Now is not the time to slack
December 17, 2020
It's national maple syrup day!
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Northwoods Apiaries, good, clean honey made by the fabulous Josh, who is mad about bees
Grocers: safety matters
Stores across the state continue to keep safety measures at the forefront. The decisions to limit shopping, tailor shopping hours or number of folks per household all have an impact on stores sales. All these steps are working to keep our safest-state ranking.
As 2020 winds down, it will be interesting to see how store profitability hashes out. PPP loans helped keep many open but with unforeseen expenses to put safety measures in place, (plexi-shields, sanitizing stations, curbside pick-up bins, delivery services, curbside beepers & PPE etc).
Significant decisions have also been made to meet demand. At the Buffalo Mountain Coop they have taken over an adjacent retail space to make super-discounted sale & preorders more readily available & with increased physical distance between shoppers. The Coop is also revisiting a previous idea to move the store. Currently located on the main street of Hardwick, a new location will provide parking, delivery & higher levels of shopper safety. Some might say the store outgrew its space years ago. To find out if a new store is timely, the Coop has hired the Cooperative Development Institute to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study. 
Quote of the Week

"It would be so great to have a
loading dock, or little more accessibility, or at least be able to get to the back of the store."
-Emily Hershberger, GM Buffalo Mountain Coop
Vermont Product Highlights
The treat of the treats! Hurricane Flats Vermont Ruby Red Popcorn. This rarified gem pops up white as a Vermont snowstorm. Perfect to enjoy after a day of shoveling snow! Toss it with melted Ploughgate Artisan Cultured Butter & relish the experience. Available through Food Connects & DSD.
Icehouse Farm, premium producers of grassfed small batch goat milk kefir, cheese & yogurt is farming in natures' image. Their practices reduce pollution, sequester carbon, & increase biodiversity while raising healthy, happy animals. Click on the picture for an excellent 4 second farm video! The farm has put Goshen, Vermont on the map with their husbandry practices that include moving the herd down the road, a sight reminiscent of farming in Switzerland.

They are seeking new store accounts shipping through Farm Connex & are open to other wholesale distributors to extend sales of their products to other NE states.
Goat herder & artist Morgan Beckwith has created fun goatie-inspired swag including the top-selling bandana / farm mask. Available through the Icehouse online store
Vermont Fresh Network offers fundraiser gift boxes with proceeds going toward programs that build our local food economy by enhancing relationships between farmers & chefs. Spread the Vermont love across the country & introduce our products to friends & family.
AR Market in Barre is a new kind of Vermont specialty store tied to the roots of strong Italian traditions. Italians originally came to Barre bringing their world class stone carving skills. From 1890-1940 Italians made up a significant portion of the population. With it came Italian food traditions.
A part of the Vermont Salumi family, AR Market continues the tradition with local foods including the "house-made" prosciutto, cotto, bresaola, lonza, & capocollo along with a line of well known wholesale sausages sold widely throughout Vermont & the region through Black River Produce, Food Connects, Provisions International, & Myers Produce. Looking for a new line of sausage? Contact Pete & stop in the AR Market for old world traditions in the heart of Barre. 
YUM! VT Salumi maple breakfast sausage is perfect for pre-skiing breakfasts. Sold throughout the region available at JJ Hapgood store & cafe in Peru.
December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day! Enjoy sweet syrup from producers large or small
Distribution: demand meet sales
With local foods still selling well, stores are continuing to bring on new lines of products to meet customer demand. This can mean positive turns for producers, a far cry from the uncertainties they felt back in March & April. Our small regional distributors & our expanding food hub network are also benefitting with revenue gains.
Pumpkin Village Foods, an independently owned distributor has routes in northern Vermont selling Vermont products across categories. Current favorites include Local Sweet maple-based soda, Greenwind Farm maple syrup (just in time for December 17th & national Maple Syrup day!). Other specialty producers include Rogers Farmstead dairy products & Vermont Soy.

See if your store is on their route & check out their VT products to help meet local demand. New stores to the PVF routes include AR Market in Barre, Willey’s in Greensboro, & Sterling Market in Johnson (part of the AGNE family).
2020 The Year of Waste
Increase in shipping direct to consumer through producer websites has added costs while expanding or securing new market opportunities. This has led to many businesses seeking alternative shipping options with more sustainable footprints. It has also brought forth the idea of manufacturers tackling the waste stream by assuming costs of disposal/recycling. WAPO has an interesting read on this topic.
An alternative to single-use cardboard shipping is Boox designed to disrupt the waste stream with reusable shipping boxes. Boox has the tagline, "stop sending your customers trash". Boox is a way to ship, return & reuse shipping material. The origami styled box can be sent back flat saving space while building customer loyalty with reduced waste. Fulfillment is simplified & margins are increased as the shipping package is reused.

Vermont businesses that utilize it generally pass the "returnable" cost on to the customer as a sustainability surcharge. Blue Ledge Farm is one farm that has been shipping their cheese to customers across the country in the Boox with great success.
Waste reduction is also part of the business plan of Vanguard Renewables reducing greenhouse gas emissions to lower carbon & mitigate climate change by recycling food waste. 
Super important for farmers

Order your seeds early this year! Covid has impacted seed production & distribution which will add issues of availability for the 2021 season. It is expected that seed sales for home gardeners will again be high next year impacting wholesale availability. Buy early to ensure your seeds!

Looking for BIPOC owned seed companies? Check out the list from Content[ed]
Updated Local Food Definition
Previously, the term “local” applied to food that originated in Vermont
or within 30 miles of the border. The new definition says that “local” and/or “Vermont” unprocessed (raw) fruits & vegetables must be exclusively grown in Vermont. Read the entire announcement including info on processed products. No longer does "Vermont plus 30 miles" apply.

For more information, click here.
(802) 522-6679 
VAAFM has a regular e-news of info &
resources for farmers & interested folks. Find the current issue & sign up here.
Statehouse to Farmhouse
On December 16th, over 100 participants joined Rural Vermont for a lively discussion on a range of agriculture & equity issues via zoom. Legislators shared insights as did farmers & food producers. This was a great turn out! Congratulations to all the Vermonters who showed up to express concerns, solutions, & ideas.
VSJF created You Tube videos to help businesses identify if an advisory board is good for your business. Check out the first in the series, then watch all the others.
Improve your retail operation
Do you carry gateway products? Not sure what they are? Catch Take 5 Episode 6 for details. Farm to Plate Retail Services can help stores re-engage staff, assist with inventory management, & review operations. Need help with your Produce department? Ask yourself these 10 + questions & then follow up with Annie for in store support services.
Is your business listed on the Farm to Plate Food System Atlas
If you are reading Small should be listed! And as a reminder, we are linking some businesses to the Atlas. Is your business listed but perhaps the info you posted is now out of date? Be current with your company’s listing & be sure to update soon!

This resource is used widely to illuminate the businesses & organizations that make up our food system. (Stores, farmers, distributors, specialty food producers, seed companies, social profit agents, etc). 
Contact: Annie H Harlow

Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow
photo credits: Woodstock Farmers Market Hurricane Flats Popcorn;
Leyland Cecco maple syrup warehouse
( for transparency sake- the photo is of the the world's largest maple reserve in Quebec)

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 41 of Covid December 17, 2020