• 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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Helen Labun Jordan

Helen Labun Jordan

Helen Labun Jordan lives in Montpelier, where she works for Bear Pond Books. Read more of her work at her website, discoveringflavor.com.

Apples’ Golden Age

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | August 22, 2014

Apple

I didn’t know an apple could be revolutionary just by being green. Yet in the 1980s, when Granny Smiths began to claim their slice of the supermarket produce aisle, they broke up the duopoly of red and yellow (mostly red) and proved that consumers could accept different-looking apples.

Set the Table with Dandelion Greens

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | February 19, 2014

Dandelion

I’ve spent years walking past any dandelion greens I see for sale, on the grounds that I will not pay for something that’s growing everywhere I look all spring and summer. Granted, I never stop to pick those free dandelion leaves, so inevitably, a vegetable that I won’t buy because it’s too common ends up not being at all common on my plate. It’s the Dandelion Paradox. This past winter, I wanted to unravel it.

“It tastes like…”

How we talk about—or don’t talk about—flavor

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | November 26, 2013

Helen

A food’s flavor can be hard to describe. We have a whole vocabulary for talking about how food is produced with terms like organic, heirloom, grass fed, pasture raised, line caught, cage free, community supported, miles traveled. 

Down Home Distilling

Local spirit makers add Vermont ingredients to their concoctionsby

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | April 04, 2013

Barr

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.

Farming without Harm

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | June 01, 2012

tractor

Ray Bernier, like many farmers, is inventive. When he realized he needed to transition out of the dairy business, he turned his Milton farm into a home for 400 emus. The emu market didn’t materialize (although he still swears by emu oil and buys some every year at the fairs) so he turned to raising horses. Somewhere along the line there were ostrich in there, too, but he could never get the chicks to grow to adults.

Crop Mobsters

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | September 01, 2011

Crop

Barley is furry. It is, in the eyes of Nick Cowles, “…golden and beautiful and furry…and it might tickle.”

Nick was preparing a group of Green Mountain Crop Mob volunteers to enter his fields at Shelburne Orchards this past July. He was responding to a question about appropriate clothes for that morning’s work. The furry warning, and a gesture to the bathroom (recently cleaned in our honor), were all we needed before setting off through the orchards toward the five acres of barley we’d signed on to weed that morning.

Tapping for Taste

Maple syrup producers discover a range of flavors—and “a taste of place”

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | March 01, 2011

John

There are people in Vermont who prefer fake maple syrup—not just people who are looking for something cheaper but who actually prefer the stuff made of corn syrup. There are other people in Vermont who don’t talk to those fake syrup types. And there are Vermonters who stand by Grade B for all occasions and others who keep a little Fancy on hand.

Buried Treasure

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | June 01, 2010

Iris

A buried kimchi pot looks like a small bump in the ground.

The buried kimchi pot at Laughing Lotus Farm looks like a small bump in the ground in someone’s dooryard, which a visitor could walk past without a second glance.

“But imagine a field of buried kimchi pots!” Dave Brodrick enthused minutes after I arrived at Laughing Lotus Farm and walked past the bump in the dooryard. I imagined a field of the same small bumps.

Communities on the Corner

What country stores mean in today’s Vermont

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | September 01, 2009

Taftsville

The local foods movement can claim its roots in Vermonters’ earliest enterprises. Long before ski vacations and the Golden Dome, there was boiling down maple sap and digging root crops for the winter. But food isn’t the only part of our local economy with a long pedigree. Our country stores have a history that stretches through the centuries, close on the heels of those first farms. And like those farms, today’s country stores are both celebrated by their community and challenged to find a viable business model to carry them into the future.

One Acre Grows a Long Way

Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | June 01, 2009

Market

Here are some facts about an acre. It is 43,560 square feet. It’s about 40 percent of a hectare, the metric system’s equivalent of an acre. It can be estimated by picturing a football field without the end zones. Most U.S. agricultural production takes place on a much, much grander scale—an average of 440 acres, to be exact—but to many Americans, having even a single acre of productive land seems like a pretty good deal.

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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