March 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.
Vermont Food System Plan Brief Highlight
Major Metropolitan Markets
There are 49 metropolitan areas with a population of 49.4 million people within a six-hour or 330-mile radius from Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. Given the limited population in Vermont, many agricultural business owners rely on regional consumer markets outside of Vermont to sustain their businesses. Many small Vermont businesses have limited capacity to tap into these regional markets, or navigate the complex relationships between retailers, wholesalers, and distributors. They also have limited funds for marketing initiatives and branding. The Vermont brand has some clout in certain metro areas, but further investment could increase consumer interest in Vermont products in other areas such as New York City, Syracuse, Hartford, and Philadelphia. Without increased financial support for marketing efforts and technical assistance for small businesses, access to these metropolitan markets will be limited, see stagnation or begin to shrink in size.

Key Points:
  • Customers in major metro areas have high product quality and customer service expectations that may be hard for small producers to meet.
  • Businesses should work with distributors whose scale matches the scale of their businesses, so they can provide appropriate support services.
  • Vermont businesses have limited capacity to take advantage of grants or assistance programs that require staffing and additional paperwork to tap into.
  • Alternative methods of distribution should be explored, such as direct to consumer models or growth in direct to consumer sales, and convenience items such as pre-cut vegetables or ready-to-eat meals.
  • Product volume must meet a certain threshold to warrant the cost of freight delivery to metropolitan areas, and some Vermont producers do not meet that volume.
  • Vermont businesses found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, strong online presence and communications and marketing strategy can be helpful during difficult times.

Recommendations Include:
  • Develop an intensive, structured, competitive, technical assistance and mentorship program to further increase the business acumen of successful Vermont food and beverage businesses. Include topics such as cost of production, processing, marketing, consumer trends etc.
  • Conduct a market study to identify why there are perceived barriers to the cost of production in Vermont versus elsewhere in New England.
  • Small grants should be provided to businesses for in-store demos through the Trade Show Assistance Grant program, through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.
  • Create a consumer affinity for Vermont Products and tourism through increased marketing funds to VAAFM and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, through the creation of Vermont marketing promotions in prominent public spaces in metro areas.
F2P Presents the Retrospective 2010-2020
to the Joint Senate Agriculture and House Agriculture and Forestry Committees
On February 23, 2022, Farm to Plate Team presented the Farm to Plate Retrospective 2010-2020 to joint Senate Agriculture and House Agriculture and Forestry Committees. The Retrospective is currently being finalized and will be released in pdf form this month. We will be sure to include it in next month's food system news as well as be available on the Farm to Plate website.
F2P Call for Researchers on
Transportation Barriers and Food Security
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund seeks contractors to research transportation-related barriers to healthy, local food access in Vermont. Two RFPs are available. The Community Input on Transportation Barriers to Food Security in Vermont contractor will create a report on transportation-related barriers to healthy food access in Vermont, through interviews with people in specific priority populations who have experienced or do experience transportation barriers to accessing healthy and/or local food. The Transportation Barriers to Food Security Research contractor will undertake secondary research, and interviews with professional stakeholders, and produce a report summarizing findings, potential solutions, and recommendations for the next steps. One scope of work focuses on the expertise of affected individuals, while the other focuses on written and professional informants. Contractors may respond to both RFPs if interested.

Welcoming our New Farm to Plate Network Manager Kelly Dolan this Month
We are super excited to announce that Kelly Dolan is joining our team at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund as the new Farm to Plate Network Manager. Kelly will start full-time mid-March, and our current Network Manager Sarah Danly will be with us on a part-time basis till the end of March to help Kelly with her transition. Kelly will be joining us from UVM Extension where she has been the Program Coordinator for the Migrant Education Program. Along with working with the Migrant Ed Program since 2016, Kelly brings experience in education, operations, and two stints in the Peace Corps focused on sustainable agriculture and food security in Panama and Guatemala. Give a warm welcome to Kelly, and we’re extremely fortunate to still have Sarah with us for the remainder of this month!

- Jake Claro, Farm to Plate Director
Organic Valley Launches Effort to Save Organic Family Farms in Northeast
Organic Valley announced today the single largest effort to save small organic family farms in the Northeast following news last year that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery would be terminating contracts with more than 130 family farms. Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative since its founding in 1988, is offering 80 small, Northeast organic family farms a market for their dairy through a letter of intent.
The Challenge Starts Soon. Register Today!
Food Solutions New England is hosting the 8th version of the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge ]April 4-24, 2022. In 2021, nearly 9,000 individuals and 900 officially participating organizations joined our shared journey of learning, expanding our knowledge, and charting a course of action to dismantle racism in our food system and our world.

The 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge is simple! You commit to deepening your understanding of, and willingness to confront, racism for twenty-one consecutive days in April of 2021. The Challenge will raise your awareness, change your understanding and shift the way you behave.
Interested in Joining a F2P Network Group?
If you haven't already, please take a few minutes to fill out our survey regarding you/your organization’s interest in participating in the new Farm to Plate Network groups – this will be extremely helpful as we convene new groups and transition from our current website to a new site in 2022.
Maple Open House Weekends
March 19-20 & 26-27, 2022
Maple Open House Weekend (this year TWO weekends!) is Vermont’s most anticipated spring event and a celebration of the current season’s crop. Traditional Open House activities include sampling syrup; tours of the woods; pancake breakfasts; horse-drawn sleigh rides; sugar-on-snow parties; and plenty of maple products to taste including maple donuts, maple cotton candy and maple creemees.
Investing in Food, Forest, and Farm Economy
Since its formation in August 2012, the Working Lands Enterprise Board has awarded over $7.3 million in grant funds to over 200 Vermont working lands businesses, leveraging more than $11 million in matching funds. Read the full 2021 Impact Report to visit with the priorities of the Working Lands Enterprise Board, and the stories of the grantees this past year.
Registration Now Open!
The conference will be held at the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain Hotel in downtown Burlington and online. Registration is available for one-day or all three days. Early registration rates are available through March 29, 2022, so act now!

Apply for a Scholarship
Scholarships are available to help farmers, students, and others who may need help with registration fees and travel expenses to attend. Scholarship applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until the scholarship funding runs out. Apply early for the best chance of receiving funding! Click here to apply.
Showcase Your Products at the Big E
Apply to join the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets at the Vermont Building at the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) this September. They are looking for VT food and retail businesses to help showcase the best of what Vermont has to offer.

Application Deadline: April 1, 2022
Interested in becoming Vermont Farm to Plate sponsor?
Farm to Plate Newsfeed
Food System Events and Workshops
Food System Jobs
Black Dirt Farm, Crops Manager
Black Dirt Farm, Compost Operator
Black Dirt Farm, Route Operator
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Summer Camp Instructors
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Summer Production Crew (Produce)
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Vegetable Crew
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Produce Processing Area Lead
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Full Season Vegetable Production Lead
Center for an Agricultural Economy, Production Kitchen Team
Center for an Agricultural Economy, Farm Product Delivery Driver
Chittenden Solid Waste District, Associate Director of Operations
Elmore Roots Nursery, Customer Service and Sales Manager
Farm First, Resource Coordinator
Farm and Wilderness Foundation, Farm Internship
Farmers to You, Customer Service Lead
Field Stone Farm, Veggie Production Team Member
Food Connects, Marketing Coordinator
Green Mountain Farm to School, Development and Communications Manager
Green Mountain Compost, Office Attendant
Intervale Center, Development Director
Intervale Center, Gleaning Coordinator
Mad River Taste Place, Cheesemonger/Retail Leader
Meach Cove Farms, Project Coordinator
Montpelier Parks & Trees Department, Feast Farm Camp Coordinator
New Village Farm, Farm Camp Counselors
Philo Ridge Farm, Barista
Red Wagon Plants, Retail Team
Salvation Farms, Administrative Coordinator
Trenchers Farmhouse, Sous Chef
V Smiley Preserves, Head Jammer/Production Lead
V Smiley Preserves, Operations/Finance Manager
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Agriculture Development Specialist
Vermont Compost Company, Fulfillment Officer
Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), Agricultural Loan Assistant
Vermont Foodbank, Community Kitchen Academy
Vermont Packing House, Meat Cutter Butcher
White River Land Collaborative, Project Coordinator

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

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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 3 Pitkin Court, Suite 301E, Montpelier, VT 05602