In 2004, the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC) recognized that the farm economy of Rutland County was in decline. In order to turn the curve on this worrisome trend, the RRPC began seeking ideas and solutions from a diverse group of stakeholders and community members. Relatively quickly, a group of collaborators, including members of Green Mountain College, the Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District, the Vermont Land Trust, UVM Extension and individual farmers, committed themselves to addressing this essential question: “How can we ensure viable farms in the future?”
From this ad-hoc group, the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, better known as RAFFL, was born. From its inception, RAFFL was dedicated to developing clear strategies and implementing concerted efforts in order to maintain the agriculture, rural character, and working landscape in the Rutland region.
Bolstered by the success of one of its earliest efforts, the first-in-the-state Locally Grown Guide, RAFFL quickly expanded its scope, work, and effectiveness. Incorporating in 2006, gaining non-profit 501(c)3 status in 2008, and hiring its first Executive Director in 2009, RAFFL’s influence in the region and in the state continued to grow.
Twelve years later, RAFFL is still committed to answering that initial essential question. Today, it builds connections, engages with the community, and strategizes with local, state and national organizations to shape the local farm and food scene. As a result, the Rutland region is a vibrant, evolving, and exciting landscape of working farms, engaged consumers, and collaborative organizations that continue to work toward a strong, viable future for the region's farms.