Tag Archives: community

Highlights of our work in 2015

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Message from Enid (NOFA Vermont’s executive director) »

Here are some highlights of our work in 2015:

 

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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, as well as members of agricultural organizations, 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.”

Competitors will show off their finely-honed skills in contests 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 Ben & Jerry’s, and wood-fired, fresh pizza made in the NOFA Vermont mobile oven.

Teams are invited to register online at 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 (e.g. 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.

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

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 »

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.

VT Fresh – Transforming the food environment at local food shelves

[by Andrea Solazzo, Gleaning and Community Outreach Coordinator at Vermont Foodbank]

Historically, charitable food organizations like food shelves and food banks were built around the availability of boxes and cans of shelf stable foods to provide vulnerable populations with an emergency food supply. Today, the face of hunger is changing and so is the type of food being offered to our neighbors in need. Many in Vermont seek food assistance, not just for emergencies, but on a regular basis. Last year 1 in 4 Vermonters, 153,000 people, turned to the Vermont Foodbank’s network of food shelves and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. They turned to these programs 1.2 million times over the course of the year. The Vermont Foodbank recognizes that this changing face of hunger demands a new level of responsibility, a responsibility to provide the most nutritious and healthy food available.

Vermont Fresh
What would happen if the food shelf was filled with the comforting and welcoming smells of sautéed onions and garlic and visitors had a chance to taste a particular vegetable they thought they didn’t like?

VT Fresh is a Vermont Foodbank program that aims to answer some intriguing questions:

  • What would happen if the food shelf environment was set up to encourage people to choose more fruit and vegetables?
  • What if fruit and vegetables were displayed in a more visible, attractive and even beautiful way- including vibrant signage, produce banners, and shelf labels like you might see at a farmers’ market?
  • What would happen if the food shelf was filled with the comforting and welcoming smells of sautéed onions and garlic and visitors had a chance to taste a particular vegetable they thought they didn’t like?

VT Fresh uses behavioral economics research to try out some new and creative strategies. Behavioral economics confirms that displaying healthy foods more prominently and attractively draws attention to them and may influence choosing healthy food over unhealthy food and increase their consumption. Simply providing people with a greater variety of healthy foods increases the consumption of them. And, food is great way to connect with people. Offering tastings and cooking demos encourages conversations about food, including the sharing of ideas and stories about what we eat and where our food comes from.

In 2015, the Vermont Foodbank will:

  • Partner with 15 local community organizations to implement VT Fresh and help transform the food environment of their food shelf
  • Deliver 200 cooking demonstrations
  • Engage 2,000 participants
  • Distribute 30,000 pounds of produce to participants
  • Measure that 40% of participants liked a specific vegetable more after the taste test than before

The Foodbank works with 225 partnering food shelves and meal sites around the state. They have hopes to expand to additional sites in 2016 with the specific goal of making fresh and local food accessible to all Vermonters and connecting our communities more deeply to the food we eat and with one another.

Vermont’s Working Lands need your support!

NOFA Vermont is a member of the Working Lands Partnership, a collaborative effort that is working to support local agriculture and forestry, grow and attract farm and forest entrepreneurs, and conserve Vermont’s Working Landscape far into the future.

You may have heard in the news that this is an unprecedented year of fiscal challenges in the state of Vermont. As a result, lawmakers are considering major cuts across the board. We need YOU to help us keep the Working Lands Enterprise initiative on the priority list. At least one proposal being considered would end the program entirely.

Please contact your HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE before March 10th and ask them to keep the Working Lands Enterprise Fund on the budget priority list.

Here’s how:

  1. Find out who your HOUSE REPS are – click here and search by your town.
  2. For EACH of your Representatives (you will have one or two), click on their name to find their email address. Send an email asking them to Make the Working Lands Enterprise Fund a priority in the FY2016 budget.

Personalize your email by saying why the Working Lands Enterprise initiative is important to you.

If you need some reminders of why the working lands enterprise initiative is important, you can visit Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Working Landscape Partnership page.

Please be sure to contact your House Representatives before March 10th, so they know the Working Lands Enterprise Fund should be a priority for the budget when they return after town meeting break.

Thanks again for all you do. Your support has been so important in this effort, and your action now will really help to keep the Working Lands Enterprise Fund strong.

Sincerely,

Maddie Monty
Policy Advisor

Act Now on Act 120! Attorney General’s Office Seeks Public Input on GMO Labeling

Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOs

It’s time once again to raise your voice about labeling GMOs in Vermont. The second and final public hearing on the proposed rules for enforcing Act 120, Vermont’s GMO labeling law, will be held this Wednesday, February 4th from 5-6pm in room 10 at the State House in Montpelier. The Attorney General’s Office has been tasked with developing the rules for how the law will be implemented, and they want to hear from you. The AG’s proposed rules provide details on the scope and requirements of the law, including the specific conditions for labeling, penalties for non-compliance, and exemptions for certain foods or businesses.

Read the Attorney General’s proposed rule (pdf) »

We hope to see you at the hearing on Wednesday, but if you can’t make it in person, you can also submit formal comments on the proposed rule to the Attorney General at any time until February 12, 2015, either through the Secretary of State’s website, or by sending an email to ago.gefoodlabelingrule@state.vt.us. To learn more about Act 120, you can visit the Attorney General’s GE Food Labeling page.

While the Attorney General’s Office moves forward with the rulemaking process, the state continues to fight a legal battle to ensure that corporate interests don’t keep Vermonters from your right to know about GMOs. Get the latest update on GMA v. Sorrell, the case against Vermont’s GMO labeling law, from VT Right to Know GMOs.

Be sure to stay tuned for updates from NOFA-VT and the rest of the VT Right to Know GMOs team.

City Market Rallys for NOFA-VT

Rally for Change
City Market in Burlington has a “Round Up” program to benefit local non-profits

The Onion River Co-op, aka City Market in Burlington, is dedicated to supporting the local economy and strengthening the local food system.

This year they’ve implemented a new giving program–
Rally for Change–that allows customers to “round up” their payment at the register (e.g., a $25.42 checkout could be rounded up to $26 for a $0.58 donation.) For the month of December, NOFA-VT is the lucky recipient of this “round up” change.

Want to round up to the nearest five or ten dollars? You can do that too!

With more than 4,000 transactions each day through the City Market registers, this “small change” can make a big difference for non-profit organizations like us.

Thank you for supporting us while you shop at City Market!

Share the Harvest on October 2!

STH14-socialYou’re invited! We are pleased to announce our collaboration with approximately 70 restaurants, food markets, and food cooperatives throughout Vermont for the 20th annual SHARE THE HARVEST fundraising event. On Thursday, October 2nd, participating restaurants and food stores will donate a percentage of their sales to NOFA-VT’s Farm Share Program.

Our Farm Share Program is dedicated to working with Vermonters who cannot afford to purchase fresh, local produce on a regular basis. All funds raised on October 2nd will benefit these individuals by subsidizing the cost of farm-fresh produce from local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms.

The Farm Share program has been helping limited-income Vermonters purchase food from local farms since 1994. In those 20 years, thousands of individuals and families have benefited from a season’s worth of locally grown vegetables and fruits as well as farm education initiatives. In 2014, we have served over 1,400 individuals and families, leveraging over $73,000 of income for Vermont farmers.

For a listing of participating restaurants, co-ops, and food stores, and to learn more about the Farm Share program visit our website or call NOFA-VT at 802-434-4122.