• Publishers' Note Spring 2013

    Publishers' Note Spring 2013

    Maybe you’ve noticed that the “spirits” of Vermont are on the move and showing up at liquor outlets, farmers’ markets, restaurants—even your friends’ homes—throughout the state. Are they friendly spirits, you ask? You bet! As with local food, Vermont is quickly becoming a state with a flourishing locally distilled spirits industry.

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  • A Passion for Artisan Soap

    A Passion for Artisan Soap

    My soap-making journey started a decade or so ago, when I was becoming more and more sensitized (allergic) to mainstream, detergent-type soaps. Eventually I just couldn’t use them anymore. As I researched the subject, I became alarmed at what was being used in cosmetic products on the market, not to mention all the harmful chemicals leaching into our waterways as a result of those products. I decided to start making my own soap, and the enthusiasm I had back then for soap making has now turned into a passion and a business for me. My only regret is that I didn’t start making them sooner!

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  • The Story of Bread

    The Story of Bread

    Green Mountain Flour, a new artisan bakery in Windsor owned and operated by Zachary Stremlau and Daniella Malin, takes a unique approach to its craft: it uses local wheat, local milling, and local fuel to create its flours, breads, and pizzas. Here, woodcuts that comprise the bakery’s logo tell “the story of bread,” echoing a time in early New England when, according to Zachary and Daniella, “the farmers knew the miller, the miller milled with stone, and the baker baked with fire.”

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  • Classy Wheat

    Classy Wheat

    Last year, I arrived at The Putney School as their new gardener and was tasked with getting the high school students at this Putney boarding and day school excited about gardening. Early on, the farm manager told me he had planted some wheat on the edge of one of the farm’s hayfields. I was intrigued.

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  • Set the Table with Maple Mixed Drinks

    Set the Table with Maple Mixed Drinks

    While Vermonters know that maple flows well beyond the breakfast table, we don’t regularly take it behind the bar. So when, at the request of Local Banquet, I started on the quest of tippling the tree, I had some good starting points, but mostly got to invent. Some of the creations were immediately delicious, while others needed to stick to their day jobs.

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  • Down Home Distilling

    Down Home Distilling

    Here’s the first thing you should know about making specialty liquors: cupcake vodka is not made by fermenting cupcakes. Likewise for the cotton candy, cookie dough, whipped cream, and caramel vodkas all lining store shelves today. These trendy varieties are made by adding flavoring after the vodka is distilled; it’s why we can have cocktails that resemble a dessert buffet. For many consumers today, this is the most familiar way to make a vodka stand out from the rest. But it isn’t the only way.

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  • Winemaking in Barre

    Winemaking in Barre

    I was drinking a glass of wine with a colleague when she told me that she and her husband make wine. In a garage. With friends. I was intrigued. I know plenty of people who brew beer in their bathtub (so to speak) but I’d never met anyone who makes wine at home. When I expressed interest, she invited me to join their next winemaking season. So I put a reminder in my Google calendar and eight months later, voila: “Call Marianne about winemaking” popped up.

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  • Vermont Distillers Map

    Vermont Distillers Map

    Vermont is home to a thriving spirits industry. Our in-state distillers are producing a wide variety of products from vodka and maple liqueurs to gin and rye whiskey. Many of them are winning national acclaim and international awards for their fine quality and appealing flavor. A number of the distilleries have their own tasting rooms where the products they make can be sampled and purchased. You may also find local distillers at farmers’ markets, special events, or festivals around the state.

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  • Hopeful on Hemp

    Hopeful on Hemp

    “Hemp For Victory!” the poster reads.

    Hanging in the House Agriculture Committee’s hearing room in the Vermont Statehouse, and put there by who knows who, it’s a poster that to some would be more appropriate in a college dorm room 30 years ago. In reality, it’s from 1942 and was produced by the United States Department of Agriculture to promote a film encouraging U.S. farmers to grow hemp to support the war effort.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—No Kid Left Behind

    Farmers' Kitchen—No Kid Left Behind

    Tannery Farm Cashmeres is a small goat farm located in the Northeast Kingdom. My husband and I breed and raise Spanish goats that produce high-quality cashmere fiber and have healthy, robust bodies. Our focus is breeding for quality cashmere on quality meat goats, with the farm’s primary products being cashmere-producing breeding stock and chevon (goat meat), which is handled through my other company, Vermont Chevon.

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  • Seventy-Two Is Not Thirty-Five

    Seventy-Two Is Not Thirty-Five

    I spent seven hours yesterday at my daughter’s house
    helping her expand their garden by at least ten times.
    We dug up sod by the shovelful, shook off the dirt as
    best we could; sod into the wheelbarrow and off to the
    pile at the edge of the yard. Then all that over and over
    again. Five hours total work-time, with time out for lunch
    and supper. By the time I got home I knew all too well
    that seventy-two is not thirty-five; I could barely move.

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Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels is the editor of Local Banquet and the founder-editor of Humaneitarian.org, a website that inspires people to buy and eat humanely raised meat.

A Touching Separation

Written by Caroline Abels | November 25, 2015


For the past eight years, calves at Greenfield Highland Beef in Greensboro and Plainfield have been permanently separated from their mothers through the process of “nose-to-nose weaning,” or “fenceline weaning.”

Fired Up on Local

Written by Caroline Abels | February 21, 2014


Given that chile peppers—the main ingredient in hot sauce—are relatively easy to grow in Vermont, it’s possible to make hot sauce a highly localvore product. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Ben Maniscalco, who launched Benito’s Hot Sauce in 2009, goes out of his way to source ingredients from local farms.

Last Morsel—A Boost for On-Farm Slaughter

Written by Caroline Abels | August 20, 2013


Traditionally, farm animals in Vermont were slaughtered and butchered outside, in the open air. Today, all animals that are sold as meat must be slaughtered and processed in inspected facilities. But some Vermonters who raise animals for their own personal consumption prefer on-farm slaughter to taking their critters to an unfamiliar slaughterhouse.

Pastured Poultry in Aisle 9

New small-scale slaughter facilities are allowing some Vermont farms to sell pastured chicken in stores

Written by Caroline Abels | August 20, 2013


Whiz by it on Route 2 between Richmond and Bolton and you might think it was an abandoned rail car, a housing unit for migrant farm workers, or a storage shed. Bland and inconspicuous, the boxy structure doesn’t look like it has the potential to re-shape Vermont’s local food scene (or at least make it easier to purchase and cook pastured chicken).

Editor's Note Fall 2013

Written by Caroline Abels | August 19, 2013


It’s a fulsome time to be an eater of local meat in Vermont—or simply a booster of its production. Compared with three years ago, when our last special issue on meat came out, you can now access more products from more farmers growing a wider variety of animals in more varying ways.

Editor’s Note Winter 2012

Written by Caroline Abels | April 30, 2013


We bushwhacked our way through a tangled patch of riverbank plants. The thick stems were still bent from the rushing flood waters, parallel with the ground as if bowing respectfully to the river. That river, the Dog River, was babbling as sweetly as any other Vermont tributary that early September day, but those of us on the volunteer clean-up crew at Dog River Farm in Berlin had a lot more respect for it—and for the power of water—than we’d had just a week before.

Editor's Note Winter 2013

Written by Caroline Abels | January 16, 2013


It can be comforting to walk into a Vermont farmers’ market—winter or summer. Whether we’re frequent patrons or visiting from out of state, dropping by a market on a Saturday morning or Thursday afternoon can feel cozy and reassuring: all those farmers practicing healthy agriculture and guaranteeing our collective food security.

Editor's Note Summer 2012

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 2012


Not everyone gets to eat popcorn popped in pork fat. But there it was in a big pot, greeting four sweaty interns after our morning removing a winter’s worth of bedded pack from a hoop house and doing other tasks too numerous to mention. The popcorn was mighty tasty, and eager hands grabbed for it around the communal table.

A Smokin’ Place

How Vermont Smoke & Cure grew from a small smokehouse to a smoking powerhouse

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 2012


The previous home of Vermont Smoke & Cure was at the end of the Exit 6 ramp off I-89, at the bottom of a long hill, at the first stoplight on the corner, inside the back of a gas station.

“Don’t laugh,” the company’s website said. “Remember that other Vermont food company that started out in a gas station (hint: the ice cream guys).”

Humane Heft

Written by Caroline Abels | September 01, 2011


Chalk up another “first” for Vermont.

The state was the first to outlaw slavery, the first to legalize civil unions, and the first to pass a single-payer health care law, among other singular achievements. It may not be as significant, but the fact that Vermont recently became the first state to require local slaughterhouses to file a written humane handling plan falls in line with the state’s tradition of leading the way on moral issues.

Editor's Note Summer 2011

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 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.

Counting Their Chickens

Misty Knoll Farms in Addison County has emerged as a poultry-producing powerhouse

Written by Caroline Abels | December 01, 2010


Yes, there is a knoll—and it’s misty.

At least it was on the day this past October when I visited Misty Knoll Farms, Vermont’s largest chicken producer. Standing on the small rise at the eastern edge of the farm in New Haven, facing a swath of Addison County dairy land below and the spine of the Green Mountains beyond, I spotted a light fog in the valley that looked misty enough.

Editor's Note Winter 2011

Written by Caroline Abels | December 01, 2010


I’ve never fired a gun. The closest I ever came to one as a child was at my aunt’s house. She’s a cattle rancher in Arizona and often kept a pistol by her phone. I’d walk past it gingerly, as if getting too close meant it would suddenly go off like a stick of remote-controlled dynamite. Having grown up in a big city, I’d always associated guns with hot-headed maliciousness and revenge.

Halal in the Hills

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 2010


Art Meade is a 59-year-old livestock and poultry farmer with a thick Maine accent and a farm on Route 100 in Morrisville. He also happens to run the only state-licensed slaughter facility in Vermont that caters to Muslims who practice halal slaughter. This is the Muslim tradition of swiftly slitting the throat of a domesticated meat animal with a sharp knife; the animal is believed to be killed instantly and painlessly (though there is some debate about that). Muslims, who are directed by their religion to eat halal meat, can purchase such meat in Vermont stores, but some prefer to do the slaughter themselves.

Dairy farmers raise veal—with a conscience

Written by Caroline Abels | December 01, 2009


It’s bad luck to be born a boy—on a dairy farm, that is. A farmer’s face will often fall at the sight of a newborn male calf, who obviously will never grow up to produce milk. “Girl?” someone might ask on hearing of a birth on the farm. “Nope—a bull,” the farmer might say. “I’ll call the truck.”

A Breed Apart

Written by Caroline Abels | December 01, 2009


On a 40-acre hillside in Corinth, Ben Machin raises a flock of 60 Tunis sheep. They’re a “heritage breed”—a domesticated breed of animal that has a long genetic history but is now endangered. As industrial agriculture continues to rely on just a few breeds designed for maximum growth in the shortest amount of time, more sustainable farmers are raising heritage breeds as an alternative—and to save them. Ben, a 35-year-old farmer who also works as a forester with Redstart Forestry and Consulting, is managing the flock that his great-grandfather started in the 1920s. Local Banquet editor Caroline Abels recently spoke with Ben about his unique sheep and why heritage breeds matter.

Editor's Note Winter 2010

Written by Caroline Abels | December 01, 2009


Vermont is facing many challenges when it comes to local meat production: Grazing land is expensive, there aren’t enough facilities in which to process animals, and many residents refrain from buying local meat because they don’t know how to cook the unusual cuts sold by small farms. What exactly do you do with a pork loin or lamb shoulder?

Editor's Note Summer 2009

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 2009


Anyone who has walked across the Vermont State House lawn in Montpelier knows it is different from any other lawn in the state. A wooden statue reputed to be Ceres, the Greek goddess of agriculture, stares down from the State House dome, appearing to sow seeds on the grass. A marble Ethan Allen standing at the State House door glares with fiery eyes at all who pass. A stately walkway guides visitors to an imposing granite building where important (and sometimes infuriating) decisions are made. No other place in Vermont feels so formal and heavy with history.

Rutland's Spud Man

Written by Caroline Abels | September 01, 2008


His story is an exception—not the story we usually associate with Vermont farmers around his age, farmers in their 60s and 70s. These farmers grew up during the Depression and World War II, often on their parents’ land, then farmed themselves—dairying, mostly—for 40 or 50 years. And their stories, as everyone in Vermont knows, have often ended at the auction block or in a real estate agent’s office—places where fields and cows must be sold because of brutal economic forces. Or their stories have ended when the farmers have become too tired, or too injured, to keep working.

An Interview with Tom Stearns

Written by Caroline Abels | June 01, 2008


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

RAFFL, Loca, and Raw Milk Legislation

Written by Caroline Abels | December 01, 2007


Raw milk cheeses aren’t the only “live” foods getting attention in Vermont these days. In January, Rural Vermont, a non-profit working for economic justice for Vermont farmers, plans to introduce legislation in the Statehouse that would enable farmers to sell more than 24 quarts of raw milk a day.

What we do

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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