board has revised their standards for social justice in agriculture and food production. The standards are now available for public comment until January 20, 2016.
The AJP Standards are used to certify farms and businesses under the Food Justice Certified label. The mission of the AJP is to maintain standards that are feasible, up to date, and ensure a high-bar for social justice for all who labor in agriculture. For that reason we need your help. As stakeholders in the food production and certification system, we need your opinion on whether our revisions are effective.
Click here to see the draft revised version of our standards, as well as a detailed list of changes with short explanations for each revision. The current standards are also available on our website for download.
Or feel free to send comments and questions to email@example.com.
Thank you for your input and support!
~ Sally and the AJP Board
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced November 20, 2015, as the first cut-off date to apply for fiscal year 2016 funds through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).”EQIP provides tremendous support to Vermont farmers and landowners interested in addressing natural resource problems on their land,” State Conservationist Vicky Drew said. She encouraged farmers wishing to utilize EQIP financial assistance to implement conservation practices next spring to submit an application by the November 20th deadline. While EQIP is offered through a continuous signup, NRCS makes periodic funding selections.
This year, VT NRCS will make available a total of $11,000,000 to farmers and forest landowners in VT to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Approximately 75% of the funds that are available will be targeted toward conservation practices that support water quality improvements in the Lake Champlain watershed. EQIP can also help Vermont farmers meet Federal, State, and local environmental regulations.
EQIP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established farmers as well as beginning, historically underserved, and limited resource producers. Learn more by visiting the Vermont NRCS EQIP website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/vt/home/ or contact your local NRCS office.
NOFA Vermont announces the fourth annual Agricultural Literacy Week on November 16-21, 2015. With a focus on local farming, healthy food, and strong communities, this event will promote the role of Vermont agriculture across the state.
Agricultural Literacy Week is designed to educate Vermont citizens about the important role of farms in our communities and to the economy of our state. People of all ages will have the opportunity to participate in events statewide to learn more about Vermont’s farms and farmers. This week of activities connects communities to their local farms, while also furthering Vermont’s Farm to Plate goals to increase food literacy and educational opportunities in schools and communities.
“Today, less than 2% of our national population makes a living farming,” says Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross. “That is why it is critical that we actively cultivate Ag Literacy – to ensure future generations appreciate and understand where their food comes from. Events like these help connect us to our agricultural roots and build awareness for the importance of farming in our community.”
Secretary Ross will be joined by Dr. Gregory Sharrow, the director of the Vermont Folklife Center, and Martha Reid, State Librarian at Vermont Department of Libraries for an event to kick off Agricultural Literacy Week, at the Folklife Center in Middlebury on Monday, November 16, from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. The event will feature a special presentation of the Poultney Working Lands Oral History Project, which engaged local high school students to explore, celebrate and document in various mediums the heritage of their neighbors who were involved in farming, sugaring, quarrying, forestry, hunting and trapping. Students gained skills in interviewing, writing, and map reading,
“What was just the town of Poultney became a valley of characters, characters with stories which made their corner of Vermont special,” said Scout Proft, NOFA Vermont’s Rutland and Bennington County Farm to Community Mentor, who created the oral history project. “Hidden in their learning, too, was a realization that working the land is darn interesting, and certainly worthy of attention.”
Agricultural Literacy Week is organized by NOFA Vermont, with help from partners at the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, UVM Extension, and the VT Department of Libraries. The Poultney Working Lands Oral History Project is supported by funds through the Johnson Family Foundation and Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement Program.