• Editor's Note Summer 2011

    Editor's Note Summer 2011

    It’s practically a requirement for any journalistic publication (such as this one) to keep tabs on what’s new and exciting in the field it covers. Not only is it the publication’s responsibility to keep readers up to date, it also makes for good copy. Journalists find it hard to write about “what hasn’t changed since yesterday,” even though the fact that something hasn’t changed is often, in its own quiet way, newsworthy. Journalists and editors get a frisson of excitement when something new(s) crosses their path.

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  • Set the Table with Hot Sauce

    Set the Table with Hot Sauce

    Vermont is known for many things, but spicy food is not one of them. Fortunately for the spice lovers among us, many local farmers have bucked the trend and have been cultivating delicious, spicy chilis for us to enjoy. Hot peppers need heat to grow, but with a good dose of sunlight and perhaps some black plastic over the soil, peppers can thrive in Vermont’s warm summers.

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  • Growing Backyard Mushrooms

    Growing Backyard Mushrooms

    Even for the most adventurous gardeners and avid wild mushroom foragers, the idea of growing one’s own gourmet mushrooms may seem mysterious. But there are a number of methods that gardeners and farmers use to incorporate gourmet mushrooms into their landscapes, and these methods are fairly easy for anyone to try at home.

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  • A 10-Year Stroll

    A 10-Year Stroll

    With hundreds of spectators lining Main Street in Brattleboro, the groomed and bedazzled heifers are led down the center of the street to the cheers of onlookers. Hundreds of cows preen for the delighted crowd, followed by more farm animals (bulls, goats, and horses), tractors (also decorated for the parade) floats, clowns, marching bands, street performers, and all manner of groups touting their various farm affiliations.

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  • After the Fire

    After the Fire

    Barn’s burnt down…now I can see the moon. –Chinese proverb

    Yet the converse is also true: Yes, we can see the moon, but it won’t shelter tractors, nor can vegetables be washed, packed, and stored inside its lovely glow. Oh, the moon is beautiful, but what can it do for food and a business after the fire is put out?

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  • Micro Milk

    Micro Milk

    Local food and slow food frequently mean small food: small farms, small producers, small quantities. The English language happens to provide a nice term for very small: micro. So it follows that the antidote to a huge, consolidated milk production system might be a micro dairy.

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  • Farm Stays

    Farm Stays

    A number of farms in Vermont double as B&B’s. The next time your relatives come to town, they can have a bucolic, back-to-the-land experience—or you can take a weekend and have one yourself! 

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  • A Charcuterie Cure

    A Charcuterie Cure

    Here in the kitchen of Pete Colman’s barn-apartment in Plainfield, a small banner on the wall bears the magnanimous face of the Italian priest and saint Padre Pio, with the words “Don’t worry, soon you will be cured.” In the context of this home—just steps away from a sparkling new meat-curing shop that shares the same barn—it’s hard to know just who the saint is addressing: the cook who lives there or…the pig.

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  • Farming in a Changing Climate

    Farming in a Changing Climate

    Seems like the weather’s been extreme in recent years: heat waves, ice storms, and floods. How is this related to climate change? The answer is, indirectly. Weather events are not a good tool for assessing the climate, since climate is made up of weather patterns over many decades. There are ups and downs within seasons, but the trends over time are what counts. They include both temperature and precipitation patterns, and these affect environmental conditions, which in turn affect plants, animals, and ecosystems.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Bella Basil

    Farmers' Kitchen—Bella Basil

    Pesto is summer. It is the bright flavor of fresh basil, the bite of raw garlic, and the smoothness of olive oil. Tasting pesto can bring the visceral sensations of warmth and sunlight to us, even in the darkest days of winter. At Bella Farm, my small crew and I grow eight varieties of basil, as well as seven varieties of garlic and many culinary herbs. We process the basil and garlic into our signature dairy-and nut-free pesto, called Bella Farm Organic Pesto.

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  • Summer Cartoon—Post Peak Oil

    Summer Cartoon—Post Peak Oil

    Scenes we'd like to see: Post Peak Oil

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  • One Wild Potluck

    One Wild Potluck

    The Peterson Field Guide Edible Wild Plants has a recipe for clovers that says clovers are not very digestible but can be soaked for hours in salty water to make them so. Christopher Nyerges book Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants tells you that the seeds of the plantain, a common weed around these parts, can be soaked in water until soft and then cooked up like rice. It goes on to say that the result is slightly “mucilaginous and bland.”

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Farmers' Kitchen—Bella Basil

Rachel Schattman
Rachel Schattman of Bella Farm

Written By

Rachel Schattman

Written on

June 01 , 2011

Pesto is summer. It is the bright flavor of fresh basil, the bite of raw garlic, and the smoothness of olive oil. Tasting pesto can bring the visceral sensations of warmth and sunlight to us, even in the darkest days of winter. At Bella Farm, my small crew and I grow eight varieties of basil, as well as seven varieties of garlic and many culinary herbs. We process the basil and garlic into our signature dairy-and nut-free pesto, called Bella Farm Organic Pesto.

The idea to make pesto was the brainchild of my friend Kelli Brooks. She had worked on many vegetable farms in Vermont and a few in California. I had a history with vegetable farms as well, but had most recently worked with value-added dairy producers like Does’ Leap Farm (organic goat cheese and keifer makers in Franklin County) and Butterworks Farm (organic yogurt makers in the Northeast Kingdom). While Kelli and I both loved growing vegetables, we believed that finding the right value-added product would help us create a new and exciting farm. We started Bella Farm together in 2009, and while Kelli no longer works in the field with me, she is still the chief pesto maker.

We are a very small operation. We lease three acres of organic farmland at the Intervale in Burlington and share greenhouse space and equipment with 14 other farms there. Working at the Intervale has made it possible for us to be a part of an amazing community of experienced and innovative farmers. It has also helped us reduce our start-up costs considerably. Once our farm is established, we will graduate from the Intervale and move the operation to Monkton.

The summer months find us running back and forth between the processing kitchen and the field, stocking up the freezer so we can make our pesto available throughout the year. Selling a whole product and a value-added product means that we have a great deal of flexibility in our business: the basil that looks perfect goes to the farmers’ market, while the rest goes to the pesto kitchen. At the same time, the greater the number of production steps we commit to (growing the basil, picking it, washing it, processing it, and storing it until sale), the more risk our business takes on. For that reason, I believe it’s important to have a diversity of products to sell, ranging from whole to value added.

It’s exhausting work, but we remember exactly why we do it every time we hear someone exclaim, “Your pesto tastes just like summer!” This pesto potato salad is a great twist on a favorite summertime dish. We hope you enjoy it!

For more information on Bella Farm, or to find more recipes, visit bellapesto.com or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can find their pesto at the Burlington Farmers’ Market in City Hall Park, City Market in Burlington and Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier.

About the Author

Rachel Schattman

Rachel Schattman

Rachel cultivates about 4 acres of vegetables and cover crops, runs 1 greenhouse, and 2 high tunnels in Monkton, VT.

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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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