ROBERT LAYMAN / STAFF PHOTO
The Jersey cow herd was on the move Monday night at Larson Farm in Wells. Richard Larson opened his pastures for a Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training lecture hosted by the Rutland Area Food and Farm Link.
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67 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT, 05701
Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) promotes local food knowledge, production and market opportunities for farmers and community members throughout our region.
News, cooking tips, recipes, and more from the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link.
ROBERT LAYMAN / STAFF PHOTO
The Jersey cow herd was on the move Monday night at Larson Farm in Wells. Richard Larson opened his pastures for a Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training lecture hosted by the Rutland Area Food and Farm Link.
Montpelier, VT – Vermonters were farming, gardening, fishing, and hunting long before there were craft beers and gourmet burgers. Traditions like gardening, hunting, fishing, and foraging are as core to Vermont’s local food movement as purchasing local food from farmers, restaurants, schools, and stores. Rooted in Vermont is a grassroots movement that empowers all Vermonters to be a part of the local food movement.
“Vermonters are proud of tradition and our way of life. Local food connects us to the land, to our history, and to our communities. Rooted in Vermont is a movement to help all Vermonters see local food as their own—not because it is a trend, but rather a part of our history and who we are as Vermonters,” says Rachel Carter, communications director for the Vermont Farm to Plate Network—a network of over 300 organizations who are nurturing the Rooted in Vermont movement as a component to implementing Vermont’s Farm to Plate food system plan.
Rooted in Vermont Celebrates How Vermonters Acquire and Enjoy Local Food
Growing and foraging; purchasing directly from a farmer or at the store; hunting or fishing; eating at schools, institutions or restaurants serving local food; picking up food at a food shelf; or just sharing Vermont food and drinks with friends and neighbors—these are all examples of being ‘Rooted in Vermont’ and can be experienced in any Vermont community or online by following or using the hashtag #RootedinVermont.
“Our family has been hunting, making maple syrup, and growing our own veggies for years and that’s how we eat local food. I love that Rooted in Vermont includes these traditions in the local food movement. When more Vermonters can see their own values and traditions being celebrated and recognized, they will be more likely to seek out and purchase local foods—especially when they understand how it will benefit our state,” shares Liz Perreault, a Plainfield, Vermont resident who follows Rooted in Vermont on Facebook.
Rooted in Vermont has followers from all over the state on Facebook, Twitter, andInstagram. In fact, Vermonters from all regions of Vermont and how they enjoy local food are featured on the Facebook page every Wednesday.
What constitutes a Vermonter? “Anyone who lives and works in Vermont,” says Carter. “The intention of the Rooted in Vermont movement is to create unity among all people who make their home in the Green Mountains without judgement about how they acquire and enjoy food—or any judgements for that matter. We are trying to shift the local food narrative on social media and in Vermont communities to be inclusive and invite all Vermonters to share how they are ‘Rooted in Vermont’.”
Increasing Consumer Demand in Local Food
As more Vermonters engage in the Rooted in Vermont movement, grassroots outreach efforts will encourage ways to demonstrate increased demand in local food.
“Cost, convenience, availability, and different food preferences all come into play when Vermonters make decisions about food purchases,” says Carter. “But a little goes a long way! The power really lies with Vermonters to change the system by demanding more local food where we shop so that we have more in-state control about the food available to us and more economic opportunities for our families.”
Increased consumer demand sends a signal to the marketplace for more local food to be produced, distributed, and available to Vermonters. Local food sales currently account for $6.9% ($189 million) of total food sales in Vermont. If 10% of the food purchased in Vermont was locally produced, it would equate to $300 million staying in the Vermont economy. Purchasing local products keeps more money here in Vermont, in turn creating jobs, supporting the in-state supply chain, protecting our family farms, and making local food more accessible to more Vermonters.
“I’m excited to see the local food movement grow, especially because increased demand for local food means more family farms and local businesses can be successful and will make more local food available at regular grocery stores and small town convenience stores,” shares Perreault. “Rooted in Vermont matters to Vermonters because it will help keep more money in our state and hopefully create more jobs. So many Vermonters struggle with a high cost of living and I think we can all get behind Rooted in Vermont and building a stronger Vermont economy.”
Join the Rooted in Vermont Grassroots Movement
• Share your Vermont Food roots and tag us in your posts on Facebook; use the hashtag #RootedinVermont on Twitter and Instagram.
• Like, share, comment, retweet, and repost our content with your friends and followers.
• Participate in local food activities and purchase local food—then share with us on social media.
• Businesses, organizations, and Vermont communities can get involved too. Learn more at http://bit.ly/RootedinVermontMovement.
The Rooted in Vermont movement is being nurtured by the Vermont Farm to Plate Network as a strategic effort to help implement Vermont’s Farm to Plate food system plan to increase economic development and jobs in Vermont’s farm and food sector and improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters. Farm to Plate is a program of the Vermont Legislature, administered by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Montpelier, Vermont.www.VTFarmtoPlate.com.
We had a fantastic turn out for the first workshop in the CRAFT (Collaborative Alliance for Farmer Training) series last Monday . Aspiring farmers came to learn about greenhouse propagation at Earth Sky Time Community Farm. Registration is now closed for remainder of the program but please contact email@example.com for next year!
Elena Gustavson for Local Banquet Summer 2017 Issue
May 15 , 2017
“How many here are knife ninjas?” After a pause, two or three hands creep up in the small crowd of flannel- and Carhart-clad students. This group from Green Mountain College is a bit shy, but definitely interested. “Great! How about you?” I smile encouragingly to the young woman with the knitted hat and big smile who raised her hand first. “Come on up here and show us how to straighten a blade on this steel.”
She laughs and shakes her head, but walks to the front of her fellow students and takes the knife and honing steel, a ribbed, elongated rod used to realign the edges of a knife blade, from my hands. Under the watchful gazes of the other students seated in metal folding chairs in the assembly room of a local church, she glides the cutting edge of the chef’s knife across the steel a few times and laughs again. “I know I’m doing this wrong!” before moving to hand it back to me. I tell her to keep it, and picking up another knife and honing steel on the table, I demonstrate for her how I hold the edge of my knife at an angle to the steel.
Together we straighten our blades for the audience, working out the technique while we chat about our favorite celebrity chefs (“Anthony Bourdain and Jaime Oliver”) and our favorite breakfast foods (eggs with avocado for me, pancakes and maple syrup for her). We finish and with eight more knives lined up in front of us, I look back to the crowd and say, “Who’s next?” To my delight, several hands shoot up.
This is “Everyday Chef,” a food and cooking education program that we run out of church kitchens, the local public television station, and community recreation centers all around Rutland and its surrounding areas. We’ve shown up in the lunchrooms of Rutland City’s road crew and fire station; taught bi-monthly classes in recovery homes for opiate addicts; grilled vegetables in the cafeteria at Omya and GE Aviation; and blended up smoothies for the third shift at Rutland Regional Medical Center. We’ve taught knife skills and basic cooking classes to kids as young as 10 years old and did a four-part series of easy, healthy dorm cooking for college students.
Give us a couple of six foot tables, running water, and a power cord, and we can conduct a hands-on workshop for as many as 15 people just about anywhere. With a part-time coordinator and funding from the Bowse Health Trust, Everyday Chef’s mission is to empower and engage eaters by building confidence in the kitchen, while promoting nutritious, seasonal, local food. We create a custom workshop curriculum coordinating enthusiastic and knowledgeable educators, as well as design and conduct our workshops, demonstrations, and events. We develop recipes, design how-to cards, and even produce a televised “Local Farmer Everyday Chef” cooking series at our local community television station. Demand for our classes and workshops now far outweighs our capacity to conduct them. But we didn’t start out this way.
Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (affectionately known as RAFFL) is a Rutland based nonprofit whose mission is to build connections that grow a strong agricultural economy and a healthy community. We recognize that if we want to rebuild a healthy food system, we must think systemically—of the whole, not just the parts. Everyday Chef was a program that was started partly to address what seemed to be a gap in understanding of the local foods RAFFL was promoting to our greater communities. The first years of Everyday Chef saw us offering taste tests of kohlrabi, heirloom tomatoes, radishes, and fresh greens at various events throughout the area. Those taste tests eventually evolved into cooking demonstrations, recipe cards, written articles for the paper and RAFFL blog, local television spots, photographs and “how-to” blog posts, and various other means of outreach through the many different channels we had available to us. But the question still remained. Were we really affecting change?
Eaters are genuinely challenged. Not just with a general lack of awareness around seasonality of local ingredients within a global marketplace, but with knowing how to cook. And not just cooking with whole foods, but with cooking, period. We have people in our communities who do not have access to basic kitchen tools let alone basic cooking skills, where fresh produce, local or not, is seen as a luxury, not a necessity. In addition, Rutland is the third largest city in Vermont, second only to Burlington and South Burlington. Without the economic advantages enjoyed by Chittenden County, our opportunities and challenges here are often different. So, Everyday Chef evolved.
We started asking people what they wanted and then figured out how we could offer it. We went to where people were already going—work, schools, church, community centers, and then we created the portable kitchens. We worked with Vermont Farm to Plate’s consumer profiles and created workshop topics that targeted specific participants (men, people with diagnosed conditions and families with children, to name just a few). We created incentives and sent people home with ingredients. We encourage peer-to-peer learning. We taught knife skills. Without a doubt, we ran into challenges and some things worked better than others, but ultimately, we came up with a winning formula that isn’t really a formula insomuch as it is an appeal to human nature. We meet people where they already are, work alongside them and with them, moving forward with the hope that our investment will bring people closer to embracing and supporting our local farms because they feel empowered and are invested in their own health and well-being.
We are now in our third year of this deepened approach toward food education at RAFFL and the metrics have been encouraging. Each workshop we conduct must demonstrate the following three things: (1) seasonal ingredients that can be accessed locally; (2) focus on health and wellness; and (3) a goal to increase confidence of the participant. For the most part, we hit those objectives with ease and are now thinking about how to refine our systems and replicate this success to expand the number of people we can reach. People are hungry for this type of learning and interaction. It isn’t a hard sell, but it means regional community organizations like ourselves that are primarily working toward rebuilding our food systems and the health of our communities need to be active listeners and allow ourselves to be led by the very people we aim to serve. In a world of measurable outcomes and replication of success, that can prove to be a challenging, but rewarding journey.
At the end of my workshop with the Green Mountain College students, the purpose of which was to demonstrate how to conduct a hands-on cooking workshop, we sat together eating the wilted kale and vegetable salad we had made, sipping on cider, and nibbling on cheddar. I listened to them talk about classes and what they were doing that weekend while they filled out our survey, wrote down feedback about their interest in vegan and raw food cooking, and answered questions about recipe development and how to fry tofu without it sticking to the pan (press it and use hot oil!). Soon, we said our good-byes and I went about cleaning and packing up the ingredients and tools, taking my time and thinking about what went well, and what needed to be changed for the next time. I penciled a few changes to the master copy of the recipe cards I handed out earlier. The car loaded with cutting boards, knives, pots, and tools, I wiped down the counters and tables, swept the floor, and flipped off the lights on my way out the door.
RAFFL and Marble Valley Grows Come Alive Outside are partnering to increase students’ access to local, healthy school meals in the Rutland Region using the Vermont Farm to School Network’s Harvest of the Month Campaign. Last week they started their work at Christ the King School where students learned how to make spinach pesto served on fresh carrots. The students got to partake in all stages of the cooking process, learned about the history of pesto, and tasted all the different ingredients. The spinach and carrots were from our friends over atEvening Song Farm!
Article by The Vermont Community Foundation
The Vermont Community Foundation has announced that its Food and Farm Initiative has made more than $660,000 to 11 organizations working to connect more Vermonters with healthy, local food in the Initiative’s final grant round. Half of the total granted out was made possible thanks to the partnership of donors and fundholders at the Foundation, including $75,000 in support from the High Meadows Fund.
The Community Foundation launched the Initiative in 2012 to improve Vermont’s ability to extend the benefits of local food to families of all incomes. Since then, the Foundation has granted out more than $2.2 million to support organizations working on local food and anti-hunger work.
“We’ve been proud to support the hard work Food and Farm Initiative grantees over the past five years,” says Jen Peterson, Vice President of Program and Grants at the Vermont Community Foundation. “The work they’re doing is making a major difference in our communities. Since the beginning of the Initiative, we’re seeing more Vermont farmers selling their products to local schools and other institutions, more children eating local foods at school, and more organizations coordinating their local food and anti-hunger work.”
Peterson noted that though this cycle of grants marks the final round of competitive grantmaking for the Initiative, the work of the grantees will continue to grow in the years to come, helping all Vermont families access healthy, local food.
To learn more about the Food and Farm Initiative, visit www.vermontcf.org/localfood.
Food and Farm Initiative Grantees
Center for an Agricultural Economy received $59,740 to strengthen the relationships between distributors, institutional food service directors, and others involved in the local food supply chain, making it easier to bring local food to Vermonters.
Food Connects received $37,800 to increase schools’ purchasing and consumption of local food in Southern Vermont, increasing students’ access to healthy school meals.
Green Mountain Farm to School received $37,800 to increase students’ access to healthy school meals in the Northeast Kingdom.
Hunger Free Vermont received $50,000 to help Vermont schools increase meal program participation and buy more local food.
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont received $50,000 to provide resources, training, and technical assistance to schools and other institutions in order to help them increase local food procurement throughout the year.
Northwestern Medical Center received $32,810 to build awareness of and support for farm-to-school programming and increased purchasing of local food in schools with community leaders in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.
Rutland Area Farm and Food Link received $30,000 to increase students’ access to healthy school meals in Rutland County.
Shelburne Farms - Vermont FEED received $190,000 to increase public support for farm-to-school programming, document the impact of farm to school on school success, develop resources to support farm-to-school coordinators, and increase support from school leadership.
Vermont Housing and Conservation Board received $45,060 to provide business-planning support to food nonprofits and to help affordable housing developers include gardens, CSA deliveries, and nutrition programming on-site.
Vital Communities received $29,970 to increase students’ access to healthy school meals in Windsor County.
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund received $99,382 to serve as the network coordinator for the Farm to Plate Network and to provide trainings for owners of independent grocery stores to improve the way they source and display local food.
Photo by ROBERT LAYMAN of the Rutland Herald
Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen, right, and Sgt. Keith Lorman place shish kebabs on the grill outside City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. The lunch wrapped up a series of cooking classes for city departments, taught by Everyday Chef instructor Rosemary Moser for Rutland Area Farm and Food Link.
Dear Rutland Area Farmers and Community Members,
As the sun rises earlier and sets later, with the trees in bloom and the spring flowers putting on their best show I’m becoming more and more anxious to get out into the fields and play in the dirt. When I started at RAFFL last summer in July RAFFL’s Glean Team was in full swing. I was able to jump right into in-field gleans alongside the former coordinator Julie and become acquainted with Rutland’s unique and abundant agricultural community. It took a couple of weeks but by August I felt confident in locating farms, harvesting their bounty, and being able to mindfully distribute this produce across the county of my new home.
Once October ended and the trees changed gleaning drastically slowed down. I was relieved to be able to have more time to myself outside of work and explore the great state of Vermont, while still gleaning sweet potatoes, winter squash and cabbage. However, as winter settled in and I began spending little to no time in the field and all of my time in the office I began to get antsy. All winter I daydreamed of being surrounded by corn fields, drowning in tomatoes, and the never ending supply of summer squash and zucchini.
Now that it’s May and Rutland’s Farmer’s Market has moved back outdoors its finally time for Glean Team to get back into the swing of things.
When I think about the summer of 2017 I’m can’t help but get excited. I’m so looking forward to partnering with community organization’s such as BROC’s Feed the Freezer and the Health Care Share hosted by the VFFC. Collaborating with these folks to lightly process surplus gleaned crops and distribute them to our community is a lofty goal but doable when partnering with organizations who are passionate and knowledgeable. I can’t wait to host gleans at our 24 participating farms and enjoy the beauty of this region’s landscape alongside our volunteers. Most of all I can’t wait for deliveries, where I get to visit with the recipients of gleaned produce and share my favorite recipes and learn from others how they use these gorgeous veggies to feed their families.
Gleaning is hard work but when working for an organization whose main focus is supporting community farmers while educating community members on the benefit of eating local; the days go by fast and I’m left feeling motivated to continue this important work.
The Financial Administrator is responsible for providing support to RAFFL’s Executive Director with financial management as well as other organizational needs necessary to ensure efficiency in a small, busy and friendly non-profit. This is a part-time, year-round hourly position, requiring between 15 to 20 hours/week with potential to grow into a full time position with additional responsibilities.
To apply send resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Financial Administrator
Position Open until Filled
RUTLAND AREA FARM AND FOOD LINK (RAFFL) WILL CONSIDER ALL JOB APPLICANTS ON MERIT WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE, RELIGION, COLOR, SEX (INCLUDING PREGNANCY, GENDER IDENTITY, AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION), PARENTAL STATUS, NATIONAL ORIGIN, AGE, DISABILITY, FAMILY MEDICAL HISTORY OR GENETIC INFORMATION, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, MILITARY SERVICE, OR OTHER NON-MERIT BASED FACTORS.
By CATHERINE TWING of the Rutland Herald
The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link aims to teach local residents how to find, use and enjoy locally sourced produce.
One of RAFFL’s main programs, The Everyday Chef, meets people where they are to teach skills and share the joy of cooking. Grace Davy is RAFFL’s coordinator for Everyday Chef, or EDC, and leads cooking workshops at a variety of organizations in Rutland County.
“They’re educational cooking workshops, trying to empower people to make good food choices which can lead to good choices in life,” Davy said.
EDC has workshops open to the public at the Godnick Adult Center in Rutland, as well as private sessions at nonprofit groups and community organizations such as the Serenity House in Wallingford.
“ I try to keep things under an hour,” Davy said. “We always chop vegetables; first thing we do is knife skills. Being able to chop with a knife is a wonderful empowering thing to do.”
More than 50 percent of 2016 participants say they cut more vegetables now that they’ve learned how to do so properly, she said.
Davy will teach two series for the public in the coming months at the Godnick Center — Cooking for One and The Family that Cooks. Each workshop costs $5 or $10 to attend, and participants are required to sign up in advance on the RAFFL website. The Cooking for One series teaches the pleasures of cooking for one, and ways to stretch ingredients that might spoil.
The Family that Cooks series will be about familyfriendly meals like pizza, grilling, spring rolls or pretzels. The pretzel workshop scheduled for May 6 is already full and the others are filling up fast.
“ I can show families (cooking) is just as enjoyable as watching TV; making spring rolls together or pretzels,” she said.
Davy loves using vegetables in every meal, including those where vegetables are not usually found. “You can bet we’ll be putting vegetables in those pretzels,” she said. “It’s a RAFFL thing. Tomatoes pureed, and kneaded into the dough with some spinach. A beet in a brownie doesn’t make it healthier, but it kicks it up a notch.”
She focuses on making things nutritious rather than healthy.
“ Healthyiskindof loaded,” she said. “ You just never know. It’s very ambiguous to me. Nutritious means that you get the biggest bang out of your buck, and it’s good for you.”
Davy asks the host location to provide the ingredients and space, and she does the rest. April Cioffi at the Rutland City Recreation and Parks Department said she’s enthusiastic about the opportunities the workshops bring the community. The Rec Department runs the Godnick Adult Center.
“It’s a nice opportunity for families,” Cioffi said, adding that she was excited about the session for children coming up.
She hopes to plan more workshops with RAFFL for the fall and winter and find ways to attract more older community members.
“It benefits the community members whether kids or adults, and shows it is not that challenging to be able to cook healthy meals with simple local ingredients,” she said.
In addition to workshops, Davy has a PEG-TV show, “Local Farmer, Everyday Chef,” in which local farmers talk about how to cook with local products.
Davy gets many of her ingredients through RAFFL’s Farm Fresh Connect, an online marketplace which allows residents, organizations and businesses to order food from local farms. Trucks deliver to pick-up locations throughout Rutland County.
Farm Fresh Connect offers produce, eggs, meat, dairy and prepared foods, as well as items like locally made dog treats or honey, making it possible for people to get local products from a variety of farms without having to travel.
RAFFL also arranges for organizations to receive surplus produce from local farmers. Davy likes to do workshops at locations that receive gleaned produce to show what they can do with what they receive.
“Farms have lots of stuff growing and they want to get things harvested,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll have people come out and help them harvest everything, and then those people can take home a certain percentage.”
Photo by ROBERT LAYMAN of the Rutland Herald
Six-year-old Addis Pyles, of Danby, works hard on a bike-powered blender to make a smoothie while McKenna Hayes holds a lid on it. Hayes, the farm-to-school procurement coordinator for Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, helped kids make smoothies all afternoon at the Earth Day celebration Wednesday at the Vermont Farmers Food Center.
Join RAFFL, NOFA-VT, and a diverse group of Rutland & Bennington County Farms for our regional C.R.A.F.T. Program - The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training.
What is C.R.A.F.T.?
- A 7-part workshop series for aspiring and beginning farmers of all ages seeking meaningful mentorship from farmers
- A networking opportunity with other apprentices and mentor farmers in the region
- Workshop topics this year include mushroom cultivation, cover cropping, crop planning, marketing, and more.
- Workshops are FREE, and include farm tour, training session, followed by a potluck!
- Receive a CRAFT Certificate and resource manual from RAFFL and NOFA-VT apprentices by attending4 of the 7 workshops
- You do not have to be an apprentice on one of the host farms in order to participate
To sign up or for more information - Contact Mara Hearst, Farmer Services Advisor
The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link | www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/farmer
(802) 417-1528 x 4 | email@example.com
Click on the flyer below to open
In the past couple weeks, two new local producers have joined Farm Fresh Connect as vendors. McKenna Hayes, our Farm Fresh Connect Manager has been trying to diversify the online local food market with an assortment of products to offer customers year round. She identifies gaps in the our online food market and tries to recruit producers in Rutland and Bennington Counties who have products that will fill those gaps. Filling these food gaps ultimately increases access to fresh, local products for customers as well as provides a year round market for producers in which they receive fair prices for their products.Read More
Dutchess Farm, a 5 acre vegetable farm, has an immediate opening for an enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated individual to fill a full time, year round Lead Farmer position. This is an excellent opportunity to learn all aspects of vegetable farming with people who not only love farming but also enjoy life off of the farm.
Located in Castleton & Poultney Vermont, Dutchess Farm is a tight knit, family farm that has been in business since 1986. We grow a variety of produce for our CSA members & wholesale accounts. We are known for our garlic, herbs, greens, sweet peppers, tomatoes and more. We use cover crops extensively and grow with organic inputs. More information is available on our website at Dutchessfarmvt.com.
The lead farmer's primary role will be to participate in all aspects of the garden operation. This includes, but is not limited to:
Assist owners in the planning & layout of the garden
· Work with owners to develop weekly and daily schedules such as planting, harvest, watering, pest control
· Work with owners to create schedules and applications for organic pest control, fertilization, soil amendments
· Manage a small crew and weekly volunteers to help them successfully complete daily tasks both inside greenhouse & out in the field
· Determine produce available for weekly shares and wholesale accounts
· Share weekend responsibilities with the owners on a mutually agreed schedule
· Co-Manage greenhouses year round
· Set up drip irrigation
· Run tractor, tillage & weeding equipment
An ideal candidate will possess the following skills and experience:
· Experience in vegetable farming, possibly in a managerial role
· Attentiveness to precision and detail
· Team player; adaptable & collaborative
· Ability to perform labor-intensive tasks
· An interest in agriculture and local foods
· Ability to lift 50lbs
· Mechanical aptitude
· Familiarity with organic farming standards is a plus
COMPENSATION & PERKS:
· This position is paid hourly, depending on experience & performance
· Great produce & local foods
· Housing is not available with this position
Contact Dutchess Farm at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 468-5893 to apply.
This year marks the 10th annual Poultney Earth Fair on April 12th from 2-5pm. RAFFL is teaming up with Marble Valley Grows to host a table on the importance of local fresh food and increasing outdoor activity. We will have smoothie bikes, in which we will be incorporating local veggies from our Farm Fresh Connect service. We will be stressing the importance of real vs processed foods through having a healthy food pledge for kids!
We hope you will join us on April 12th to celebrate our planet's sustainability.
Here at RAFFL, volunteers are the heart of our efforts. For over 10 years our volunteers have helped to fulfill our mission to build connections that grow a strong agricultural economy and healthy community. They allow us to reach out to our community through helping with events, gleaning, Locally Grown Guide distribution and more!
As we enter into April we are preparing for the arrival of our new Locally Grown Guides! We have 22,000 guides, which we distribute around central and southern Vermont and parts of New York. These guides help us to spread knowledge of local farmers to those in our area of the Northeast. Help us promote local agriculture and business through distribution of the guides! We need guides throughout Bennington, Rutland, Middlebury, and other areas! In order to distribute you just need a vehicle and a few hours of available time. You can pick up guides at our office located in downtown Rutland. Please sign up here if you are interested and let us know which locations and dates you are available to help us deliver.
By Catherine Twing of the Rutland Herald
In order for the next generation of farmers to be successful, young farmers must be trained in both agriculture and business.
The Youth Agriculture Individual Development Account Program is a UVM Extension program that offers just this type of training, as well as a leg up on saving money. Individuals ages 14 to 21 with at least one year of experience managing income from a farm or food business are eligible for the year-long experience.
“It’s about financial education, forming a cohort of young farmers, connecting the farmers with technical resources: people, or funding, or information,” said Liz Kenton, Youth Agriculture Project coordinator at UVM Extension.
Originally funded by a USDA grant when it began in 2012, the program, which can accept eight to 20 participants from Vermont, is now supported by many Vermont businesses and families.
During the year, young farmers work with a mentor and attend workshops while developing a business plan and gaining financial literacy skills. Workshops are held in a central location, with the goal of being accessible for participants. Early sessions teach finance, credit and savings. Later on, the curriculum becomes more specific to the agriculture business.
“One of the top reasons farms go out of business, and something farmers cite most, is business skill and acumen,” Kenton said.
Regardless of their area of expertise, financial knowledge is necessary to a successful farm or food business.
Mentors are required to have six hours of contact with their participant each month to talk about their business plan and work on training.
Kenton said, depending on the participant’s area of interest, a mentor can be a person they are already working with, such as a teacher or 4-H volunteer.
The business plan is fairly standard, with an initial statement, summary of market research, financial data and projections, Kenton said.
“The business plan will be reviewed by anonymous reviewers,” she said. “Reviewers are assigned to one business plan. Once those are approved they are eligible for a double match.”
This “double match” helps newfarmers meet immediate financial goals through an IDA — a matched savings account that helps people of limited means reach financial goals. YAIDA participants save money for one year toward a business-related purchase. In the end, participants’ savings are matched 2-to-1, up to $1,000 — meaning if a participant saves $500, they would have $1,500 to spend.
There are youth IDAs and agriculture IDAs, but this is the only youth agriculture IDA in the country, Kenton said.
YAIDA isn’t the only farm business training program in Vermont, however.
The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link offers several agricultural education and farm business development programs to students and aspiring and established farmers in southern Vermont.
The CRAFT-VT program, which stands for Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, is a national apprentice program that educates farm workers interested in becoming farmers themselves. Apprentices work with farmers in Bennington and Rutland counties to learn about topics ranging from composting to mushroom cultivation, through field trips and workshops.
“If you are interested in agriculture, the best way to learn is to work on a farm, so that program has been a really huge success,” said Mara Hearst, farm business advisor at RAFFL.
She hadn’t heard about YAIDA yet, but was excited about other farm business and agricultural education opportunities for Vermonters. Hearst works with established farmers in Southern Vermont to help them learn new farming techniques, develop business plans and do market research.
“Farmers wear a lot of hats,” Hearst said, explaining many farmers are their own managers, accountants and marketing team, along with the duties of farming.
Mentoring programs and workshops with established farmers are important, because they give education you can’t get doing farmhand duties.
“I went to the University of Vermont, I really wanted to be a farmer, but there were certain things I needed to learn to be a farmer that I couldn’t get by just working on a farm,” Hearst said.
YAIDA applications are due May 10. For information on how to apply, visit http://go.uvm.edu/youth-ag-ida.
Dear Rutland Area Farmers and Community Members,
The Everyday Chef Program (EDC) is in the midst of its’ first fundraising series: Mexican Cooking Classes. This series was launched as a response to our community feedback request for lessons on how to make healthy Mexican food. The series focuses on authentic Mexican meals with fresh ingredients, all made from scratch. Many of our participants are well versed in Mexican culture and seasoned eaters of its cuisine. It has been a pleasure to cook for them. After the first class we all left learning something.
The series was also promoted as an EDC fundraiser as the program is in the final year of grant funding. I have been working to expand the program with more bi-weekly workshops on introductory cooking at a number of partnering organizations around Rutland.
As the Mexican cooking series winds down, I am getting excited for an interactive cooking workshop, Mastering the Kitchen with Chef-Instructor Lisa Fennimore. Fennimore runs the Stafford Technical Center (STC) culinary program and its beloved Dollhouse Restaurant. Mastering the Kitchen is offered in partnership with STC and the workshop will be held in their professional kitchen on Thursday, April 13 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. It is being offered to the community to help make long-term successes in everyday cooking and clean-up. The $25 workshop includes materials fee for each participant, recipes and kits to take home. All participants are entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to the Rutland Area Food Co-op. You can register below this letter.
Additonally, through a partnership with Rutland City Parks and Recreation Dept., EDC is offering two series at the Godnick Center this summer: Cooking for One and The Family That Cooks. Cooking for One offers a variety of workshops on the pleasures of cooking for one and Family That Cooks is an array of family friendly workshops that are enjoyable for both kids and their parents. All of these workshops are only $5 and you get a meal too! It’s the best deal in Rutland.
Finally, the EDC program also has a new PEGTV show Local Farmer, Everyday Chef which offers thrifty ways to eat well and with local ingredients, taught by Rutland area farmers. You can find the first two episodes starring Alchemy Gardens’s Scott Courcelle, and Yoder Farm’s Ryan Yoder.
Thank you for your continued support of the Everyday Chef Program. We hope to see you at our upcoming workshops!
Everyday Chef Coordinator
(802) 417-1528 x 5
By MARIA BUTEUX READE
On Saturday, Feb. 25, we were reminded once again of the invaluable resource we have in our Manchester Community Library. The library hosted “From the Ground Up,” a biennial program that raises awareness of the ways that farms and local food in the Northshire region enhance our community.
I was honored to serve on the event’s planning committee along with Cindy Waters, the library’s adult services and programming coordinator; Liz Ruffa, of Northshire Grows; and Scout Proft, of Someday Farm. The four of us spent three months organizing the day-long symposium, which drew 85 attendees from all over the state. The event was free of charge and could not have happened without the generous contributions of time and talent from a range of community members.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Manchester Community Library for once again opening its doors — and nearly every space within the facility — to host this event. For many guests, this was their first time in our beautiful hall of enlightenment, and they were duly impressed by this community resource. The space accommodated the keynote addresses, break-out discussion groups and a catered luncheon.
We would like to thank our presenters: Jake Claro, program director of Vermont’s Farm to Plate Network; Philip Ackerman-Leist, professor of sustainable agriculture at Green Mountain College; Dale Coppin, of Grateful Hearts; and Jesse Pyles, executive director of Smokey House Center. Mara Hearst, of Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, assisted as well.
The day was truly a collaborative effort, and guests departed with a deeper understanding of the myriad assets our area possesses in terms of programs, people, places and products that keep our community nourished in body, mind and soul.
Photo by JON OLENDER of the Rutland Herald
Grace Davey of the Rutland Area Farm & Food Link, right, and Ryan Yoder of Yoder Farm in Danby are recorded at a cooking show on Wednesday afternoon at PEG-TV in Rutland City.