• Editor's Note Spring 2017

    Editor's Note Spring 2017

    This spring I’ll be leaving Vermont’s Local Banquet after 10 years as its editor. The past decade hasn’t just been a banquet—it’s been a feast!

    Continue Reading

  • Set the Table with TV dinners

    Set the Table with TV dinners

    “I unabashedly describe myself as a local food advocate,” wrote Marlboro College student Nathaniel Brooks in 2015, as he was launching his new business. “I see re-localizing our food system as a key lever for shifting our culture away from its current path toward one of greater interconnection, mindfulness, and sustainability.”

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  • Here Comes the Sun

    Here Comes the Sun

    Driving around Vermont, people are treated to all kinds of pastoral views. There are acres of cornfields, apple orchards with boughs bending under the weight of ripe fruit, and Holsteins looking as placid as the ones on a Ben & Jerry’s label.

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  • Soil Heals:

    Soil Heals:

    When you speak with Jon Turner about his diversified farm in Bristol, he talks about the same things many other organic farmers do: the cohesion between species, the value of biodiversity, soil health.

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  • Tying Traditions Together: The Marshfield School of Weaving

    Tying Traditions Together: The Marshfield School of Weaving

    Down a dirt road on the Marshfield/Plainfield line sits an ordinary barn that houses the only school in the U.S. that teaches historical textile arts using antique technology: barn looms.

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  • The Perception of Industrial Agriculture

    The Perception of Industrial Agriculture

    Until recently, I was a member of the UVM Extension faculty, helping to develop Vermont’s emerging livestock industries as the state livestock specialist.

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  • The Meaning of Organic

    The Meaning of Organic

    The produce section of any grocery story offers an array of choices, from mass-produced potatoes to locally grown greens, and many items sport labels indicating the conditions under which those foods were grown.

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  • Urine as Fertilizer?

    Urine as Fertilizer?

    At the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, staff, board members, and the many local “peecyclers” who contribute to the group’s Urine Nutrient Reclamation Project (UNRP) pepper their conversations with pee-related humor and hold an annual “Piss-off” contest for who can donate the most urine.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Singular Syrup

    Farmers' Kitchen—Singular Syrup

    A few years ago, our friend Bucky came home from a visit to his daughter in Alaska with a bottle of Alaskan birch syrup.

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  • Appreciating  Neighbors

    Appreciating Neighbors

    “Neighbor” and “community” are two words that show up frequently in our weekly farm blog.

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Editor's Note Spring 2017

Sap buckets, Rockingham; photo by Meg Lucas.

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

February 22 , 2017

This spring I’ll be leaving Vermont’s Local Banquet after 10 years as its editor. The past decade hasn’t just been a banquet—it’s been a feast! Getting to work with so many talented Vermont writers to “lift the hood” on our local food movement has been a joy, and has given me (and hopefully you, too) many reasons to believe that we have quite an exceptional agricultural community here in Vermont.

When Meg Lucas and Barbi Schreiber launched the magazine in 2007 and asked me to be its founding editor, Vermont’s local food scene was young and plucky—a wobbly but confident lamb trying to find its footing among the big sheep of supermarkets and conventional dairy farms. The Farm to Plate network hadn’t been formed yet, Harlow Farm was still just serving its surrounding towns, and the Jasper Hill brothers were in the early years of milking cows. You couldn’t find bread made with local wheat, and no one was drinking hard cider fashioned with Vermont apples.

A couple of years earlier, “localvore potlucks” had taken place around the state, introducing people to the novel concept of sourcing all their ingredients for a dish from within Vermont. “Where can we find local cornmeal?” people would ask each other. (Butterworks Farm was the only place.) “What do we do about salt?” (Apply the “Marco Polo exception” to the 100-mile-radius rule and just buy it at the grocery store.)

Today, having brought a diversity of local foods to many locations, our local food movement is facing new challenges: the threat that consumers will abandon it, should it no longer seem “trendy”; the fact that a number of good farmers are packing it in after burning out; the cost of farmland in Vermont, which keeps new farmers from establishing thriving operations.

There are many issues to address, but I suppose these are my parting wishes: that more people learn how to cook at home, so they can use the raw materials that our farmers produce; that we rethink farmers’ markets, because not everyone in our communities feels drawn to shop at them; and that citizens of Vermont continue to build their “agricultural literacy”—their understanding of what actually happens on farms and why farmers make the choices they do.

After producing 40 issues of Local Banquet with the kind, generous, creative, and thoughtful team known to so many in Vermont as simply “Meg & Barbi,” I plan to concentrate on my own writing and journalism, focusing on issues related to humane animal agriculture and devoting myself to the project I started five years ago, Humaneitarian.org.

Even more significantly, my partner and I are planning to raise dairy sheep and grow fruit in the near future, on land in the Hudson Valley that my parents have tended for 30 years. I’m grateful that my involvement with local food issues has allowed me to grasp the perils and challenges of small-scale farming before going into it. As a result, I trust that I can approach this calling realistically, in addition to joyfully.

Please continue to enjoy Vermont’s Local Banquet. And please keep practicing this dictum, which—despite its ubiquity—is still quite radical, still deeply impactful, and utterly (and increasingly) necessary in these times: Eat local.

— Caroline Abels

About the Author

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.

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