Tag Archives: local food

GMO Bill Moves Forward!

Special update from NOFA’s policy advisor, Dave Rogers! Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOs

At 11am today, the VT Senate Judiciary Committee, after several weeks of work, voted 5-0 in favor of our GMO labeling bill. The bill contains no triggers and establishes a special $1.5M fund to cover implementation and legal costs, if necessary. Funds would come from Attorney General office proceeds from other cases and unrestricted donations from individuals, organizations, etc, both instate and out of state.

After a quick trip to the Senate Appropriation Committee to set up the fund, it will move to the Senate floor where it is expected to pass. Timing is uncertain but could be quite soon. Then it will go to the House for either approval of the Senate bill, or to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.

Then it will go on to the Governor’s desk.  Just before the Judiciary committee voted, one member, a Republican  whose vote was uncertain until the end, said, “Vermont is about to go where no state has gone before.”

So, we are all  quite pleased, but as we know, it ain’t over ’til it’s over! This is a great time to get in touch with your senators and let them know that you expect them to help pass this historic legislation.

Visit the Vermont Right to Know GMOs website to learn more and get involved.

VTFMA Featured Market: Middlebury Farmers’ Market

NOFA-VT and the Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA) work closely to support  farmers’ market across the state. The latest in our series of featured markets is the Middlebury Farmers’ Market.

After a mid-winter break, the Middlebury Farmers’ Market has returned from its two-month hiatus as a refreshed market, eager to supply you with its bounty! Vermonters should be excited to learn that in its pursuit of a year-round market, the Middlebury Farmers’ Market will reopen its indoor farmers’ market on Saturdays beginning March1st and ending April 27th. During the winter (November-December) and spring (March-April), the Middlebury Farmers’ Market is located indoors at the Mary Hogan School on Saturdays from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm. In May the market will return to its outdoor location at the Marbleworks in downtown Middlebury.

Learn more about the Middlebury Farmers’ Market…

For a complete directory of all VTFMA member markets, please visit our Farmers’ Market Directory. Past featured markets, market shopping tips, and resources for market vendors and managers are available at www.VTFMA.org.

NOFA Seeking Summer Interns

We’re looking for several motivated, articulate students who are passionate about local, organic agriculture and food systems – and who like to have fun – to join us this summer.

All interns will:

  • Participate in our summer outreach program by staffing the NOFA-VT pizza oven at statewide farm and food events, providing Vermonters with an opportunity to learn about NOFA-VT and organic/local foods.
  • Participate in the field in a CSA research project.

1. Direct Marketing Intern

Reporting to the Direct Marketing & Community Food Security Coordinator, the Direct Marketing intern will assist with farmers’ market and CSA-related projects, including coordinating a statewide CSA pricing study. Click here for full job description.

Preschool students fill their pots with dirt.
Local students learn in the NOFA-VT garden, coordinated by our garden intern.

2. Garden Intern

The garden intern assists with all aspects of caring for the NOFA-VT raised-bed garden, and will be responsible for coordinating educational activities and communicating with food pantries regarding harvest, needs and deliveries. Click here for full job description.

3. VT FEED/SNA-VT Intern

Reporting to Amy Gifford, the VT Food Education Every Day/School Nutrition Association of Vermont intern will assist with the development and implementation of marketing materials that highlight and promote local foods in school meal programs. In addition, the intern will assist in the planning and conducting of farm to school workshops at the Child Nutrition Programs Summer Institute. Click here for full job description.


4. Organic Certification Marketing Intern

The VOF Marketing intern will help reach customers in retail locations.
The Marketing intern will help expand our local & organic marketing campaign to retail locations.

This internship will focus on increasing consumer demand for local, certified organic food by targeting promotional efforts at retail locations. Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF), the certification program of NOFA-VT, is looking for assistance with the development and implementation of a promotional program with one or more food coops to highlight the VOF logo and the benefits of certified organic. The retail promotion will focus on National Organic Month (September). Click here for a full job description.

5. Organic Certification Mapping Intern

This internship will assist Vermont Organic Farmers (the certification program of NOFA-VT) in geospatially locating certified organic farm fields in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. This project involves working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to collect shape files for farms that are currently or recently enrolled in FSA or NRCS programs. In addition, this internship will include locating and mapping the fields of organic farms not enrolled in these programs. Please note, this project does not involve fieldwork; most of the work is office-based using records and documents provided by organic farmers. Ideal candidates will be familiar with working with ARCGIS or similar programs. Click here for a full job description.

Homesteaders and Gardeners at the Winter Conference

The Winter Conference isn’t just for farmers – there are over 20 workshops this year designed with homesteaders and gardeners in mind! So whether you’re interested in getting the most produce possible out of your raised bed, or getting more fruit from your apple trees, the Winter Conference has you covered.

Saturday Workshop Spotlight: Hardy Nuts for Farms and Yards

Black WalnutsKeith Morris will be on hand to guide you through the ecology and mythology of nut trees suited to growing on Vermont’s farms and in our neighborhoods. Morris will focus on hardy proven nuts, and introduce the breeding and trialing happening at Willow Crossing Farm in Johnson, VT to help migrate some important nuts typically grown in slightly warmer regions.

Sunday Workshop Spotlight: Poultry Breeds and Brooder Set Up for the Backyard Producer

chickens2 It’s time to order those chirping wonders! Yet, those colorful, descriptive and plentiful poultry catalogs can be quite daunting. Join Bay Hammond, Farm Manager at Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT, and co-manager of Doolittle Farm in Shoreham VT to learn all about the different breed types, their benefits and shortcomings.

There are additional workshops and networking opportunities for cooks, activists, educators, and more. See the complete list of conference workshops here, and stay tuned for more workshop spotlights in the coming week!

Hydroponics and Organics at the VOF Annual Meeting

Should hydroponic tomatoes be eligible for organic certification?
Should hydroponic tomatoes be eligible for organic certification? VOF producers can discuss this and other topics at the Annual Meeting.

It’s time once again for the annual Vermont Organic Farmers’ Producer meeting. This year the meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 29 from 10-2 at the Champlain Valley Expo’s Miller North conference room, as part of the Vermont Farm Show.

This annual coming together of organic farmers and processors is an important tradition that goes back to 1985, when farmers met for the first time to discuss the definition of organic farming. It’s been said that these meetings were sometimes contentious as growers disagreed about what practices and what inputs should be allowed for organic production. But overall, its seems people appreciated the frank and open discussions that challenged growers to improve their practices and pushed them to be more innovative.

I often hear growers comment today that they no longer attend the VOF meeting either because they feel powerless within the current system or that they believe there are no important issues left to discuss.  This couldn’t be further from the truth! The voices of organic farmers and processors are sought after on local and national levels and the opinions of organic producers carry significant weight.

And rest assured, there are still many important issues to discuss where growers’ opinions are needed and valued!

This year one of our long-time organic growers has brought one such topic up for discussion.  David Chapman, owner and operator of Long Wind Farm, is strongly opposed to the organic certification of hydroponic crops and is asking VOF farmers to vote on a resolution to prohibit the certification of organic hydroponic crops nationally.

Farmers and consumers alike can sign David’s petition outlining why hydroponics are not compatible with the organic standards.

VOF supports David’s petition and has included the following resolution to be discussed and voted on at our annual meeting.

Background: In 2010, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) passed a recommendation prohibiting crop production systems that eliminate soil, such as hydroponics and aeroponics, from obtaining organic certification.  In this recommendation the NOSB clarified that soil-plant ecology is at the foundation of organic farming.  Despite the fact that the Organic Food Production Act mandates that the NOSB advise the National Organic Program on implementing the organic regulations, this recommendation has yet to be accepted and added to the law.

Currently some certification agencies certify hydroponic operations as organic despite the NOSB recommendation and the NOP allows this practice to continue unrestricted.  Mexico, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and 24 European countries, (including Holland, England, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain) all prohibit hydroponic vegetable production to be sold as organic in their own countries. Historically, Vermont Organic Farmers has never certified hydroponic operations based on the idea that it is not compatible with organic farming principles.

Proposal: Vermont Organic Farmers demand that the National Organic Program accept the 2010 NOSB recommendation to prohibit soil-less hydroponic vegetable production as certified organic.

I look forward to discussing this and other topics with organic producers at the Vermont Farm Show on Wednesday, January 29th from 10-2 in Essex Junction.  Come join us for a lunch of delicious local and organic food, good conversation, and to make sure your opinion is heard.

Please RSVP for the meeting!

Can’t make it? Not a certified producer? Leave a comment here with your thoughts!

[By Nicole Dehne, VOF Program Coordinator]

VTFMA Featured Market: Jeffersonville Farmers’ & Artisan Market

NOFA-VT and the Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA) work closely to support  farmers’ market across the state. The latest in the series of featured markets in the Jeffersonville Farmers’ and Artisan Market.

Since opening in 2012, the Winter Jeffersonville Farmers’ and Artisan Market has continued to grow with new vendors and unite local producers and neighbors by connecting them through great food and communal engagement. The market can be found inside of the Artfull Cup Studio and Sunrise Café building; located at the corner of 16 Iris Lane and 108S (headed towards Smugglers’ Notch on Mountain Road). Look for our sign! Opened from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the first and third Saturday of the month, November through March, the Winter Jeffersonville Farmers’ and Artisan market offers a variety of items from producers and artisans from across the state.

Learn more about Jeffersonville Farmers’ and Artisan Market…

For a complete directory of all VTFMA member markets, please visit our Farmers’ Market Directory. Past featured markets, market shopping tips, and resources for market vendors and managers are available at www.VTFMA.org.

Show your support for GMO labeling on January 16!

Vermont GMO labeling bill (H.112), which passed the VT House last May by a wide margin, is now being debated in the Vermont Senate. H.112  would require that foods made with  genetically engineered (GMO)  substances be labeled as such.

Success in the House — in the face of  well-financed  opposition by a number of global chemical and food corporations — was due to thousands of Vermonters who contacted their representatives and told them — loudly and clearly — to  support H.112.

As in the House, passage of H.112 in the Senate and final enactment  into law, will require thousands of Vermonters to let their voices be  heard by their Senators and in their communities.  The opposition’s  lobbyists and PR people are already at work in the Statehouse.  They  are is determined to kill this legislation — no matter the cost.

Visit www.vtrighttoknow.org for details about the rally.
Join us for a Vermont Right to Know GMOs rally at the Statehouse on 1/16!

Now is the time for Vermonters, once again, to let their voices be heard in their Statehouse and by their elected Senators. On January 16, the Vermont Right To Know GMOs coalition, of which NOFA  is a member, will be holding A GMO Rally, Teach-in and Lobby Day at  the Vermont Statehouse.  At this event you will learn more about the  issues and how to make sure your voice is heard in the Statehouse by your Senators.  Full information about Lobby Day agenda can be found on the Vermont Right To Know GMOs webpage.

Scores of Vermonters have already registered to attend. We hope that you and your neighbors and friends will be able to join us. Let’s show ’em how democracy ‘gets done’ in this little state.

VTFMA Featured Market: West River Farmers’ Market

NOFA-VT and the Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA) work closely to support farmers’ markets across the state. As more markets expand into winter sales, our “Featured Market” section has expanded through the winter as well!

The West River Farmers Market is now indoors! For the first time since it began its summer market in 1993, the West River Farmers Market will be operating a winter farmers’ market. Beginning October 19th and lasting until December 28th, the market will run every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. The market can be found indoors at the Flood Brook Union School, located at 91 Vermont 11, Londonberry, VT 05148. This new location is conveniently located just two miles west of its summer market location.

Learn more about West River Farmers’ Market…

For a complete directory of all VTFMA member markets, please visit our Farmers’ Market Directory. Past featured markets, market shopping tips, and resources for market vendors and managers are available at www.VTFMA.org.

Agricultural Literacy: My path to awareness

NOFA Vermont intern Maggie Callahan organized this Friday’s Community Celebration at the Monitor Barn in Richmond (we hope you’ll join us!), and provided critical support for planning Agricultural Literacy Week; the following is an account of how she got here. Click here to learn more about Ag Lit Week, our second annual statewide celebration of Vermont’s farms and farming communities.

Three and a half years ago, I came to the University of Vermont already declared as a Nutrition and Food Science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Like an average college student, I considered many times whether my studies would ever benefit me in the real world. Am I really interested in the biochemistry of a plant cell or the importance of valence electrons? If I am to be honest, I never came into the food systems world in search of understanding the way food works in the body. I study nutrition because I simply love food. I love touching it, smelling it, making it, buying it, and most importantly eating it. My relationship with food is not based on the scientific benefits protein will provide when I eat a slice of grilled chicken. Rather, I want to know where the chicken was farmed, how the chicken was treated, and who I am supporting by selecting a specific package in a grocery store. This is where my interest in the agricultural world stems.

This past semester, my involvement with NOFA Vermont has exponentially broadened my view to the vast world of farming. For my internship, I have worked on organizing and developing Agricultural Literacy week throughout the state of Vermont with the help of nine wonderful mentors in different counties. Agricultural Literacy week, I learned, is a week-long celebration and educational opportunity for Vermont residents to grow their understanding of why agricultural practices, whether that be locally grown, organics, or sustainability, are so important to the function of this state. We hear “support your farmer,” “buy local,” and “go organic” on a regular basis, but the point of Agricultural Literacy week is to find a meaning in those statements for every individual at every age. For children, agriculture might mean visiting a farm or reading a book based on the life of a fruit or vegetable. For a teenager, agriculture might mean conducting a science project on the importance of fermentation in food production. For an adult, agriculture might mean a face-to-face interaction with the producer of the food on their family’s plate, and an understanding on the benefits, socially and economically, of buying local.

For me, I have found that agriculture is much larger than a definition or a project. Understanding and appreciating agriculture comes with a fulfilling feeling of community awareness, health appreciation, and an intense desire to educate. Throughout the planning of Agricultural Literacy week, I have found that my hope for my future, as well as the future of my fellow Vermont residents, is to spread the extremely important fact that our health and the health of our loved ones lies in the hands of the farmers that feed us. Knowing who grew the potatoes and turnips in your stew or who raised the turkey on your plate at Thanksgiving allows you to trust in the food system. The importance of awareness is critical to appreciating what we put in our bodies and further, what our children put in their bodies.

Through this experience, I have found that spreading the word on supporting local food systems or even just knowing where your food is coming from, can help change the way our communities function and potentially fix our country’s detrimental health crisis. As my personal project, I have worked extremely hard to bring together members of the Chittenden County community to enjoy a free, completely locally sourced dinner and local live music, in order to start the conversation about the importance of agriculture.

Please join our community event this Friday, November 22nd from 4pm-8pm at the West Monitor Barn in Richmond. We will be preparing a delicious winter vegetable soup, a Shelburne Orchard-sourced apple crisp, and enjoy donations from Cabot Cheese, Red Hen Bakery, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corporation, Jericho Settler’s Farm, and Bigelow Tea. Join us at four to be part of the meal preparation, or show up at six to eat!

All community members of all ages are welcome to reap the wonderful benefits that our local farms provide us. The event is free; donations will be accepted.

[by Maggie Callahan, NOFA Vermont intern]