Meet the Farmers At Your Farmers Market

Farmers markets provide an excellent opportunity to meet a variety of growers that produce your food all in one place! To celebrate National Farmers Market Week, several farmers markets are hosting special events as part of Open Farm Week: August 3-9. With the tours, scavenger hunts, cooking demos, and hands-on activities, you’ll find new reasons to love your local Farmers Markets.DSC_0063

Farmers markets are one of the best places to pick up your groceries for the week and learn the story behind the food. When you buy direct from a farmers market, you get competitive prices, a wide variety of products, and a festive community environment. These markets are a great way for organic, local, and seasonal products to be brought to your neighborhood. From fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses to baked goods, prepared foods, and arts and crafts, farmers markets have just about everything you need!

Consider visiting a different farmers market as part of Open Farm Week, or incorporating a trip to the farmers market into your weekly routine – turning your grocery shopping into a chance to spend time with family, run into friends, and get to know local farmers.

Search through over sixty Farmers Markets to find one near you, and make sure to visit DigIn Vermont for a complete list of activities for Open Farm Week.

A visit to Addison Hop Farm

Kris Anderson of Addison Hop Farm
Kris Anderson of Addison Hop Farm

blogimage-1Jenny the dog was first to greet blogimage-2me as I approached the certified organic hop yard in Addison. The much needed sun was beating down on the hops, preparing them for an end of August or early September harvest.

Kris Anderson of Addison Hop Farm has decided on a few reliable varieties that are wanted by local breweries and cider makers like Citizen Cider.

We stroll down the rows of brewer’s gold, cascade, and newport hops that stand fourteen feet tall and are held up by cedar posts, wire, and twine.

Two adriondack chairs overlook the lower hop yard, the green mountains, and the barn adjoining the hop yard used for drying and vacuum sealing the hops prior to being stored and delivered. Kris takes pride in the 100 to 200 pounds of certified organic hops he produces each season and looks forward to the possibility of expanding his acreage.

“Growing hops is a lot of work but growing hops organically does not make it more difficult than it would be otherwise”, says Kris.

There are few farmers specializing in growing hops in the northeast and even fewer growing organically so it was a treat to visit and find out what all the buzz is about.

Thanks for visiting with me, Kris!

Johanna Setta, Certification Specialist Assistant
Vermont Organic Farmers

Go for the gold at the 1st annual “Farmer Olympics”

NOFA-VT Farmer Olympics Bolton, Vermont —Teams from all over Vermont are invited to come together from 4:00 to 8:00 pm on Wednesday, August 12th at the Maple Wind Farm in Bolton to compete in a wide range of events designed to challenge farmers’ field skills. More importantly, the first annual “Farmer Olympics”, hosted by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA Vermont), is a chance to take a mid-season break and enjoy some great food and refreshments along with some healthy competition.

“You work hard, now play hard!” said event organizer Mimi Arnstein, who is also a NOFA Vermont board member. “We invite all finely-trained farmers for a farm competition that will go down in the annals of history. Fast and furious, technical and serious, slow and silly…these events will make you laugh while testing your farm team’s skills and pride.”

Farmers will show off their finely-honed skills in events ranging from physical to cerebral to plain ridiculous, competing in events like: “Chicken Tractor Pull,” “Rock Hump,” “Plumbing Puzzle,” “Chuckin’ Eggs,” and the “Deer Fence Limbo.”

Farmer-Olympians will enjoy treats provided by Citizen Cider, Ben & Jerry’s, and wood-fired, fresh pizza made in the NOFA Vermont mobile oven.

Farm teams are invited to register online at http://www.nofavt.org/ows. The registration rules dictate that teams must have a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 people to enter. Each team member must be a part of the farm crew or staff of an agricultural organization. Multiple farms may partner to create a joint team but they must identify something in common (eg Farmers Under 30; Left-handed Farmers). Teams should wear a team identifier such as a t-shirt, hat, or bandana.

The Farmer Olympics will take place at Maple Wind Farm, located at 1647 Duxbury Road in Bolton, Vermont on August 12th. Teams are asked to arrive at 4:00 pm to check in and warm up. The competition events are from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, followed by pizza, cider, and celebrations.

Thinking Outside the CSA Box

Open Farm Week provides activities for the whole family

If you’re looking for a food source that supports local farmers, offers value prices, and delivers all your produce in one place, Community SuppOFW CSA blogorted Agriculture (CSA) is perfect for you.During Open Farm Week, from August 3rd-9th, you will have the chance to explore outside the CSA box with visits to the farms that grow your fresh goodies.

CSAs are a great way to form a direct connection to your farmers. When you join a CSA, you are purchasing a season’s share of the farm’s products, and as a subscription customer you get the chance to know the people who grow your food. CSAs are most popular in the summer, but you can also buy a share from many farms in the fall, winter and spring. CSA members typically pick up their share at the farm each week, but some farms offer delivery or alternative pick-up sites. Shares typically contain a box of the fresh produce that’s in season, but can also include goods such as meats, eggs, and prepared food items.

During Open Farm Week, CSAs across the state will host tours and activities, providing a great opportunity to learn more about a nearby CSA or farm. You can head over to The Barn Yard Farm for scavenger hunts and snacks, or visit Berry Creek Farm for craft activities and wood fired pizza from the NOFA-VT pizza oven.

Find a CSA program today and find CSA farms participating in Open Farm Week by visiting this google map.

An Organic Check-off — Contributing to our Greater Good

Abbie Corse { This column was written by Abbie Corse, a Vermont Organic Farmer in southern Vermont. }

I am a sixth generation dairy farmer in the rolling hills of southern Vermont. My family’s been here since 1868, and we’ve always been dairy, always been pasture-based. We have a herd of about 60, mainly Holsteins. We became certified organic the same year we celebrated the farm’s 140th anniversary and we believe in organic’s mission and its model of farming. We believe in what organic offers for the future; we can’t imagine farming any other way.

As with most anything else, I find myself weighing both sides of the debate over the organic check-off application that was recently submitted to the USDA by the Organic Trade Association.  As a small organic dairy farmer I completely understand some of the concerns that the smaller operators may not have a voice in the check-off once it gets set up, or that it really won’t make that much of a difference. But ultimately, I find myself thinking of my kids and the decisions I make for them on a daily basis.

I’m brought to the line from the Dr. Seuss book “The Lorax” that I’ve read so many times to my little boys:  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get different. It’s not.”

There is so much confusion now in the marketplace for consumers.  We need to let them know that organic can feed the world. That our children do not have to be poisoned by chemicals. That when they buy USDA organic they are buying good; for their children, their family, their environment, their world.

Organic farmers need to have more research available to help us in our daily challenges. Research is vital to all of us to make our farms as productive and sustainable as possible, to adapt to a changing environment, to be on top of the latest innovations in organic practices. But government dollars for organic have been hard to get, and land-grant university research budgets have tightened.  We need to increase the dollars going for research that we organic farmers can use, and that conventional producers could also adapt. Increased organic research is a win-win for all farmers.

If we, the organic community, don’t somehow carve out a pool to draw upon and support those efforts, who else is going to do it? We have an opportunity now to work together to promote all the good things about organic. We have an opportunity to create a pool of funds for organic research. Together we can accomplish more than we can individually.

This organic check-off has been designed so that small farmers will have good representation and a say in how the money will be spent and all other decisions. There has been a lot of time put into researching the other check off programs and why they weren’t successful in order to put the best foot forward for this one to succeed. Ultimately, if we don’t think it’s working out, after 7 years we can vote to end it.

Conventional agriculture is not going to educate consumers about the importance of organic. Those efforts have to be supported by those of us who are breaking our backs everyday to try and see the organic food system become THE food system.

With an organic check-off, we’d be contributing to our greater good, and to the greater good of our kids, our families, our world. If we don’t put our money where our mouth is, who is going to?

Abbie Corse, Organic Dairy Farmer
The Corse Farm Dairy, Windham County, Vermont

For more information on the proposed organic check-off program, go to groorganic.net »

Celebrate Your Farmer this summer at a NOFA Vermont pizza social near you

Photos by Rachel Fussell, NOFA Vermont’s Education & Events Coordinator

On July 16, 2015, a group of about 75 farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and organic food lovers came together in Manchester to enjoy good food, good music, great conversation, and a tour of the farm and facilities at Earth Sky Time Farm.

Join NOFA Vermont and friends at any of these upcoming “Celebration Your Farmer” pizza socials. More information about these events, as well as our summer and fall on-farm workshops can be found here.

July 23 – Adam’s Berry Farm, Charlotte
July 30 – Golden Russet Farm, Shoreham
Aug 6 – Berry Creek Farm, Westfield
Aug 12 – Farmer Olympics, Maple Wind Farm, Bolton
Aug 27 – Tamarlane Farm, Lyndonville
Sept 3 – Flack Family Farm, Enosburg Falls
Sept 10 – Lilac Ridge Farm, Brattleboro

Open Farm Week features Vermont farms offering unique, behind-the-scenes agricultural experiences

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : July 8, 2015
CONTACT : Kim Mercer, 802-434-4122 / 802-274-3043 / kim@nofavt.org

RICHMOND, VT – The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) announces the first Open Farm Week, scheduled for Monday, August 3rd through Sunday, August 9th, 2015. The public is invited to visit farms and farmers markets to meet local farmers, explore their farms, and learn more about food production in Vermont.
Wellspring-Farm_CSA_kids-and-beans-500px Walker-Farmstand-int-w-seal-500px Walker-Farm-raspberry-picking2-500px Open Farm Week Aug 3-9
Over eighty farms from across the state are participating in this inaugural Open Farm Week, each offering unique activities, including tours, demonstrations, product tasting, scavenger hunts, and more. A complete list of participating farms can be found at diginvt.com  At http://www.nofavt.org/openfarmweek, the NOFA-VT website features an interactive map and a list of participating businesses that market directly to consumers, such as farmers markets, CSAs, and farm stands.

Building off the success of last summer’s “Open CSA Farm Day”, NOFA-VT is partnering with several organizations from around the state to expand the event to include seven days of open access to farms throughout Vermont.  The goal of the event is to connect people with farmers and promote direct buying through farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and farm stands. This event also coincides with the 2015 National Farmers Market Week.

“This weeklong event is really a celebration of our farmers and our agricultural landscape,” said NOFA-VT’s Erin Buckwalter. “We want to organize a fun and successful state-wide event, and have it grow every year, as a tradition for Vermonters and visitors to Vermont to be able to enjoy the ‘inside scoop’ and get to know more about our farms.”

NOFA Vermont is member-based organization working to grow local farms, healthy food, and strong communities in Vermont. Our members are farmers, gardeners, educators and food lovers of all sorts – anyone who wants to help us create a future full of local food and local farms. Our programs include farmer and gardener technical assistance, farm to school support, organic certification, advocacy, an online apprentice and farm worker directory, an annual Winter Conference, and programs that work to ensure access to fresh, local food to all Vermonters, regardless of income.

The 2015 Open Farm Week is made possible in part by funding NOFA-VT received from Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Promotion Program.

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Download: Open Farm Week activities – (NOFA partner farms) – (Excel Spreadsheet)
Download: High Resolution Photos – Please attribute to NOFA Vermont

On-Farm Workshop Series Preview

Rachel Fussell, NOFA-VT Education Coordinator

Are you interested in joining a feast that celebrates community, good food and farming? How about participating in a workshop that shows you how to grow currants in your backyard or delicious organic strawberries for your farm or CSA? NOFA-VT’s 2015 workshop series has all this and more for the summer season. Our workshop series lineup features more than two dozen on-farm opportunities like these where gardeners, homesteaders and commercial farmers can gain practical knowledge, exchange ideas and get to know your neighbors.

We have a diverse group of workshops for every background this summer. For commercial vegetable and fruit growers we have several workshops aimed at providing new knowledge and techniques for your operation. These include a workshop on caring for older tractors and maintenance with Hank Bissell at Lewis Creek Farm in Starksboro, an on-farm value-added tour of Pete’s Greens and the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick, and a vegetable tunnel production workshop with Andy Jones at the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington.

For commercial dairy and livestock farmers we have an assortment of workshops that provide technical knowledge and new strategies for your farm. Among the lineup includes a workshop on herd management, grazing and other practices to best manage nutrients at Spring Brook Farm in Westfield, as well as a workshop on strategies for evaluating feed stock needs and land improvements with McKnight Farm in East Montpelier.

Join clinical herbalist and community gardener Kate Westdijk for Place-based Herbal Medicine – Tuesday July 7, 2015, 5-7pm in Burlington
Join clinical herbalist and community gardener Kate Westdijk for Place-based Herbal Medicine – Tuesday July 7, 2015, 5-7pm in Burlington

And for all the homesteaders, gardeners, and plant enthusiasts we have an exciting array of workshops that cover a variety of subjects. Topics include permaculture with Nicko Rubin of East Hill Tree Farm, place-based herbalism with Kate Westdijk, uncommon fruits with John and Nancy Hayden of The Farm Between, and gardening tips and techniques with Charlie Nardozzi.

Our “Celebrate Your Farmer” Socials brings everyone in the food system together and is a place to establish connections within your community, all while enjoying farm-fresh, wood-fired pizza baked in NOFA-VT’s mobile oven. And after your appetite is satisfied, you’ll be able to enjoy a farm tour and get a behind the scenes glimpse of each farm. Nine farms across the state are planning to host these special gatherings, including Adam’s Berry Farm, Lilac Ridge Farm and Flack Family Farms, just to name a few.

Full line-up of workshops and socials »
Register for workshops »
RSVP for socials »

CRAFT Programs in Vermont

CRAFT at Earth Sky Time in Rutland
CRAFT at Earth Sky Time in Rutland

Over the past few years NOFA-VT, in collaboration with NOFA-VT’s Farm to Community Mentor Scout Proft from Someday Farm and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), has been working on a Farm Worker Learning Collaborative in Rutland County. This year the CRAFT program is expanding into Addison County with leadership from Becky Maden of Singing Cedars Farmstead, and organizational support from NOFA-VT. Both of these programs, modeled off other CRAFT programs, seek to educate farm workers and provide support for farm owners through community based on-farm training. The CRAFT program consists of visits to neighboring farms where farm workers and apprentices receive intensive tutorials on a variety of topics, compare production methods and meet other beginning farmers. CRAFT was designed to get interested people onto working farms and give them the tools to succeed, both as farm workers and as future farm owners.

The Rutland CRAFT program recently started their 2015 season with enthusiasm. The first of several gatherings was held at Earth Sky Time Community Farm in Manchester. Bonnie and Oliver Levis led the tour of their farm, walking through lush aromatic greenhouses and rows of arugula, tomatoes and radishes, while a large group of farm workers and owners followed along asking questions about their greenhouse production and early season greens. After the tour had ended, everyone gathered on their historic white porch to share in a potluck dinner with new neighbors as the sun set behind the chicken coops.

This year both CRAFT programs will lead several on-farm trainings and tours at different farms throughout Addison and Rutland County. For more information on CRAFT and how to get involved, please contact Rachel Fussell, NOFA-VT’s Education Coordinator, at rachel@nofavt.org or Jen Miller, RAFFL’s New Farmer Coordinator, at jen@rutlandfarmandfood.org.

Summer Policy Update

Water Quality

Just before the close of the 2015 session, both chambers of the legislature voted overwhelmingly to pass H.35 – a bill aimed at improving water quality in Lake Champlain and other Vermont waterways. After much debate among legislators and stakeholders, especially over funding, the bill provides around $7.5 million toward implementation and enforcement of new water quality regulations. Some primary funding sources include a surcharge on the state’s property transfer tax, fees on medium and large farm registrations, and fees on the sale of non-agricultural fertilizer and pesticides. In part, these funds will be used to pay for enhanced education, outreach, enforcement, and inspections by creating 8 new positions at the Agency of Agriculture and 13 at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

While passage of H.35 set the stage for changes to Vermont’s agricultural and stormwater management practices, many details of the clean-up initiative will be fleshed out through a rulemaking process over the coming year. For example, one key provision of the bill calls for the State to develop new regulations for reducing pollution from farms, changing accepted agricultural practices (AAPs) to “required agricultural practices” (RAPs) since they will be mandatory under the new legislation. What exactly those practices will include has yet to be determined. As the State works toward implementation of the law, NOFA will be working to ensure that organic farmers are aware of any new requirements they may face, while also working with State partners to ensure that implementation is as practical and effective as possible.

GMO Labeling Update: David vs. Goliath? Let’s Hope So

The legal battle to uphold Vermont’s GMO labeling law has often been described as a classic David and Goliath-style battle, wherein our small but mighty state is pitted against the gargantuan likes of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). As the legal challenge brought by the GMA and others begins to move through the courts, members of the VT Right to Know GMOs coalition are working to ensure that our battle ends with the same happy result as that famed parable.

On April 27th of this year, the first significant blow was dealt to the GMO giants in the form of a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. In the ruling, Judge Christina Reiss soundly rejected plaintiffs’ attempt to halt implementation of Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120), dismissing claims that the law is unconstitutional and preempted by federal law. On May 6th, plaintiffs appealed the District Court’s decision, though a schedule for the next steps has not been set as of this writing.

In the meantime, Act 120 is set to go into effect on July 1st of 2016, giving food producers, distributors, and retailers just over a year to prepare to put GMO labeling into action in the Green Mountain State. For more information and ongoing updates on the GMO show-down, you can visit the website of the VT Right to Know coalition or Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

NOFA-VT in DC: National Organic Coalition (NOC) Annual Meeting June 16-18

From June 16th to 18th of this year, the National Organic Coalition (NOC) will be holding its annual meeting and hill visits in Washington, D.C. NOC, of which NOFA-VT is an active member, is an alliance of organizations working to provide a united voice in Washington for the organic community and to maintain the integrity of organic food and farming nationally. This year, NOC’s annual fly-in will bring national stakeholders together to strategize on key issues like advancing organic integrity, growing domestic organic supply, and preventing genetic contamination on farms. While in DC, I will be meeting with USDA officials and Vermont’s Congressional delegates to discuss current issues that impact Vermont’s organic farmers and eaters. I look forward to thanking our federal representatives for the difficult work they do and will be asking them to continue to stand up for policies that work for Vermont’s organic food and farming community.

Also read: “USDA Accepts Proposals for an Organic Check-Off Program” »

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

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