By Elena Gustavson
Things change, sometimes suddenly, without warning, like that very first snow fall of winter that transforms our landscape overnight. And then there are times when the change is slow, gentle and you wake up one day, realizing things are not quite the same as they were before. Harvest Watch is a bit like the latter.
A handful of years ago, a collection of missives by a local woman, Kristin Smith (a.k.a. Kris), who explored our region’s farmers markets, were printed weekly in the Rutland Herald, but soon the popular column evolved into the more structured Market Watch, a weekly update from Kris about what our local farms were doing and offering to their customers as well as mini profiles about the farmers themselves.
And then things change.
Kris, who worked for a small non-profit, the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), went back to school and rather than let the column disappear, asked Tara Kelly, Executive Director of RAFFL, to take over the reins. In October of 2012, Market Watch became Harvest Watch and the intrepid staff of RAFFL, along with local volunteers and guest writers, began to write weekly articles highlighting the food and farm scene in the Rutland area for Rutland Herald readers.
RAFFL, who recently celebrated its 10th year, has been a strong and vocal advocate for agriculture in Vermont. Starting out as an ad-hoc group of volunteers, RAFFL has grown and changed alongside the agricultural scene in Vermont: building relationships, generating engagement and working, always working, to strengthen connections between our local farms and the Rutland area community. When RAFFL began to write Harvest Watch over three years ago, they took on the responsibility of spotlighting the good work happening in the surrounding agricultural communities and to tell the story of change in our region.
Eventually, and happily, Kris did come back to RAFFL, but rather than write again, she made room for new and veteran writers to contribute every week; editing, suggesting and prodding articles out of us and into the paper. We wrote recipes, shared stories and took pictures, sharing them week after week with you, the readers of the Rutland Herald.
And because change can ALWAYS be counted on, in January, after Kris moved on to new adventures, I took over managing the Harvest Watch column for RAFFL. I manage RAFFL’s Everyday Chef Program, designing, coordinating and conducting hands-on cooking workshops in the area. I also write, manage some of our communications and generally cook – a lot.
So with this, I am re-introducing Harvest Watch to all of you and look forward to building on the good work that everyone before me has done. We are privileged to have such knowledgeable, diverse voices among us and Harvest Watch will continue to be a place that tells the stories that get to the heart of our farms, our food and our community.
So yes, things change, but in our case, it has been a change that we find joyous and heartening as we continue to be a part of the amazing work that happens all around us. We hope you feel the same.
We welcome your suggestions, topic ideas and feedback. Tell us what you want to know and share your stories. Contact me, Elena Gustavson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-417-7831
Elena Gustavson manages RAFFL’s Food, Cooking and Nutrition Program, Everyday Chef. She cooks, she eats and she writes, although not always in that order.
edited version originally published in Rutland Herald, February 2, 2016