• Publishers' Note Summer 2008

    Publishers' Note Summer 2008

    As the weather warms here in Vermont, we get to experience the promise of another growing season. But many people in our communities struggle with food security, unable to get access to Vermont’s amazing bounty. Summer is a good time to think of these community members. Here are some ways that we can make a difference.

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  • Llama Beans for Your Beds

    Llama Beans for Your Beds

    At our small hilltop farm here in Craftsbury Common, the melting winter snow recently revealed piles of one of Vermont’s gardening treasures: llama manure. Also known as “llamanure” or “llama beans,” llama manure has become the fertilizer of choice for many friends and neighbors of llama farms. Thus, on a recent bright spring morning, our neighbors arrived in pick-ups, shovels in hand, ready for the spring ritual of scooping poop provided by our small herd here at Maple Leaf Llamas.

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  • A Cheese for the Ages

    A Cheese for the Ages

    One can easily imagine the feelings of pride in the hamlet of Plymouth Notch when a cheese factory opened there in 1890. It was a cooperative community venture, founded by five local families, and it soon became a centerpiece in the town of Plymouth.

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  • Farm Camp—Planting Confidence, Harvesting Strength

    Farm Camp—Planting Confidence, Harvesting Strength

    As I downshift off the Putney exit of I-91, my husband, Jerry, is roused from his dozing by the hollow sound of several hundred jostling maple syrup jugs. It’s April, time to buy containers for our maple syrup at Bascom’s 10% container sale, and time to post Farm Camp flyers.

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  • Set the Table with Hot Peppers

    Set the Table with Hot Peppers

    There’s an old adage that says, “You can’t grow peppers in Vermont.” But then there’s another expression: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it!” In the heart of dairy country in West Addison, Michael and Lisa Shannon are growing an extensive assortment of hot peppers on approximately one acre. They say these fairly tough plants, many of which originated in Central and South America, can thrive in Vermont’s climate.

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  • Diary of a Farm Apprentice—Part 1: Spring

    Diary of a Farm Apprentice—Part 1: Spring

    I want to be a farmer. It is 5:30 in the morning, and the rooster, who lives very close to my window, is crowing before dawn. I find it useful to remind myself: I want to be a farmer.

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  • Beyond Ben & Jerry’s

    Beyond Ben & Jerry’s

    Let’s face it. We’re spoiled by many artisan food producers in Vermont. Bread bakers Randy George and Liza Cain of Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex. Cheesemakers Willow Smart and David Phinney of Willow Hill Farm in Milton. Bob and Martha Pollak, makers of Snowflake Chocolates in Jericho. The list goes on. Vermont is a foodie’s paradise.

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  • Three Square—Summer 2008

    Three Square—Summer 2008

    Growing up in Vermont I ate chokecherries, dandelions, venison, and tempura daylilies. I recently returned to live here full time. Since then, I’ve noticed that conversation often turns to food. What’s for dinner? In this series, I visit a variety of Vermonters in their homes, peer into their iceboxes, and share their thoughts about what they eat. Because of the often personal nature of their stories, I’ve chosen to omit their last names.

    I’m sitting with Ezra on a couch in the living room of his family’s apartment, upstairs from On the Rise bakery in Richmond. I ask him what he likes to eat for lunch. Ezra is six.

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  • An Interview with Tom Stearns

    An Interview with Tom Stearns

    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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  • Build a Solar Food Dryer

    Build a Solar Food Dryer

    I built this solar food dryer about 15 years ago and I’ve been using it ever since to dry vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms. The design is similar to a suitcase. Each end has a simple screen–covered frame that allows warm air to circulate from the bottom, over the eight drying racks, and out the top, while preventing unwanted guests from getting to your food. This easy–to–build project is a great way to preserve food.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Baby Tastes

    Farmers' Kitchen—Baby Tastes

    There’s an old adage that says, “You can’t grow peppers in Vermont.” But then there’s another expression: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it!” In the heart of dairy country in West Addison, Michael and Lisa Shannon are growing an extensive assortment of hot peppers on approximately one acre. They say these fairly tough plants, many of which originated in Central and South America, can thrive in Vermont’s climate.

    Continue Reading

  • Last Morsel—Jr. Iron Chef

    Last Morsel—Jr. Iron Chef

    If you had walked into the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction on April 12, you would have seen dozens of teenagers from around Vermont having fun with... sprouts. And root vegetables. And wheat berries. And winter squash.

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Three Square—Summer 2008

placesetting

Written By

Denny Partridge

Written on

June 01 , 2008

Growing up in Vermont I ate chokecherries, dandelions, venison, and tempura daylilies. I recently returned to live here full time. Since then, I’ve noticed that conversation often turns to food. What’s for dinner? In this series, I visit a variety of Vermonters in their homes, peer into their iceboxes, and share their thoughts about what they eat. Because of the often personal nature of their stories, I’ve chosen to omit their last names.

EZRA

I’m sitting with Ezra on a couch in the living room of his family’s apartment, upstairs from On the Rise bakery in Richmond. I ask him what he likes to eat for lunch. Ezra is six.

He scrunches up his face and closes his eyes, thinking hard. “Pizza. With cheese. Cheddar and mozzarella.”

Earlier I’d witnessed Ezra eating a small pizza, chewing it around in a circle, from the outside in, like a pinwheel. I ask him if that’s usual. Oh yes, he tells me, he likes to do it that way.

“To get rid of the crust first?” I ask.

“Sometimes I would leave the crust, but I don’t. Well, I sometimes do.” He smiles.

Ezra has an angelic face and a mass of black curls. “Sometimes, instead of a pizza, I take a wrap for lunch at school,” he says, “with cheese and lettuce and carrots. Also I have a cookie or a brownie. I like to drink water. Sometimes I mix it with orange juice. My friends bring their lunch, too, unless they do HL.”

I ask him what that means. “HL,” says Ezra. “Hot lunch. About 30 of them do that and 20 bring their lunch, maybe a sandwich. I don’t know what they eat for HL. I can’t see it. I’m usually in the back of the line. And I never do HL unless it’s an accident. And for breakfast I usually eat toast or eggs or Clifford Crunch.”

Ben, Ezra’s dad, weighs in on the breakfast menu: “It’s an organic oat cereal, to set the record straight.” He’s just brought baby Indira in from her nap. Indira is 5 1/2 months old, bright–eyed, watching us with pleasure.

“Indira likes to eat rice cereal,” says Ezra. “She just started.”

Ben and Rae created On the Rise in 2004. There’d been a bakery in Richmond before, and when it closed, they bought a big old house next to the town bridge and recreation center, tore it down, and rebuilt it as a bakery. They did all the work themselves, with the help of Ben’s brother and many friends. On the Rise is one large room, with a bakery counter, a kitchen with bread and pizza ovens, and a café/restaurant. Several evenings a week they have live music, showcasing all kinds of bands. I ask Ezra what kind of music he likes best.

Ezra sighs deeply. “Jazz. I love Vorcza. What kind do you call that, Ben?”

“Funky jazz,” says his father. Vorcza is a wonderful band, he tells me. Ezra repeats: funky jazz, funky jazz, funky jazz.

Children are welcome at On the Rise. There’s wi–fi, and coffee, and a homey atmosphere. The bakery opens at 7 a.m. Ben often bakes ’til midnight, when his mother, Judy, who’s one of the bakers, starts the next shift, working ’til dawn. Rae works days, cooking, serving, and overseeing a variety of needs. Childcare is tag–team for all.

In the summer, Ben and Ezra will work together in the garden. “We grow all the stuff for the pizza toppings: tomatoes, peppers, squash, spinach, onions,” Ezra tells me. “Basically I like working on the garden a lot. And I like planting the most.”

“What about cooking?” I ask.

“I cook now sometimes, just what we are making. I can make bread. I have a card to tell me the recipe, but I can’t read cursive, so I get help from grownups. They read it to me and then I can mix it and do the kneading and everything.”

“We get the flour locally, or at least regionally,” Ben says. “It’s all organic. We grow the tomatoes from seeds. We chop the wood that fires the ovens. Most of the time it’s wonderful. It’s very social; the kids get a lot of exposure to people. They have a view of work.”

“Last night we ran out of dough,” Ezra announces.

“Suddenly it was summer,” says Ben. “Everyone wanted to go out for pizza.”

Rae appears, looking like a baker in her flour–covered apron, and looking just like Ezra, too. “We also do bread, pastries, bagels, even gluten–free bagels,” she tells me. “And Ez, your friends are on their way over.”

Our time is up, but I have a final question, one I’ve never asked anyone before. “What’s your favorite food to play with?”

Ezra smiles. “I’m too old to play with food now.”

“He used to ask for extra rice,” Rae says, “so he could make mountains for his little matchbox cars and trucks. They’d go up and down and all around the rice hills.”

Ezra is standing on his head now, upside down on the couch. He jumps to the floor. His friends are at the door.

I gather my things to go downstairs and choose the topping for my pizza. I will try eating it in a circle, Ezra–style. Why not?

About the Author

Denny Partridge

Denny Partridge

Denny Partridge acts and directs with Mud Time Theater of Bellows Falls. She’s currently touring with THE NINE QUESTIONS, a new play about a rocky Vermont marriage in 1760.

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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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