Tag Archives: organic

Making Connections with the Vermont Food System Atlas

The Vermont Farm to Plate Network is weaving together all components of Vermont’s food system to strengthen the working landscape, build the resilience of farms, improve environmental quality, and increase local food access for all Vermonters. It’s made up of over 250 organizations (including NOFA-VT!) encompassing farm and food system businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies working together to implement the state’s Farm to Plate Strategic Plan—possibly the most comprehensive food system plan in the country and the first in New England.

Coordinated by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, both the Farm to Plate Network and Strategic Plan can be accessed in full detail at the Vermont Food System Atlas—a new, online collective food system inventory.

Vermont Food Systems AtlasThe Vermont Food System Atlas features thousands of agricultural resources to help connect Vermont farmers to food processing businesses, specialty food producers, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, consumers, and state government. Farmers and agricultural producers can use the Atlas to build economic partnerships based on production, distribution, marketing, and outreach goals. The Atlas also features thousands of food system resources including stories, videos, job listings, data, and a map searchable by people and places, region, keyword, and food system categories. Continue reading Making Connections with the Vermont Food System Atlas

Come work with us!

NOFA staff at the Winter Conference, 2012
NOFA staff at the Winter Conference, 2012

You don’t have to be a farmer to be a part of Vermont’s local, organic food system! You can make a difference as part of the network of organizations that provide critical services to farmers and consumers. There are currently two positions open in Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF), the organic certification program of NOFA-VT.

Since 1985, VOF has provided farmers and processors with a credible verification program for their organic production practices. VOF currently certifies 576 farms and processors to the National Organic Program regulations and assists our producers in marketing their products to consumers.

VOF is looking to hire two positions in our organic certification program to start in mid-September. The NOFA office is fun and fast-paced, and we have high expectations of our staff. Applicants should have a sense of humor, ability to multitask, and be willing to work independently and as a team. Applicants should have good time-management skills and enjoy interacting with and assisting our farmers and processors.

For more information about our organization, please visit here.

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Certification Staff Assistant Position

Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) is looking to hire a certification staff assistant to join our certification team. This position will support the certification staff in the annual process of verifying the organic production practices of our clients. Applicants should have strong organizational skills, attention to detail and should work proficiently in Microsoft Office programs Excel, Word and Access. Major duties include phone coverage, filing, and database entry.

  • Compensation is $15/hr.
  • No benefits package
  • Half-time (20 hours a week) position in Richmond office

Please send your cover letter & resume to
Enid Wonnacott/Nicole Dehne
applicant@nofavt.org

Accepting ONLY electronic applications. Deadline – August 16th at 5 p.m.

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Certification Staff Specialist Position (Dairy & Livestock)

Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) is looking to hire a certification staff specialist to join our certification team. This position will coordinate the annual process of verifying the organic production practices of our dairy and livestock producers. Applicants should have experience with dairy and livestock production, strong organizational skills, attention to detail and should work proficiently in Microsoft Office Programs Excel, Word and Access. Major duties include reviewing organic system plans and inspection reports, writing compliance letters and assisting farmers with the certification process.

  • Compensation based on experience
  • Benefits package included
  • Full time position in Richmond office

Please send your cover letter & resume to:

Enid Wonnacott/Nicole Dehne
dairy@nofavt.org

Accepting ONLY electronic applications. Deadline –  August 9th at 5 p.m.

What is Food? GMO Labeling Remarks from Will Stevens

During the debate leading up to the historic vote that passed Vermont’s GMO labeling bill out of the House, we heard statements from many representatives. At NOFA, we felt that one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking came from Will Stevens.

Will is co-owner of Golden Russet Farm, a certified organic vegetable & greenhouse operation in Shoreham, VT, and is now in his 32nd year of commercial production. He has been a NOFA-VT member for about that long, and is a past President of VOF. He is currently in his fourth term serving as an Independent member of the VT House of Representatives, and is on the Agriculture  & Forest Products Committee.

Will’s remarks addressed well-debated scientific questions of GMO crops as well as a topic much less discussed: the spiritual and religious implications of genetic engineering. He asks,

“What is food? Is it something we stuff in our mouths to fuel our machine, or is it nourishment for our body and our mind?”

Is this not the “People’s House?” Whose interests are we serving when we oppose the public’s right to know?

For those of you who did not have a chance to hear Will’s testimony at the statehouse, he has graciously given us permission to reprint it here in full. It’s long, for a blog post, but well worth the time. Please take a moment to read it, then let us know what you think! Do your spiritual or religious views affect your opinion on GMO labeling? Continue reading What is Food? GMO Labeling Remarks from Will Stevens

GMO labeling bill to be debated Thursday AM!

Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOsVermont’s GMO labeling bill, H.112, has been passed out of the Judiciary Committee. It will be debated in the House tomorrow, first thing – if you want to be there (and watch history in the making!) arrive by 9:15 and head up the stairs to the House Chamber.

A vote is scheduled for Friday. If the bill passes, it will be in a strong position to be taken up by the Senate when the legislature reconvenes in January.

If you haven’t yet contacted your Representatives, NOW is the time! You can leave a message for your Representatives at the statehouse by calling 802-828-2228, or click here to send an email. Ask them to vote yes on H.112, because you have the right to know what’s in the food you and your family eat.

We’re proud to be part of the Vermont Right to Know Coalition – visit the Coalition’s website to learn more about GMO labeling in Vermont. You can also follow the issue on Twitter with #vtrighttoknow.

NOFA Advocacy Update

There are a number of topics in local, state, and national legislature that we’re involved in right now, including the GMO labeling bill (which needs your support right now!), the Addison County Natural Gas Pipeline project, the national Food Safety Modernization Act, and working to add compost to the list of agricultural products that are exempt from the state sales tax. Keep reading to learn more! Continue reading NOFA Advocacy Update

Organic vs. Contential Milk: Is There a Big Difference?

While attending the NOFA winter conference, I noticed that much of the conversations that were being held were about the most effective way for small farmers to reach their desired audience. Recently The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study that looked more in depth about organic foods and what food is worth buying organic.

When parents are shopping for food whether it be at a grocery store chain, local farm stand, or co-op they want to purchase the food that will have a positive impact on their families. So when choosing between the conventional options and the organic labeled foods parents that can afford the organic foods are more than likely reaching for those choices. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently conducted a study about the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing organic foods for children. On average the cost of these foods are about 10 to 40 percent higher than the non-organic foods and in the case of purchasing organic milk there seems to be little difference. With a high dependency on the cows daily diet and the scale of the farming operation raw milk could have higher rates of antioxidants which is a positive for small children and families. However the report claims that there is no evidence of ‘clinical relevant difference’ between organic milk and conventional milk. It’s not all doom and gloom surrounding organic foods and if they have a better effectiveness than conventional foods.

When incorporating organic food the study found that a significantly lower percentage of pesticides were found in children who ate organic foods. These low levels can contribute to a healthier immune system and the ability for children to have a greater chance fighting off sicknesses and disease. Other bright news, organic foods will not have the high costs forever! With the rise in oil prices things like pesticides and herbicides will become more costly to farmers, which could allow for dropping organic prices. Along with the high costs of pesticides improvements in organic technologies will also lead to decreased costs for consumers.

For more information about the study visit: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/10/15/peds.2012-2579.abstract

Guest blogger: Jackson Diebold

Small Farm Marketing at the NOFA Winter Conference

Most would think that the actual planting, growing, and harvesting process is the hardest part for many small local farmers. However, that seems to be the easier part when it comes to trying to distribute and sell these fresh, local products. There seems to be a slight disconnect between the farmers, their products, and the consumers who want and love these locally produced goods.

This problem was recognized and addressed at the recently held Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont winter conference. In a classroom setting farmers were able to gather valuable information from a professional on how to most effectively market their farm products to consumers. One issue that seemed to be a major problem from the consumer side was not realizing that ‘organic’ and ‘local’ do not mean the same thing. Consumers just assume that if something was grown local than that must mean it is organic. This leaves consumers wondering why they are paying so much more for ‘organic’ so they choose to not support local. This was a big point that the farmers should really take the time and educate their customers on the difference.

Another big talking point at the workshop was the understanding of whom the farmers are selling to and what are their average customer’s demographics. For example, the main motivator for parents when buying organic food is they are trying to provide healthy options for their family as much as possible. It was discussed that this could be a great selling point and some farmers did admit that once they started posting recipes using the food they were selling either at a farmers market or food stand it had a positive impact on sales.

As a non-farmer in a room full of farmers I began to realize that they were unaware of how great their product actually was, they almost took the high quality of their products for granted. Consumers are not used to buying the freshest products from a place like price chopper however once the realization is made that fresh food is at their fingertips I think the conversion would be a easy one to make for the consumer.

Guest blogger: Jackson Diebold