Tag Archives: farm

Grant opportunities for farmers

Two grant opportunities for farmers!

  • The Rodale Institute has  partnered with Amy’s to give away approximately $25,000 this year to organic farmers (5 grants of $5,000 each). Farms must have at least 20 acres in crop production and be in transition to organic, recently certified (within 5 years), or must show financial need to continue being certified organic. Project-specific (rather than general funding) requests are preferred. Rolling application through December 31. Learn more about this grant opportunity »
  • For the eighth year, the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program is pleased to announce that funds are available on a competitive basis for grants to past program participants. The implementation grant program helps Farm Viability Program participants to implement specific aspects of their business plan. This round of grants is available to farm businesses that have completed a full business plan or transfer plan through the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program in 2012, 2013 or 2014 (with a business advisor at the Intervale Center, NOFA-VT, University of Vermont Extension, Land For Good or with an independent consultant). Learn more about this grant opportunity »

FDA Website Down – #fixFSMA mailing info

Update, 11/12: As of now, regulations.gov is running again. You can comment on the Produce Rule here and the Processing Rule here.

Second update, 11/13: We’ve confirmed that written comments need to be postmarked by 11/15, not arrive by then, so if you’d prefer to send something in the mail (or if the website goes down again), you have until Friday. Apologies for the confusion; the information has been updated below.

The FDA commenting portal is out of service.The FDA’s regulation portal continues to be inaccessible due to “technical difficulties” as the comment deadline for FSMA nears. We are advocating for an extension of the deadline, but cannot say whether it will happen.

You can mail your comment to the FDA, but mailed comments must arrive at the FDA be postmarked by 11/15. That means to guarantee they’ll get there on time, you should mail them today!

Mail to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Be sure to include the docket number in your comments: Produce Rule is
FDA-2011-N-0921 and the Facilities/Processing Rule is FDA-2011-N-0920. Also include your name and farm/business or organization affiliation, if any.

Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to make their voices heard!

(For more information on the Food Safety Modernization Act and how to write a comment, see our previous post.)

Food+Co-ops: Farm Viability—Strong Networks & Thriving Farms

As you may have heard, 97% of Vermonters value the working landscape. But what’s the difference between the working landscape and a pretty view? One simple answer is: farm viability.

Enid Wonnacott and colleagues at the 2008 National Farm Viability Conference
NOFA-VT Executive Director Enid Wonnacott (center, in pink) and colleagues at the 2008 National Farm Viability Conference

The state of Vermont is widely recognized for the strength of its community-based food system. One of the core assets in this system is the Farm Viability Program of the VT Housing & Conservation Board, which works to increase the success of Vermont’s land-based businesses.

VHCB recently hosted a national conference focused on farm viability, to share the love. As VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig noted, “The National Farm Viability Conference was a great success, drawing 200 practitioners from 18 states working to improve rural economy and reinvent a better food system for farmers and consumers.”

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross added, “The conference underscored the importance of technical assistance to the success of our farming enterprises and the entrepreneurs who run the operations.”

The thing that made this event powerful was the same factor that makes the VT Farm Viability Program so effective: Networks. Just as VHCB partners with an array of technical assistance providers to help farms better plan their businesses, this conference convened a broad range of stakeholders dedicated to a sustainable local/regional food system to “network, develop new knowledge and skills, and visit farms and value-added processing facilities.”

But what did the conference mean to those who were there—both Vermonters and leaders from elsewhere in the US? And what does it say about the opportunity the VT Farm Viability Program provides to Vermont farmers and food system businesses? Continue reading Food+Co-ops: Farm Viability—Strong Networks & Thriving Farms

WC Speakers: Maria Reed & Scout Proft from Someday Farm

Scout Proft, owner of Someday Farm.
Scout Proft, owner of Someday Farm.
On a long dirt road in remote East Dorset, Vermont lies Someday Farm, a diversified farm stand that is 25 years in the making. But Someday Farm is more than just a farm – it is also one of the thriving community supported agriculture (CSA) connected farms in the state. Scout Proft, one of the owners of Someday Farm, was one of the scheduled speakers for the TED style talks at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference, but was unable to make it. However, Maria Reed, a Someday Farm partner, stepped in for Proft and delivered an awesome speech that was both educational and inspirational.

“Scout and I have determined we were separated at birth,” Reed joked, as she began to dive into the passions that she and Proft share for farming and innovation. I found Reed’s description of what innovation means to Someday Farm and why they do it to be the most meaningful piece of the presentation, and would like to highlight a few key areas that I think can resonate with farmers throughout the state.

Reed introduced the topic of innovation with one simple question: Why do we innovate? There are countless answers to this question, but there are three main reasons that Someday Farm focuses on, and examples of each:

1. Maximize land usage and increase productivity.

-They strive to use each building to its full potential, for example, using the sugarhouse to dry herbs in the summer when it’s not being used for sugar.

-They barter with and lease from another farm in the community that shares their mutual dreams and goals to increase productivity

2. To keep themselves “refreshed, challenged, and engaged”

-Consistently growing new crops and adding new livestock to see what works. For example, they started with green beans, and have since added bib lettuce and mesclun greens (previously uncommon in Vermont!), asparagus, bees, chickens, and more.

3. For educational purposes. “We view education as a product; a service we can provide to the community”.

-Started a program with the local schools

-Started a community farmstand

-Have hosted and trained young people for 20 years now.

Reed’s speech on behalf of Scout Proft and Someday Farm showed how a strong passion and commitment to do what you love combined with a little innovation can lead to a thriving farm that benefits the community on so many different levels. This can range from an increase in availability of fresh, local food, to educational purposes, and just having a community hub to come to and share knowledge and passions. Continuing to innovate and and grow Vermont communities is “more of a responsibility than a challenge”, Reed states. “We all need to demand Vermont products everywhere we shop.” And of course, “support NOFA!”

Guest blogger: Kristy Ryan