Autumn is all things apple, all things cheese
Vermont updates for grocers, distributors & producers across all food categories
Week 28 of Covid-19, September 24, 2020
Click "view entire message" at the bottom of the page to see all the content
It takes a region to sell Vermont Food!
Thanks to the Hanover Lebanon Coop staff!
Grocery Nibbles
We take this opportunity in Small Bites to give a major thank you & shout out to the Coop Food Store family also known as the Hanover-Lebanon Coop. Generally, we stick to highlights from VT stores, but we know it takes a region to support our producers. At the coop, Vermont products are sold in every department to customers from both NH & VT as well as folks coming into the busy Upper Valley region. Like so many stores this time of year, ramping up for the holidays takes place NOW. The Coop is onboarding staff for training in merchandising & operations. Product knowledge is part of sales & as regards product knowledge of local products, we all want the new staff to be trained to help encourage sales. Farm to Plate Retail Collection can help stores in training of operations & merchandising.
On another note, in case you hadn't heard, the Coop has created a podcast that features area producers & stories of covid resiliency. We think you will like it! They will be producing podcasts on a regular basis & we will be sharing them as Bites.
We are 28 weeks into covid; the Middlebury Coop is reminding shoppers that their community supported rally for change program will continue indefinitely. With unemployment & economic uncertainty particularly with our small businesses, the Coop knows that people powered philanthropy is important to maintain.
Here is some great news!
Vermont Soy has relaunched its 16 oz retail pack of tofu. Long known as a premium product it is loved by institutional chefs & home cooks. With covid home-cooking still full steam the reintroduction of the retail size is timely.
Distributed through Northshire Grown Direct CSA, available through the statewide food hub network via Farm Connex, & BOL through Black River Produce. Together let's support this covid-pivot to keep sales moving along.
Their food-service bulk tofu is still available for prepared foods departments. Create signature menu tofu recipes like braised tofu with Sugar Bob's Finest Kind Maple Sriracha ( available through Lesser Distribution & this time of year VT peppers are the main ingredient). Buying local tofu for your to-go programs with signature dishes helps VT Soy stay viable. Contact Erin to bring VT Soy into your retail sales or food service.
We are proud of our farmers, food producers & the stores that our products. We love a good shout out, Mount
Mansfield Maple Products wins a Bronze Prize for their Organic Coffee Infused Maple Cream! Does your store carry any 2020 SOFI award winners? Send us a picture of your display & promote them through your various marketing outlets.
Calling all stores: Say CHEESE!

Due to covid we lost the opportunity to sample VT cheese in stores. As foliage season kicks into gear, are you doing enough to promote Vermont cheese such as Boston Post Dairy? Consider bundling VT cheese in semi-sample sizes for leaf peepers to take
our delicacies home. We have amazing world class cheese, let's do our part to make sales as we welcome foliage tourists. Other
merch ideas include dovetailing a spreadable cheese with a crusty bread & an heirloom apple for a "plowman's lunch" or promote North Meadow Farm Farmstead Spread, an absolutely gem of a cheese. Grill crusty bread in olive oil in cast iron, top with the farmstead spread, then layer a pile of sauteed seasonal vegies & you have a San Francisco hipster-style toast dinner! Protein of any type can round it out too.
Farm to Plate has resources designed for store staff training on purchasing local foods, improving merchandising, in-store promotion & operations. The suite of services can also be used by food manufacturers & farmers to better
understand store buyer’s decision making & plethora of variables. We call it The Retail Collection, but really it is much more than that. It is the new home of the Small Bites Archive.
Thomas Dairy is closing down its 99 year old business. Please read the letter from the Thomas family announcing their decision to retire. The Farm to Plate Network wishes all the best to the entire Thomas family.
Industry analysts say the general population is still eating at home, but many are squiggly & ready to be out & about eating at restaurants. In Vermont, we have the benefit of wonderful seasonal products to feature from produce to various cuts of meat. Speaking of meat, this week, Seven Days has a great article on factors impacting barriers, constraints & farm-based decisions getting our local meat to market in a stressful period with covid & increased shopper demand to support local producers.
below photo credit Caleb Kenna
In the US 20o meat plant workers died of covid: resulting in a slap on the wrist to the companies. "Federal regulators knew about serious safety problems in dozens of the nation’s meat plants that became deadly coronavirus hot spots this spring but took six months to take action, recently citing two plants and finally requiring changes to protect workers. Meat plant workers, union leaders and worker safety groups are also outraged that the two plants, with some of the most severe outbreaks in the nation, were only cited for a total of three safety violations and that hundreds of other meat plants have faced no fines." Read the entire article from WAPO.

"I want to put an apple
people have never heard of
in their hands and have them say, 'Oh, I never knew an apple could taste like this.' I want to dazzle them
with the fruit."
-Zeke Goodband Champlain Orchard Manager of 115 varieties of apples & several other fruits
Champlain Orchards in Shoreham has a big year ahead! With over 115 varieties of apples, a new orchard manager, & expansion with the purchase of the Douglas Orchard in Cornwall. Not only that, there are changes to how the apples are grown for more efficient tending & harvesting switching from large & dwarf trees to trellised techniques. This is an exciting time at Champlain as told by 7 Days back in the Spring. The orchard is a must-stop for staycationing & fall apple orcharding. Their full slate of products are available at the farm & through running their own truck routes DSD to stores. Pies, ciders, hard ciders & of course the ubiquitous cider donut. They are part of the Champlain Valley Tasting Trail & are participating in the September 26-30 Blue Cross Blue Shield Apple days.
Managing inventory at Farm Connex a partner with Pumpkin Village Foods expanding local sales!
Pumpkin Village Foods is expanding service in northern Vermont with a new route that covers many independent & cooperative stores. Owner Seth Wolcott-MacCausland is meeting increased demand & hiring new staff to oversee deliveries. The additional route covers Stowe, Middlesex, Montpelier, Cabot, Hardwick, Johnson, Jeffersonville with deliveries every other Monday.
Food producers & distributors build relationships that includes store buyers to expand opportunities for shoppers to buy local. Pumpkin has enhanced their website to help producers find stores & vice versa. Store owners have a handy tool to help them purchase newly introduced products including Rogers Farmstead, Maple City Candy's line of fudge, & All Souls Tortilleria products.
Food producers often ship orders through a local distributor via BOL where cases are picked up & dropped off for a shipping & handling fee. This facilitates distribution to stores in every corner of the state & beyond.

Independent distributors look for every possible efficiency to pick up inventory & in making a delivery route. They also look to provide exemplary service that includes product availability & timely deliveries. Pumpkin Village not only works their own route, they work closely with Farm Connex part of the food hub network & Myers Produce making Vermont products accessible to wider markets including out of state. Store buyers have another reason to buy from our locally owned distributors. 
Upper Valley Produce based in White River Junction crisscrosses the state with its fleet of
trucks. They are both a seller of purchased inventory & a BOL shipper of many products including cheese. In their inventory they are
ready for fall sales of cheese from Vermont Farmstead, Grafton Village Cheese, Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont Creamery, Cabot Creamery, Maplebrook Farm, Blue Ledge Farm, Shelburne Farms, Champlain Valley Creamery, & Blythedale Farm. For stores & farmstand CSAs already buying from UVP, consider these VT cheeses to round out your foliage inventory. 
Local Donut: it is without a doubt donut season & because it is also freshly pressed cider season! Available to stores & CSA's on their distribution routes.
From farmers...
It is now officially "harvest season". (with four season harvest the norm now it’s hard to wrap around this moniker). Apples, potatoes, pumpkins, ginger, turnips, sweet potatoes & every kind of hard winter storage squash. With cold & frost in many parts of the state, brassicas are getting sweeter but it will be a while before the sweetness of cold nights finds Brussels sprouts at their peak. Some growers are happy for the change of season decreasing their farm stand hours as they are at Wilson Herb Farm. That does not mean their inventory is lessened. They are full tilt boogie with herbs, squash & a full selection of value added products including Snug Valley grass fed pork & Babette's Table sausage. Products arrive to their farmstand DSD or often through Myers Produce.
At Full Plate Farm, a CSA serving Windham County, fall crops of cauliflower, beets & kale are pushing ahead past tomatoes, green beans & the last of late season zucchini. The fresh ginger & tumeric are a welcome fall addition to a shopper's order. Fresh ginger is very popular with farmers across the state, with no lack of customers at coops, farmers' markets or in a CSA box. photo credit above: Full Plate Farm young ginger
The nights are longer, the days are shorter & now market channels change.
Farmers' Markets which have successfully navigated a year of pivots, are retooling inside plans. In response to covid, the Burlington winter market downsized to a few outside markets for holiday shoppers with an emphasis on pre-orders. 
Ernesto Méndez, esteemed professor of Agroecology & Environmental Studies at UVM's Department of Plant & Soil Science, will be speaking October 7th at the UCSC Agroecology lecture series.

Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC has trained many Vermont farmers, technical advisers & land-managers in agro-ecology practices. This lecture focuses on The evolution of Agroecology as a practice, a research discipline & a social movement. Ernesto will address agricultural resilience in the face of climate change in the northeast U.S. Register here
23 acres of these beauties! Find out where you can buy Laughing Child sweet potatoes or look at their delivery route. They are taking on new customers!
Laughing Child Farm in Pawlet has been a premium wholesale grower of sweet potatoes since 2012. They are well known beyond the Mettowee Valley for their quantity & quality produce. This year conditions have been dry but the 23 acres of beautifully irrigated sweet potatoes are hitting the market. Running their own distribution across Vermont & into NY, stores & CSA's should reach out to them if in need of sweet potatoes for fall sales. Below photo credit Laughing Child Farm
Women farmers take note!
Coaching is available for your farm-based business through the Women's Ag Network. Three free sessions to improve your business, career, family, &/or finances sign up for the free coaching here
All farmers take note!
CARES Act funding is available for many types of farm operations that are struggling due to covid. Deadlines are fast approaching; please check out the updates & consultation services from VHCB
This & That
Here here: Calling all distributors & DSD sellers. Farm to Plate invites businesses to the Aggregation & Distribution Working Group. Let's all work together to make local food more logistically accessible within the state & the region. For more info & to join us in our virtual meeting Oct 2nd meeting.

3 squares or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) paid out an extra $16M since covid to cover the increased need to feed families. This federal relief bill, pushed by Bernie, provides eligible families with food assistance.

Across the state, farms & restaurants are participating in the Everyone Eats program. Funded by $5M from CARES Act it is highly supported by our federal & state legislators.

VT Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets provides critical information on many topics including grants & services. The current issue has important info. Sign up here to receive it
Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow,

Contact Annie H Harlow
to share your info & seek retailing business resources

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund