Publishers' Note Spring 2011

Maple Leaves

Written on

March 01 , 2011

Who doesn’t love the first signs of spring? As soon as we see the sap buckets being readied and hung on waiting maple trees, we know for sure that winter’s grip is beginning to ease. We also know that soon we’ll be making our yearly trek to the sugarhouse near us to witness the age-old rituals and to get a taste of that wonderful sweetness in all its variety, from fancy to dark amber. In this issue, you can learn about the subtle and not so subtle taste differences in maple syrup. And if you’re wondering where you can taste them, you’ll find a listing of sugarhouses that participate in the annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend on March 19–20.

In this issue, though, we serve up that maple syrup not with pancakes but with the best farm products you can’t eat, from alpaca wool to whey coatings. With all the focus on local food, it’s easy to forget that not every agricultural crop is for eating—and that some edible crops can be used for non-edible purposes. So we’ve strayed off our usual path and are giving you a look at some traditional as well as innovative products that come off farms but are not meant for the table. Many of these products create jobs for Vermonters, keep farmland in active use, and lead our state toward greater self-sufficiency and less dependency on imported goods. Click here to read the articles.

Lambing season is another welcome sign of spring. Helen Whybrow provides an intimate glimpse into her experiences shepherding new lambs into the world. And spring is a welcome time to start planning your garden: Ellen Ecker Ogden shares thoughts on the “kitchen garden”.

As a bonus to our readers, we’ve published an article on our website (localbanquet.com) that explores how Vermont farmers and growers are using social media to tell their stories and to get the word out about locally grown foods, thus engaging, educating, and entertaining their consumers on these virtual platforms. Please visit our site and check out the story.

Also something we’re not diving into in this issue, but that is just as noteworthy: the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund released its long-awaited Farm to Plate report in executive summary form to the legislature this past January. You can check out this 10-year strategic plan for Vermont’s food system at vsjf.org. Also, look for the full report to be released in stages in the coming months.

Meg Lucas
Barbi Schreiber

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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.