Growing the Success of the Rutland Area Agricultural Scene
December 4, 2016, Rutland, VT
The Rutland Area Farm and Food link (RAFFL), is a Rutland based non-profit that addresses food insecurity and access, gives technical, marketing and business assistance to new and developing farmers as well as works to expand market and consumer access opportunities for local food. RAFFL has been an intentional, positive change-maker in the local agricultural scene since 2004 and continues to evolve with and influence the agricultural landscape around it. Our mission is to build connections for a strong agricultural economy and a healthy community and no where is that more apparent than in the results of our programs.
In the last 3 years, RAFFL’s Glean Team has captured and distributed over 60,000 pounds of fresh, local and seasonal food throughout Rutland county and its surrounding communities to those in need. In 2016, 500 individuals participated in hands-on food, cooking and preservation workshops from Everyday Chef that focused on increasing confidence in the kitchen, basic cooking skills and healthy eating, using portable “kitchens” and work stations that allowed the workshops to happen in recovery homes, shelters, work-sites, schools, hospitals and in partnership with other organizations. In the last year, we provided financial consults, land access and planning assitance to 35 farms and producers in Rutland, Bennington and Windsor Counties through our Farm Business Development program while also promoting farms and local food friendly businesses throughout southern Vermont via the Locally Grown Guide, a guide now in its 11th year, with both an online presence and paper copy distribution of over 20,000. Our online local food store, Farm Fresh Connect is a market opportunity for farmers to reach new customers through the convenience of their computers and has grown 45% in the last 18 months.
In November 2016, RAFFL launched an ambitious effort to raise $75,000 to deepen and expand its current programming and outreach within the current communities it serves in addition to the veteran and recovery community. With a successful campaign by year’s end, RAFFL will be able to continue its efforts to capture fresh, seasonal food from local farms for those in need by purchasing a cargo van and supplies for the Glean Team; expand the number of hands-on food and cooking workshops from Everyday Chef; create more learning opportunities and workshops for area farmers and producers; and support marketing outreach to promote local farms and food.
Gifts and contributions of any amount can be sent directly to RAFFL at PO Box 284, Rutland, VT 05602 or online at rutlandfarmandfood.org or given on its Facebook page at facebook.com/rutlandfarmfood.