local banquet fall 2017 | issue forty-two
Bison • New American Stone Mills • Farm to Fashion
GILF EA THE R TUR NIP FE ST A Family Fun Day Turnip Cart Turnip CafĂŠ SATURDAY Turnip Boutique Turnip Contest October 28 22 Farmers Market 10 to 3 Live Local Music Inside Town Hall and big & little tents on Main Street in Wardsboro, Vermont RAIN , SNOW , OR SHINE ! www.FriendsofWardsboroLibrary.org
3.5" x 4.5" LB 2017
Celebrating Vermontâ€™s State Vegetable with sponsorships from River Valley Credit Union Dutton Farm Stand VT Agency of Agriculture
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C ON T E N T S f
i s s u e
f o r t y - t w o
4 Publishers’ Note
16 Farm-to-Fashion in Sky Like Snow
6 It’s Time for Puttin’ It Up
18 Vermont Young Farmers Coalition
8 Set the Table with…Bison 10 People, Places, and Plates Tutto in Famiglia at the Williamsville Eatery
12 Turn Summer’s Vegetables Into Winter’s Flavor Bombs
14 Bringing Back the Local Grain Economy
Growing Community and Policy in Vermont
21 Stay Rooted in Vermont with Local Food 29 Farmers’ Kitchen 30 Last Morsel
Publisher Schreiber & Lucas, LLC
Editor Bonnie North
As the days shorten and the temperatures begin their march south, here in Vermont we are so fortunate to experience Mother Nature’s annual display. It’s always been our favorite time of year; full of abundance from the summer and with a hint of the bittersweet knowledge that winter is next up on the docket. The brilliant days and crisp nights bring the moment into sharp focus and remind us that change is welcome and ever present. In this issue we give a nod to this intersection of the seasons and the concept of change. Our editor, Bonnie North, dives into the nuts and bolts of food preservation using two canning methods. She explores the topic from a basic understanding of the process, equipment needed, and procedures to be followed to ensure a safe experience and a safe end product. It’s a timely article full of essential information that will have you savoring summer’s goodness well into the winter months. Also in the spirit of bridging the seasons, Jesse Natha writes to let us know that cucumbers are far from the only garden offering that should be pickled. We find out that there are a myriad of candidates destined for the pickle jar, which we will be popping open in February. Sometimes change moves us to rediscover and embrace an old tradition or practice. This is the case with the folks at Elmore Mountain Bread. Looking for a challenge, the bakery ventured into creating their own flour mill using time-honored ideas and designs that they then married with current technologies. As you will discover, the resulting mill is an elegant work of art that produces top-quality flour. In southern Vermont—working out of a centuries-old stone building—one fiber artist combines wools, the color of a muted landscape, to create sensuous knit hats. This attention to place and materials is reflected in the name of the enterprise: Sky Like Snow. Reminding us of the beautiful, ephemeral, and ever-changing temperament of our natural surroundings. We also explore change and adaptation in the continuing challenges facing farmers on an ongoing basis. Working to connect young farmers through out the state, the Vermont Young Farmers Coalition helps facilitate networking and addresses many of these challenges by building community. While summer winds down and autumn begins to construct its wondrous riot of color, let’s remember to pause, breathing in and embracing the changes that are sure to come. Meg Lucas Barbi Schreiber
Art Director Meg Lucas Ad Director Barbi Schreiber Proofreader Marisa Crumb Contributors Christine Cole Steve Crofter Laurel Green Lauren Griswold Liz Guzynski Pamela Hunt Helen Labun Jesse Natha Bonnie North Katie Spring Printed with soy ink on FSC certified 50% recycled chlorine–free paper Subscriptions, $22 Subscribe online or send checks to: Vermont’s Local Banquet PO Box 69 Saxtons River, VT 05154 localbanquet.com 802-869-1236 we welcome letters to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org vermont’s LOCAL Banquet Mission Statement The purpose of our publication is to promote and support our local communities. By focusing on fresh, local, wholesome foods grown and made in Vermont, we preserve our environment, grow our economy, and enhance our nutrition. Vermont’s Local Banquet (ISSN 1946–0295) is published quarterly. Subscriptions are $22 annually and are mailed in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. Please make checks payable to Vermont’s Local Banquet. Thank you. Copyright (c) 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without written consent. Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers or editors.
On the cover: Winter squash; photo by Meg Lucas. Contents page: Boys raking up leaves on front lawn, Bradford, Vermont, 1939; photo by Russell Lee, 1903–1986, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC.
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local banquet 5
It’s Time for Puttin’ It Up You may remember your mother or grandmother’s stories about “puttin’ up” tomatoes or green beans every summer. Especially in rural communities this was a yearly ritual and women often gathered together to spend afternoons around a picnic table snapping the ends off green beans for hours, drinking sweet iced tea, and enjoying the camaraderie. And come those dark chilly days, there was nothing to compare with the flavor of home-preserved foods, bringing the scents and tastes of summertime to the winter’s table. Now, home canning can be some work—but it’s also fun and satisfying. Once you’ve canned your own summer tomatoes you’ll never again be quite satisfied using store-bought for your sauces and soups. Doing it properly and safely is important though. A pressure cooker creates a lot of raw force and needs to be handled properly. Thankfully, modern pressure cookers are much safer and easier to use than the older versions our parents and grandparents managed with—I
remember my mother accidentally sending a dozen quarts of hot beans flying all over the kitchen!
THE BASICS Understanding how to prevent food spoilage is the key to canning safety. Molds, yeasts, and bacteria are the major causes of food spoilage, and the most important factor in controlling these “spoilers” is controlling the environment that encourages their growth. The “processing” in a canner destroys potentially harmful microorganisms and drives air from the jar. As the jars cool, a vacuum is formed and the lid seals tightly to the jar, preventing other microorganisms from entering and contaminating the food. Canning interrupts the natural decaying process by heating the food to a specific temperature and holding it there for a specific period of time. The word specific is important here! Refer to reliable recipes (The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, edited by Judi Kin-
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gry and Lauren Devine, is an excellent source) or other good sources for instructions. Select the method of canning based upon the acid level of the food being canned. The processing methods are NOT interchangeable. Also, the “head space”—room for the contents to expand during heating inside the jar— will vary because some foods swell more than others and require additional head space. In general, leave 1 inch of head space for low-acid foods, like meats or vegetables; 1/2 inch for acidic foods like fruits and tomatoes; and 1/4 inch for juices, jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes. Processing times also vary greatly depending upon the type of food being canned and the jar size you are using. Refer to each recipe for correct processing information regarding length of processing, pressure required and so on. If all the steps to canning are followed properly, your food will be safely preserved and can last for many months in the jar.
photo by barbi schreiber
by Bonnie North
CANNING EQUIPMENT Glass canning jars Packing funnel Clean sponge for cleaning jar rims Jar lids—CAN ONLY BE USED ONCE The rubber gasket will NOT seal again. Discard, or permanently mark as used, after opening the jar. Magnetic lid lifter Spatula for removing air bubbles from packed jars Jar rings—can be reused over and over Pressure cooker or large canning pot with cover Rack for elevating jars within the canner Timer Tongs for removing hot jars Pot holders and towels Jar opener
PREPARATION When you are ready to can, carefully remove any small diseased areas or bruised spots in your food. Discard moldy, insect-damaged, and overly ripe foods. Prepare food for loading into jars. • Place lids in a pan of warm water and heat gently to soften the rubberized rim. Do not allow the water to boil, which could crack the rubber. • Load jars using the funnel, leaving proper head space for contents to expand during processing. • Run a spatula down the sides of each jar to tease out any air bubbles that may be inside. • Wipe the rim of each jar carefully so that there will be a clean and uninterrupted seal between the glass rim of the jar and the rubberized circle inside the lid. • Lift each lid from the warm water without touching them, using the magnetized lid lifter and gently drop onto the rim of each jar. Without touching the rubberized circle inside the lid, position them centered on the jar. Touching the rubberized circle can interfere with the sealing process. • Screw jar rings onto the jars. The ring should be fully screwed on but not
overly tight. The rubberized circle inside the lid seals with the glass rim of the jar; the ring is merely to keep the lid in place during the canning process. It will be removed to check the seal when the jars have fully cooled.
the sealed jars they can corrode and become difficult to remove. Rings can be kept for re-use, but the lids cannot.
PRESSURE CANNER METHOD Parts of a pressure canner:
THE TWO METHODS
There are two methods of home canning: the hot water bath method and the steam pressure-canner method. The pH, or the natural acidity, of the food you are preserving determines which method must be used. The processing methods are NOT interchangeable. Foods naturally high in acid, such as tomatoes, sauerkraut, or pickles, are safe to process by the hot water bath method because the acidity of the food prevents the growth of hard-to-kill bacteria such as staph or botulism. However, staph and botulism can be dangerous in a low-acid environment. These bacteria cannot be completely destroyed by the hot water bath method since temperatures above the boiling point of water must be reached and maintained for a period of time. The pressure cooker is designed to seal so tightly that the water cannot all turn to steam and escape, thus pressure builds and a higher temperature can be reached. A pressure-cooker must be used to preserve low-acid foods safely.
HOT WATER BATH METHOD • Fill canner half full with warm water. • Load jars into rack and lower rack into the water. • Add additional hot water until the water level is at least 2 inches above jar tops. • Cover canner. • Bring to a hard rolling boil and adjust down to a soft rolling boil. Set timer for the number of minutes recommended for processing. • When timer sounds, turn off heat and allow to cool down for about 15 minutes before opening canner. Be certain to lift the canner lid toward you so that the steam moves away from your face. There will be steam coming out! • Using tongs, remove the jars and set on a towel to finish cooling. Remove rings and check seals only when the jars are fully cooled. Do not replace the rings. If the rings are stored on
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Locking lid with rubber gasket Pressure vent pipe Pressure gauge Pressure regulator cap Safety valve, in case of over-heating or over-pressurizing • Check canner equipment, making certain all vents are cleared, rubber sealing gasket is secure, and so on. • Put rack in bottom of canner and add 2-3 inches of water. • Load jars onto rack. • Lock canner lid firmly into place. • Heat until steam begins to flow from the steam vent pipe. • Allow steam to escape for a full 10 minutes. • Place pressure regulator cap on steam vent. • Allow pressure to build until the desired pressure is reached—adjust heat to maintain pressure at that level. • Set timer. • When processing is complete, turn off the heat and allow canner to cool naturally. Do not remove the pressure regular or open the canner until the canner has depressurized and returned to zero pressure. • Remove pressure regulator and wait at least 2 minutes before opening canner. Be certain to lift the canner lid toward you so that the steam moves away from your face. • Allow jars to sit for 5–10 minutes in the canner to adjust to the lowering of temperature. • Using the tongs, lift jars from canner and set on a towel to continue cooling. Remove rings and check seals when jars are completely cooled. Do not replace the rings. If the rings are stored on the sealed jars they can corrode and become difficult to remove. Rings can be kept for re-use, but the lids cannot. Continued on page 25 2 0 1 7
local banquet 7
Set the Table with…
While the horned, haunched American bison usually evokes backdrops of western plains and peaks, it also inhabits the outskirts of humble Rutland, Vermont. There, Thomas Hubbard and his wife, Lisa, have raised the animals for about 10 years on their farm, Mountain View Bison. Their long, steep driveway is peppered with unfamiliar sights: fallow deer with elk-like antlers range the initial pastures, and bison appear higher up. When I visited this past summer, I paused to watch the bristle-hided bulls, cows, and calves, as they are called, chew their cud in the afternoon shade. The sight’s conceptual similarity to cattle on pasture is belied by a tone that feels unearthly under the familiar maples and beeches. “One is always watching you,” Tom says, of the herd’s scrupulous watch. Devilish tapered beards, curved horns, and a zero to sixty wildness leer from the trees’ shadows. The trick is that, rather than unearthly, the sight is ever real. Bison are raised on ranches all over the country—about 2,500 ranches, according to the 2012 USDA census. While most of these captive herds are concentrated in western states, you can find some here in Vermont, too. The animals thrive on Vermont’s rich grasses and handle our winters with ease, even eluding shelter from nor’easter storms. Their meat has enjoyed increased popularity in recent years, too. Bison’s nuanced fla-
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vor and wild allure now adds an out-ofthe-box flair to menus all over the country, often standing in for classic beef dishes—bison burgers, chili, meatloaf, stew, shepherd’s pie, and pot-roast. Customers seek out bison for its flavor, and increasingly, its nutritional profile. Perhaps the hottest fuel behind bison’s rise to fame is its nutritional content, which outshines most. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s “National Nutrient Database,” it’s a low-calorie, low-fat, high-protein option that prices-out similarly to grass-fed beef. The wild nature of the animals usually dictates that they are sustainably raised, with lots of room to roam and rarely are hormones or antibiotics used. Many macro and micro nutrient levels are higher in bison than grass-fed beef and even salmon. For those concerned with nutrient density, bison is the strongest option in the meat aisle. For all their magnetism and profitability, though, bison are one of the most challenging specialty livestock species. Raising wild animals for meat is not for the faint of heart. The Hubbards have bought out herds from four other farms in Vermont, and one in New York, that decided to discontinue their bison businesses. Tom lists the animals’ aggression and abuse on equipment as primary challenges. Bison are unpredictable, no matter how long they have been in cap-
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tivity. And they are in many ways a marvel of evolution: their sheer physical power is in a league of its own. They are the largest terrestrial mammal in North America. They can run up to 35 miles per hour, like a galloping horse, but have horns, and can flip a 500-pound bale of hay, easy. For a bison farmer, charges and gorings are real threats, and as a general rule, ranchers never turn their backs on the bison they raise. Tom explained that bison are also heavy grazers, hitting pastures harder than cattle, so they require more acreage. Outfitting an operation with proper equipment can represent a steep learning curve for new bison farmers, too. Fencing must be high and robust, which translates to expensive. And further, no matter how tough, all infrastructure and equipment takes abuse from the powerful animals. Not many bison farmers remain in Vermont, but the Hubbards aren’t looking to leave the business any time soon. It’s evident that Tom has a deep respect for his herd. He tells me about his animals with a sense of awe tucked behind his stories and descriptions. Tom switched slaughterhouses once because his previous facility stopped accepting horned animals. The owner suggested dehorning his animals, as many a cattle and goat owner do. Tom can’t imagine a bison without its horns: “I wouldn’t do
photo courtesy of the Bison Council
by Lauren Griswold
Photo by Lauren Griswald
that to my animals, I just wouldn’t, because a horn on a bison is not like a deer. It’s permanent. If they break off, they’re not comin’ back.” He also watches each of his animals get processed through to the point where they hit the cooler. Butchering bison is comparable to cattle, with a few caveats. Consider the bison’s front-loaded form and massive shoulder hump, comprised of solid muscle. This shifted arrangement allows for a lot more shoulder, or chuck roast. Some even designate a bison-specific cut, called the “hump roast”. Bison rib cages are also twice the size of cattle’s. Other than these primary differences, the cuts translate from one animal to the other fairly easily. “The past two years have been crazy,” Tom notes, speaking to bison meat demand. He and Lisa sell at two local farmers’ markets and retailers. Their experience here in Vermont reflects national trends—the National Bison Association attests to a domestic demand so strong that more producers are needed to maintain supply without raising prices. Bison is also rising in popularity because unlike other mineral-laden wild meats, bison isn’t gamey. It’s actually very similar to beef. I served a top round steak from Mountain View Bison, seared medium rare, back to back with grass-fed beef sirloin. The textures were comparable, but the bison’s flavor offered more nuanced complexity than the beef’s. In fact, the sweet, nutty, and savory notes in bison recall dry-aged beef. To enjoy a bison steak simply seasoned is a taster’s treat, although the flavor also stands up to richly flavored dishes. Any umami-forward recipe is fair game. The flavors are so similar that any beef recipe can easily be adapted for bison. Whether you’re trying an old favorite or exploring a new frontier, those hearty, savory tones greet red meat dishes with resonance. When preparing bison, know that it has far less, and far finer, marbling than even grass-fed beef. Less fat means less insulation in the cooking process, so steak cuts take less time over the heat and are best served medium rare, lest they’re served tough. Brush with oil and sear steaks on the grill or in a skillet, and finish in a low-temperature oven, if necessary. With tougher roast or stew cuts, go low and slow with an all-day, or overnight, braise. Mountain View’s bison can be purchased at the Rutland Farmers’ Market, May 13 to October 28, on Saturdays from 9-2pm, and Wednesdays 3-6pm in Rutland’s Depot Park, 98 Merchants Row—or directly from the farm by emailing email@example.com or calling Lisa at 802.342.0429. Their Facebook page, where you can see some short videos of the herd in action, is facebook.com/ Mountain-View-Bison-887881177903723/. Bison meats are also sold at the Yankee Farmers’ Market, 360 Route 103 East, in Warner, NH, and directly from Valley View Bison, in Langdon, NH, 603-835-6863. They can be special ordered at Vermont Meat and Seafood in Williston, VT, 802-878-2020.
Caprese Bison Sirloin Steak with Bow Tie Pasta 4 6-ounce bison top sirloin steaks salt and black pepper 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 6 ounces dried bow tie (farfalle) pasta ½ cup purchased or homemade basil pesto 2 cups halved grape tomatoes 1 cup cubed fresh mozzarella extra-virgin olive oil chopped fresh basil Season bison sirloin steaks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Cook bison sirloin steaks, turning once, in hot oil for 16 to 18 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 145 °F. Top each bison steak with 1 tablespoon of the pesto. Cover skillet and let stand for 3 minutes. Remove bison sirloin steaks from skillet and thinly slice. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss the cooked pasta, the remaining pesto, the tomatoes, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Serve with the sliced bison sirloin steaks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with basil. Recipe courtesy of The Bison Council: thebisoncouncil.com.
Lauren Griswold lives, works, and plays in east-central Vermont. She coordinates programming for Valley Food & Farm at the nonprofit Vital Communities and loves to bake, bike, and knit in her free time.
Thomas Hubbard offers an apple to “Big Dan.”
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local banquet 9
People, Places, and Plates Tutto in Famiglia at the Williamsville Eatery by Liz Guzynski
You know how some buildings, even when they’re empty, seem as if their history is still alive, shimmering through the veil of the now? That’s how many people in Williamsville, Vermont, a bucolic community situated along Rock River, saw their old general store, sitting empty since 2007, after 185 years of continuous operation. “The building just seemed like it wanted to be used,” says Glenn Richardson, who in conjunction with his son Dylan and wife Lauri, operate Williamsville Eatery, a farm-to-table restaurant that has occupied the space since July 2014. All together the Richardson family presents an appealing yet formidable trio. Glenn radiates a disciplined energy that pops and zings against Lauri’s glowing golden good looks and infectious smile, while Dylan meets them in the middle, all but concealing his passionate intensity under a gentle slouch and laid-back demeanor. So united a front do they present—their support for each other and the tight community of workers and diners that they’ve nurtured at Williamsville Eatery is genuine and constant—that after a while you stop looking for cracks in the facade and drink up the magic. Which is all they really wanted in the first place. And serendipity, if not outright magic, describes the arc of progress for their restaurant, now celebrating its third birthday. Just a few years ago, Dylan was living and working at a pizza joint in Boston after vagabonding around the world for seven months, eating “every kind of street food that the guidebooks told you not to eat” and imagining a life as a professional photographer. Then he received an “almost offhand” offer to lease the old general store for “some kind of business” from the building’s owner, Robert Goldenhill. Although Dylan had sometimes chafed at small-town life while growing up in the area, his roots were sunk deep in Vermont. “Sometimes you have to leave a place to appreciate it,” he admits with a rueful grin. Meanwhile, his parents were running a graphic design shop in Williamsville and growing weary of the constant technological churn. Glenn had explored the notion of “throwing it all in” and becoming a baker, so in 2007 he enrolled in the rigorous bread program at the International Culinary Center (formerly the FCI) in Soho. Lauri, with her broad background in environmental studies, art, and education, had never strayed far from practices of sustainable food and cooking and was instantly supportive of the restaurant concept. In short order, an intriguing notion began to take on the contours of an actual business plan. But make no mistake: it was a “monumen-
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photos by barbi schreiber and meg lucas
tal undertaking,” Glenn notes, involving not only three generations of family—Lauri’s parents were and are integral to the project—but the unwavering support of the townspeople and local authorities who all wanted the restaurant to succeed. Examine the details of the building and you’ll discover a virtual palimpsest of its history. The wide planks on the front wall are speckled with long-gone paints and the occasional phone number of yore. Lauri coated them with a clear satin finish and used the flecks of color to inspire other welcoming wall colors. She updates the space weekly with gleanings from her garden and forest rambles. Her mosaics provide vibrant color punches on the front steps and through the space, even as they meld with original white subway tiles in the open kitchen. Dylan has contributed a sinuous piece of an old tree stump he found while hiking; it now frames a mirror by the entrance. Other local artists have also left their mark. The first thing you touch upon arriving is a graceful ironwork handle on the front door, wrought by Fred Homer. The footrest under the bar is a reclaimed pole from the old Sunoco station across the street, reimagined by Rich Gillia. Most touching of all may be a scrap of notebook paper that had been stuck to the door. Now preserved under glass, it’s written in thick pencil: “When will you open again?’’ and signed, “(the sisters) M. Sullivan and L. Williams.” But what saves the Richardsons’ endeavor from culinary preciosity is the grit and integrity with which they approach the food. “This is not a transferable business model,” is Dylan’s unblinking position. Irreproducible pieces of themselves embedded in every aspect of their work give Williamsville Eatery its unique character. As Lauri comments, wanting people to leave feeling nourished involves feeding their intangible selves as well as their stomachs. Dylan reflects on how pizza, which he calls both “personal and poignant,” grew to become a substitute for his first artistic love, photography. Whereas the act of taking a photograph seeks to solidify an object or event, he says, food is by definition, a fleeting expression. Even the most perfect plate of food is not designed to last. For him, cooking is “a craft that fulfills an artistic energy.” Glenn, a.k.a. the “backstock king” and bartender, keeps the wheels rolling on invisible tracks by attending to a thousand details with the same meticulous focus he learned as a graphic
Glenn, Lauri, and Dylan designer. No list is too long not to be checked twice, no surface too inconspicuous not to deserve a polish. If you enjoyed that glass of wine, he can instantly think of another interesting little gem that just came in. And as if that wasn’t enough, “You’ll see Glenn, after a long night of service, pull out a ladder and start wiping down the beams,” says Lauri. Ever willing to share credit, Dylan maintains that he’s learned a lot from his constant companions in the kitchen, Nate Whit and Wilson Kondracki. The staff is rounded out by the intrepid Sarah Robinson, who’s been with the Eatery almost from day one, and is a key player on the floor, behind the bar, and doing anything else that needs her attention. While Dylan shies away from naming specific “exotic” dishes that have influenced his cooking, he notes how we have lost contact with our own regional foods that are worth using and reimagining. One of the stand-out examples in their spring and summer menu is a tangy knotweed chutney that Dylan and Lauri adapted from an old rhubarb recipe. Transforming an invasive weed into a tasty side dish scores a trifecta of local, sustainable, and laid-back hip that other chefs dream about. “We just do what we do at home, cook like we’ve always cooked,” is Dylan’s laconic assessment of their kitchen philosophy. “I guess I want to educate people without being preachy. I want to maintain high standards without being pretentious.” His parents gaze fondly, nodding in agreement. Making “local” and “sustainable” into something more than feel-good sloganeering sometimes requires creativity. For Continued on page 25 Fa l l
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local banquet 11
TURN SUMMER’S VEGETABLES Into Winter’s Flavor Bombs
If you garden or own a membership in a CSA, you know high summer through autumn as the time of year when everything explodes, and the piles of produce accumulating on kitchen counters, mudroom floors, erupting from crisper drawers, and occupying idle porch swings have begun to impede normal daily routine. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to join one of civilizations’ great movements—one that spans geography and time, defines cultures, and secures the health and prosperity of humankind through another season. It is time to make pickles. Here in the United States, the word “pickle” is virtually synonymous with the deep green, bumpy form of the cucumber. It became firmly planted both literally, across all of what is now Brooklyn, but also figuratively in the American culinary psyche, as the prevailing pickle in the continent by successive waves of European immigrants from the 17th through 20th centuries. Across the world, however, the pickle spectrum is vast and varied. Fundamental to Japanese cuisine are takuan, a withered, bright yellow, pickled daikon; narazuke, vegetables pickled in sake lees for several years until they reach an earthy dark brown; and gari, the pink pickled ginger we’ve all seen accompanying our sushi. Korean cuisine is defined by kimchi in its many varieties; Scandinavia by its pickled herring. An array of pickles and chutneys feature everything from green mango to gooseberries alongside Indian meals, while preserved lemons star in North African dishes. Let’s stop there, though the list goes on, with every world
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cuisine featuring some form of pickle as a means of preserving critical nutrients for long periods of time without refrigeration. At their most essential, this array shares the central defining quality of a pickle: a fresh food that has been placed in a high-acid environment as a means of deterring spoilage-causing microbes. The happy side effect of this process is that these high-acid environments produce foods whose fresh flavors are transformed into powerfully tart, bright bombs of deliciousness that enliven what can be otherwise bland, monotonous meals in the long winter months. While creative fermentation has been a staple of food preservation for centuries, it has recently exploded in Vermont’s restaurants. Elaborate pickle plates are now standard fare on starter menus, featuring a selection of house-made pickles that range from the classic green beans and cukes to tiny, tapered baby carrots and chili-flecked kimchi. ArtsRiot in Burlington’s South End offers a day-glow pink “sauer egg” and a diminutive “fire cracker weenie” on theirs, in what feels like a wry callout to the murky gallon jars of pickled eggs and sausages found at dive bars everywhere. Even the Bloody Mary at Burlington’s Monarch & the Milkweed is topped with a skewer of pickled veggies substantial enough to count as a full-on appetizer. To learn more about the path from freshly picked to freshly pickled, I spoke with Vermont cookbook author and food-preservation expert Andrea Chesman, whose 2012 book The Pickled Pantry, From Apples to Zucchini, 150 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, Chutneys & More is an indispensable guide to pickling
by Jesse Natha
Photo by Jesse Natha
that goes way beyond the cucumber. Andrea describes the two primary means of creating the necessary acidic environment for pickling. The first, lacto-fermentation, is ancient, having been in practice at least since the Mesopotamians first cultivated food. Fermentation is achieved by mixing salt with whole or prepared vegetables, which draws the liquid out of the vegetables to create a brine that fully covers them. Naturally occurring bacteria on the surface of the vegetables thrive and multiply in this briny environment, and the lactic acid they produce discourages undesirable bacteria and preserves the food. With larger, whole fruits and vegetables like cucumbers that don’t expel much moisture, a saltwater brine is used instead and the process continues from there. The second method has been around for a much shorter time, increasing in ease and popularity after 1858 when John Mason patented his eponymous glass jar. This simpler method is achieved by packing the fruit or vegetable in an already-acidic medium, usually vinegar, and heat-treating the packed jars in a hot-water or steam canner to make them shelf stable. These are the ubiquitous pickles of roadside stands and farmers’ markets, and they last for years in farmhouse basements and, once opened, the condiment section of refrigerator doors. For the new or stymied pickler, Andrea has some tips and some warnings about both approaches. While it’s incredibly satisfying to put the gorgeous, massive antique crock you just found at an estate sale to good use, she warns that “Making it in a big crock, opening frequently to see how it’s going, and introducing airborne yeast and mold, you’ll end up with a skunky batch.” Her recommendation is to employ glass jars, whose transparency eases one’s curiosity and which are unlikely to conceal small cracks that can lead to failures. Fermented pickles are “an act of faith and patience,” she says. For best results, give them time and let them do their thing uninterrupted. Andrea’s primary concern when making vinegar-based pickles is the crispness of the final product. She highly recommends adding “Ball Pickle Crisp” granules, which are pure calcium chloride, available wherever canning supplies are sold. She also stresses the importance of using absolutely fresh produce at the peak of its season—even if it means processing a jar or two at a time rather than gradually amassing a mighty batch. Even still, title of her book notwithstanding, Andrea says, “You will never make a crisp pickle out of a zucchini. There’s just no reason to pickle a zucchini.” The only other vegetable she steers clear from pickling is ripe tomatoes; they don’t hold up well, and she suggests using those for a jam instead. She highly recommends pickling cauliflower, and she has even had delicious results from garlic scapes and ramps. There is almost endless opportunity for creativity in flavor, combination, and form. Mixed pickles made from whatever assortment of vegetables ripened in the garden or came in your share today can be the genesis of your new secret recipes. Indeed, even in today’s world of grocery shelves stocked with fresh greens in January and jars of exotic relishes from every part of the world, we still need to do something with all
Japanese pickles at Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. those cabbages, carrots, and green beans. “All food trends are cyclical,” Andrea says. “But I don’t think fermenting vegetables is going to go away at all. It transforms into something so delicious you can’t live without it.” Jesse Natha lives in Vergennes. She has written for Local Banquet and The Boston Globe. Her collection of essays Farming and Feasting with the Robinsons was recently rereleased by Ferrisburgh’s Rokeby Museum. Her other interests include Italian, gardening, and helping creative people craft profitable businesses.
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Bringing Back the Local Grain Economy One Mill at a Time by Pamela Hunt
Each millstone is hand shaped. Inset: A gorgeous Elmore Mountain Bread loaf made with their own flours. 14 local banquet
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Blair Marvin and Andrew Heyn of Elmore Mountain Bread have been baking together for 14 years. They’ve spent years researching and fine-tuning their recipes and processes to make the best bread possible—loaves that are full of taste yet equally full of nutrition. Seeking a challenge, and perhaps a change of pace, they decided to start milling their grains fresh, to ensure they capture the flour’s peak vitality in their products. “We weren’t necessarily interested in making more bread,” says Blair. “What we wanted was to learn how to make better bread and to grow in that sense. It made sense to us to naturally figure out how to build our relationship with our primary ingredient.”
Carving photo by Blair Marvin; inset photo by Monica Frisell
Inspiration in the Wrinkles from Past Andrew sought advice from a baker friend, Fulton Forde of Boulted Bread in Raleigh, North Carolina, about what features to look for in a mill. Although Fulton already owned an Austrian-built model, he was tinkering around with building his own mill to better meet his needs. The two collaborated over ideas and designs. Then, using his carpentry and metal-working skills acquired from doing work around the house, Andrew built his first mill in 2014. For ideas and inspiration, Andrew and Blair looked at existing mills and pored through books—some from as far back as the 1800s—to learn from those who had gone before. “They have pretty good descriptions,” says Andrew of these antique resources. “They’re a bit old-timey, but they’re fun to read.” One tome they found particularly interesting sports an unusual title: The Book of Wrinkles. “It turns out, a ‘wrinkle’ is a tidbit of information that’s shared between millers and millwrights to produce better flour,” explains Blair. Fellow bakers who saw Andrew’s and Fulton’s mills expressed interest, and several were sold through word of mouth. New American Stone Mills—with Andrew producing the larger 36-plus-inch models and Fulton the 26-inch ones— was born. Early in 2017, however, Fulton stepped away from the collaboration, leaving Andrew as the sole proprietor. Although the millstones on the model Andrew built for Elmore Mountain Bread are hewn from Carolina pink granite, he uses Vermont granite in the mills he builds for New American Stone Mills. “We teamed up with Trow and Holden, one of the oldest granite-cutting companies in the world, out of Barre,” says Blair. The stones come as flat, precut blanks with a hole drilled in the middle. Then Andrew dresses the stones himself, using angle grinders with diamond blades and a stone-sculpting air hammer, following designs developed from studying the old masters. He also teaches bakers who purchase a mill how to dress their own stones. Unlike millstones made of composite material, which tends to be self-sharpening, the granite stones eventually wear each other smooth. “You just take an air hammer,” he says, “and pucker the surface.” The design of the mills is an ongoing process. Andrew and Blair credit their customers, many of whom are friends, with helping to guide the machines’ development. “They’re open with feedback… and criticism,” Blair explains. And the intimate knowledge Andrew has of each part and how they all work together, as well as hands-on knowledge they’ve acquired
while helping buyers set up and troubleshoot mills, has enabled the couple to efficiently help customers get started with milling.
Strengthening the Local Grain Economy “Because we are miller/bakers and millwrights, this has given us insight into the whole process from start to finish,” Blair says. “It’s kind of a stepping-stone into working with local farmers. Once you have your milling in-house, the natural progression is to start looking to source your grain closer. So then you potentially develop a relationship with a local farmer, which allows you to learn more about the growing process, and you’re supporting the farmer. So the mills are turning into a tool that enables the rebuilding of our local grain economy. It’s a bigger-picture thing here.” New American Stone Mills has sold mills to several bakers across the country, including a 48-inch model for Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, a small-scale artisan mill in Minneapolis, Minnesota, ironically the home of industrial giant, General Mills. So far, only one other Vermont baker—Adam Wilson, owner of Running Stone Bread in Huntington—is using one of their mills. However, these Green Mountain–made machines have attracted the attention of another Vermont grain grower, but for a purpose outside the traditional bread bakers’ world. Another collaboration arose when Todd Hardie, founder of Caledonia Spirits, recently launched a new venture called Thornhill Farm where he grows barley and rye. “We’re making a bread now with his organic rye, which is awesome. But we’re also milling it for the distillery. Once a month, Todd comes and we mill up quite a bit.” “Usually 100 pounds of rye, 15 pounds of barley,” Andrew adds, noting that this process takes about four hours. “We’re just cracking the grain,” he explains, rather than milling it to a finer flour. “This project is neat because the rye is grown in Greensboro, then milled here in Elmore, then taken back to Hardwick to be distilled. It’s just about the coolest thing we can imagine—in three years, we’re going to be able to sit down and have a sip of rye whiskey that was grown just down the road, that we milled, and it was made super close to us.”
Growing the Business With five mills in the process of being assembled and ten more on a waiting list, business is definitely picking up for Andrew. A pair of mills waiting to be shipped sits in the couple’s garage, in which everything is dusted with a fine coating of flour—testament to the morning milling of flour for that day’s baking. The mills’ frames are powder coated in Colchester, and with more than a 150 colors to choose from, customers can order a mill to suit any décor. Since building their first mill, Andrew has outgrown the existing workspace in the couple’s garage. Plus, the unheated building didn’t offer the best working conditions during Vermont’s cold winters. Therefore, in June 2017, the pair laid the foundation for a new workshop, specially designed for building the mills. Continued on page 27 Fa l l
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: An array of finished hats; finished skeins ready for knitting; Hannah’s notebook of ideas and plans; Hannah Regier models and shows some finished hats on the deck of her studio overlooking the creek. FACING PAGE: Hannah demonstrates her knitting machine.
Farm-to-Fashion in Sky Like Snow
“Farm to Table” is a familiar term—the distribution of goods from local farms to local communities that enables us to know where our food comes from and encourages the support of our producers. I hadn’t much entertained the idea of “Farm to Fashion,” hadn’t really considered the depth of the phrase, until I met fiber artist Hannah Regier at her home and studio in Athens, Vermont. Hannah combines her longstanding interest in farming and her connection to the land, with a strong passion for the materials she uses, to make fine knit wool hats. There are two remaining early 19th-century schoolhouses in the little town of Athens, and Hannah lives in one of them. It is surrounded by gardens, a wooded hill and an open field. Her house is separated from the small stone building that serves as her studio by a narrow dirt road and one doesn’t have to work hard to envision the place a century or two ago. It’s a ready-made picture and the scene is idyllic. The brick schoolhouse was once one large room and is now outfitted into a cozy home with kitchen, bath, and a 2nd story loft. Just a few yards across the dirt road, sitting eye level with dense treetop branches, Hannah’s studio overlooks a wide, fast running creek murmuring over rocks as it hurries past large garden plots where straight rows of young plants wave in attention. When I asked Hannah how she came to find this incredible place that supports her unique artistry, I quickly realized that hard work
by Christine Cole
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photos by christine cole
and accumulated life experience brought her here. The daughter of two Vermont craftspeople, Hannah spent her young adult life in the Champlain Valley working on various agricultural and creative ventures before pursuing a career in digital product design that took her to the West Coast and India. Back in her home state now, she speaks of her home with humble appreciation and values what she has created. “I wouldn’t have come to this without everything else I have done,” she says. Hannah has been knitting since childhood. “I’ve always loved making hats; I’ve knit hundreds of them!” she exclaims, handing me a sample. This is an exquisite alpaca and wool blend hat, stylishly designed with simple lines that would look good on anyone. Visually, I am struck by the muted colors that pattern an abstract landscape in harmonious tones across the body of the hat. The quality of the fiber, coupled with tones that seem to have risen right out of the earth, make this a sensual experience the second my skin makes contact.
I too, have knitted since I was a young kid, so learning about Hannah’s approach and being in her creative space was a real treat for me. As I looked around her kitchen, I saw her studio everywhere. It spilled over into her living space and integrated itself beautifully—wooden racks of dyed and undyed skeins, a hardwood swift for winding the yarn, wound balls of various striking colors, carefully labeled bags of mushrooms and plant materials gathered for dyeing, bags of fleece, completed hats and works in progress, and sketchbooks of notes and drawings documenting her various ideas and playful meanderings. Everything that goes into the creation of Hannah’s hats is locally produced, grown, or foraged. “Everything is from here!” she says proudly as her hands gesture widely to encompass the world around her. Wool and alpaca fleeces are purchased directly from farms and washed, blended, and spun at a small woman-owned mill in New Hampshire. The finished two-ply lace weight yarn returns to Hannah on cones, ready for her to wind into skeins for dyeing. The loft of the Merino-like wool and the softness of the alpaca is a perfect coupling that results in a
sturdy knit of lightweight elasticity and warmth. Hannah employs both immersion dyeing and hand painting to color the skeins. This part of the process is particularly fascinating as all the beautiful colors displayed in the hats are derived from the plants, mushrooms, flowers, and roots of the area. What Hannah does not grow herself, she finds by foraging her local woods and fields. This harvesting invites a great deal of experimentation, and she shared with me the result of one fruitful chance she took by manipulating the pH balance in a decoction she made from a foraged mushroom. The final yield was a blue caught somewhere between earth and sky—a magical color that made the little wound ball as quiet and attractive as a Robin’s egg. I couldn’t stop looking at it. Although a foundation is established, there is the freedom of chance in Hannah’s process. I found it interesting that although she measures the skeins precisely and keeps all the rounds of yarn in order as she hand paints on them, changes in tension throughout the process enable delightful variations to emerge in the finished knit. She also demonstrated how she wrapped areas of a skein together to create a tie-resist in the immersion-dyeing process. Both methods retain an element of surprise despite the structure of a plan. Hannah thinks about the landscape as she paints and the resulting abstracted patterns reflect this. The hats embody color rhythms that sing of sky, earth, water, and fire. Each is a one-off; each is unique. The double-sided hats are constructed on a knitting machine that, like everything else, has history. Made in the 1960s, in the avocado color so popular then, it’s completely analogue and non-electric. Hannah found it in her mother’s barn some years ago and got it up and running by keeping a watchful eye on eBay to replace its vintage parts. It was evident to me that she had an intimate knowledge of its workings, its quirks, and its advantages. As in hand-knitting, the machine is sensitive to environmental changes in temperature and humidity, and this can have small effects on the gauge that influences the yarn-dyed patterning. I listened to it hum and click happily as Hannah demonstrated manually running it back and forth for each row. It worked obediently under her skillful hands as she manipulated stitches in the rows for the shaping of the hat and diligently charted her progress. Not surprisingly, this farmer-artist’s work is bound to the cyclical pattern of the seasons. Winter is the time for research, for applying to craft fairs, and for selling hats. It’s also the creative zone where Hannah can think about and develop designs to be made in summer. It was late spring when I visited, and her numerous garden beds held young, careful rows of various dyer’s plants that she had started from seeds indoors. In addition to tending the garden, spring marks the beginning of dying wools using decoctions of mushrooms and plant materials dried from the previous year—and making hats for the fall season. I learned that the dried flowers of Dyer’s Coreopsis produce a vibrant deep orange, and that she uses the Japanese indigo plants fresh—as soon as they are cut in August. The resulting deep, trusting blue seemed worth the complexities indigo entails. In the summer, Hannah continues dying and knitting, Continued on page 27 Fa l l
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Vermont Young Farmers Coalition Growing Community and Policy in Vermont by Katie Spring putting down roots here. VYFC supports the national organization in their mission and projects, and engages with young farmers across Vermont, connecting them with fellow farmers and organizations like the Intervale Center, NOFA-VT, The Vermont Land Trust, the Farm Service Agency, and Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), all of which offer different resources young farmers may need. While this match-making is an important part of their work, the farmers behind VYFC see themselves first and foremost as community builders and policy advocates. In June, I spoke with Taylor Hutchinson, co-owner of Footprint Farm, and Megan Browning, harvest manager at Burnt Rock Farm. The two serve on the VYFC leadership team and act as liaisons to the national organization. “What we’ve identified the most is this sense of isolation and sometimes hopelessness in young farmers,” Taylor said, “especially people who’ve been farming two or three years and are starting to burn out. We’re seeing that there’s a lot of help with people to get into farming, but there’s not as much help to keep people in farming after the first two years.” VYFC organizes events to bring farmers together: monthly on-farm potlucks across the state; farmer yoga, with poses geared toward farmers (think shoulder-relaxing poses after
Vermont Young Farmers Coalition members with Anson Tebbetts, second from left. 18 local banquet
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photo by Katie Spring
In late May, in the midst of yet another torrential downpour, a strong gust punched across our hillside farm and lifted our moveable hoop house from the ground. It ripped out the cucumber seedlings we’d just set in and landed diagonal in the field, cutting across four beds of lettuce mix and freshly transplanted zucchini. My husband and I allowed ourselves a few moments of utter defeat, and then set to work. By the evening, the hoop house was back in place, doubly anchored, with extra cucumber transplants rooting in. If nothing else, farming teaches you how to adapt, respond,t and continue moving forward. We’re not alone in our struggles and accomplishments. Across Vermont, and across the country, young farmers are taking on the challenges of a shifting agricultural landscape—one that deals an increasingly unpredictable climate, requires an immense array of knowledge from botany to bookkeeping, and promises fresh air, but not employer-sponsored health care. In 2009, the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) was created to address the specific challenges and needs of young farmers. Their mission statement reads: “NYFC represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success.” Our state chapter, the Vermont Young Farmers Coalition (VYFC), engages both farm owners and employees who are
photo courtesy of VYFC
a day spent hunched over seeding in the greenhouse); and co-hosted events such as the young farmer mixer at the NOFA-VT winter conference, and the mud-season meet-up with RAFFL in Randolph. These events encourage a holistic view of farming that includes sharing technical resources, supporting individual health, and building a social network for farmers to tap into when they need help or simply need to get off the farm for some relaxation and fun. “What’s helped most is having other young farmers around you to ask for advice or just commiserate with, so these social events have really been key,” Taylor said. The other side of VYFC is policy work. “The more I understand about how legislation affects our farm business, the more I feel like we do need to have politicians know that we’re out here,” Taylor said. “We need to advocate for small farms and show them we’re not hobbyists, but that we’re trying to run actual businesses.” So they’re reaching out and starting conversations. In May, VYFC hosted VT Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts on Footprint Farm; in June, they met with Governor Scott at the statehouse. “In Vermont what they’re talking a lot about is that we’re losing young Vermonters and we need a way to keep them here,” Taylor told me. “We need a way to attract young people because our workforce is aging. So we’re trying to put a face to the folks who could keep agriculture going.” According to the 2012 agricultural census, there are 850 dairy farms in Vermont that contribute $2.2 billion in economic activity every year, about $3 million in circulating cash every day. While there are 800 vegetable farms, the value of all vegetable and fruit crops sold was $34.8 million per year. This disparity leads to dairy playing a larger role in policy making, but even though small-scale crop farmers aren’t monetarily competing with big dairy right now, VYFC is vying for a seat at the table. “We’re trying to show [policymakers] there’s a new wave, a revival of old agricultural methods, that could be the next face of the ‘Vermont Brand’,” Taylor said. In their meeting with Secretary Tebbetts, a handful of farm owners and employees shared the biggest barriers they face. The list included affordable health care, access to land and capital, student loan debt, and the viability of a farming career without having to become a farm owner. This last point is particularly important for Megan, who sees the path of farm worker to farm owner as currently the only real option when it comes to having a long-term career in farming. “The more I’ve farmed, the more I’ve realized that it’s not my goal to own my own farm,” she said. “I really appreciate going home at the end of the day, and not holding the weight of a whole farm on my shoulders.” That also gives her more time to be involved in groups like VYFC. “What I want politicians to know,” Megan said, “is that young farmers are the future of agriculture in the U.S. So if we want to see agriculture continue to thrive, then there’s a need to create conditions that make more young people want to farm, and that allow young people to farm.” Addressing student loan debt is one of those conditions. Agriculture is already a hard industry to turn a profit in, and with daunting debt, many college graduates may be priced
out of considering a career in farming. NYFC and VYFC have been active in supporting The Young Farmers Success Act, a federal bill co-sponsored by Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, that would add farming to the list of public service jobs eligible for loan forgiveness. Another priority for VYFC is access to affordable health care. Most farming jobs lack the benefits of health care, paid vacation, and a retirement account. “It’s really important on the state level to help farmers improve their profitability so they can support more jobs for young people,” Megan said. “Farm owners obviously have a huge stake in this, but also anyone else who cares about farming, and frankly anyone who eats food, should have an interest in young farmers, because young farmers are the people who are going to take over all this land over the next 20 years.” For his part, Secretary Tebbetts was thrilled to meet with VYFC. “[He] wants to drive out to farms and hear stories from farmers,” Taylor said. Anson is interested in bringing the different parts of agriculture together and offered to be a bridge between young conventional dairy farmers and VYFC, which is comprised mainly of organic vegetable and small-scale livestock farmers. Their meeting with the Governor was similarly positive, but brief. No matter if it’s a half hour or an afternoon farm visit, VYFC understands the importance of connections, community, and cultivating relationships with policy makers. These relationships stand to support farmers through all their needs, whether it’s commiserating over a flying hoop house or helping them find funding resources. Despite all the challenges, Taylor and Megan agree that, with its myriad of farm-based organizations and support of local food, Vermont is a great place to be a farmer. “For me, [VYFC and NYFC] has been a way to be part of a group,” Taylor said. “It’s like having co-workers all over the country…. It’s inspired me to get it going stronger in Vermont and share that community with more people.” Katie Spring is a farmer and writer in Worcester, where she and her husband run Good Heart Farmstead, a CSA farm with a mission to increase accessibility to local food for low-income Vermonters.
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by Helen Labun If you live in Vermont, chances are that at some time during the year you’ll be eating food that was either grown or processed (or both) in Vermont. Some people seek these foods out, but a lot of Vermonters simply happen across them, as they always have—Vermont roasted coffee at the gas station, a few extra zucchinis from anyone who has a garden. Maple syrup. Fishing trips. Hunting trips. Not to mention that 64 percent of all New England milk comes from Vermont cows. Rooted in Vermont, which originated in the Farm to Plate Network at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), would like everyone to remember that lots of people ate these Vermont foods before “local” became alive with marketing buzz. “In talking to Vermonters around the state who do not identify themselves as ‘locavores’ or foodies…those people spoke loud and clear about feeling like hunting, and gardening, and foraging were some of the original ways Vermonters had access to local food, and that those things are not part of the current discussions about local food, and instead it’s a lot of expensive food, fancy food,” says Rachel Carter, communications director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. “That’s created a sense of irritation among Vermonters…they want connections to the original local food, not the trendiness of recent years.” Rooted in Vermont aims to spark a cultural shift so that all Vermonters feel included in the local foods movement. Toward that end, they spent the last year experimenting with social media, using #RootedInVermont to encourage everyone to share the ways they connect with local food. Examples on their Facebook page include photographs from UVM and the Vermont Historical Society, gardening tips, an article on the cost of local food, and information about Vermont foods such as garlic scapes, cheese, and strawberries. The Instagram account takes advantage of Vermont food’s photogenic qualities; it includes community meals, piglets, many shots of fish, garden harvests, and farmers’ markets. Rachel emphasizes that “We’re not promoting events, not telling people to buy things, just building a relationship.” Liz Ruffa, co-chair of the Consumer Education and Marketing Working Group of the Farm to Plate Network, explains, “What’s really powerful about Rooted in Vermont is that this is sort of both a PSA and a local food promotion campaign…it resonates with Vermont values of pride, equity, and tradition—
values that Vermonters hold so dear—and this value proposition is getting woven into support of local food.” The goal at the moment isn’t increasing farmers’ sales, per se, it’s helping everyone see themselves as part of the local foods movement through highlighting the ways they already are. While it currently de-emphasizes any economic transactions, Rooted in Vermont is also playing the long game for local food purchasing. The idea is that when local foods become mainstream, showing up in quantity at supermarkets and similar outlets, there will be plenty of customers waiting to buy them. These customers still may not go out of their way to find local food, but they would look for that “Vermont” label on shelves where they normally shop. This outcome would highlight a major strength in the “network” element of the Farm to Plate Network: one committee focuses on building demand for local food among more consumer groups, while other committees work on building the supply to the places where those consumers shop. Combine the two projects and everyone wins. The lineage of Rooted in Vermont traces the ways that Farm to Plate works as a network. It begins with a 2009 legislative mandate to the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund to develop a plan for promoting local foods. The resulting Farm to Plate Plan was published in 2011 with, from Chapter One, an “…ultimate purpose to encourage policies and strategic investments that accelerate the movement toward strong local and regional food systems.” The plan identifies 25 goals for supporting Vermont food and dozens of strategies, objectives, and measurements beneath those goals. Goals are focused around the year 2020, although not all the work is expected to be completed at that time. Rachel puts the cultural shift timeline for Rooted in Vermont at 5 to 10 years from its beginning last year. The Farm to Plate Network is the individuals and organizations working to reach the plan’s goals. Formally, it includes five working groups, five teams working on cross cutting issues, and additional task forces formed within those working groups and teams. The Consumer Marketing and Education Working Group, where Rooted in Vermont originated, used Farm to Plate research that included surveys—followed by focus groups held around the state—to sketch out a Rooted in Vermont concept. This concept was refined further by a Task Force, followed by Continued on page 23
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hiring content creators and managers, who tested Rooted in Vermont on social media before developing a more detailed plan for a statewide launch this summer. Today, Rooted in Vermont is the first project from a Farm to Plate Working Group to receive full staffing at VSJF—they hired Shane Rogers, formerly of Green Mountain Farm to School, as project manager in July of this year. Liz notes that Rooted in Vermont is a good pick for this level of investment because the group has demonstrated the full-time nature of work involved. Within Farm to Plate’s plan for progress toward 2020, “…access and affordability are the overarching goals, and Rooted in Vermont advances those outcomes,” she explains. Communications director Carter anticipates this hire will allow for focusing more energy on community outreach across the state. Shane will work with community organizers who can help achieve the elusive word-of-mouth source of local food recommendation and endorsement. Rachel emphasizes that this work is a grassroots movement and that the full-time manager will help that grassroots component “lift off.” “Rooted in Vermont is a way for all Vermonters to feel connected to the local food movement,” she summarizes. Ultimately, it provides tools for everyone who enjoys Vermont foods to share that experience with others and to identify themselves as “Rooted in Vermont’” You can follow Rooted in Vermont on Facebook: facebook. com/RootedinVermont; Twitter: twitter.com/rootedinvermont; and Instagram: instagram.com/rootedinvermont/. Businesses, organizations, and Vermont communities can get involved too. Learn more at http://bit.ly/RootedinVermontMovement.
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SEASONAL HOURS (Aug.-Oct.) Monday-Saturday 9-6, Sunday 9-5 216 Orchard Road, Shelburne (802) 985-2753
Helen Labun writes about food and agriculture topics from Montpelier, VT. She recently became executive director of the Vermont Fresh Network, an organization that actively participates in Farm to Plate.
East Hill Tree Farm Nursery for Fruit Trees Nuts and Berry Plants Plant this fall. Plants Planting Design www.easthilltreefarm.com (802) 454-7874 3499 E. Hill Rd Plainfield, VT
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RECORD KEEPING SERVICES CREDIT LIFE INSURANCE CROP INSURANCE BUSINESS CONSULTING
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Putney Farmers’ Market Sundays 11 am - 2 pm May 28 - October 8 Carol Brown Way, across from the Putney Food Co-op PutneyFarmersMarket.org
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Winter Farmers Market Sundays Nov 19 & 26, Dec 3, 10 & 17 11 am - 2 pm at Green Mountain Orchard (130 West Hill Rd, Putney)
Temple Chiropractic Supporting the health care needs of the community for the past 35 years Specialist in the treatment of non-surgical back & neck pain
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DR. VERNON R. TEMPLE Chiropractic Physician DR. DAVID PARELLA Chiropractic Physician 102 Saxtons River Road Bellows Falls, VT 05101 802–463–9522 We accept all Vermont insurance plans including BCBS, CIGNA, MVP and workers injury insurance
A Wood-Fired Artisan Bakery In Alstead, NH Available in Stores & Farmers’ Markets Throughout the Region
www.orchardhillbreadworks.com 24 local banquet
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Mon - Sat 7–9, Sun 9–9 2 Main St, Brattleboro BrattleboroFoodCoop.coop
Celebrates how Vermonters enjoy local food Follow and share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
CANNING Continued from page 7
STORAGE Before placing the cooled jars in your pantry, wipe off the lids and jars to clean away any food residue that may have escaped during the canning process. Label each jar with the date it was canned and the type of food preserved. Food that has been properly canned can last almost indefinitely but chemical changes will occur over time. This can affect the color, flavor, texture, and nutritional value of the canned food, so labeling, dating, and using old stock first is important. When opening the jars check to be certain that the lid is still tightly sealed. You’ll need the handy jar opener to crack the seal and to open the jars. If the lid is easily removed, DO
NOT USE THE PRODUCT. Check for any disagreeable odors, mold, sliminess, gassiness, or fermentation. If a jar has become contaminated, discard the jar, lid, contents, and any cloths or sponges that may have come into contact with them immediately. Canned foods are best stored at temperatures between 50 and 700F. Freezing can cause the contents and the glass to expand and can break the seal. Have fun! Bonnie North, formerly the president of the Baltimore Chapter of Slow Food USA, has given scores of hands-on classes in the arts of home canning to groups in Maryland as well as Vermont
EATERY Continued from page 11
example, when the restaurant buys a whole cow from Adams Farm in Wilmington, Vermont, Lauri explains, “we buy the whole cow.” And that entails convincing customers to order unfamiliar dishes, like beef heart. “I tell them that if they didn’t know it was, they would think they were eating the best bite of steak they’d ever had.” Her pitch usually works. At the same time, the unforgiving realities of restaurant economics are never far from their minds. Vermont’s strenuous approach to seasonality makes getting fresh greens in the winter a challenge. They order lettuces and such from California because “people want their salad,” even in the dead of winter, but the crew is actively planning for the day when an expanded kitchen garden and year-round hoop house supplement their local suppliers’ goods. They were recently permitted to expand their patio for beverages, and dream about installing more outdoor seating. The Eatery’s current success hasn’t come in an uninterrupted woosh. Their original oven failed in the first year, shutting the restaurant down for several weeks and provoking collective soul-searching about the restaurant’s direction. That’s when Dylan had to reach deep into his personal history. He combined pizza-making experience extending into his teen years with his adult passion for all kinds of adventurous food. Since then, they have acquired a Forno Bravo wood-fired pizza oven that runs at close to 900 °F degrees; they have also invented the two-phase menu that shapes the Eatery’s four-day week. On Thursday and Sunday, pizza dominates the menu, while the scope widens on Friday and Saturday to encompass bistro-style entrées. All that creativity, invention, and love of the particular and the unique is palpable in the very air of the restaurant. When the bar is humming and the tables are brimming, there’s no clear-cut customer demographic that dominates the scene. One of the suppliers might be sampling a beer at the bar while a group of locals celebrate a birthday, not even pausing when vacationing out-of-staters join the buzz. Lauri gets extra bright-eyed recalling the number of little gifts people have brought her during the years. Glenn is most proud of what he calls “the community’s sense of ownership” in their establish-
ment. “Without that support,” he says, “we wouldn’t be here today.” Williamsville Eatery, 26 Main Street, Williamsville, VT 05362 802-365-9600, WilliamsvilleEatery.com P R E S E NWilliamsvilleEatery@gmail.com TING
The newest member of the distinctive Saxtons River Distillery Family
Liz Guzynski is a multimedia painter living and working in Bellows Falls, where she attempts to impose order on a Victorian house shared with her husband, sister, niece and nephew, and three cats.
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Rudyard Kipling slept here.
You can, too!
MEMORABLE VACATIONS IN EXTRAORDINARY HISTORIC PROPERTIES FIVE HISTORIC HOMES TO CHOOSE FROM INCLUDING RUDYARD KIPLINGâ€™S NAULAKHA
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Wine, Cheese & Specialty Foods Since 1996 802-228-4128 www.wineandcheesedepot.com
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15 Barre Street Suite 2, Montpelier, VT 05602 www.ruralvermont.org (802) 223-7222
STONE MILLS Continued from page 15
“We designed the new workshop for Andrew’s efficiency, for him to be able to crank out the mills a little faster,” says Blair. Although they initially considered renting industrial space in nearby Morrisville for the business, they decided that keeping Andrew onsite was more important. “I need Andrew available to help in the bakery,” Blair says. “We’ve worked together for a long time here. The thought of him leaving to go work somewhere else…it didn’t feel right. It’s a lifestyle thing. Our work is entirely our life.” Plus, having the mills produced on their property, just outside of the bakery and next to their own mill, allows them to demonstrate to visitors what a working miller/ baker can do. “We can show them the flour the mill has produced, then walk 50 feet to the bakery and show them the bread that the flour produces. That’s something that’s hard to find. For most people, flour comes out of a 50-pound brown bag that you tear open.”
Photo by Blair Marvin
Grain Enters the Locavore Vocabulary For Andrew and Blair, venturing into the world of milling has been exciting, exhausting, and educational. Despite being bakers for nearly two decades, they had not thought of flour has having the same characteristics that other locally produced foods offer. “I never would have used descriptors like ‘terroir’ about flour,” says Blair. “But people are now talking about grain in the same way they talk about hops or coffee or dairy products, as having a taste of place.” By showing people that flour doesn’t have to come from a bag that has sat on a shelf for six months, Andrew and Marvin are part of the movement to revitalize Vermont’s, and the counSKY LIKE SNOW Continued from page 17
while beginning the harvest for next year. Some wild plants of the summer harvest are sumac, bracken fern and goldenrod. Mushrooms are foraged from August to October— Dyer’s Polypore makes a rich, golden color that I was especially attracted to. Autumn is also the time to start to sell, update the website, and continue making hats. Hannah’s natural curiosity and creativity are laced with a scientific approach—carefully identifying what she encounters in the fields and woods is inherent. Even the name of her business is earthbound and organic, with a little science thrown in. When I asked what inspired it, she told me that she had been brainstorming a long while for a name; she showed me the many lists columned in her notebook of possible ideas. “Then, I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out at the sky one day and I could tell it was going to snow. You know how the sky looks right before it snows? I was watching the crystalline sky and I thought, ‘“Oh…sky like snow!”’ And that was the name that fit and held true. So, she went with it and created her own website at skylikesnow.com. I can’t say that I really know what look the sky has before it snows, but I do know that I’ll be paying extra attention next winter. Hannah has successfully developed a harmonic balance between her art, her home, and the natural world around her. Because she uses materials from her own landscape to paint
A finished New American Stone Mill. try’s, grain economy and shift away from industrialized, homogenous product we’ve all become used to. “Grain is the last frontier in the locavore movement. The demand from the public for higher-quality breads, higher-quality grains, fresh-milled flour, local flour—it’s happening,” Blair says with a smile. The website for Elmore Mountain Bread is: elmoremountainbread.com/. Pamela Hunt lives in South Burlington with her husband and two dogs and writes about travel, food, and general Vermont goings-on. Follow her at pamelahunt.com.
her abstract landscapes on the wool, a deep sense of place is embedded in all she creates. It reflects a woman who is happy in what she does and who she is—passionately devoted to her work and her home. Her rapport with nature is fueled by her love and respect for it and nature’s inherent element of surprise. The allowance of chance is a critical and cherished piece of her process. I had the pleasure of trying on one of Hannah’s hats and must say that the lightness in the weight, the warmth, and the snug elasticity in the fit all felt fantastic—and it looked as good as it felt. On weekends Labor Day through Christmas, Hannah and her beautiful hats will be in the gallery space at 4 Meetinghouse Road in Rockingham, Vermont. She will also be exhibiting at the Paradise City Fair of Fine and Functional Art in Northampton, Massachusetts, October 7–9; Paradise City in Marlborough, Massachusetts, November 17–19; and CraftBoston at the Hynes Convention Center, December 15–17. Sign up for emails at skylikesnow.com to stay informed about other upcoming sales events around the Northeast. Visual and fiber artist Christine Cole has been knitting since childhood and previously taught knitting and drawing classes in the Burlington area.
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H ARLOW F
M S T A and Café Loco
Proud to Support Our Local Farmers All Year Round
Bringing you the best local products including breads, cheeses, our own pork & grass fed beef, our own chickens & eggs, and certified organic produce. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily We also have a wide selection of bedding plants, vegetable starts, and herbs.
Your Community-Owned Grocery Stores PO Box 260, Route 5, Westminster, VT (802) 722-3515 (1/2 Mile North of Exit 5 / Interstate 91 )
82 S. Winooski Ave, Burlington 207 Flynn Ave, Burlington Open 7am - 11pm every day • (802) 861-9700 Opening November 2017 • Follow us for details
We’re expanding! Learn more about cooperative growth: www.citymarket.coop
Growers of Tasty Organic Vegetables and Fruits
Visit our farm stand for our own corn, tomatoes, greens and other fall crops. We also carry wide selection of local seasonal produce and artisinal breads and dairy.
Time to sign up for our Winter CSA. Applications on our Website.
Our farm stand is open daily until early October Rt. 7A Shaftsbury Also at the Londonderry Farmers’ Market
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Farmers’ Kitchen Singing River Farm’s Flint Corn Cornbread by Steve Crofter and Laurel Green
As farmers, we try to hold a perspective that we are only the current stewards of land that has been, and will be, cared for by a continuum of people for millennia before and after us. Growing flint corn and saving its seed each year helps us maintain that perspective. The variety we cultivate here at Singing River Farm is Roy’s Calais Abenaki flint corn. The name itself reminds us of the history of the humans that have tended this cultivar— European-heritage Vermont farmers like Roy and Ruth Fair of North Calais, as well as the countless individuals of the Sokoki band of the western Abenaki that have lived here for thousands of years and continue to live in this region. Kernels of corn have a hard outer layer covering the softer flour endosperm within. Flint corns have a higher proportion of that hard “flinty” layer than do flour corns or dent corns. This characteristic contributes to the hardiness of flint corn. Because the flint layer contains less moisture than the flour layer, flint corn lasts longer in storage and can better withstand freezing. According to legend, Abenaki flint corn was the only variety to survive in Vermont in 1816, the year without a summer, and we imagine more than one Vermonter kept starvation at bay by relying on it as a major food source. The corn we grow is beautiful as well as hardy. The kernels come in two colors: a golden yellow and a deep maroon. The colors are not mixed on individual ears, but rather each ear is either fully yellow or red. The red comes from a recessive gene, so approximately one-third of the ears have that color. We sort out the red ears and grind their kernels separately for the aesthetic enjoyment. But because the red color is only in the pericarp, the thin paper-like covering of the kernels, the difference between our yellow and red cornmeal is quite subtle, and small red flecks are the only distinguishing feature. Grinding the cornmeal is hard work, but satisfying. We have a hand-powered Diamant mill, a massive cast-iron tool
made in Poland with old-world quality built in. Although it’s heavy to move, we have hauled it to farmers’ markets and it’s an attraction that many people, especially children, can’t resist. To watch corn go from ears, to a handful of kernels, to fresh cornmeal in a matter of minutes is a minor miracle, and the sense of awe is enhanced by the effort of arm muscles. Laurel Green and Steve Crofter live at Singing River Farm, which overlooks Sokoki Falls at Brockways Mills in Rockingham, VT. Laurel supplies much of their annual carbohydrate needs through growing flint corn, dried beans, and winter squash, and sells field-grown pansies and specialty cut flowers. Steve focuses on giant pumpkins and the farm’s social justice goals, including providing a safe haven for asylum seekers through the Community Asylum Seekers Project. Look for Singing River Farm on Facebook.
Singing River Farm Cornbread
photos by barbi schreiber
Our flint corn makes great polenta, but our favorite use is cornbread. Here’s Laurel’s recipe. Laurel likes to eat her cornbread in a bowl with milk; Steve prefers to slather his in butter. Either way, it’s delicious! 2 cups cornmeal 1 cup water 1 cup cooked winter squash or applesauce ½ teaspoon salt 2 eggs, slightly beaten ¼ cup oil 1 teaspoon baking powder Mix the cornmeal, water, salt, and winter squash or applesauce and let it soak for 15 minutes. Soaking is important because of the low-moisture content of the flint corn, as is the addition of some wet
ingredient such as the squash or applesauce, which also adds flavor. Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet in a 400 ºF oven. Combine the eggs and oil and mix into the cornmeal mixture. Just before baking, mix in the baking powder. Take the hot skillet from the oven, grease it, and pour in the batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
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The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union
There is only one of him, but he goes. He returns to the small country he calls home, His own nation small enough to walk across. He goes shadowy into the local woods, And brightly into the local meadows and croplands. He goes to the care of neighbors, He goes into the care of neighbors. He goes to the potluck supper, a dish From each house for the hunger of every house. He goes into the quiet of early mornings Of days when he is not going anywhere. Calling his neighbors together into the sanctity Of their lives separate and together, In the one life of the commonwealth and home, In their own nation small enough for a story Or song to travel across in an hour, he cries:
From the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation, Secede into the care for one another And for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth. Come into the life of the body, the one body Granted to you in all the history of time. Come into the body’s economy, its daily work, And its replenishment at mealtimes and at night. Come into the body’s thanksgiving, when it knows And acknowledges itself a living soul. Come into the dance of the community, joined In a circle, hand in hand, the dance of the eternal Love of women and men for one another And of neighbors and friends for one another. Always disappearing, always returning, Calling his neighbors to return, to think again Of the care of flocks and herds, of gardens And fields, of woodlots and forests and the uncut groves, Calling them separately and together, calling and calling, He goes forever toward the long restful evening And the croak of the night heron over the river at dark. Credit: Copyright © 2012 by Wendell Berry, from New Collected Poems. Reprint by permission of Counterpoint.
Come all ye conservatives and liberals Who want to conserve the good things and be free, Come away from the merchants of big answers, Whose hands are metalled with power; From the union of anywhere and everywhere; By the purchase of everything from everybody at the lowest price And the sale of anything to anybody at the highest price; From the union of work and debt, work and despair; From the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed.
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Woodcut by Jerry Dadds
From the union of power and money, From the union of power and secrecy, From the union of government and science, From the union of government and art, From the union of science and money, From the union of genius and war, From the union of outer space and inner vacuity, The Mad Farmer walks quietly away.
Your ONE stop for all things Vermont!
at the Tavern Building 133 Main Street Putney Vermont www.thegleanery.com 802-387-3052
We proudly offer products from local farms, dairies, and talented area artisans! www.putneyfood.coop
the Fridays, June 2nd – September 29th 4 – 7pm, Rain or Shine On the Hetty Green,
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HIDDEN SPRINGS MAPLE FARM STORE Maple Syrup Tasting Table • Samples Gifts • Hand-Dipped Ice Cream 162 Westminster Rd, Putney, VT See website for hours 802-387-5200 | hiddenspringsmaple.com
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Pick for Your Neighbor
This Hunger Action Month pick and purchase extra apples at these participating orchards to donate to the Vermont Foodbank. Adams Apple Orchard, Williston Allenholm Farm, South Hero Burtt’s Apple Orchard, Cabot Champlain Orchards, Shoreham Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction Douglas Orchard, Shoreham Green Mountain Orchards, Putney Hackett’s Orchard, South Hero Hall’s Orchard, Isle La Motte Mad Tom Orchard, East Dorset Mendon Mountain Orchards, Mendon Scott Farm, Dummerston Shelburne Orchards, Shelburne Wellwood Orchards, Springfield
Made possible with support from
Learn more at vtfoodbank.org/PFYN
Published on Sep 1, 2017
A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.