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.
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.
When: Wed, May 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm Where: Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas, Burlington, VT Tickets: $15 general / $12 NOFA-VT and City Market Members
Award-winning feature documentary AFTER WINTER, SPRING, directed by Judith Lit, will have its Vermont premiere at the Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington on Wednesday, May 6 at 7:00 pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker and a reception sponsored by City Market. The event will be a partial fundraiser for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-VT). Please Join us!
ABOUT THE FILM — One hundred years ago, half of the population of France were farmers. Now less than 3% farm. In the Périgord, a rural community fears they may be the last generation of family farmers in a region continuously cultivated for over five thousand years. Filmed over four years, AFTER WINTER, SPRING captures the roots of farm-to-table and the tenacity of a people who have taken one season at a time for generations.
The farmers’ stories are recorded by one of their neighbors, an American filmmaker who grew up on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. Inter-weaving her story and theirs, the film explores the nature of the farming life and the impact of rapid modernization on families whose survival is tied to the land. As the farmer’s stories unfold, we see their responses to change…the losses and the surprising adaptations. AFTER WINTER, SPRING reveals the human story of family farming at a turning point in history.
The film was chosen to tour in France as part of the Mois du Documentaire and has played to sold-out screenings in numerous festivals including The Seattle International Film Festival, The Environmental Film Festival in the Nations Capital (Washington, DC), The International Ecological Television Festival “To Save & Preserve” (Russia), and many more. It has garnered wonderful press and won a number of awards including: the Audience Favorite Award (Mill Valley Film Festival), Best Foreign Documentary (Arizona International Film Festival), Jury Award (Caméras des Champs Festival in France) and was chosen as one of the Best of Festival at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.
By Johanna Setta, Certification Specialist Assistant for Vermont Organic Farmers
Benjamin Pauly of the Woodstock Inn and Resort Farm grew up on a diversified homestead with his family, farming a one acre plot. While working on this small farm, the family focus was vegetable and fruit production. To this day Ben still works in agriculture, but his work has taken on a different scope – he is actually a trained architect. The combination of his past and present specialties has allowed him to excel at directing landscape design and high yield and variety crop cultivation.
Ben started working at the farm in 2009 and is entering his third season of growing on the property, and his second season being certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers, the certification program of NOFA-VT. Ben’s job extends beyond farm manager into landscape architect and florist. He is passionate about growing flowers that he can then arrange for guests and public space at the Inn.
Once you start farming organically, you realize the soil is healthier and the output will be better and more nutritious.
Everything Ben grows is for the Woodstock Inn and Resort restaurant. The kitchen likes to think of itself as “farm inspired,” as the chefs source everything they can from the farm during the growing season and adjust menus based on what is available for harvest. In order to keep up with the demand of the kitchen, the farm will be expanding its facility with the construction of a high tunnel this season. Ben works closely with the chefs at the Inn to discuss which vegetables and fruits they are interested in utilizing during the upcoming season. He chooses a wide seed variety to allow for creative menu options. He makes sure to throw in some uncommon produce that might not be available wholesale like lemon cucumbers and malabar spinach. Malabar spinach is an all-time favorite of Ben’s; this heat loving vining plant can grow up to eight feet and is great for cooking with its thick fleshy leaves. In the 2015 growing season, the guests at the Inn can look forward to baby ginger and hops!
The Woodstock Inn and Resort Farm chooses to be certified organic because it forces them to be acutely aware of their growing practices and the condition of their soil. Although they would be growing in this manner regardless of certification, the organic certification process allows them to keep checks and balances on their practices.
“Once you start farming organically, and realize the soil is healthier and the output will be better and more nutritious, then it’s a no brainer,” says Ben. “You would never want to do anything that’s not organic.”
He feels organic certification helps tell a story about the farm; where they grow and how they grow. The Inn knows that is has a large presence in the village and feels that it is a huge accolade to show the community they are certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers. It is not only a source of pride for the Farm, but for the community as a whole. Although Ben enjoys explaining his farming practices while leading guest tours, being certified organic is an easy way to market the farm prior to guests arrival.
Ben has worked carefully on the design of the Farm’s two-acre plot and all of its steep slopes to create a space that is versatile. It is a multi-use farm in the sense that it is for production as well as a functioning educational space. On any given day in the summer you may find Ben giving tours of the farm to guests, hosting workshops for local groups like the gardening club, or tending to the two acres with his summer farm staff. Adjoining the farm is a half acre plot used for an event space. The Woodstock Inn and Resort is excited to use this beautiful space for weddings, meetings, and events. The farm allows guests to enjoy this bountiful land and experience where the tomatoes and shitake mushrooms they are having for dinner come from. Next time you are nearby, stop in and say hello to Ben and the Woodstock Inn and Resort staff for a special farm-to-table meal and a tour of the organic farm.
Have you ever been curious if a CSA is right for you but aren’t sure where to start? To learn more about CSAs and meet the farmers, join NOFA-VT and over 50 Vermont farms in our Open CSA Farm Day, Sunday May 4th from 1-4pm. During this time, CSAs across the state will open their doors for tours, questions & answers with the farmers, tastings, demonstrations and more!
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a type of direct marketing relationship between farmers and subscription consumers. CSAs invite consumers to directly support a farm or group of farms by purchasing a seasonal share of goods. Many CSAs in Vermont offer produce while some also offer meats, eggs, and other goods.
There are many different types of CSAs to fit different needs. Do you like experimenting with new vegetables? A classic “box” share, in which the farmer determines the each week’s share based on what’s in season, may be great for you. If you feel less adventurous or have a list of veggies you don’t like, maybe a “free choice” share would be a better fit. Many people enjoy going to the farm each week to pick up their share, while others prefer the convenience of a home or worksite delivery. Some CSAs offer products from multiple farms and may bring in “extras” like bread or cheese. Some farms offer shares only in the summer while others specialize in providing shares all year. Your options will vary depending on where you live and what the farms around you are doing. Visiting a CSA farm and talking with the farmer is a great way to learn more about their CSA and determine if the CSA is right for you!
We hope you will join us in visiting many of the Open CSA Farms on Sunday, May 4th. Everyone is welcome to this family-friendly event! For more information about the farms participating, visit our website or call the office at 802-434-4122.
Local Farms • Healthy Food • Strong Communities • • • the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont