• Publishers' Note Summer 2014

    Publishers' Note Summer 2014

    We’re turning 7 this summer! It’s amazing to think that Local Banquet has had the privilege of chronicling the local and sustainable food movement here in the state as it has grown up. Of course we owe a tremendous amount to the folks who, in the 1970s, came to Vermont to start the work and give us a solid foundation: knowledge passed from one generation to the next.

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  • Set the Table with Seaberries

    Set the Table with Seaberries

    I’d never actually seen a sea buckthorn plant or eaten any of its berries until I moved to Vermont. Already familiar with sea buckthorn in my skincare products, I was inspired to learn more. And when I did: zing, zest, tang! I was struck by sea buckthorn berries’ complex, passionfruit, citrus-like flavor. It was like nothing I’ve tasted.

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  • Growing Unusual Veggies

    Growing Unusual Veggies

    Just because we live in northern New England doesn’t mean we have to subsist on carrots and potatoes. These familiar vegetables grow well for us despite our cool nights and relatively short summers. But so do tomatoes, a warm-climate vegetable, and other frost-sensitive vegetables like summer squashes, beans, and cukes. What we grow is largely what we know—and what our Grannies grew—but it doesn’t have to be this way.

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  • Honey Homeyness

    Honey Homeyness

    I suppose every beekeeper feels that the place where “their” bees forage is the capital of taste, for it’s true that honey can capture the charms of particular nectars in particular places all over the world.

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  • Getting One’s Goat

    Getting One’s Goat

    Although Vermont is known for its goat’s milk cheeses, it hasn’t always been an easy place to find local goat meat. To acquire a goat, Chuda Dhaurali used to trek to Boston or New Hampshire from his home in Burlington, spending money on gas and occasionally getting lost in the process. Sometimes “it would take the whole day,” he says.

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  • Mushroom Grower, Man of Peace

    Mushroom Grower, Man of Peace

    Sitting with Amir Hebib in his living room in Colchester, sipping herbal tea made from his own spearmint and lemon balm, you get a sense of peace, of refuge. But when you talk to Amir about his life, you discover that the road to this peaceful Vermont home has been a difficult, war-blasted one.

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  • Farm-ecology


    My husband, John, reminds me every so often that in a world of seven billion people it is a privilege to own land. This is a good thing to contemplate as I stack brush and run it through the wood chipper. After a long winter, I’m already feeling the ache in my back and shoulders from only a few hours of work.

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  • Cafeteria Cooking: A New Era in Vermont Schools

    Cafeteria Cooking: A New Era in Vermont Schools

    We all know that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Similarly, as any parent knows, you can put good, healthy food on kids’ lunch plates but that’s no guarantee they’ll actually eat it. But who can blame them? Consider what they’re used to.

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  • Why Mid-Scale Farming Is Important in Vermont

    Why Mid-Scale Farming Is Important in Vermont

    Vermont’s vibrant farm economy is made up of all sizes, scales, and types of farms—something that’s beneficial, because a high diversity of scale and business model is critical to improving the sustainability and resiliency of our food system. Yet within Vermont (and outside Vermont) there is a particular fondness for the smallest scale farms.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Sprouting Up

    Farmers' Kitchen—Sprouting Up

    When visitors come through the door of our grow room, they often inhale deeply and exclaim how nice it is to see and smell green growing things bursting from trays, especially in the heart of winter. At Peace of Earth Farm in Albany, we grow a variety of vegetables and fruits, but we also grow harder-to-find shoots and sprouts.

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  • A Vermont Pasture

    A Vermont Pasture

    You have to work your tillage land
    And mow and hoe and plow it,
    But as for pasture, all you do
    Is jest to sheep or cow it;
    And you can walk jest where you please,
    Instead of ‘round the edges,
    And Sunday you can go and set
    Upon the pasture ledges.

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Publishers' Note Summer 2014

Rice plants
Rice plant at Akaogi Farm, Putney

Written on

May 23 , 2014

We’re turning 7 this summer! It’s amazing to think that Local Banquet has had the privilege of chronicling the local and sustainable food movement here in the state as it has grown up. Of course we owe a tremendous amount to the folks who, in the 1970s, came to Vermont to start the work and give us a solid foundation: knowledge passed from one generation to the next. And nowhere is this exchange of techniques and skills more evident than at the annual winter conference held by the Northeast Organic Farmers’ Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT).

We love attending this annual event (we’ve been a media sponsor for the past two years) but we never get to write about it because our publication dates don’t jive. This event in the deep of winter recharges and educates, delivering not only the nuts and bolts of what we need to know to grow our food, but most important, it renews our spirits—the why of what we do. The excursion to UVM each February from our home in southern Vermont is at times daunting if it involves a nor’easter (as it did this year), but is always rewarding.

The conference begins with a mass gathering of the attendees at the Davis Center at UVM. Here, while munching on bread and sipping tea, you get a sense of the power of this movement; just to feel the energy of the many people who are building the food system is rejuvenating. The 2014 conference theme was Growing Outside the Box, “honoring the creative innovations of our farmers and their partners, who are continuously expanding the ways that Vermont foods can be grown and consumed year-round; the community leaders who work to ensure that everyone can afford and access local, organic foods; and the ways that the ’food movement’ has grown to encompass issues as varied as animal welfare, fair labor, and climate change.”  The conference officially opens with a keynote address, but for us the “official” opening is when Enid Wonnacott, the executive director of NOFA-VT since 1987, leads us in a song—a true NOFA-VT tradition.

This year we heard from Equal Exchange co-founder Michael Rozyne about the challenge of forging alliances and partnerships with folks outside of the organic movement. We also heard about Farm Hack, an ”open source community for resilient agriculture.”  Co-founder Dorn Cox explained how innovation in agriculture could come from farmers and non-farmers alike, thus enriching the final outcome. Chris Dutton, agricultural programs director at Vermont Technical College, spoke on the importance of education for farmers, and Helen Whybrow and Michael Sacca debuted their short film Organic Matters. If you’re interested in seeing these talks—and we highly recommend them—visit NOFA-VT’s YouTube channel; they’re all there (as are past talks).

And then there were all the workshops—close to 70! Here we found something for everyone, from the home gardener to the seasoned livestock producer. In short, the NOFA-VT winter conference is just what one needs in the dark days of winter. It provides us with “seeds” to be stored until the ground warms in the spring.

See you there next winter?

Meg Lucas
Barbi Schreiber

Photo by Meg Lucas

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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. 

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