• Editor's Note Fall 2015

    Editor's Note Fall 2015

    I’m writing this in early August, on the heels of Vermont Open Farm Week—seven days during which 75 farms, orchards, vineyards, distilleries, and nurseries opened their doors to the public for a concentrated week of public outreach.

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  • Aronia and Elderberry: Thy Medicine

    Aronia and Elderberry: Thy Medicine

    Aronia and elderberry are two fruits—native to Vermont and other places in the eastern United States—that are getting noticed by health-conscious consumers. The word on the street these days is “nutraceutical”—in this case, referring to berries that aren’t just nutritious but also have medicinal properties.

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  • Set the Table with Garlic

    Set the Table with Garlic

    If you search the word garlic online, you may end up believing it is the panacea for all that ails us. Garlic was given to soldiers and athletes in ancient Greece to promote vigor.

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  • An Early Abenaki Harvest: The Green Corn Celebration

    An Early Abenaki Harvest: The Green Corn Celebration

    Traditionally, summer was a time of constant and existential worry for Abenaki farmers. Vermont’s notoriously fickle weather inundates the fields in June and parches them in July.

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  • Frankly Speaking

    Frankly Speaking

    Hot dogs are the epitome of mass-produced, questionably sourced food product. They are the emulsified bits and scraps of mechanically separated cartilage, tendons, and other meat undesirables that don’t belong anywhere else.

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  • Royally Local

    Royally Local

    The Chelsea Royal Diner’s 1939 dining car has been in its present location on Route 9 just outside Brattleboro since 1987, but today it’s home to a successful demonstration of the modern resurgence in serving locally grown food. Todd Darrah, enjoying his 25th year owning and operating the diner, has found a way to combine low diner prices with the high principles of the local food movement.

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  • Sheep Dairies

    Sheep Dairies

    Vermont is famous for cow dairies, but as the market for artisanal cheese has boomed, goat and sheep milk cheeses have entered the mix. Over the past 20 years, a number of farmers have launched goat dairies for farmstead cheese and for fluid milk sales. Some are former cow operations that switched business models when cow milk prices plummeted. Others began with dairy goats from the start.

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  • Market Trends

    Market Trends

    Over the past 10 years farmers’ markets in Vermont have burst forth like a backyard garden in July. Currently there are 63 markets in the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association, and a dozen or so that aren’t members. But every now and then you hear people wonder whether farmers’ markets have peaked in popularity, or strayed from their original purpose by offering more crafts and prepared foods.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Indian Summer

    Farmers' Kitchen—Indian Summer

    We chose “Anjali”—a Sanskrit word meaning “offerings to the deities”—as the name of our farm to honor Lini’s Indian heritage. And since moving to our South Londonderry farm on the winter solstice of 2000, we have grown mixed vegetables, medicinal herbs, blueberries, raspberries, and hops in harmony with our ecosystem and the cosmos.

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  • What Is Fresh?

    What Is Fresh?

    Ask Vermont food enthusiasts what they love about local food and most of us say, “It’s fresh.” The link between fresh flavor and local food is so strong that the terms often appear as one: “Fresh local food!”

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Helen Labun

Helen Labun

Helen Labun runs Hel’s Kitchen takeout restaurant in Montpelier (helskitchenvt.com). She also coordinates events (and reviews many cookbooks) for Bear Pond Books, also in Montpelier.

What Is Fresh?

Written by Helen Labun | August 25, 2015

vine

Ask Vermont food enthusiasts what they love about local food and most of us say, “It’s fresh.” The link between fresh flavor and local food is so strong that the terms often appear as one: “Fresh local food!”

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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