Seeds For Change

A Boost to the Butchers

Written by Julia Shipley | December 01, 2009

Tony Brault and Gary Barnes

In March 2009, in an attempt to help strengthen Vermont’s meat-processing infrastructure, the Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program awarded $40,000 in grants to four facilities. For recipient Tony Brault, it was perfect timing; he had been planning to add on a spiffy retail area to his slaughterhouse. But for grantee Gary Barnes, who runs a meat market, the amount he was awarded would barely begin to cover the cost of adding on a separate processing area for wild game, so as of this writing, he had not collected the grant funds. Nevertheless, the grants helped both of these meat facilities in northern Vermont, with and without funding, and here’s how.

Getting Everyone to the Table

Brattleboro’s Community Food Security Project

Written by Angela and Richard Berkfield | September 01, 2009

Liz Sheehan of the Community Food Security Project and Amy Frost from Circle Mountain Farm at the Westgate Farmers’ Market

Back in January, as my husband and I searched for a place to live in Middlebury, we had big plans to create a summer vegetable garden. But it quickly became clear that housing in town with gardening space wouldn’t be easy to find. Apartments that advertised a “big yard” always seemed to have a “scruffy lawn,” and few landlords reacted well to my desire to dig out a portion of that lawn to plant vegetables.

The Challenges of Sourcing Locally

Written by Elena Gustavson | August 22, 2014

The chalkboard at DownStreet Eats, Cabot

The sun is up, the kids are stirring, and as I sit at my kitchen counter in Cabot with a cup of strong black coffee in hand, I review my list: 7 a.m.,Kids to School; 8 a.m., Craftsbury; 9 a.m., Hardwick; 9:45 a.m., East Hardwick; 10:30 a.m., Kitchen.

Good Bye Rubarb Pie

Written by Janisse Ray | December 01, 2007

Barn in winter

Before I moved here, I always thought of Vermont as Holstein cows dotting a green rolling hillside, dairy barn in the middle ground. Say the word “Vermont” and I could smell maple syrup. Before I ever set foot in the Green Mountains, I associated them with food. Good food. And now, as I prepare to leave Vermont, my home for the past three and a half years, it is food I will miss.

Small Acts Bring Permaculture Out of the Backyard and into the Community

Written by Bonnie North | August 17, 2016

Bare root trees ready to plant

On August 28, 2011, when Tropical Storm Irene hit parts of Vermont with almost 10 inches of rain, the waters of the Saxtons River rose up in an uncontrollable torrent of historic proportions.

Five Years of Funding Farms

Written by Caitlin Gildrien | November 25, 2015

Bread and Butter Farm

Early on a January morning in 2011, Pete Johnson of Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury heard a funny noise. When he looked out his window, he saw his barn engulfed in flames.

Safe Ground

Written by Katie Ross | September 01, 2008

Smokey House Center; Natasha is third from left

Smokey House Center is not your run-of-the-mill farm by any means. And Natasha was the first to teach me this in no uncertain terms. A fight makes it sound too violent. A confrontation sounds too technical. I’d call it a challenge. My run-in with Natasha was definitely the first big challenge I faced as a crew leader at Smokey House. She was the first kid to test me, the first to stand her ground. I’m pretty sure she didn’t like me at first, and when Natasha doesn’t like you, you better watch out.

A Missing Link in the Local Food Chain

Written by Bill Fosher | March 01, 2008

Flock of sheep

In good weather, the drive between southwestern New Hampshire and the Capital District of New York state can be breathtakingly beautiful: there’s the view from Hogback Mountain, the wind farm in Searsburg, the Bennington obelisk. But at 4 a.m. during a December snow storm, while pulling a trailer loaded with lambs over a foggy two-lane road, the drive is tedious at best and can be downright hairy.

Why Mid-Scale Farming Is Important in Vermont

Written by Ela Chapin and Liz Gleason | May 23, 2014

Bags of veggies from Pete's Greens

Vermont’s vibrant farm economy is made up of all sizes, scales, and types of farms—something that’s beneficial, because a high diversity of scale and business model is critical to improving the sustainability and resiliency of our food system. Yet within Vermont (and outside Vermont) there is a particular fondness for the smallest scale farms.

The Thorny Issue of Farmer Pay

Written by Mari Omland | February 21, 2014

Cartoon by Anna Svagzdys

At a wedding last summer, I sat next to a neighbor who buys her Thanksgiving turkey from our farm. She described her daily drive-by dose of the farm, and her ritual of slowing down to see where the goats, pigs, and poultry had been moved. She said, “I’ve gotten to the point I think I should pay a toll to pass your place!” I joked, “In order for us to survive it might come to that!”  The conversation awkwardly fell off. But it has preoccupied me since.

Students Harvest the Future at Local Colleges

Written by Kristen A. Schmitt | July 03, 2013

Farming with draft horses at Sterling College

The agriculture renaissance is upon us. With the growing demand for agriculture graduates, Vermont colleges are leading the way with a variety of agriculture and food-related degrees aimed at preparing students for one of the fastest growing green job fields in the United States. Organic farming, sustainable food systems, nutrition, and animal health are taking center stage during this unique era when environmental and sustainable issues span the globe.

The Return of the Root Cellar

Written by Chris Chaisson | June 26, 2013

Storage barrels

The globalized food chain that Americans have increasingly relied on for over 50 years has begun to show its weaknesses—and inevitable failure. There are many weak links in the chain, but the weakest are storage and distribution. These aspects of modern food production contribute significantly to energy consumption: fossil fuel is required to ship food from far away, to keep food fresh during long–distance transport, and to store food over a long period of time. How can we opt out of this destructive system?

Consumers as Coproducers

NOFA Vermont’s executive director reflects on 20 years of involvement in the state’s local organic food movement

Written by Enid Wonnacott | December 01, 2008

NOFA-VT Members of the staff and board gather to celebrate over 30 years

People frequently ask me: Why is Vermont’s local food system so strong? Of course, it is difficult to name one reason. Is it the quality of our farmers who steward the land, mentoring each other and increasing in numbers annually? Is it the localvore movement, which is building a social food and farm network among neighbors and an organizing structure that addresses the barriers to greater local food production? Is it the 100 schools in Vermont that are integrating farm and food lessons into their curricula and partnering with farms to serve local foods in their cafeterias?

Springing Ahead

Written by Chris Turner | September 01, 2008

Spring Lake Ranch

Spring Lake Ranch is a farm-based therapeutic community in Cuttingsville, 10 miles from Rutland. Its mission is to help people with mental health and substance abuse issues find value and focus in their lives, primarily through community living and working the land. The work program makes up the core of our daily activities, and is divided into Farm, Gardens, Woods, and Shop. Residents come to the ranch for an average stay of six months, although there are no prescribed limits.

An Interview with Tom Stearns

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 2008

Tom Stearns with his daughters, Ruby and Cora.

High Mowing Organic Seeds is a thriving Vermont company that sells to gardeners and farmers around the country. In January, High Mowing became one of four plaintiffs in a lawsuit that asks the federal government to postpone the release of genetically modified (GMO) sugar beets until a more rigorous environmental analysis is done. (Sugar beets are used to make sugar; table beets are the ones we eat.) Tom Stearns, founder and president of High Mowing Seeds, talked with Local Banquet about his company’s decision to join the lawsuit. – Caroline Abels

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A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.

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