Share the Harvest – $10,000 Challenge

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.

Donate NOW

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: . Celebrate with us and #SharetheHarvest

New videos address the question, ‘Why Organic?’

Vermont Organic Farmers releases videos and brochure to convey the benefits of buying organic, and growing organically
Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) has developed a collection of outreach materials that explain and support the organic certification process, and promote organic products. The materials include a series of short videos for consumers that convey the benefits of buying organic products, a longer video that explains the certification process, and a beautifully designed brochure that addresses the reasons for farmers and processors to become certified. These materials can be used and shared by anyone interested in promoting organic agriculture.
In response to requests from certified organic producers to help increase demand for organic products in the marketplace, Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) developed five consumer-focused video clips, designed for easy sharing online, to show the importance and value of organic production. Each video features one benefit, or value, of buying organic products: “No GMOs”, “Taste, “Stewardship”, “Community” and “Integrity”.  These values are articulated by organic growers in Vermont, and were filmed on-farm, providing an intimate glimpse into the world of sustainable agriculture. (All the videos can be found on the NOFA Vermont YouTube channel here:
“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.”
VOF has also produced a longer video that demystifies the organic certification process for farmers interested in pursuing organic certification. This film will be used as mentoring support and motivation for producers who are interested in learning more about the process. Through various outreach efforts, the video will reach a broader consumer audience and  build confidence among buyers that the certification process is meaningful.  Viewers will hear directly from organic growers, why they certify their farm as organic and what that process means to them and to their market.  After watching the film, viewers will better understand the annual inspection process, the record keeping requirements, and the benefits of organic certification for their business.
As a companion to the videos, VOF has created an brochure for farmers interested in pursuing organic certification (, 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: 

Comments Welcome for AJP Standards Revisions

Food Jusice Certified LogoThe 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.

To send comments or suggestions, please use our online form »

Or feel free to send comments and questions to

Thank you for your input and support!

~ Sally and the AJP Board

Vermont NRCS announces Nov. 20 deadline for Vermont farmers to apply for EQIP assistance

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 or contact your local NRCS office.

Cultivating agricultural literacy across Vermont!

Agricultural LiteracyNOFA 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.

A Profile of NOFA-VT’s Journey Farmers

The Journey Farmer Program is a two-year program for beginning farmers who are in the first few years of running their own farming enterprise in Vermont. The program is largely shaped by the farming interests and goals of the Journey Farmers, and enables aspiring new farmers to advance their farming skills and experiences, along with being a part of a learning community of other aspiring farmers and farmer mentors. NOFA-VT Journey Farmers receive an educational stipend, farmer-to-farmer mentoring, free admission into NOFA-VT’s workshops and Winter Conference, business planning support and access to technical assistance by the NOFA-VT staff. New farmers are being welcomed to the fold each year…find out more about the application process here.

NOFA-VT’s Journey Farmer program accepting applications for 2016

Program provides training, mentoring, educational stipend, and more

Journey Farmer Ansel Ploog
“Being a Journey Farmer has helped us access expertise from mentors and provided a readily available sounding-board for farming questions,” said Ansel Ploog of Fly Wheel Farm in Woodbury, Vermont.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is now accepting applications for the 2016 Journey Farmer Program. The Journey Farmer Program is a two-year program for beginning farmers who are in the first few years of running their own farming enterprise in Vermont. The deadline to apply for the program is November 19th, 2015.

The Journey Farmer program was developed in 2011 to help farmers successfully bridge the gap from education and apprenticeships to viable commercial enterprises. To reach these goals, the program provides farmer-to-farmer mentoring, free admission into NOFA-VT’s Summer Workshop Series and Winter Conference, business planning support, access to technical assistance, and an educational stipend. Journey Farmers also become part of a supportive network made up of other beginning farmers and farmer mentors by participating in special gatherings, educational offerings and events.

“Being a Journey Farmer has helped us access expertise from mentors and provided a readily available sounding-board for farming questions,” said Ansel Ploog of Fly Wheel Farm in Woodbury, Vermont.

“During our ‘journeyship’ our farm has gone from a lean start-up to a business with specific production and financial goals and we have confidence that we can achieve them.”

The program is largely shaped by the farming interests and goals of the Journey Farmers themselves, and enables aspiring new farmers to advance their farming skills and experiences, along with being a part of a learning community of other aspiring farmers and farmer mentors. To date, 30 Journey Farmers have participated in the program. This year, three to five new Journey Farms will be selected to participate.

For more information, and application information, visit Applications and resumes are due by November 19, 2015. Couples and/or business partners should submit one joint application. If you have any questions regarding the program, criteria for selection, or the application please contact Rachel Fussell, Education Coordinator, at or call (802) 434-4122.

Agency of Ag Announces More than $50,000 of Farm to School Grant Funding Available to VT Schools

Information about the Vermont Farm to School Program and a downloadable grant application »

All Vermont schools, consortium of schools, and school districts are eligible to apply for funding.  Program applications must be received by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture no later than 4:30 pm on Friday, November 6, 2015.

State leaders gathered together on October 13th, 2015 at Sustainability Academy in Burlington to recognize Farm to School Awareness Month, a statewide celebration of the Farm to School (FTS) Program that connects thousands of Vermont students with fresh, healthy, local foods every year.  Among the celebrants were Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross, Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, Health Commissioner Harry Chen, Burlington Schools Superintendent Yaw Obeng, Vermont state legislators, as well as representatives from the office of Senator Leahy, and other important Farm to School stakeholders.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross announced more than $50,000 in funding available to all Vermont schools for the purpose of developing or expanding Farm to School programming for Vermont students in 2016.

Vermont is a national leader in Farm to School programming; our schools spend a larger percentage of their food budgets on locally sourced foods than any other state.

“Farm to School programs are a vital tool we can use to promote agricultural literacy in schools so that, from an early age, students understand the value of nutrition, develop healthy eating habits, and appreciate where their food comes from,” said  Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross.  “Farm to School programming helps build a culture of ‘Ag Literacy’ in our schools and communities. These programs are an essential part of building the connection between agriculture and the next generation of Vermonters, while also teaching our students to make healthy choices and ensuring food access for all.”

Since 2007, the state of Vermont has appropriated more than $800,000 in support of Farm to School programming.  The Vermont Farm to School Grant Program has awarded funds to 70 schools and supervisory unions throughout the state to facilitate the integration of local foods in school cafeterias, classrooms and communities, impacting roughly 30% of all schools in Vermont.

Today’s event also served as an opportunity to highlight several new developments in Vermont’s Farm to School landscape, including:

  • The newly established inter-agency strategic partnership between the Agency of Agriculture and the Departments of Education and Health focused on developing Farm to School programs throughout the state.
  • New School Wellness Policy Guidelines which now more strongly incorporate FTS programming and recommendations for local food in school nutrition standards and education.
  • Recently released Vermont Farm to School Network Goals to engage 75% of Vermont Schools in Farm to School programming and purchases at least 50% of food regionally by 2025.

2015 Farm to School Awareness Month Press Event

Following the celebratory remarks, the Sustainability Academy’s 4th and 5th grade garden club treated event guests to a taste test of fresh kale pesto made with kale harvested from school gardens in Burlington – a fitting choice of vegetable as today, October 7th, is also National Kale Day.  Taste tests, a popular tool used to encourage students to try new foods, are the official theme of Farm to School Awareness month in Vermont.  Students participating in FTS programs will be conducting various taste tests for their classmates using fresh, local food throughout the month of October.

Vermont Farm to School program grant program is made possible by collaboration between the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Agency of Education, VT FEED (Food Education Every Day) and the Vermont Farm to School Network.

If  you have questions about Vermont’s Farm to School program or the 2016 funding, contact Ali Zipparo at 802-505-1822, or

NOFA Member Needed for Agricultural Justice Project Board

drivingtractor600pxI have served as NOFA Interstate Council’s representative to the Agricultural Justice Project since 1999. Four different not-for-profits – Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI – USA), Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas/Farmworker Support Committee (CATA), Northeast Organic Farming Association, Florida Organic Growers/Quality Certification Services (FOG/QCS), – collaborated on the standards and policies for Food Justice Certification, contributing to public discussion and awareness of the people who work in the food system. In December 2014, AJP became an independent 501(c)(3) and my role changed from management committee member to Board member. For two years, we have had a part-time General Coordinator, financial manager, and communications person. The project work is shifting from Board to staff. The first farms and food businesses have been certified in Saskatchewan, CA, FL and NY. Recent outreach should bring another flush of certifications soon.

Not getting any younger (I am 72), I seek a NOFA member from any state chapter who would like to start shadowing my work as representative to the AJP Board. Learn more about AJP at and read the standards and policies. I am happy to answer any questions. Please join some AJP monthly board calls and eventually attend a semiannual joint staff-board meetings

Please let me know if you are interested!

For Peace with Justice,

Elizabeth Henderson

FREE WEBINAR: Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

Institutional Procurement Tools for Local and Regional Food Buying

KaleDoes your organization or institution need a template to assist with articulating your goals for buying local?  Over the past two years, Abbie Nelson and Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT have worked with a variety of partners and institutions to research how institutions incorporate values in their local and regional purchasing programs.  Through this work, we developed tools that support institutions to define and communicate their food purchasing values, and subsequently develop and market a values-based tiered buying system that includes local and regional foods.

In this webinar, Abbie and Erin will provide an overview of our research and show the tools that we have created. It will be useful for anyone working with an institution looking to set goals for buying locally and regionally.

This webinar was recorded, and is available for viewing here »

Continue reading FREE WEBINAR: Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 111 other followers