• Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org
  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation
  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion
  • Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org

    We've changed our website. Please update your bookmarks to LocalBanquet.org LocalBanquet.org is where you will now find the latest Local Banquet stories, a new Story of the Day update feature, features from the archives, and information on how to contribute to Local Banquet if you're interested in writing about Vermont agriculture. 

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  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation

    Back in 2007, Local Baquet ran an article by Bonnie Hudspeth on maple innovation and production in Vermont. Since then, maple production in Vermont has tripled to 1.8 million gallons a year and innovation seems to have entered a new golden (or perhaps amber) age. We did a quick maple innovation news round up for 2018 / 2019 to help everyone keep up with the some of the trends. 

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  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion

    In 2015, the USDA funded a project for UVM researchers to engage in discussions with Vermont farmers about the idea of being paid for ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are things farmers do that improve the environment for everyone, a common example is grass-based farms capturing carbon in the soil as a way to combat climate change. Some services happen naturally through sustainable farming, others take more of an incentive to implement, and either way some policy makers believe that farmers shoudl be compensated for their contribution. 

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Monty Winship
Monty Winship

Written By

Meg Lucas

Written on

December 01 , 2009

We’ve always believed that if you eat meat you should be able to kill it. We had our chance to put our beliefs into action this year.

On two very different days, one in early July, the second in late October, we gathered with four friends to kill the 30 chickens and 10 turkeys we had co-raised. Although this past July wasn’t the hottest on record, the day we gathered was warm and the rain held off. On a cold and raw late October morning we met up again to process turkeys and a few older laying hens.

Our friends Treah and John had hired Monte Winship from Rutland, whom they found by word of mouth. Winship has been dispatching animals on-farm for more than 35 years, utilizing the skills he acquired as a young man, and while working for the Davenport family at Wallingford Lockers, where he learned to process a variety of livestock—beef, veal, and later on chicken and other fowl. He believes the animals deserve the utmost reverence and respect and we should thank them for their lives and for the food they provide us with.

One of our assigned tasks was to carry the birds from the barn and deliver them to the cones. We were holding warm, living creatures that in a few moments would be killed—birds that we had all helped raise from chicks and that Treah and John had bonded with to such an extent that their two favorites, one turkey and one hen, were kept as pets. Although witnessing the transition initially caused a level of discomfort and sadness among all of us, these feelings evolved into acceptance of the inevitability of what it requires to raise meat animals and eat them.

We were surprised at how educational the experiences would be. Monte has a vast knowledge of chicken anatomy and he was enthusiastic as he answered our questions and showed us the inner workings of the birds. Monte would like to pass on his skills and he indicated that he would welcome an apprentice. He said it’s hard work, but important work.

The act of participating in the process made us more conscious of life and death. It’s right there and you are part of it. It has also given us a greater appreciation for the meat we will consume from these animals.

The local food movement has brought us in contact with people and practices that we could not have imagined several years ago. And we have gained a deep respect for both.

 

About the Author

Meg Lucas

Meg Lucas

Co-publisher Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine

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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 ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.