• 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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Randall Cattle

Vermont’s Official State Heritage Breed

Randall cattle grazing

Written By

Meg Lucas

Written on

August 20 , 2013

At the beginning of the 20th century, as Halley’s Comet graced Vermont skies, Samuel Randall could be found tending a herd of lineback cattle on his farm in Sunderland, Vermont. The type of cattle he kept had fallen out of favor as farmers began selectively breeding for specific traits and standardization. But over decades—until the 1980s—and in virtual isolation, Samuel and his son Everett unknowingly preserved this “landrace” herd.

A landrace animal is one that is bred in, and adapted to, its environment. Randall cattle—bred in Vermont and named the state’s official heritage breed in 2006—are “all-purpose,” meaning they’re suited to more than one task around a farm, and therefore can act as draft animals, dairy cows, and/or meat cattle.

In 1985, Everett Randall passed away and the fate of the herd came into question as it was split and sold with the intention of preserving the breed. As Halley’s Comet passed by the earth again in 1986, it became apparent that the largest segment of the herd was in trouble. Tennessee resident Cynthia Creech learned there was a need for someone to come to the rescue, so she bought the 15 cattle and relocated them to Tennessee. According to the Randall Cattle Registry, “Without Cynthia’s timely intervention, it is doubtful that the Randall cattle would be here today.” She now lives in Dutchess County, New York, and 300 Randalls are now living in 15 states and Canada.

Newhall Farm in Reading is one farm in Vermont that is partnering with Cynthia to help bring the Randall back from being what the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has deemed “America’s most critically endangered bovine breed.”  We met up with the herd on a 94-degree July afternoon in a small pasture surrounded by lush woods. Here the cattle roam freely on grass, living and breeding in a natural setting with little human interference, ensuring the breed’s genetic integrity. The size of the herd at Newhall is currently a little more than 25. At this point they have “no job,” says Linda Fondulas, the co-director with her husband Ted of the Newhall estate, where the farm is located. But the plan is to expand the herd and to produce rose veal from calves that are not confined and are raised on pasture on their mother’s milk.

Halley’s Comet is due for its next visit in 2061, and thanks to the efforts of countless individuals, Randall cattle will likely be grazing beneath its brilliant light.
For more information on the history, progress, and breeding of the Randall, visit Cynthia Creech’s page, cynthiasrandallcattle.com or the Randall Cattle Registry, randallcattleregistry.org. For more information on Newhall Farm, see newhallfarmvt.com.

Photo by Barbi Schreiber

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.