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.
We are at a critical stage in the two-year effort to pass legislation requiring foods made with genetic engineering to be labeled in Vermont.
After passing the Vermont House last year and the Senate Agriculture Committee last month, our GMO labeling bill, H.112, will now be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in mid-March. If approved there, it will move to the full Senate for a vote and, hopefully, straight to the Governor’s desk for his signature later this spring.
This steady success has been due to the continuing engagement of tens of thousands of Vermonters, who have let their legislators know that they care about where our food comes from, how it is made, and what it contains.
Want to learn more & get engaged?
Over the next few weeks members of the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition, including NOFA Vermont, will be be hosting a series of consumer education workshops around Vermont. These are sponsored by community co-ops in different regions of the state so that you will have the facts you need to help H.112 become law.
We will also be showing the highly-regarded film GMO OMG in six locations across Vermont.
Please plan to join your neighbors at one or more of these events – we need everyone to get this job done!
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
Keith 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
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!
The Vermont Senate Agricultural Committee has been hearing testimony on the GMO Labeling bill for weeks – ever since the legislative session opened in early January.
Now, it’s time for citizens to make their voices heard! Join the hearing at the Statehouse in Montpelier on February 6, starting at 6:00 – and tell your legislators why YOU have the right to know what’s in your food!
We strongly recommend arriving early if you’d like to testify; the sign-up sheet should be available at 5:30. Based on our experience from a similar public hearing in 2012, the line will likely be long!
You can let us know you’re coming by registering with the Vermont Right to Know Coalition, which is a joint effort of NOFA Vermont, VPIRG, Rural Vermont, and Cedar Circle Farm.
For more information about NOFA Vermont’s role in the Vermont Right to Know Coalition, or to get involved with the campaign, contact Dave Rogers, NOFA Vermont Policy Advisor.
Farmers, homesteaders, and students all tend to be frugal folks, and we work hard to keep the NOFA Vermont Winter Conference accessible to as many people as possible – while still paying our great presenters for their time and managing all the logistical costs of a three-day conference attended by 1,500 people.
One of the ways that attendees can reduce their cost of attendance is by volunteering. Volunteers are critical to making the conference run, from stuffing registration folders on Friday night to slicing bread at the hospitality table, directing people to their workshops, and cleaning up after the ice cream social. Volunteers receive a $15 discount off their registration for each 2-hour shift (max two shifts per person). You must confirm your volunteer role before registering to receive the discount; please contact the NOFA-VT office to volunteer!
The other way to reduce costs for some attendees is through scholarships. There are three scholarship opportunities available from NOFA-VT.
The application deadline for our Beginning Farmer Scholarship has been extended to 1/31; the other two have an application deadline of this Friday, 1/24. Continue reading Making the Winter Conference More Affordable
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.
Imagine you are in Paris, in a room full of intelligent, informed people discussing the issues of the day. It is the early 1600s and you are in one of the few social spheres that allows for female leadership. You are in a salon. Perhaps there is art on the walls of the gathering room, and a theater performance. When you arrive, you are announced to the room.
Fast forward to 2013, and it turns out you are actually in a breakout session at one of the most innovative food system conferences in the country. This “salon” is exploring what it will take to connect the dots most effectively between producers and consumers of local/regional food. The backdrop is the 3rd Annual Gathering of Vermont’s Farm to Plate Network. Over 250 representatives of the 300+ member Network attended. Members of the Farm to Plate Network encompass all types and scales of agricultural-related production and processing businesses, government entities, educational institutions, distributors, retailers, and dozens of non-profits from food justice to technical assistance providers. This 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. Continue reading Food+Co-ops: VT Farm to Plate Network Generates Collective Impact
The two women discussed the incorporation of healthy practices into school systems and the importance of agricultural education for our youth. Amongst the crowd were several teachers from Barre Town School, and other educators across Washington County.
Throughout the talk, Abbie focused on the ways that Vermont FEED (a partnership between NOFA Vermont, Shelburne Farms, and Food Works) has worked statewide to get local food into schools. She discussed the importance of young students associating a fruit or vegetable on their plate with where it came from on a farm or in a garden.
Abbie also introduced the New School Cuisine cookbook, which will be released within the month to every school in Vermont as well as every Childhood Nutrition program throughout the nation. This cookbook includes a wide variety of farm fresh, healthy recipes in large serving sizes for cafeteria use. It allows students to associate with healthy foods on a daily basis in the classroom. Lastly, Abbie discussed the Nutrition Education Guide for schools. The Nutrition Education Guide serves as an educational tool for teachers to assess where they can incorporate nutrition education and the best ways to make it work.
Gail Gibbons, author and illustrator of over 150 children’s books, also spoke about her influence on child nutrition education. Originally in the film industry, Gail recognized the need for nutrition awareness while working with NBC television programs. After traveling to many different cities across the country for research, she acknowledged that many children did not know where their food came from. Her first book based on agriculture titled The Milk Makers goes into the development of milk in a cow and the processing it must go through to make it to the refrigerator. Other books include The Vegetables We Eat, Apples, Corn, and The Honey Makers. Check out Gail’s website and list of publications at http://www.gailgibbons.com/.
>> For more upcoming events that connect Vermont’s communities and farms, check out the second annual Agricultural Literacy Week, November 18-24.
[Post by NOFA Vermont intern Maggie Callahan]
Have you seen our new episode of Farmers Talk? It features an interview with Chris Granstrom of Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Winery, the largest grape producer in Vermont.
Chris gives a thorough overview of the development of cold-hardy grape varieties, what his workflow is like through the seasons, the wine making process, and his marketing techniques. He also discusses the current state and growth potential of the grape industry in Vermont. He is not organic (and explains why), but anyone who has considered getting into grape or wine production or who is just curious about Vermont’s emerging status as a wine producing region should find something of interest.
Also, note the new addition of a menu at the beginning of the video – if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, just click on the topic of interest and it will bring you directly to that point in the interview!
Feel free to post comments on our YouTube page and let us know what you think!
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.
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