January 2022
Farm to Plate is Vermont’s food system plan being implemented statewide to increase economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector and improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters.
Get Involved with Farm to Plate in 2022
The Farm to Plate Network has created a new network structure built around the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030 and we want you to be involved in your state’s food system. For more information on the new Network structure, watch Farm to Plate Director Jake Claro’s opening remarks at the 2021 Farm to Plate Gathering here. The Farm to Plate Network is a self-governing collaborative made up of farm and food system businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, funders, educational institutions and community groups all working together to implement the 2021-2030 Plan. Members will convene through Network Wide Exchanges, Priority Strategy Teams, Topic Exchanges and Communities of Practice.

REQUEST: Please take the time to fill out our survey regarding you/your organization’s interest in participating in our new Network groups – this will be extremely helpful as we convene new groups and transition from our current website to a new site Q1, 2022: https://bit.ly/F2PNewNetworkSurvey.
Farm to Plate Network-Wide Exchange
Thank you to everyone that was able to join us for the first Vermont Farm to Plate Network-Wide Exchange December 16, 2021!

The Vermont Farm to Plate Network-Wide Exchanges will convene periodically throughout the year so that the entire Network can listen and share updates across topic areas, strategy teams, and communities of practice. In general, these meetings will provide people with the ability to be in touch with developments happening across the state and also at the federal level.
Vermont Food System Plan Brief Highlight
Health Care and Child Care Issue Briefs
The Vermont food system plan issue briefs on health care access describes the connection between access to health care and the viability and quality of life for farmers and farmworkers. Farm families and workers have difficulty accessing health insurance, health care and, child care due to high costs, and limited access to and availability of rural providers.

Currently, in Vermont the cost of health insurance is a major barrier to farming full-time, farming long-term, or hiring non-family employees. Farmers that rely on Medicaid must ensure their income remains low enough to continue to qualify for benefits. Medical debit and underinsurance are also common due to high premiums. In Vermont, 99% of Latinx farm employees are ineligible for health insurance, and those that are eligible for Medicaid face numerous barriers to applying.

Key Points:
  • The health insurance program in the US is expensive and hard to navigate, and farm and health care service providers lack understanding of farm-specific health care.
  • Rural communities are more vulnerable to the rising costs of health care, as there are fewer Vermont Health Connect (VHC) plans and providers in those areas.
  • Affordable and accessible health care for farmers could incentivize more farm families to move to Vermont.
  • VHC and Medicaid options could be increased which would decrease the need for farmers to find work off-farm, and would allow more access for farmworkers. This could also strengthen the workforce by reducing turnover and increasing skilled labor.

Recommendations Include:
Having the Vermont legislature prioritize the creation of a publicly funded universal health care system for all Vermont residents; Agricultural groups in Vermont should work together to influence the Green Mountain Care board on health insurance rate hikes and hospital budgets; VHC employees should be trained to work directly with farmers to provide more resources and services in this area; and Vermont should devote more resources to migrant and immigrant farmworkers and their advocates to address disparities in access to health care services.

Access to Childcare
Access to childcare is fundamental to farm economics. The Vermont Food System plan issue brief on Childcare access makes the point that Vermont families may spend up to 30% of their annual income on child care while almost two-thirds of Vermont infants and one-third of Vermont toddlers and preschoolers do not have access to licensed care programs. Fluctuating profits margins on farms also make it difficult for farm families and workers to afford off-farm care, and many also need scheduling flexibility due to the non-traditional work schedules on farms.

Key Points:
  • Lack of providers, distance from providers, cost, and scheduling are key issues for rural farm families in Vermont. Farmworkers, particularly seasonal, migrant and, undocumented workers also face language, transportation, and safety barriers to accessing child care.
  • There is lack of expertise and training in service providers to support farmers around child care, and family scheduling, and no accounting of how access to child care can affect the farm’s structure and management.
  • There are not enough early childhood educators to meet the current needs for young children. Vermont needs 2,090 more educators to meet this gap.
  • Farmers who are able to access childcare subsidies have better economic outcomes and report better personal and family health, however they are currently underused by rural families.

Recommendations Include:
Conducting further research into how child care cost, availability, acceptability, and access effects farm structure and management, as well as integrating care work into farm planning; Training service providers to share information about tax benefits and child care assistance programs with farmers; Vermont DCF could simplify and expand the criteria for child care subsidies to make them accessible to farmers; and Universal high-quality childcare should be ensured for all families living in Vermont by investing in the necessary infrastructure, program expansion in underserved areas, and professional development for early childhood educators.
Join the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the VT Grass Farmers Association and an enthusiastic group of farmers and agricultural resource providers for a deep dive into topics specific to raising pasture-based livestock in the Northeast at the 26th annual Grazing and Livestock Conference. The three day conference highlights plenty of new ideas to take home and ruminate on as you plan for the 2022 season.

The cost to attend the virtual 2022 conference starts at $20.
Agroforestry Support Opportunity
from Interlace Commons
Interlace Commons are seeking farms and institutions interested in developing alley cropping, forest farming, and silvopasture. Farms will receive two years of free technical services and a robust planting budget. If you're interested in applying, please email meghan.giroux@gmail.com.

Application Deadline: January 30, 2022
Local dairy farmers talk about their experience in the recently released “Vermont Dairy Farmer Voices” report. The “Farmers’ Voices” project consisted of two dozen interviews conducted by Abbie Corse, an organic dairy farmer from Whitingham, John Roberts, a farmer from Cornwall and the director of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, Ginny McGinn, Executive Director of the Center for Whole Communities, and Gil Livingston, former President of the Vermont Land Trust. Susannah McCandless from the Center for Whole Communities assisted with the interviews. Interviewees were selected with the advice of the project’s farmer-advisers Marie Audet, Paul Doton, and Brian Kemp, and from farmers who participated in an earlier effort, the Vermont Dairy and Water Collaborative. In developing the interview roster, we worked hard to include broad geographic representation, a mix of dairy production types and scales, and an age-gender-race balance.
For Olivia's Croutons Founder, Business Coaching is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Oliva’s Croutons is a Vermont success story by many measures, but owner Francie Caccavo has traveled a long and often challenging road from entrepreneur to business owner. “It took a while for me to understand that a business can struggle and still succeed,” says Caccavo, who found support from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund business coaching program. “When you’re in the struggle it’s hard to see a path to success, but someone else who has been in a similar spot can see it for you. It pulls you up.”
Save the date for our 40th Annual NOFA-VT Winter Conference, February 17th - March 5th. Collectively dream the agricultural future we long for, and learn together about the seeds to plant today to grow the fruits of tomorrow. The conference will feature online learning and sharing, as well as in-person connection and winter fun.
Interested in becoming Vermont Farm to Plate sponsor?
Farm to Plate Newsfeed
Food System Events and Workshops
Food System Jobs
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Lead Educator
Food Connects, Marketing Coordinator
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Sales Manager
Diggers' Mirth Collective Farm, Farm Crew
Center for an Agricultural Economy, Local Food Production Position
Common Roots, Production Farm Manager
New Village Farm, Business Manager
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Agriculture Development Specialist
Vermont Community Loan Fund, Business Advisor
The University of Vermont Extension, Administrative Assistant
Chittenden Solid Waste District, Hazardous Waste Operator/Latex Paint Recycler
Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), Food and Farm Program - Project Lead & Crew Leader Positions
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, Farm to Plate Network Manager
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Director of Agriculture
Vital Communities, Interim Project Manager

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Vermont Food System News is published by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
3 Pitkin Court, Montpelier, VT 05602

Jake Claro, Farm to Plate Director
Kelly Nottermann, Communications Director
Beret Halverson, Program Coordinator
Becka Warren, Food Security Plan Project Manager
Ellen Kahler, Executive Director

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