Tag Archives: Vermont

Attention CSA Farmers!

NOFA- VT is requesting your input through our ANNUAL CSA SURVEY. We use this information to update the CSA directory on our website and to determine the economic value of CSAs to Vermont agriculture.  This data is aggregated with others’ responses and used in testimony to the Vermont legislature, to compile a report on the success and current status of CSAs in Vermont, and inform our CSA work and advocacy strategies. Check out our report based on last year’s survey: Vermont CSA Report – 2013.

Please note that our policy is to offer CSA directory listings to farms that are either certified organic through Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) or are members of NOFA-VT.  The benefits of NOFA-VT membership extend far beyond your online listing, and include: discounts on workshops, conferences, and our annual bulk order of farming supplies; our quarterly NOFA Notes newsletter; The Natural Farmer quarterly journal; and more! Visit www.nofavt.org/join  to join, or request a membership brochure via e-mail: info@nofavt.org.

Please complete our survey by February 21, 2015.  The survey can be completed online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NOFA2014CSA or you can contact us to request a paper copy.

If you have any questions, please contact us: erin@nofavt.org / michael@nofavt.org / 802-434-4122.

Thank you!

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FSMA Listening Session with VAAFM and NEASDA

Food safety regulations will affect farmers and food processors throughout the country, and NOFA Vermont has been one of many voices calling for these regulations to be amended to be appropriate for organic and small-scale farms. We hope that concerned farmers, processors, and consumers will continue to make their voices heard, as well. This announcement comes from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM), in conjunction with the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA), will host an open Listening Session on November 17th, 2014, to offer farmers and food processors an opportunity to provide comment on new supplemental rules proposed by the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Attendees will have an opportunity to pose questions to and seek clarification from a panel of subject matter experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will be present at the meeting. The listening session will take place from 9:00am – 1:00pm in the Chase Center located at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT. While oriented towards regional farmers and food processors specifically, this listening session is open to all interested parties from across the northeast.

FSMA, the most sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. On September 29th, 2014, the FDA released proposed supplemental rules to four of the seven existing rules, largely the result of an unprecedented level of comments and valuable input received from farmers and others directly affected by these regulations.

The November 17th, 2014, the Vermont-NEASDA hosted listening session will focus on the following three supplemental rules:

1. The Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce rule proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. Changes include:

  • More flexible criteria for determining the safety of agricultural water for certain uses and a tiered approach to water testing.
  • A commitment to conduct extensive research on the safe use of raw manure in growing areas and complete a risk assessment. Pending those actions, FDA is deferring its decision on an appropriate time interval between the application of raw manure, the harvesting of a crop, and removing the nine-month interval originally proposed.
  • The FDA proposes eliminating the 45-day minimum application interval for composted manure that meets proposed microbial standards and application requirements.

2.  The Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food rule would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing food products from causing food borne illness.

3.  Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals would require facilities producing animal food (pet food, animal feed, and raw materials) to have written plans that identify hazards and specify steps to prevent those hazards. Changes include:

  • Requirements that human and animal food facilities, when appropriate, test products and the food facility’s environment, as well as implement certain supplier controls.

A full copy of the proposed supplemental rules is available for viewing through the following links:

All growers, manufacturers, and anyone interested in fresh produce safety and manufacturing of human and animal food are encouraged to comment on the supplemental proposed rules. The comment period will remain open for 75 days until December 15th, 2014. There are two ways to officially submit comments to FDA:

  1. Comment electronically at:
    1. Produce: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22447/standards-for-the-growing-harvesting-packing-and-holding-of-produce-for-human-consumption
    2. Human Food: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22446/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-human
    3. Animal Feed: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22445/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-food
  2. Written comments may be faxed to the FDA at 301-827-6870 or you may mail them to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)

Food and Drug Administration

5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061

Rockville, MD 20852

For more information about FSMA, visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/

Or contact:

Abbey Willard – abbey.willard@state.vt.us or 802-272-2885

Shelley Mehlenbacher – shelley.mehlenbacher@state.vt.us or 802-828-2421

Wholesale and Institutional Markets – a quick survey for producers

Hey farmers! We’re partnering with the Agency of Ag on a project to help determine the level of interest from producers in institutional and wholesale markets.

We’re hoping you can take about 10 minutes out of this busy season to fill out a short survey, which will help us understand the current supply and demand in this market, the level of interest amongst producers, the room for growth, and what kinds of support and technical assistance would be most useful.

We see wholesale and institutional sales (such as those to grocery stores, schools, and hospitals) as a key market for future local foods growth. These markets reach large numbers of customers, many of whom may not be seeking out local products or participating in direct-market channels such as farmers’ markets and CSAs. By making local foods more accessible to more people, we can increase awareness and create demand.

We hope that you’ll help us analyze and understand this market, your participation in it, and how best we can work with producers and other partners to make wholesale and institutional sales successful for Vermont farmers and processors.

Click here to take the survey now!

 

Farmers’ Market Week Winners!

NOFA and the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association held a “selfie” photo contest in honor of National Farmers’ Market Week, August 3-9. What an amazing week it was! Fresh air, sunshine, outstanding food, and awesome friends. What more could we want?

Thank you to all of our photo contest participants and everyone who voted for their favorite photo. It was great to see how much enthusiasm Vermonters have for our local food producers. And without further ado, here is our photo contest winner and runners up!

Karin Bellemare "Queen Beet and King Carrot" at the Barre Farmers' Market
Karin Bellemare at the Barre Farmers’ Market, 1st place

Karin wins a $100 gift certificate to the market of her choice, and the Barre Farmers’ Market, where her photo was taken, will receive a $100 advertising stipend from NOFA-VT.

Manolo Zelkin
Manolo Zelkin, 2nd place
Beth Wallace
Beth Wallace, 3rd place

Farmers’ Market Week may be over, but it is still high season for Vermont’s bounty, and farmers’ markets are the best place to find fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, baked goods, gifts, and more. Click here to find a market near you!

Congrats to Small Business Award winners!

We are excited to see a number of farm and food businesses (and NOFA-VT members!) have won awards from Vermont Business Magazine and the US Small Business Administration.

These include:

Small Business People of the Year:
Bill Cherry & Jeff Neiblum of Switchback Brewing in Burlington (not members, but great local beer!)

Family-Owned Small Business:
Kelt & Kristina Naylor of Sidehill Farm in Brattleboro (NOFA-VT members)

Vermont Micro-Enterprise:
Scott Baughman & Lisa Ransom of Grow Compost of Vermont in Moretown (not members, but compost is approved for organic use by VOF)

Woman-Owned Business of the Year:
Sharon Deitz Caroli of The Bees Knees in Morrisville (not a member, but purchases from many local farms)

Young Entrepreneur of the Year:
Joe Bossen II of Vermont Bean Crafters in Mad River (NOFA-VT member)

We know that Vermont’s strong farm and food economy contributes greatly to our overall economic stability – with the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country and a high quality of life. We’re proud of these businesses that are leading the way!

You can attend the SBA award ceremony on June 17 – click here to register.

Gov. Shumlin will sign the GMO bill next week!

VTJoinUsSignedIntoLaw_1We’ve just got word that Governor Shumlin plans to sign H.112, Vermont’s GMO labeling bill, next Thursday, May 8 at 2:30 PM. We’re planning a statehouse lawn celebration – please join us! More details coming soon – follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest.

CSA Open Farm Day!

CSA-OH14Have 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.

 

Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

On April 16th the Vermont Senate voted 28-2 in favor of H.112, which would require the labeling of foods made with genetic engineering. This brings Vermont very close to final passage and enactment of the nation’s first GMO labeling law that does not include a multi-state “trigger, which would require indefinite postponement of its implementation.  

To visibly demonstrate to Governor Shumlin how important it is for him to sign the bill into law, the Coalition is calling for “honk and wave” events next Tuesday, April 22 (Earth Day) during morning “drive time” — not just in Vermont but all across the country. Our national partners and supporters are helping to organize this.

Use this online tool to set up and share your local honk and wave! Continue reading Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

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.

Is Organic Certification Right for You?

Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.
Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.

Choosing whether or not to become certified organic is a decision that has a lot of factors, including environmental and social values, marketing channels, farm size and type, and more.

We’re working on developing materials to help farmers better understand the potential benefits and challenges of organic certification, including costs, recordkeeping, pricing, marketing, and political impacts.

As part of that effort – and in order to help us understand why farmers do or do not pursue certification – we held (and filmed) a workshop at the 2014 Winter Conference on the topic of “Is Organic Certification Right for my Business?”

This workshop featured three Vermont farmers discussing their experiences with organic certification, and we recommend it as a good starting place if you are considering certification for your farm.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with a team of UVM students to organize a few focus groups to explore more deeply what motivates or prevents certification on Vermont’s farms. We’re looking for both certified and non-certified farmers of all kinds to take part. If you’d like to talk with us about your experience with certification, please contact Charles.

You can learn more about the organic certification regulations and requirements on the Vermont Organic Farmers webpage. There are also a number of helpful resources from ATTRA and eOrganic, a program of the university extension network.