• Editor's Note Summer 2017

    Editor's Note Summer 2017

    Greetings!

    With this issue, I am stepping into the position of editor here at Local Banquet. Before I “retired” and moved from Maryland to Vermont I published a monthly called Baltimore Eats.

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  • Make It a Wild Summer

    Make It a Wild Summer

    For wildcrafters and other wild food junkies summer is time for the “main course,” when a treasure chest of rich, green, jeweled wild plants adorn the landscape. Wildcrafting is simply the “art” of collecting wild plants for food or medicine, and many common “weeds” are not only delicious and nutritious, but also offer a plethora of internal and external medicines.

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  • Set the Table with Butternuts

    Set the Table with Butternuts

    The first appearance of their sticky, lemon-shape green husks marked the end of summer when I was growing up, so the annual harvest of butternuts was oh so bittersweet.

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  • “Big Bertha”

    “Big Bertha”

    Anaerobic digesters (ADs) have been sprouting up on Vermont landfills and farms over the past 10–15 years, with a few even older. In an AD, microbes that can function without oxygen break down organic materials such as animal manure and food wastes, producing “biogas” in the process.

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  • All Souls Tortilleria

    All Souls Tortilleria

    On one wall of All Souls Tortilleria, a whiteboard is filled with the week’s open orders. Fresh-that-day masa; tortillas for Burlington’s El Cortijo and City Market; Mad Taco in Waitsfield and Montpelier; and bulk masa for Gracie’s Tamales of Waitsfield are among the list of regular accounts.

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  • Vermont Preserves Unusual Breeds

    Vermont Preserves Unusual Breeds

    As the major breeds of animals in agriculture become ever more populous, farmers are increasingly aware of the genetic peril we face when we rely on just a few highly specialized breeds of a handful of species.

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  • Q & A with  Lt. Governor David Zuckerman

    Q & A with Lt. Governor David Zuckerman

    David Zuckerman is the 81st lieutenant governor of Vermont, and is the first member of the Vermont Progressive Party to hold a statewide office. He is also a farmer.

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  • How To Be a Knife Ninja

    How To Be a Knife Ninja

    “How many here are knife ninjas?” After a pause, two or three hands creep up in the small crowd of flannel- and Carhart-clad students. This group from Green Mountain College is a bit shy, but definitely interested. “Great! How about you?”

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  • Last Morsel—When Worlds Collide

    Last Morsel—When Worlds Collide

    I butchered three sheep today. What does this mean to me as a man educated in liberal arts at Middlebury?

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Springing Ahead

Spring Lake Ranch

Written By

Chris Turner

Written on

September 01 , 2008

I came to Spring Lake Ranch last March, around the same time Marshall did. But we arrived at the farm under very different circumstances.

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.

I left Westchester County in New York in March to work here as a house advisor. I was placed on the Woods crew for my first month, and was fortunate enough to catch the end of sugaring. Soon I took on a niche position in the Gardens department running the Ranch’s stand at the Rutland Farmers’ Market. There I help residents sell a variety of products that we produce on the farm: yarn from our sheep, syrup from the trees, cookies from our kitchen, chairs from the shop. Being at market has continually provided me with rewarding experiences that have only reinforced my dream of one day owning a farm.

For his part, Marshall came to the Ranch about six months ago, after a DUI accident convinced him that he had a serious problem. In that time, he has worked almost exclusively on the Farm crew, taking care of a variety of animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. Marshall enjoys the work, but appreciates that the Ranch allows him time to focus on his own needs.

“Taking care of animals is a lot of work no matter where you are,” Marshall says. “But there’s a good balance here that keeps it therapeutic.” Today, Marshall is taking a course at Community College of Vermont, cooking meals on his own for fellow residents, and making plans for the Ranch’s aftercare program and culinary school. I‘ve gotten to know him through sharing music, preparing meals and, quite simply, by listening whenever I can. We share similar backgrounds and mutual honesty.

Those at the Ranch who understand and cultivate the idea of community—both residents and staff—tend to be the ones who gain the most from our program. But community doesn’t end at the bottom of our hill. Recently I took a small group of residents out to volunteer for a gleaning project at Dutchess Farm in Castleton. There, we gathered peas, squash, zucchini, and chard to be delivered to local food service agencies rather than going back into the ground. When we arrived that day, we worked alongside a small group from Smokey House Center (see adjacent article). I learned then that not only are our farm-based programs similar and close by, they are both steeped in the values of community.

About the Author

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

Chris Turner graduated from SUNY Purchase last year with a degree in environmental studies. He will be starting grad school at Goddard College in Plainfield in the fall, studying sustainable agriculture and conservation finance.

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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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