• 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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Farmers' Kitchen—Porcine Preparation

David Hull and family

Written on

February 13 , 2015

At our farm here in Newfane, the pigs are the favorites of all of us. The lambs and goat kids don’t really give us the time of day, and our girls get a little nervous trying to pet the steer like I do. But the pigs are always happy to have us around. A good belly pat, a chuck under the chin, or an ear scratch can get a pig grunting contentedly, flopping on its side, and kicking a back leg.

Although my wife, Apple Gifford, is the bookkeeper, the rest of the farm is run by me. I’m always telling people that running a meat operation is much easier than a veggie farm, but the care and responsibility of animals is not for the faint of heart. Neither is sending them to be slaughtered.

We’ve had animals since Zinnia, now 9, could form memories; it’s just part of our girls’ lives. When our youngest, Lucy, now 7, turned to me while watching Babe for the first time and asked if we could keep just one of the pigs—if we could allow one to skip the slaughterhouse—I told her that I was sorry, but we couldn’t. We needed them for our customers. She sighed, then returned to the movie. The girls know that I don’t enjoy anything about the slaughtering process; both have piled in the truck and made the trip with me. However, like many people who like to carefully source their food, our girls will sit down to a meal, express their pleasure that our animals had good lives, thank them for their ultimate sacrifice, and then tuck into a tasty dinner.

I guess there’s always a chance that one or both of our girls will one day take real issue with raising animals for meat, but for now they are willing to let it happen because they, like many others, enjoy eating good food from animals raised with compassion. We especially like preparing pork shoulders because we tend to have a bunch of them in the freezer; the meat can easily be added to dishes over the following days, and the girls love it (Lucy calls it candy pork).

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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.