• 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—Rabbit Revival

David Robb and Lila Bennett and family
David Robb and Lila Bennett and family

Written By

David Robb and Lila Bennett

Written on

September 01 , 2010

Rabbits, they say, are the new chicken. They’re small, fast growing, feed efficiently, and are lower in fat and higher in protein than any other meat, yet you don’t see them much on Vermont farms. Why is that? The few rabbits raised in Vermont are literally out of sight, as in raised indoors, tightly caged and strictly dieted. That method didn’t suit our style of farming, so when we started with rabbits we raised them in chicken tractors, moving them to fresh grass twice daily. (Pasturing rabbits increases the omega fats in their meat.) But even though they were outdoors and on pasture, we still weren’t satisfied.

As farmers we try to raise all of our animals being mindful of how they would live without us. Our birds, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and guinea hens can go wherever they like, and the pigs and lambs live in pastures between movable fences with movable shelters, enjoying organic grains and whatever they can root and forage. The cows and horses munch clover in huge leased fields, spacious enough that it takes an effort to lay our eyes on them some days. In the end the lifestyle shows; happy animals taste better.

The rabbits were our last confinement problem to solve. The tractors worked better than other methods but still lacked in freedom—and in containment, too, as we had our share of escapees. So what we finally did was make a well-fenced area with grass growing up through the fence to discourage tunneling out. And then we let them go. They now laze in the shade on hot days, hide in burrows, and take shelter under roofs and trees. We planted oregano and thyme (herbs good for their digestion) all over their field. And at dusk all the rabbits emerge from their secret places, and we watch them eat, play, and grow. When we pull a scrumptious, juicy rabbit pot pie out of the oven, we enjoy it even more, knowing how well our rabbits live and eat.

About the Author

David Robb and Lila Bennett

David Robb and Lila Bennett

David Robb and Lila Bennett run Tangletown Farm in Middlesex. They sell poultry, pork, beef, and rabbit at the Montpelier and Waterbury farmers’ markets. They also offer CSA meat shares. tangletownfarm.com

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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.