September 2021
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.
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Registration Opening Soon
November 18 & 19, 2021 | Virtual
Join us for this important Farm to Plate Network Gathering as we kick off implementation of the new Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030!

The 2021 Farm to Plate Gathering will be hosted virtually, as it was in 2020. The Gathering will be held on November 18th and 19th, 2021. Registration will be opening soon and we will post details here!

Since the Strategic Plan was released in February we have been redesigning the Farm to Plate Network to engage new members and more effectively work towards the Plan’s new vision and goals. At this Gathering we will explore the new Network structure, hear from a wide variety of presenters about the implementation efforts already taking place, and commit to collective action on the plan’s Priority Strategies.
Vermont Food System Plan Brief Highlight
Issue Brief: Agriculture Literacy & Food Literacy
The Vermont Food System Plan Issue Brief on Agricultural Literacy and Food Literacy describes how people in Vermont understand the labor, resources, and expertise necessary to produce raw agricultural products, and the role this understanding has in leading to a greater appreciation for the value of food and the importance of farmers receiving compensation that matches their costs of production. Vermonters currently gain knowledge about the food system through product marketing, media, people who work in the food system, informal education, and farm visits. Many Vermonters are proud of the state’s agricultural character and open to learning more about farms, while many farmers are eager to increase the agricultural literacy of consumers. Yet, a culture of cheap food exists in the United States that prioritizes low prices at the expense of social and environmental values. Culture is a complex and dynamic system, subject to change as new information, new values, and new frameworks emerge and gain popularity. While knowledge alone will not result in immediate changes to our food system, it is a key ingredient

Key Points:
  • Existing agriculture programs have the potential to expand to reach audiences that have not traditionally participated. Programs that serve youth have the potential to reach family members as well.
  • Experiences that elicit emotional responses such as on farm visits may result in more desired changes in purchasing habits and attitudes about food and farming.
  • Social media campaigns can help people to develop a social identity with the local food economy.
  • Health care providers can support food literacy through nutrition education
  • Specific data about the most effective way to shift Vermont residents’ knowledge related to food and agriculture and potentially affect their purchasing habits is lacking.

Recommendations from the brief to address agricultural and food literacy include prioritizing research that investigates the relationship between food system knowledge and drivers of purchasing decisions, expansion of existing farm and food education programming for adults, state support for collaborative statewide marketing and consumer messaging, and cross-sector relationships to build greater literacy.
Vermont Food System Plan Brief Highlight
Market Brief: College & Hospital Food Procurement
The Vermont Food System Plan Market Brief on College and Hospital Food Procurement describes how Vermont’s colleges, universities, and hospitals, and other health care facilities play a significant role in supporting Vermont’s farm and food sector. They buy over $40 million in food annually, on a consistent and reliable basis, and thus provide an important market opportunity for Vermont farmers and food manufacturers. The cafeterias at these institutions create meaningful and lasting impressions on patients, students, staff, and visitors about how and what to eat. While Vermont hospitals and colleges are recognized as national leaders in the farm to institution movement, and have the potential to do more, they also face real barriers with food safety regulations, labor shortages, and consolidation in the food distribution industry.

Key Points:
  • Health care institutions follow stringent nutritional guidelines, which are easier to meet using pre-packaged foods. Adding fresh local foods adds processes and costs. Vermont producers need more support in understanding college and hospital market opportunities.
  • Hospitals have a legal requirement (i.e., the community benefits program) as well as a moral imperative to spend funds supporting local communities, which can include sourcing and promoting local healthy food to address food insecurity.
  • Fluctuating and seasonal college food service labor is a challenge for training staff to source, prepare, promote, and use of a greater variety of local foods. The seasonality of college food service is also misaligned with availability of some fresh farm products (e.g., summer vegetables.).
  • There are 200 colleges in New England with dining services spending over $100 million in local and regional food per year, representing an even greater market for Vermont producers.

Recommendations include additional state and federal workforce development training funds for food service workers, more convenings and knowledge sharing between producers and institutions designed to help producers assess costs and benefits of selling to institutions, and greater technical assistance to support contracting and supply planning at institutions.
State House to Farmhouse: Legislators Hear from the Farming Community
September 9-13
Join Rural Vermont at the 4th annual State House to Farmhouse. State House to Farmhouse is a series of events held at farms throughout the state. Events are designed as opportunities for farmers, farmworkers, and policy makers to build relationships and engage in rich dialogue about how policy can support a resilient and equitable agriculture that benefits all people, communities, and landscapes. This event is primarily designed as a gathering for farmers, farm workers and Vermont legislators. RSVP encouraged.
Future of Agriculture Commission Public Meeting
Monday, September 13, 6-8 p.m.
This public meeting is for the agricultural community to provide input to the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture. This public input meeting is hosted virtually to allow participation across the state. The Commission is particularly interested in ideas and recommendations from stakeholders on the following questions about how State-level actions can help advance key goals across the sector:

  • What actions and strategies can the State advance to help ensure all Vermonters benefit from healthy nutritious food and a robust local food system?
  • How can the State best fuel agricultural business entrepreneurship, growth, and sustainability, so that Vermont food producers and businesses are profitable across a range of sizes, stages, and business models?
  • How can the State best attract and support the next generation of Vermont farmers?
  • How can the State help strengthen and support the Vermont brand?
  • How can the State work to ensure that Vermont’s agricultural sector is inclusive, diverse, and accessible?

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. There are both online and dial-in options for joining.
Horizon Organics Milk Terminating NE Dairy Farmer Contracts: Support & News
FRSAN-NE Farm Financial Counseling Discussion: Losing the Contract
WHEN: Sep 10, 2021 10:00 AM (VIRTUAL)

The recent news that Danone, the parent company of Horizon Organics, is terminating the contracts of 79 dairy farmers across New England is the latest in a long series of situations where farmers face difficult decisions when the company that they have invested to sell to decides to cut them off. Once limited to chickens and hogs produced under production contracts, these corporate decisions to cut off regions of farmers have now been seen in organic milk, specialty meats, and a series of other products. When a farmer loses a market they have taken on significant debt to serve, there are a series of issues that determine the ability of the farmer to pivot to a new market, a new product, or even keep their home and land.

This discussion group for farm advisors will address specific production, financial and human issues that determine the options available to farmers facing a significant market disruption, including debt load, specificity of equipment, scale of markets and entrepreneurial experience. We will begin with a presentation to set the stage, and then conduct a discussion among experienced farm financial counselors regarding assisting farmers through the loss of contracts. Please note that this discussion will focus on tools and approaches that farm advisors, especially financial counsellors, can use to assist individual farmers through this or similar situations and will not address policy responses or other issues.

The discussion will be started with a 20-minute opening presentation by Scott Marlow of the Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA, drawing on experience serving tobacco, hog, chicken and produce farmers who have faced similar situations. The remaining time will be discussion among service providers, and will provide opportunities for further networking and collaboration.

This workshop is sponsored by the New England Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Program.
Vermont Open Farm Week Recap
This year Vermont Open Farm Week featured on-farm workshops, tastings, tours, and more in August. Vermont Open Farm Week is a collaborative statewide agritourism project organized by members of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network including City Market, DigInVT, Shelburne Farms and the Farm‐Based Education Network, NOFA‐VT, University of Vermont Extension, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Vermont Fresh Network, and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.
Announcing VBSR’s Fall Calendar of Virtual Educational Workshops and Webinars
Creating Employment Culture That’s Post-COVID Relevant
Thursday September 9th from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
 
Marketing of Vermont/Locally Made Goods: An Origin Story
Monday, September 13th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
 
Equitable Recruiting and Retention – two-part series
Thursday, September 16th and September 30th from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
 
Do Good vs. Feel Good: The Truth about ESG Investing
Wednesday, September 22nd from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
 
A Global Pandemic, and the Shift to a More Ethical, Eco-Conscious Consumer: What Brands Can Learn Going Forward
Tuesday, October 5th from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
 
Open Hiring: Expand Your Workforce Through Inclusive Employment
Thursday, October 14th from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
 
Financial Literacy In The Workplace
Tuesday, October 19th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
 
From B to Z: A Deep Dive on B Corp Certification – two-part series
Wednesday, October 20th and November 3rd from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
 
Beyond Anti-Harassment: Focusing on Culture Over Compliance
Thursday, October 24th from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
 
Concepts from Working Bridges: Navigating Economic Diversity in the Workplace
Thursday, November 18th from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
10-Week Virtual Biz Planning Course for Specialty Food Businesses
October 6 to December 15, 2021

Do you have a specialty food business in its infancy? Have you always wanted to start a food business? Has COVID interrupted your existing business and you are pivoting? If so, The Center for Women & Enterprise in partnership with The Center for an Agricultural Economy has a course for you: 10-Week Business Planning Course. This course is intended for new food-related businesses across the state of Vermont and New England! 

Please direct any questions you may have to Lylee Rauch-Kacenski at lylee[at]hardwickagriculture.org
Call for Support: Hoyt Hill Farmstead Feed Fund
Hoyt Hill Farmstead, a local organic dairy farm, that participates in the Farm to Plate Network, has recently experienced devastating events that far surpass the normal hardships of farming. A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Scott & Amber Hoyt with the expenses incurred due to the negligence of others.

Articles For Background:
Drink Up with Eden Ciders to Support the Vermont Fresh Network
For the months of September & October, VFN affiliate sponsor Farrell Distributing is working with Eden Specialty Ciders for a "give back" program to the Vermont Fresh Network. For all 4 packs of Harvest Cider Cans (Peak Bloom, Brut Rosé and Deep Cut) sold retail and at bars and restaurants, Farrell will donate $1 back to the network.
Call for Support: Hurricane Ida Recovery Efforts
There are many organizations and networks responding in different ways and looking for financial support in the Louisiana food systems community right now to help with Hurricane Ida recover efforts.

From Susan Lightfoot Schempf, Co-Director, Wallace Center in New Orleans: Because we all share a commitment to building more just and sustainable farming and food systems, I am sharing a couple of efforts underway to provide immediate relief to small and mid-scale family farmers and address urgent food insecurity in our communities, while also supporting long term recovery and systems change. Below, you’ll also find a list of other amazing work happening in NOLA and surrounding parishes through mutual aid networks. I’m mindful of the compounding crises that so many of our communities are facing right now – floods, the pandemic, wildfires, systemic racism, the list goes on… and our resources and energy are running thin. Thank you in advance for your generosity and solidarity with the people of Louisiana.
Farm to Plate Newsfeed
Food System Events and Workshops
September 10 - November 12, Virtual: Vermont Master Composter Course
September 13-17, Randolph Center: Wetlands Delineation Training
September 13-24, South Burlington: Gas Metal Arc Welding: MIG Advanced
September 18, Waitsfield, Pig Butchery
September 25, South Royalton, On-Farm Poultry Slaughter Workshop
September 25, Bethel, Having a Family Cow
October 9, Waitsfield, Beef Butchery
October 18-22, Williston, Craft Distilling: The Vermont Experience
October 18-29, South Burlington, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding: TIG Basic


Virtual Events and Webinars are Welcome!
Food System Jobs
Pumpkin Village Foods, Delivery Driver
Black Dirt Farm, Hen Wrangler
Black Dirt Farm, Route Operator
Skinny Pancake, General Manager
Vermont Compost Company, Food Residuals Program Manager
Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Positions Available
Vermont Fresh Network, Membership & Communications Manager
Vermont Releaf Collective, Bookkeeper
Farmers To You, Farm Pickup Driver
Vermont Community Loan Fund, Senior Accountant
City Market, Onion River Cooperative, Assistant Front End Manager
Food Connects, Marketing Coordinator
Food Connects, Farm to School Coach

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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
Sarah Danly, Farm to Plate Network Manager
Kelly Nottermann, Communications Director
Beret Halverson, Program Coordinator
Ellen Kahler, Executive Director

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