local banquet summer 2013 | issue twenty-five
Local Trout Aquaponics Wood Mountain Fish
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VT Locations: Waitsfield, Middlebury, Burlington Mon– Sat 7–9 pm • Sunday 9–9 pm 2 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT www.brattleborofoodcoop.coop
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Order online at www.hiddenspringsmaple.com Maple syrup, candy and specialties, hand-dipped ice cream, Vermontmade crafts,gifts and toys,syrup-tasting and samples, complimentary coffee 162 Westminster Road, Putney,VT Directions: Exit 4 from I–91, left @ General Store in Putney village, 0.8 miles to Hidden Springs Maple on right.
The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook 150 Home-Grown Recipes from the Green Mountain State by Tracey Medeiros ($19.95 pb)
open 10 am-7 pm daily, thur/fri/sat till 9 pm
802.362.2200 • Manchester Center, Vermont
FArmS • FooD • ForeStrY It's all at the 12th Annual
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Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily We also have a wide selection of bedding plants, vegetable starts, and herbs.
PO Box 260, Route 5, Westminster, VT (802) 722-3515 (1/2 Mile North of Exit 5 / Interstate 91 )
Open 8am-8pm every day 623 Stone Cutters Way, Montpelier, VT 802.223.8000 • www.hungermountain.coop
JUNE 22 & 23, 2013
Growers of Tasty Organic Vegetables and Fruits Available at our Farmstand–Tomatoes, Strawberries, Beans, Peas, Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach, Carrots, Raspberries, Broccoli, Beets and MUCH More! Plus a wide selection of annuals, perenials, and organic vegetable starts for your garden.
Our farm stand is open daily May-Oct. Rt. 7A Shaftsbury Also at Manchester and Londonderry Farmer’s Markets
CELEBRATING OUR LOCAL TASTE OF PLACE
v e n d o r YtÜÅxÜá `t Ü ~ xà t a s t i n g s 10 am - 4 pm c o o k i n g d e m o n s t r at i o n s
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6 Publishers’ Note 8 Set the Table with… Garlic Scapes
10 Garden Pathways Fruit Growers Face a New Pest
12 How to Love a Lease 14 Trout Farming in Wheelock 16 Hooked on Aquaponics 18 Ocean to Mountains 20 Seeds for Change Students Harvest the Future at Local Colleges
22 Map: Pick Your Own Berries 33 Farmers’ Kitchen 35 Calendar 36 Last Morsel
Publisher Schreiber & Lucas, LLC Editor Caroline Abels
According to a 2009 report prepared by the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative, the earliest published account of fish in Lake Champlain was by Zadock Thompson in his Natural History of Vermont (1853). In his report, Thompson described 48 different species of fish, and historically, the commercial fisheries on the lake targeted whitefish, walleye, yellow perch, lake sturgeon, eel, and lake trout. These tasty fish graced tables throughout the state.
Art Director Meg Lucas Ad Director Barbi Schreiber Proofreader Marisa Crumb
However, by the 1980s there was little to no commercial fishing on Lake Champlain due to overfishing. More recently, efforts within the past few years to raise tilapia in Brattleboro as part of an integrated renewable energy and food production system have floundered, resulting in the company, Carbon Harvest, filing for bankruptcy in late April of this year.
Contributors Rachel Carter John R. Clark Claire Fitts Vern Grubinger Cheryl Herrick Ben Jervey Alexandra Ossola Kristen A. Schmitt Andrew Stowe Chris Sims
So, what’s a Vermont localvore to do? If you really want to get your hands dirty, you can grab your fishing pole, get some bait from the general store (you’ve seen the signs—“live bait & night crawlers” on a field of yellow), and head to the nearest lake or stream. But if fishing just isn’t your thing, then the quest for local fish might seem daunting. In this issue we aim to help you out. As an appetizer, Cheryl Herrick travels up to Wheelock in the Northeast Kingdom to report on Mountain Foot Farm, where Curtis Sjolander brings a new angle to the term “diversified farming.” Curtis has been raising and selling brown trout since 1991, and these days his painstaking attention to detail and rootedness in small-scale production have led him to produce great-tasting local fish sought out by restaurants. For the second course, we offer a home remedy, or grow-your-own approach. We delve into the mechanics of aquaponics as practiced by a husband-and-wife team in their southern Vermont home. Aquaponics is a sustainable method to not only grow your own fish but also the salad to accompany it. It’s the quintessential slow food served up in blue plastic barrels. As our final offering, we dish up a story on Wood Mountain Fish, whose motto is “direct from bait to plate.” Seafood wholesaler Ethan Wood travels to the New England coast, where he purchases fresh seafood directly off the boats and brings it nonstop to restaurants and clients in central Vermont. No warehouse, no middlemen, and if you’re curious, Ethan will tell you the name of the fisherman who caught your fish! If you know of any other established or developing fish farms or operations in the state, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d like to keep up with this growing local food niche. In the 1930s, Roaldus Richmond wrote in Eating in Vermont, “As a rule Vermonters are not enthusiastic about salads or fish.” But what might have been true then is certainly not the case today. Vermonters do like their fish (and from what we can tell, their salads too). Meg Lucas Barbi Schreiber
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 email@example.com 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) 2013. 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: Trout fry; photo by Cheryl Herrick. Contents page: Boys with fish, 1949; photo courtesy of the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. M E M B E R
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VERMONT BUSINESSES FOR S O C I A L RESPONSIBILTY
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Craftsbury Common, Vermont
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local banquet 7
Set the Table with…
by Claire Fitts Garlic scapes are one of those totally edible and delicious things that most people don’t even know exist. Every spring, hardneck varieties of garlic (having overwintered but not ready to harvest until July) send up a curlycue stem with a bulbil up top. The bulbil is sort of a mini bulb that can grow new garlic in a couple years or just be eaten like garlic right now. The scape, though, is this delicious, green, garlicky stem of generous proportions. Scapes steal some valuable plant energy away from the profitable garlic bulb, so farmers generally cut it off soon after it starts to curl over. A few garlic growers and farmers’ market customers know the culinary tastiness of garlic scapes, but most scapes just end up in the compost or animal feed pile.
If you’re cutting your own garlic scapes, trim them young, just when they’re starting to curl. They will be more tender and easier to work with. The older, and larger, a scape gets, the hotter the flavor, but the woodier the texture. Those are fine to work with, but given the choice, do like MTV and go for youth. When I’m early in a recipe development project (as I was this spring, for this article), I like to play around with weird ideas and see where they go. While they occasionally end up in odd, unspoken-of places, they usually end up in a land of rainbows and butterflies. Here are some results:
Garlic scape pesto is de rigueur in the local foods movement. Just blend up some cheese (I like feta), nuts (pine or otherwise), scapes, olive oil, and salt until it tastes just like you like it. But my favorite use for large quantities of scapes is scape sauce. This is just like hot sauce, but with all of the flavor and none of the heat. The vinegar means that this keeps for ages, so you can 8
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mason jar this goodness and use it all winter. I love to put it on my eggs, in my potato salad, in salad dressing, or just anywhere I would put hot sauce. I also use scape sauce as a quick cheater way to add garlic to a dish (because, really, no one LOVES peeling all that garlic every night).
Scape Sauce a boatload of scapes a goodly amount of white or apple cider vinegar a delicious dose of salt black pepper, if you’re so inclined Fit the scapes into a food processor whichever way you can (aim to fill the food processor about 3/4 of the way full for each blending batch). Add enough vinegar so that the scapes purée into a mash. Add the mash to a large pot with as much vingear as you want to make a liquid sauce, and add enough salt and pepper to make the sauce tasty. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 30 minutes to 11/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the scapes are fully cooked (longer for older scapes). Before removing the sauce from the stove, blend the mixture with an immersion blender to emulsify and add salt to taste. If you bottle this mixture hot, it can be stored at room temperature until opened.
PHOTO BY MEG LUCAS
Last spring I made the “mistake” of telling three farmers that I would take their leftover garlic scapes. That small utterance will keep away the vampires for years to come. If you find yourself in garlic scape abundance (or simply want to stretch out this very short season), cut your scapes into 3- to 4-inch sections and freeze for as long as you need. The freezing mellows their garlic intensity a bit, and takes away some of their robust freshness, but most garlic scape preparations are just as good, if not better, with frozen scapes.
I was having a fond hankering for homemade English muffins and thought I would give Garlic Scape English Muffins a try. I really didn’t think that anything good would come of the project because I thought that the woody scapes I was using would interfere with the crucial gluten structure of the dough and I would end up with oddly dense and garlicky bread. FYI, I was crazy wrong. Oh, these were so delicious. When toasted they fill the kitchen with a lovely mellow garlic scent. They make great sandwich buns all week long. And if you don’t have a biscuit or cookie cutter, the ring of a widemouth mason jar lid does a great job.
Garlic Scape English Muffins 2 cups of milk 2 Tbs. maple syrup 1/4 cup butter 1 Tbs. or 1 package active dry yeast 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 2/3 cup puréed garlic scapes 1 tsp. salt cornmeal Heat the milk, maple syrup, and butter to 110 degrees (it will feel hot, but comfortable to your finger). Mix the yeast, flour, scapes, and salt in a large bowl. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and knead for 10 minutes or so. The dough should be sticky, yet smooth. Let the dough rise in a warm location (roughly 80 degrees) for 11/2 hours, or until doubled in size. Sprinkle two baking sheets or cutting boards with cornmeal and set aside. Turn the dough onto a floured countertop and pat it down to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out the English muffins and lay them on the cornmeal to rise for another 30 minutes, or until they don’t spring back readily to the touch. Lightly grease a large frying pan and cook the English muffins on the stovetop over low -medium heat until they are golden brown on each side.Makes about 20 muffins.
I was not a huge fan of butter growing up. I think this was due to the ‘90s attitude against fat, as well as not having access to the really good stuff. Nowadays I am still picky about my butter (Vermont Creamery, Kate’s, or homemade, thank you very much), but I’ve never been picky about mustard butter. Mustard butter can be made fancy using all the latest food trends (uni, anyone?), or it can be bare bones basic. Some random, back-of-the-freezer butter with French’s yellow mustard could do the trick in a pinch. My dad introduced me to mustard butter and my variations are just about as random as his. Garlic scapes are all kinds of perfect in mustard butter. Mix a little sweetness from sautéed onions into a grainy mustard and add a little bit of ground black pepper and you just sent yourself to melty mustard heaven. Use the butter as a bread spread, in potato dishes, on fish, or in any savory butter place.
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. unsalted butter at room temperature 2 Tbs. puréed garlic scapes 1/2 onion, chopped 1 tsp. salt, to taste 3 Tbs. mustard of choice black pepper, to taste Sautée the scapes, onion, salt, and 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat, until soft. Mix with butter, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Refrigerate or eat immediately.
Growing up eating healthy and gourmet in California meant that meatballs rarely (read: never) landed on my dinner plate. It wasn’t until a roommate of mine was seeking a gluten-free meatball recipe that I realized I had never even contemplated making a meatball. I don’t think I had ever even eaten a homemade meatball. So, when a new beau in my life wanted some Superbowl food, I decided to give them a try. (Those meatballs were delicious and that beau is now my fiancé.) Since then I have made many variations, of which this is one of my favorites.
Garlic Scape Meatballs 1 medium onion, diced 1 cup puréed garlic scapes 1 Tbs. olive oil or butter 1 tsp. salt 1 lb. ground beef 1/2 cup bread crumbs 3 eggs 1/2 tsp. black pepper 1/3 cup cream cheese 1/2 tsp. salt Preheat oven to 375 °F and grease a baking sheet. Sautée the onion, scapes, olive oil, and 1 tsp. salt over medium heat, until soft. Let cool and add to a bowl with the beef, bread crumbs, eggs, pepper, cream cheese, and additional salt. Mix thoroughly and form into roughly 24 balls of 1 to 11/2 inches each. Space them evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
I love discovering something inexpensive, copious, and delicious, and scapes are just that. You can infuse your life with garlicky goodness at a fraction of the cost. Use these potent veggies just like garlic, or just like green beans, or just like whatever feels right to you. Interestingly, I didn’t encounter a single failed recipe on my Scape Recipe Quest. And that never happens. I might even tell the garlic growing farmers that I have room in my freezer…. Claire Fitts is a recipe developer for corporations and publications, as well as the owner of Butterfly Bakery of Vermont. Check out her recipe blog at Goodgrub.ButterflyBakeryVT.com.
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local banquet 9
by Vern Grubinger
A Fly in the Ointment: Fruit Growers Face a New Pest
University of Vermont Extension weed, autumn olive, and Korean dogwood are a few. The Northeast appears to be a favorable environment for SWD, given our diversified farms and landscape; the pest can go from one host to the next as they ripen. Alas, our cold winters don’t seem to offer much control of SWD, as it hails from Asia, where it survives in northern Japan and other climates just as cold as ours.
However, all is not lost when it comes to fruit growing. SWD has a preference for softer-fleshed fruit with thin skins, so crops like apples and pears and thick-skinned grape varieties do not appear to be at SWD is related to the common risk. In theory SWD can also attack fruit fly (more properly called a some vegetables, like tomatoes, vinegar fly), which is known for Spotted wing drosophila but their skins seem to be thick laying its eggs in rotting fruit. What makes this new fly different is its ability to lay eggs in firm, enough to prevent attack, except when a fruit has cracks. ripening fruit. The females have a saw-like egg-laying appendSo far SWD has not been found in large numbers until late age (a serrated ovipositor) that lets them cut small holes in the summer (mid-August in most locations) and early fall. Thereskin of fruit while depositing an egg in each hole; these soon fore, earlier-ripening varieties of fruits, like summer-bearing hatch into tiny white larvae that feed in the fruit’s flesh. The larraspberries and strawberries, are at less risk than their relatives vae develop for 10 to 14 days before emerging as adults, ready that ripen in the late summer and fall. Early-ripening blueberry to mate and lay more eggs. Females can lay 300 eggs in their varieties have also been observed to have less SWD damage lifetime, so the SWD population can increase extremely fast than those that ripen at the end of the blueberry season, even when conditions are right. It’s only the male adults that give though the difference in timing may just be a couple of weeks. this species of fly its common name; they have a single dark Timely and complete harvesting is one way to minimize SWD spot on the front edge of their wings. Females lack the spots on damage. Picking fruits as soon as they start to ripen and keeptheir wings. ing the crop picked clean can avoid the build up of SWD in a Crops most susceptible to SWD damage are fall raspberries, fruit planting. Prompt refrigeration or freezing of fruit upon harcherries, blueberries, and day-neutral strawberries. (Unlike vest will reduce losses to disease and slow the development June-bearing berries, day-neutral strawberry varieties keep of any eggs or larvae present. Note that there is no known fruiting all season long.) Peaches and grapes are also among risk to human health posed by ingesting SWD, so as gross as the vulnerable cultivated crops. Once attacked, damage to it sounds, eating a few eggs or larvae is not hazardous, and fruit is not immediately visible. The fruit can look perfectly ripe they’re so small you won’t even know they’re there. and firm but then rot just before, or soon after, harvest. This It may be possible to use netting to exclude SWD from vulneris because SWD makes only a small pin-prick on the fruit durable fruit plantings. Floating row covers (often called remay) or ing egg-laying. By itself, the hole does no harm but egg-laying agricultural insect screening with a mesh opening smaller than introduces microbes into the fruit so, within a few days, fruit 1 mm square can keep the flies from getting to the crop. Obviflesh starts to break down, leading to discoloration and evenously, to be effective the netting needs to be over the crop tual collapse. Usually by this point the small white larvae can before any fruit start to ripen, and it must be securely sealed easily be seen inside the fruit if you look closely. along the ground and at any entrances to prevent flies from There are also many wild plants and cultivated ornamental plants attacked by SWD, and this means that there are a lot of hosts for this pest in the landscape. Wild raspberries, poke10 local banquet
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getting in. Netting offers an additional benefit because it can also keep birds from eating ripe fruit. Care must be taken to avoid ripping the netting, and in larger plantings a structure
PHOTO COURTESY OF HANNAH BURRACK NORTH, CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
There’s a small insect causing big damage to soft fruits that ripen late in the season. It’s new to our area, and spreading fast. Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) has been buzzing across the country for the past few years. First, it was found in California in 2008; then in 2009 it moved to Florida, Oregon, and Washington. From Florida, it moved up the East Coast to arrive in New England in 2011, and last year it was found across much of Vermont. If it hasn’t arrived in your area yet, this year it probably will.
may be needed to hold the netting up off the plants so that people can easily get in to pick the fruit. Research and Extension personnel have been using traps to monitor the arrival and population buildup of SWD. This pest is attracted to several kinds of bait, including vinegar, alcohol, and yeast. Simple traps made from red plastic beverage cups can be placed within a crop to capture adult SWDs. The challenge is to develop a bait formulation for the traps that will be attractive enough to SWD to compete with ripening fruit and thus provide an “early warning’”system. Very effective baits would offer the potential to trap out enough of the fly population to actually reduce crop damage. Insecticides can also be used as part of the management strategy for SWD. For most homeowners, this does not make much
“Prompt refrigeration or freezing of fruit upon harvest will reduce losses to disease and slow the development of any eggs or larvae present.” sense because of the cost of materials and the need to use proper equipment to get good coverage of all surfaces on the crop, especially leaf undersides. One must start spraying when SWD are in the area and fruit are present and just starting to change color. Spinosad (available in forms allowed for organic use) and pyrethroids (not organically acceptable) can be effective. They must be applied weekly as a crop starts to ripen and pesticide types must be rotated to prevent SWD from developing resistance. If spraying an insecticide, be sure to carefully follow the instructions on the label. Managing SWD requires multiple tactics. These include familiarizing yourself with the pest’s appearance and lifecycle; eliminating wild hosts such as pokeweed and brambles to the extent possible; monitoring with traps to know if SWD is present and possibly to attract it away from the crop; covering the crop with a fine-mesh netting before fruit begins to ripen; and harvesting all fruit as soon as it is ripe, then promptly placing it in a refrigerator or freezer. After harvest, remove any remaining unharvested fruit from the field to reduce overwintering SWD populations. If you have not yet planted a vulnerable fruit crop, select early-ripening varieties.
good stuff in... good stuff out
the fine art in food
Commercial fruit growers are taking many of the steps above to manage this new pest, along with the other insects and diseases twith which hey must already deal. Growers are actively collaborating with research and extension personnel across the country to learn which combination of methods will be sustainable for managing SWD over the long term, since it appears that it is here to stay. For links to more information on SWD see uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/SWDInfo.html. Vern Grubinger is an Extension professor and vegetable and berry specialist with the University of Vermont. He grows blueberries and raspberries under netting at home. He thanks Dr. Richard Cowles at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station for his research on SWD and for reviewing this article.
your fresh connection blackriverproduce.com
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local banquet 11
How to Love a Lease: Organizations help strengthen the landowner-farmer relationship by Rachel Carter This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on how farmers aquire land in Vermont. Sustainability, simply stated, is the capacity to endure. But the high cost of land in Vermont, combined with the financial challenges of owning land, are threatening the sustainability of local agriculture. According to Vermont’s Farm to Plate report, “Affordable access to farmland was described [by stakeholders] as a serious barrier for new farmers or those seeking to grow and expand.” In other words, productive farmland is imperative if Vermont is to increase its local food access and consumption. “It could appear there is plenty of rural land in Vermont, but the agricultural land is largely inaccessible to new farmers,” says Garland Mason, the new farmer coordinator at Rutland Area Food and Farm Link (RAFFL). “The price of land is often prohibitive and the difficulty in finding a piece of land that fits farming needs can stop new farmers in their tracks. For these reasons, leasing farmland is often the best option for start-up farms.” Happily, more and more farmers are leasing land from second home owners, retired farmers, and family-owned farm partnerships. And organizations have sprouted up to help foster and manage these relationships. Landowners who, a decade ago, might have looked out onto a fallow field now have the opportunity to see an active farm from their windows. “There are many non-farming landowners who have inherited
or purchased Vermont farmland without intentions of farming on their own,” Garland says. “These landowners may find that it becomes expensive and inconvenient to have the land hayed or brush hogged each year, and instead may consider leasing land to new farmers who work to keep the land open and the soils in good health.” Carol Tashie and Dennis Duhaime of Radical Roots Farm, an organic vegetable farm located in Rutland, have leased two acres of land from Mary Ashcroft since 2010. Originally subleasing, Carol and Dennis transitioned into a direct lease with Mary and her now late husband, Harold Billings, a former dairy farmer who was glad to see his land being repurposed. “Our farm has been in the Billings family since 1817,” Mary says. “We respect the relationship between people and the land. By leasing out different parts of the land for farming—both organic and conventional—and for other compatible uses, I hope to encourage balance and stewardship.” The lease relationship was informal at first but easily moved into a formal agreement, thanks in part to Mary’s background as a lawyer. Both casual on-the-farm conversations and formal meetings structured the relationship. “Good communication among those farming and those leasing is important—we stay in touch regularly,” Mary notes. The lease includes cash payments and a CSA share for Mary.
Mary also has lease arrangements with other agriculture businesses, including a conventional corn farm, a sugarbush, a horse farm, a nursery, and a developing forestry product business—all viable solutions to keeping an old dairy farm active in a working agricultural landscape. Mary and Carol recently shared their story at a “Lease Your Land to a Farmer” workshop presented by Land For Good and the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Land For Good is a New Hampshire-based nonprofit that educates and assists people throughout New England on farmland access, tenure, Landowner Mary Ashcroft and farmer Carol Tashie in Rutland.
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Continued on page 25
PHOTO COURTESY OF RADICAL ROOTS FARM
“To grow local food access in the state we need more land, and landowners leasing to farmers is one of the best ways to ensure food sovereignty,” Carol says. “Dennis and I made a conscious decision to not buy land and to be better stewards by putting money into the land rather than a mortgage.” Radical Roots Farm sells veggies at the downtown Rutland Farmers’ Market, the Rutland Winter Farmers’ Market, and through CSA farm shares.
Young farmers and Vermont landowners cultivate new relationships on leased farmland Two farms, two relationships: advice from farmers in the fields by Andrew Stowe At the end of a mostly impassable class 4 road in Calais lies the brick farmhouse of Fair Food Farm. In some ways it seems remote, but as Emily Curtis-Murphy sees it, “It’s a great place to farm.” Before she delves into her experience of farming on leased land, Emily takes me on a brief tour. She and her family rent their house from one landlord and, two miles away, rent land owned by a different landlord for the rest of Fair Food’s operation: a greenhouse, a network of high-tensile fencing, and two acres earmarked for the coming season’s veggie crop. All told the farm occupies just a small portion of the nearly 50 acres of farmland—12 tillable and 35 in pasture—that Emily and her partner Matt (both in their 30s) lease. Like a young plant that will eventually grow to fill a large pot, they are starting small, making sure there is room to develop as their vision and business expand. “Calais is a great place to grow veggies,” Emily tells me. “It has a strong agricultural identity and a highly supportive community.” In the warm, open kitchen of the farmhouse, she and I are discussing the complexities of producing food on someone else’s land, and the value of this option for young growers in Vermont currently facing a daunting challenge: finding good, affordable land for farming. According to the USDA National Land Value Summary from 2012, farm real estate in Vermont is priced at an average of $2,750 per acre. This means that the 50 acres that Fair Food Farm currently leases could have cost somewhere in the vicinity of $137,500. For some young people in Vermont who are ready to find land of their own, possibly
PHOTO BY MATTHEW SNELL-CALLANEN
“I would recommend leasing—I think that we couldn’t have gotten off our feet if we’d had to purchase land.” after working on farms for years at minimum wage (or, in the case of interns and apprentices, in exchange for only room and board), this is an understandably daunting amount of money. Emily and Matt have a combined total of more than 20 years of working on multiple farms in Vermont and had originally thought about purchasing the acreage they needed for their farm. “When we first began our land search, we had considered buying land outright,” Matt says, “but we realized that we would be putting all of our money into the land with none left over for actually starting the farm. At the time, leasing land seemed like our best option.”
Nicole Duch and Ben Uris of Seedfolks Farm
Scouting in the Montpelier area for land to potentially lease, Emily and Matt heard that the town of Calais had set a goal to source a high percentage of the community’s food from the local area over a period of a couple decades. Emily approached the Conservation and Planning Commission (CPC) and received an enthusiastic welcome and a list of several landowners in the area who were interested in having young people farm their land. Emily highly recommends this approach to young growers thinking about leasing land: “The CPC of any town is made up of people who have been members of the community for a long time. They are plugged in and know who in the area has land and is interested in having someone farm it. They can make it a lot easier to find a potential lease partnership.” Not long after receiving their list of potential lease partners, Emily and Matt found themselves working out a leasing arrangement with an older couple in their 60s who had limited agriculture experience but were eager to see their land used for farming. The official written lease gave Emily and Matt the right Continued on page 27
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In the Tank
Brown trout thrive on a Wheelock farm—just don’t tell the wildlife. by Cheryl Herrick On a sunny spring day earlier this year, steam was pouring out of sugarhouses, calves and lambs and kids were being born, and greenhouses were teeming with plant starts. And on Curtis Sjolander’s Mountain Foot Farm in Wheelock, in the barn just behind his house, hundreds of brown trout were swimming in their large tanks, slowly growing in cold waters until they could be sold to Vermont restaurants and customers at the St. Johnsbury farmers’ market. The Sjolanders (Curtis and his wife Joan, who’s a nurse by profession) started farming vegetables in the 1980s, but a quirk of weather brought surprise one year—and with it, an opportunity. As Curtis describes it, “It was 1988, a drought year, and our spring stopped running. [The family relies on the spring for all of their water needs.] So it was a good time to find another, and we went looking farther up the mountain, and we found a great one. It was flowing 30 gallons a minute, and it got us through that dry summer. So I tried to think of another use for it. My father had seen an episode of UVM’s ‘Across the Fence’ about another fish farm and he thought I should do that, too. So we went to talk to the woman who ran it about aquaculture.”
Then one day that winter he went to the pond and did a double-take: the pond was completely empty of fish. He talked to neighbors and farmers and they said that a common winter behavior of minks is to prey on fish. “They’ll take just a few fish and then when they establish that they’ve found a good supply, they’ll clean you out and put them in snowbanks to stockpile to get through the winter.” Curtis did eventually find two fish left in that pond, hiding inside the tank’s exit pipe. Curtis began to use his observational skills and habit of careful record keeping to refine his approach. He installed 1,000-gallon tanks and then built a barn around them, learning how to deal with predators and how to balance the work required by both vegetables and fish, taking into account the different seasonal needs of each. When all three of his children were living 14 local banquet
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PHOTOS BY CHERYL HERRICK
Soon after, Curtis added fish to his farm, although he kept on with his career in computer programming (“to fund my farming habit,” he laughs). He put 100 fish in an outdoor pond and 100 in a tank in a shed. “I figured we’d see what would happen.” Every day, he’d go to feed and check on the fish, as any farmer would check on their livestock, but then one day he noticed there were a couple of fish missing from the pond. And then there were a few more missing, and he suspected something odd was going on. “You learn how to tell when something’s spooking them,” he says, “from their behavior when they’re fed.”
at home, they were available to work on the farm. But as they grew and their labor became more scarce, it made sense to shift toward fewer vegetables and place a greater emphasis on fish farming, which is less labor intensive than vegetables. All three children still help, but “they’re not farmers,” Curtis says.
In 2012, Mountain Foot Farm sold more than 3,000 trout. And while that represents many years’ investment of time and resources, Curtis knows it’s well below the level of demand for locally produced fish in Vermont. Although eager chefs and grocery buyers have been clamoring for his product, he has been taking his time to scale up because he sees no reason to compromise on the quality he wants. “I’ve been raising trout for 20 years, but only at this scale for five or six. I needed to take that time to make mistakes and learn,” he explains. He once raised rainbow and brook trout as well, but now focuses on brown. “Brown trout are more likely to survive when something goes wrong, and they’re heartier overall.” But brown trout are slower to grow than other varieties like brook and rainbow; it takes roughly three years for one of Curtis’s trout to reach the size that most chefs want. Curtis says the steps for producing great-tasting fish are simple. “It’s cold water, aeration, and keep ‘em clean. That’s it.” But as he showed me around the barn where the fish live, it became clear that those three elements each carry their own complexity. For instance, just before I arrived, some of the gravity-fed spring water had stopped flowing into the barn, and when the water stops flowing, the temperature slowly rises in the tanks and the oxygen levels decrease. The fish can survive for a little while that way, but not too long. Curtis shook his head and laughed as he tapped on an overhead pipe. “That’s why I’ve learned to have multiple sources of water running into the tanks.” The whole process starts in the spring, with the purchase of thousands of fertilized eggs from the Vermont State fishery in Salisbury, which provides fertilized trout eggs to Vermont fisheries and farms. The eggs are placed in hatching trays that allow oxygen-rich water to seep up through screens, mimicking the sandy environment in which trout lay their eggs in nature. Before long, the heads and tails come out, and the emerging fish live off the egg sac until it’s gone. The fry are then moved to “fry troughs,” and from there into a series of “grow-out tanks.” Along the way, they are carefully monitored so they can be sorted by size and placed with others in the same size range. Curtis explains that because trout are carnivores, you “never want a trout that’s less than half the size of the largest in that tank or pool,” or else the larger fish tend to eat the smaller ones. But there’s another reason, too: fish grow bigger and faster when they’re with others of similar size. The trout also eat a specialized high-protein feed made from grain, vegetable, animal, and marine products, and this feed represents Curtis’s biggest expense. He invests in more costly, higher-quality feed because it’s healthier for the fish and leads to better flavor. He also doesn’t use antibiotics in his operation.
Curtis’s attention to detail makes a difference to his customers. He says fishermen come up to his booth at the farmers’ market and say that “farmed fish don’t taste good,” compared to wild caught. His response is always the same. “I tell them that the flavor is based on what the fish eat, and that I’ll give them their money back if they get the fish home and don’t like it.” He says no one has ever come back to ask for that refund. Michael Kloeti, chef-owner of Michael’s on the Hill in Waterbury, is a primary customer and big fan of Curtis’s product. “It’s outstanding,” he says. “It’s so fresh, so local, because he’s so close by. It’s all about freshness, and it’s fantastic that I can have something that local for people who want it. When you get the mass-produced trout, there isn’t that much flavor in there.” At the time we spoke, Curtis’s trout was being served at the restaurant with a pink lentil crust over spinach from Hazendale Farm, with bacon and a light lentil stew. Chef Michael called it ”a nice spring dish. The trout has a nice, mild flavor so you don’t want to overpower it.” Michael is one of just two chefs to whom Sjolander sells (the farm also supplies Claire’s restaurant in Hardwick) because he’s operating at the capacity of what his current system can produce. Until he has a greater supply of fish, he lets new potential customers know they’ll have to wait a bit. He says there’s plenty of room for more aquaculture in Vermont, but he’s cautious while encouraging. “Fish farming is not easy and that’s why there’s much more demand than supply for local fish,” he says plainly. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Wow. Why don’t I go ahead and do this, too?’‘Please do,’ I tell them!” Asked about his plans for the future, Curtis says he muses about doing his own breeding (an enterprise he’d find fascinating, he says, with a gleam in his eye that makes it clear he’d relish the steep learning curve). He estimates that he could double his production over the next several years and describes the infrastructure and expansion that growth would involve: protecting outside tanks from predators, and perhaps increasing the water that flows through the fishery. Whatever Curtis does, he’s determined to keep his operation scaled to what he himself can do. “I’m just not interested in being an employer,” he says. ”I don’t do this to get rich. It makes sense to do this in a way that I can continue to enjoy. Some people succeed and are happy at scaling way up, but many more are the opposite.” And though that’s a decision that might leave some Vermont fish lovers disappointed, that’s fine for this “small-by-design” farmer. To try Mountain Foot Farm trout or vegetables, visit their booth at the St. Johnsbury farmers’ market, eat at Claire’s or Michael’s on the Hill, or get in touch with the farm to arrange a pickup of fish at mtnfootfarm.net. Cheryl Herrick lives, cooks, writes, and eats in Burlington, where she lives with her two sons.
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Hooked on Aquaponics Brattleboro couple spreads the word about a more sustainable way of raising plants and fish by Alexandra Ossola For visitors to the home of Mark and Susie Crowther, the blue plastic barrels can be the elephant in the room.
golden shiner minnows, “because they were available at the local bait shop,” he said).
What are those barrels doing in a room of their own, people wonder, and why do they keep emitting sounds of rushing water?
The top half-barrel is full of expanded shale, which is Crowther’s “grow bed media” into which the seeds were planted.
Aquaponics is gaining traction on a larger scale as an alternative to traditional methods of produce and fish farming. In developing countries with a limited water supply, people like aquaponics guru Travis Hughey are introducing the concept as a way for individuals to grow their own food while making the most of their limited resources. Thanks to some research, seeds, water, fish, and a bit of creativity, Mark Crowther has become an avid aquaponics hobbyist. He also worked with the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (BEEC) in West Brattleboro to host two workshops in May. Aquaponics has been used for centuries, as far back as the Aztec empire, when engineers from Tenochtitlan created floating islands of reeds on which they planted seeds for fruits and vegetables. These days, though, the systems can be as large as lakes or portable and small enough to fit on a tabletop indoors. To Crowther, the key to creating these systems is to tailor them to the space available; each one of his systems is built from several 55-gallon blue plastic barrels, one sitting cylindrically on the floor as a tank for the fish, the other half-barrel placed perpendicular on top of the other, as a larger plant bed. There’s a large hole in the bottom barrel above the waterline so that he can access the fish (in Crowther’s system these are 16 local banquet
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“But the grow bed media can even be free,” Crowther said. “You can just go down to a brook or river and pull out a bunch of pebbles.” The final key component to this system is a small electric pump that brings the water from the fish’s bottom barrel to water the plants on the top barrel. A simple bell siphon then flushes the water back down to the fish tank once it fills to a certain level.
The concept behind aquaponics is based in the nitrogen cycle, which many of us learned in middle-school science class. Nitrogen in the soil that was deposited by precipitation takes the form of nitrates, which plants need to grow. (Fertilizers incorporate nitrates for this reason.) All fish excrete ammonia, a nitrogen compound, which can kill them if it accumulates to too high a concentration in the water. Plants are able to absorb that ammonia in the water with the help of the bacteria nitrosomona and nitrobacter. Because the water is recycled, a closed aquaponics system uses approximately 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods, and the system allows both the fish and the plants to exchange nitrogen to their mutual benefit. Crowther’s interest in aquaponics came about as a synthesis of many other lifelong interests, primarily with aquariums, gardening, and science.
PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA OSSOLA
They’re aquaponics systems—closed, symbiotic systems in which the Crowthers can efficiently raise plants for their consumption and fish, using recycled materials and water.
This grow bed media is essential in any aquaponic system because it houses those bacteria that enable the plants to absorb the nitrogen. He chose the shale because it’s lightweight, porous, and local.
“[I saw aquaponics as] a way of getting back into traditional gardening and incorporating my passion for being an aquarium hobbyist in the past,” he said. “We love to farm, but the drawback of traditional farming in Vermont is that once you harvest your food, you don’t get to start up until the following spring,” he added. “With aquaponics you can grow a wide variety of crops year round,” Crowther said. “I thought maybe it would be interesting to get the fish into the system and farm in a way where I didn’t have to pull a weed.” Crowther primarily grows cool-season vegetables—lettuce and a few spice plants (including mustard and cilantro)—in his system. While his system is too small to raise fish that could be “tableready” (that is, suitable for human consumption), larger systems could incorporate harvestable fish (trout, tilapia, perch, etc.). Crowther preferred his first system to incorporate local species, which meant that they had to be cold-water fish. With issues of overfishing from the world’s oceans and the myriad problems associated with fish farming (including larger environmental impact and escapement), aquaponics can seem like a panacea for those who raise fish. However, the question rapidly arises if the artificial lights, pumps, and materials used in an aquaponics system are more cost effective than the fish and produce grown by more conventional methods used to raise the food that now appears in grocery stores. Crowther believes that the best way to make these systems economically viable is to suit the systems to their climate; he
intends to move his systems outside during the summer, replacing the artificial (and costly) heat and lighting with sunlight. Tilapia has become popular with fish farmers because they “grow so quickly and reproduce like crazy,” Crowther said, but this type of warm-water fish would require too much heat to be viable here in Vermont. Cold-water fish like perch and rainbow trout are better suited to the climate, and they still grow large and fast enough to be sold commercially. To Crowther, aquaponics is ripe for taking hold in the region because “we are already invested in education, sustainability, and organic food and are confined to a short outdoor growing season.” “Unfortunately, aquaponics has never gained ground on a commercial level in our area because of the brief exposure Brattleboro had to Carbon Harvest,” he said, referring to the currently stalled aquaponics endeavor on Brattleboro’s Old Ferry Road. Carbon Harvest planned to grow tilapia and various types of produce, but has not gotten off the ground due to financial difficulties. One of Carbon Harvest’s planning errors, Crowther said, might have been attempting to grow a warm-water fish, which meant that the entire building had to be heated to a tropical level that is simply cost prohibitive. “That was too bad for Brattleboro, but smaller systems could work for the community from more of a grassroots level, if not on a commercial level,” he said. “The idea is still worth spreading so people can see the value in farming this way.” Crowther sees those who would be most interested in aquaponics as people who are attracted to in sustainable agriculture, who are curious about where their food comes from, who respect nature, and who want to bring some of it into their homes. With some plans pulled from the Internet, some creativity and a do-it-yourself attitude, anyone can construct an aquaponics system. “One advantage of this is that it’s not an elitist undertaking,” he said. “You don’t need much money to get started.”
PHOTO BY JULIE DUCHARME FALLONE
At Crowther’s workshops with BEEC and Transition Putney in May, participants learned how to construct their own portable aquaponics systems, and all ages were welcome. “Once kids figure out that you can very easily adapt an aquarium to grow lettuce with a simple 10-gallon tank and a 5-gallon bucket, they’ll realize that it’s fun to watch things grow and will be interactive with this whole process,” he said. This article originally appeared in the March 20, 2013 issue of The Commons.
An aquaponics tank sits in the home of Mark and Susie Crowther
Alex Ossola works at Putney Student Travel and writes in her spare time. When she is not traveling to far-off lands, she indulges her fascination with science in a vicious cycle of learning, reading, writing, and talking about science.
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Ocean to Mountains
A Boston resident hauls the freshest catch from the coast up to Vermont by Ben Jervey
We’re standing in the back of a refrigerated truck in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The scallops, sitting in a plastic box atop a bed of ice, do in fact wriggle when Ethan gives them a little prod. Less than 10 hours ago, the mollusks were still in the waters of Nantucket Bay. Five hours ago they came off a boat at a dock in Boston. In no more than two hours they’ll be handed off to some very grateful chefs around Vermont and the Upper Valley. And before the night is through, they’ll be pleasing the palates of some lucky diners. This is what gets Ethan Wood excited. Fish. He thrives on the docks, joking around with the fishermen. He lights up in a kitchen, talking cuts and preparation with chefs. He is at home in his truck, connecting the spoils of the sea with the taste buds of Vermont. Ethan is the founder of Wood Mountain Fish (tag line: “Bringing the ocean to the mountains—daily”). Maybe “driving force” is a better description, as three days a week he logs some 300 miles behind the wheel, fueled by a frightening amount of coffee, making the trek from the coast to the Upper Valley to the Mad River Valley and back to his home again, right outside of Boston. 18 local banquet
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With his scraggly beard, knit wool cap, and hooded sweatshirt bearing a craft beer logo, you might mistake Ethan for a Vermont local. Then he starts talking—his booming Boston tones lightened by a child-like enthusiasm for all things fish. It was 2004 when Ethan first loaded his truck—then a pickup with a refrigerated box in the bed—with seafood and trekked up to the hills of Vermont. Why Vermont? “We’ve got the freshest possible ingredients. And Vermont has, even had back then, the chefs who value those the most,” he explains. “Well, that and the skiing,” he grins.
The sky above the Atlantic is just starting to brighten when Ethan gets to the Boston Fish Pier, where for 150 years fishermen have been haggling with fish mongers over the daily catch. Ethan is known well on the docks, not just for his frenetic energy but also for paying cash upfront for the catch. It’s not just that he pays cash—altthough that would probably be distinction enough for these old salts—but that he typically pays a higher price than the fishermen would get at the wholesale auctions that have become the industry norm. The benefits of paying a fair rate upfront do go both ways. “Who do you think gets the better fish?” Ethan asks.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WOOD MOUNTAIN FISH
Ethan Wood cannot wait to show you how his scallops twitch. “You see that move?” he asks, breathless. “You see that? These things are alive!”
Ethan doesn’t deny that he’s a “very picky customer,” in the words of one fisherman I talked to on the Boston pier. (Another calls him “fussy.”) “I get to cherry pick the best stuff,” he says. And when the supplies are low (or the “fish are tight” as the boys on the boat say), Ethan gets first dibs. “I have no warehouse. I have no processing facility. I help unload the boats…I just want to get the best fish out of the boats and get it into the hands of the best chefs in Vermont before the sun sets.” Now 33, Ethan grew up close to the coast, just down the street from the Legals of Legal Seafood fame. In his teens, he worked for the legendary fish mongering family, supplementing his high school studies with this “Legal” education: his mentors taught him what to feel for on a swordfish tail, what to look for in the eyes of a halibut, what color the gills of a black bass should be. “You really have to rub your fingers on the tail of the sword to get a feel.” When he first started hauling fish to Vermont, Ethan connected with Jason Merrill, then-chef at the Jackson House Inn in Woodstock. Jason, who these days runs the tremendously popular Worthy Burger in South Royalton, couldn’t get enough of Ethan’s product. “The other stuff was crap,” Jason says bluntly of seafood alternatives in Vermont. He is quick to credit the freshness of Ethan’s product for allowing him to win the “Best Seafood Restaurant in Vermont” accolade that the Jackson House Inn won when he cooked there. Jason joined the Wood Mountain team on the distribution side—fielding some deliveries to the Mad River Valley, Upper Valley, and Woodstock regions—as did Ethan’s cousin, Elana Wood Coppola Dyer, who lives in Williston and connects to chefs and markets around Chittenden County. Over the past five years, Wood Mountain Fish has grown from a one-pickup
PHOTO BY BEN JERVEY
Seeking Salmon? Wood Mountain Fish can source you some good wild salmon. But if you love your Sockeye and King and Coho, and you want to tighten your connection to the fisherman who caught it, look to Vermonter Anthony Naples. Every summer, Naples heads up to Alaska to work on commercial fishing boats, and last summer he brought back a few thousand pounds of salmon to sell to fellow Vermonters. You can find Naples’ haul at CSAs and farmers’ markets around the Mad River Valley, or at starbirdfish.com.
operation serving a handful of restaurants to a three-truck fleet serving more than 40 customers—grocers and restaurants— multiple times per week.
The closest thing that Wood Mountain Fish has to a distribution center can be found in that parking lot in Lebanon. It’s roughly 11am on a Tuesday when I meet Ethan, Jason, and Elana, and spot the three trucks backed up to one another. (The same scene plays out on Thursdays and Fridays.) There’s the original Chevy, pushing 300,000 miles now (“This truck runs on biodiesel” reads a sticker slapped on the back); there’s a refrigerated Dodge Sprinter Van; and there’s a brand-new massive Isuzu NPR ECO-MAX that Ethan hauls up from the coast. They call it “Jaws,” and for a clean diesel vehicle it’s as advanced as they come. “Almost too high tech,” says Ethan. “We cover a lot of miles,” he says, “ but we try to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible.” “Better than getting frozen fish from China,” adds Jason Merrill. The three quickly climb into Jaws and start parsing the deliveries. Elana Coppola Dyer, standing at a laptop, calls out orders: customer name…type of fish…quantity. “City Market…sword… he wants a 12.” Ethan plunges his hands into a bin full of ice and pulls out a 12-pound swordfish, glistening. Different bins are filled with fish and ice, bound for Vermont purveyors run by discerning chefs and buyers: The Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Pitcher Inn, A Single Pebble, Hen of the Woods, Bridge Street Butchery. Invoices for all the halibut and U-10 scallops and conch and Pemaquid oysters and cod and littlenecks are printed. Continued on page 31
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seeds for change
Students Harvest the Future at Local Colleges by Kristen A. Schmitt
Students at Sterling College engaging in agricultural pursuits.
Here are four Vermont institutions of higher learning that offer food and/or agriculture-related degrees: Digging In at Sterling College It doesn’t have many students compared to most colleges—120 maximum—but all students at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common work on the college’s farm or in the gardens during their college experience. Sterling is one of only seven Work Service Learning colleges in the country, and all the students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Agriculture apply lessons learned in class to the many jobs on the farm—jobs that involve vegetable gardens, livestock management, woodlot management, and draft horse management. 20 local banquet
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The degree in sustainable agriculture was launched in 1997. And for students eager to jump into farming after school, they don’t have to wait as long as four years. “We have 10-week semesters here,” says Anne Obelnicki, director of sustainable food systems at the college. “Students who come here can graduate in three years because they can take three full semesters a year.” Along with the undergraduate degree, Sterling College offers a five-week summer academic program called Vermont’s Table, which offers culinary experience, field trips, sustainable agriculture classes, and seminars in food writing and food entrepreneurism. “The point of the program is to get an overarching view with as much detail as possible of what food systems are composed of, what is sustainability, what is a sustainable program connecting those things, and what does it mean to have a sustainable food system,” Anne says. “We dive into a bunch of those different ideas during the five weeks.” The Vermont’s Table program is currently in its third year of operation and the college offers two sessions per summer. Vermont Technical College Knows Dairy Management Nearly 100 Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cows wait patiently for their turn in the milking parlor that is situated on Vermont Technical College’s 500-acre farm. Located in Randolph Center, VTC offers an associate degree of Applied Science in Agribusi-
PHOTOS COURTESY OF STERLING COLLEGE
The agriculture renaissance is upon us. With the growing demand for agriculture graduates, Vermont colleges are leading the way with a variety of agriculture and food-related degrees aimed at preparing students for one of the fastest growing green job fields in the United States. Organic farming, sustainable food systems, nutrition, and animal health are taking center stage during this unique era when environmental and sustainable issues span the globe. In response, the next generation of college graduates is focusing on agriculture-based solutions to problems plaguing societies today, such as climate change and food safety, turning these interests into promising career paths.
ness Management Technology and Dairy Farm Management Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Diversified Agriculture. With nearly 40 students enrolled in the Dairy Farm Management program, it is one of VTC’s most popular degrees. “The Dairy Farm Management degree was designed to help students eventually take over and continue the family farm,” says Christopher Dutton, assistant professor of agriculture at VTC. “Many of our students actually go on to work for someone else, but about a third of our students come from family farms and go back to family farms.” Students who graduate from VTC with the Dairy Farm Management degree often choose to operate profitable modern dairy farms or go on to a successful career in the agribusiness industry. Those within the Agribusiness Management Technology field often take jobs within the administrative sector. Students at VTC have the ability to transition to the University of Vermont (UVM) through the state of Vermont’s Farm and Agricultural Resource Management Stewards (F.A.R.M.S) program. Students can transfer to UVM as juniors and earn a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science. The F.A.R.M.S program is renewed annually by the state legislature and isavailable to Vermont residents. UVM Embraces Evolving Agriculture In the heart of bustling Burlington, the University of Vermont (UVM) planted deep roots in 1791 as the fifth college established in New England, sandwiched between the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges on the shores of Lake Champlain. Since then, UVM has developed 101 majors, which now attract approximately 13,097 students, and it offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. “Agriculture is changing to become much more diversified than it once was, and it’s more encompassing,” says Josie Davis, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The College, which has a total current enrollment of 1,273 students, offers 16 majors, including plant and soil; animal science; dietetics, nutrition, and food science; ecological agriculture; nutrition and food sciences; and sustainable landscape design. At UVM, students can earn Bachelor of Science, Master’s of Science, and PhD degrees within many of the disciplines available under the Agriculture and Life Sciences department. “The program has steadily grown since 2003,” Josie says. “I think one of the things driving it is the result of the 2008 economic downturn where students want to identify those majors that will yield jobs when they are finished.” Part of the way UVM prepares its students is through work on farms associated with the college and the research units that bring classroom lessons into practical application. Programs such as the student-run dairy herd called CREAM (Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management), the hands-on horse management course EQUUS, and the three-acre student-run educational farm Common Ground all provide students with the opportunity to learn professional skills outside of the classroom. “Not only are they getting the hands-on and management skills, but they also gain a lot of interpersonal skills working with each other and doing things collaboratively,” Josie says.
Lisa Trocchia-Balkits is typical of the diversity found among students enrolled in agricultural degree programs in Vermont. Lisa is a native of Athens County, Ohio, in the rural southeastern portion of the state, and a member of Green Mountain College’s pioneer cohort for its Master’s in Sustainable Food Systems. A full-time long-distance student, Lisa also serves as cochair of the Athens Food Policy Council, an organization formed in 2009 to strategically promote a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system for the region. Why did you pick GMC’s MSFS program? I was attracted to the fact that the program is interdisciplinary and systemsbased in its approach to the topic. I resonated deeply with the college’s understanding that those involved in food system work are likely to be very place based. While located in a rural area, the food system in Athens, Ohio, is considered to be one of the finest, most mature food systems in the nation. I spent years cultivating strong networks within the local food community and I wasn’t enamored of the idea of relocating to a large urban area, like New York, to study food systems! I also loved the concept of being part of a cohort that represents diverse bioregional perspectives and experiences. When do you plan to be done with the degree? I’ll be done with classes at the end of this summer and should have my Capstone Project completed by late fall. I hope to graduate in December 2013. Can you give a brief synopsis of your Capstone Project? In a general sense, I’m interested in the intersection of social movements and food systems. My thesis is a qualitative, ethnographic study that will result in extensive network mapping of the relationships within the Athens, Ohio, local food system. My hypothesis is that these individuals and their ideals, expressed in the creation of many intentional communities, cooperatives, and grassroots community organizations, established a community foundation for self-organizing, in the context of complexity theory, which ultimately emerged as a resilient local food system that is still growing today. What do you plan to do with the degree once you graduate? At this point, my plan is to pursue a PhD I am quite interested in where social movements (particularly North American contemporary counterculture) and self-organized food systems intersect. This has drawn me, additionally, toward a desire to examine community-based food systems in the context of place, political and social unrest, climate change, and natural disasters.
Sowing Seeds at Green Mountain College Nestled at the end of Main Street in Poultney, Green Mountain College (GMC) mixes classroom technology with modern day farming. With environmental stewardship as the college’s overarching mission, the 700 students on campus learn to apply sustainable lessons in all of the 26 majors available. Within the agriculture program, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production; the college also offers a Master’s in Sustainable Food Systems, which is the first and only online sustainable food systems program in the country. Continued on page 35
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Lakeside Berry Farm
Green Wind Farm
Route 78 West, Alburg 782.1850 lakesideberryfarm.com Raspberries
1345 Northrop Road, Fairfield 933.4592 Strawberries
1452 Plains Road, Georgia 524.4705 nyesberryland.com Strawberries, raspberries
197 East Shore Road, Grand Isle 372.5157 pomykalafarm.com Strawberries
River Berry Farm 191 Goose Pond Rd, Fairfax 849.6853 riverberryfarm.com Raspberries, strawberries
Chittenden Adams Berry Farm 326 S. Union Street, Burlington 578.9093 adamsberryfarm.com Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Chamberlins Garden and Farm Market 97 River Road, Underhill 899.3569 Strawberries
Covered Bridge Berry Patch
128 River Road, Underhill 899.2818 fullmoonfarminc.com Blueberries
Douglas Orchards 1050 Route 74 West, Shoreham 897.5043 Raspberries, strawberries
Full Moon Farm
Lewis Creek Farm
Intervale Road, Burlington 863.2199 Strawberries
3071 VT Route 116, Starksboro 453.4591 lewiscreekfarm.com Strawberries
Morse Hillside Farm
The Last Resort
681 Osgood Hill Road, Westford 878.3096 morsehillsidefarm.com Raspberries
2246 Tyler Bridge Road, Bristol 453.2847 lastresortfarm.com Blueberries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries
Norris Berry Farm 686 Davis Road, Hinesburg 453.3793 Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Owls Head Farm
263 Blueberry Farm Road, Richmond 434.3387 owlsheadfarm.com Blueberries
Paul Mazza’s Fruit & Vegetable Stand 135 Poor Farm Road, Colchester 879.0102 Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Paul Mazza’s Fruit & Vegetable Stand 182 River Road, Essex 879.0102 Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Button Falls Road, Pawlet 645.0888 liebigberryfarm.com Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
Wood’s Market Garden Route 7, Brandon 247.6630 woodsmarketgarden.com Strawberries
Sam Mazza’s Farm Market
Clear Brook Farm
The Apple Barn & Country Bake Shop
277 Lavigne Road, Colchester 655.3440 sammazza.com Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Route 7A, Shatfsbury 442.4273 clearbrookfarm.com Raspberries, strawberries
604 Route 7 South, Bennington 447.7780 theapplebarn.com Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
Willow Hill Farm
Mad Tom Orchard
313 Hardscrabble Road, Milton 893.2963 sheepcheese.com Blueberries, Currants
2615 Mad Tom Road, East Dorset 366.8107 madtomorchard.com Raspberries
2682 Mad Tom Rd, East Dorset 362.4519 wildwoodberryfarm.com Blueberries, gooseberries, currants, raspberries
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Pick Your Own
Berry Creek Farm 1342 VT Route 100, Westfield 744.2406 berrycreekfarmvt.com Strawberries
Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries
493 Coburn Hill Road, Craftsbury 586.2202 bbblueberries.com Blueberries
A sure sign of summer is the sudden proliferation of PYO signs at farms and orchards and along roadsides. Here’s a guide to places in Vermont where you can stock up on berries for summer pies or for your freezer for the winter ahead.
Washington Legare Farm Market 1502 Route 14, Calais 476.5037 Strawberries
Harvest Schedule June
Strawberries Blueberries Currants Gooseberries
4 Corners Farm 306 Doe Hill Road, Newbury 866.3342 4cornersfarm.com Strawberries
Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center 225 Pavillion Road, Thetford 785.4737 cedarcirclefarm.org Strawberries, blueberries
Our harvest schedule is an estimate of when these berries will become available. To ensure a productive and enjoyable day, make sure to call before you visit these farms.
Wards Berry Farm 223 Miller Pond Road, Strafford 333.4113 myspace.com/wardberryfarm Blueberries, raspberries
Windsor Cherry Hill Farm 409 Highland Road, Springfield 885.5088 cherryhillfarmvt.com Currants, gooseberries, raspberries
Killdeer Farm Route 5 South, Norwich 649.2852 killdeerfarm.com Strawberries
Windham Dutton Farm Stand
Harlows Sugar House
Route 30, Newfane 365.4168 duttonberryfarm.com Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
563 Bellows Falls Road, Putney 387.5852 vermontsugar.com Blueberries
Dwight Miller & Son Orchards
Sunshine Valley Berry Farm
511 Miller Road, East Dummerston 254.9635 vtfarms.org/farm.php/fid/64 Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
707 Kipling Road, Dummerston 254.6868 scottfarmvermont.com Blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries
129 Ranger Road, Rochester 767.3989 vermontberries.com Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries
Green Mountain Orchards
Boyd Family Farm
130 West Hill Road, Putney 387.5851 greenmtorchards.com Blueberries
125 East Dover Road, Wilmington 464.5618 boydfamilyfarm.com Blueberries, raspberries
529 Wellwood Orchard Road, Springfield 263.5200 wellwoodorchards.net Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
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Pomfret Road, Pomfret 457.2994 Blueberries
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Cultivating Community Education
Farm Fresh Vegetables Pick Your Own Berries Perennial & Annual Flowers Tree & Shurb Nursery Holiday Wreaths & Trees
Family Farm Free gardening workshops in the WRJ Community Garden at Ratcliﬀe Park! Find out more at the UVFC.
802.464.5618 • www.boydfamilyfarm.com
UVFC ~ 193 North Main St, WRJ, VT ~ (802) 295-5804
FARMERS MARKET Join us at the Farmers’ Market on the West River in Londonderry. 45 Vermont Vendors offering fresh produce, meats, cheeses, herbs, flowers, maple syrup, baked goods, breads, specialty foods, and unique artworks.
Farm fresh produce homemade foods handmade gifts
New Day & New Place! West Townshend Country Store At Rt. 30 & Windham Hill Road
June through mid October 4–7 pm Every Friday, Rain or Shine 802–869– 2141 firstname.lastname@example.org EBT, Debit & Farm to Family welcome
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Saturdays 9am - 1pm, Rain or Shine Memorial Day through Columbus Day Jct. Rtes 11/100 Londonderry, VT
Custom Clothes Lines 802-579-2207 Facebook@JustPorches TomGoldschmid@gmail.com
EBT, Debit, and Farm to Family Coupons Accepted Te n t s Ta b l e s Ta b l e w a r e Chairs Dance Floors Lighting Restroom Services
Green Mountain Tent Rentals Townshend Park, Route 30, Townshend, VT 05353
Ross • Luke • John Evans www.greenmtntents.com email@example.com
Certified Organic, Locally Grown. In Vermont, you can support local and organic farmers you don’t have to choose.
Also from Putney Sparkling Blackcurrant Sparkling Cranberry 24 local banquet
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www.nofavt.org 802-434-4122 firstname.lastname@example.org
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and transfer. A list of upcoming workshops and a downloadable leasing guide are available on their website, landforgood.org.
Matchmaking between farmers and landowners can begin informally, or by completing an online profile and searching applicable websites: the New England Farmland Finder; the Vermont Agriculture Land Access Database at UVM; and NOFA Vermont’s “Land Here!” The Vermont Food System Atlas, launching this summer through the Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative, will provide related links and further resources.
Land For Good highly encourages mutually beneficial, written lease agreements. Stewardship clauses that state expectations around the care and management of natural resources over a long period of time are strongly advised, as are leases sustained over a broader time frame than just a few years. It’s also recommended to have a dispute clause that requires disputes to be handled through the Vermont Agricultural Mediation Program. Include who’s responsible for property repairs, alterations, and improvements to structures, and state that insurance liability is maintained by the farmer and includes property owners in the policy. (Homeowner insurance does not cover leased farming.) Benefits should also be clearly understood. Property owners benefit by receiving land maintenance and stewardship, payment from sales and/or a business partnership, and potential property tax discounts. Farmers benefit by having workable land and clear expectations.
Sally Mole owns Cedar Hill Farm, a 350-acre, family-owned farm partnership in Pownal, which encompasses tenants Mighty Food Farm and Quarry Hill Farm. Sally grew up on the Continued on page 29
PHOTO COURTESY OF MIGHTY FOOD FARM
Mike Ghia, the Land For Good field agent for Vermont, says farmer-landowner matchmaking is not unlike the process of dating before getting married. “Exploratory relationships teach about what each party is looking for before entering into a marriage. Likewise, a property owner may interview and meet with a number of farmers before they find someone who shares the same goals, with whom they are compatible, and helps determine if each want to pursue the lease relationship. Property owners shouldn’t be discouraged if some of the farmers they connect with don’t meet their expectations or even if a past leasing relationship with a farmer didn’t work out. Instead, it’s important to look at these interactions as learning experiences that can help inform a better, successful relationship in the future when the right farmer comes along. The same can be said for farmers looking to find the right property owner from whom to lease.”
Landowners interested in exploring lease arrangements also need to obtain baseline knowledge of their property in order to provide the necessary details in a matchmaking description. They must know their land’s soil type, identify housing options for a leasing farmer, appraise barns and outbuildings, and measure water availability.
Ariel Dunn, farm manager of Mighty Food Farm in Pownal, works a field leased from Sally Mole.
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Organic Produce Local Dairy Products Free-range, Local Eggs Humanely-raised Meats I-91 exit 4 · open 7 days World-class Cheeses 802.387.5866 Delicious Prepared Foods www.putneyfood.coop Great Community Friendly Atmosphere facebook*twitter*pinterest
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Pick Your Own Strawberries!
Call for Conditions & Time
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FOREST & GARDEN
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Tel. Bus: (802) 365–9778
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TWO FARMS Continued from page 13
to farm on 13 acres of tillable land and 35 or so acres of pasture in exchange for a payment in goods that sounds straight out of a ledger from the 1800s: half a pig, 15 chickens, 2 turkeys, and a year’s worth of veggies. In retrospect, Emily wonders if this arrangement could have been a little more balanced. “A landowner having someone farm on their land gains in several ways that we never accounted for in our lease, including valuable improvements to depleted soil, and the tax benefits and social and cultural benefits of having an organic farm on their property. These things are difficult to quantify, but are important to acknowledge in a written agreement.” Over the past three years, Fair Food Farm has certainly had some setbacks—including a tractor breakdown last year that partly derailed Emily and Matt’s plan for accelerated farm success—but they remain positive about their situation and their lease arrangement. They feel that most of the hurdles their farm has faced are endemic to the nature of farming and aren’t derived from the nature of their lease. “There are limitations with any lease, and having a good landlord who you know— someone who shares your aesthetics and who you can really communicate with—is crucial, but in our situation the limitations didn’t prevent our success.”
ous? I’ll grow vegetables on your land.’ He ordered garlic, built a little cabin on their land and started planting.” Ben had worked out a loose arrangement with the Livestock Farm, formalizing their working relationship and landshare agreement with no more than a handshake. Once he had his seeds in the ground and a hoe in hand, though, Ben’s vision quickly solidified and his plans took off: by the end of 2011 he had established two acres of veggies and a budding 15-member CSA. In addition, by that time, he had gained a tractor, a greenhouse, and—probably most important for Seedfolks Farm—a farm partner in the form of Nicole. The next year saw
Buy ? or Lease? ?
While they still dream of eventually owning their own land where they would feel more comfortable making long-term investments (such as improved infrastructure and the planting of fruit trees and other perennials), Emily and Matt are committed to making Fair Food Farm profitable over the next several years on their leased land, partly with a more conservative, scaled-back approach and partly with the help of off-farm income through Emily’s landscaping work. Reaching across the table in her cozy kitchen to offer me a dried apple slice from a mason jar, Emily shares some advice for other young farmers: “I would tell people: ‘Wait for your gold-mine opportunity. Whether it’s a free lease on 500 acres, or 80 acres of cheap beautiful farmland, it’s out there. Be patient, don’t rush it, don’t force it, but work on it a little at a time, and you will find your gold mine.’”
ILLUSTRATION BY MEG LUCAS
Beyond the doors of the Montpelier gymnasium where the Capital City Farmers’ Market takes place each winter, the scene is as hearty, wholesome, and colorful as a roasted rootvegetable soup. On one side of the gym, Ben Uris and Nicole Duch (both in their 20s) of Seedfolks Farm are selling their attractive produce: stacks of onions and other root vegetables displayed in neat wooden boxes and bottles of bright pink sauerkraut on one side adding a splash of color and drawing in the eye. Three years ago, Ben and Nicole established their farm in the Northeast Kingdom on several acres owned by another agricultural producer, a large dairy and meat operation (hereafter known as the Livestock Farm to keep their identity anonymous at Nicole’s request). Nicole describes for me the origins of Seedfolks Farm’s unique land-use situation: when Ben first met the owners of the Livestock Farm in 2010, “They told him that they were looking for someone to grow veggies on their land. He said, ‘Are you seri-
more rapid growth: the farm tripled in size, to almost six acres in production, still on land owned by the Livestock Farm, and still founded on that first handshake. By the time I was talking with Nicole, the Livestock Farm and Seedfolks were just beginning the process of crafting a long-term, written lease for the first time.
There is a mix of excitement, relief, and nervousness in Nicole’s voice when she talks about formalizing the land use agreement. “Just this past year we’ve really become our own business and our own farm. Creating a lease is great because there were a lot of things with our arrangement that were unclear. I think both parties might have questioned at times, ‘Is this working?’ Now we are coming back together, thinking, ‘We can make this work.’” She’s quick to point out (and to emphasize as advice for other young farmers just starting out) that Ben himself didn’t know exactly what he wanted when he first stepped foot onto Livestock Farm’s property and shook hands with its owners. “At first maybe Ben was just trying it out. He thought, ‘This is a great opportunity, I’m so excited,’ but he didn’t necessarily think about what he really needed to grow food. The problem is, if you’re a very young farmer, you yourself might not even know what you need until you start doing it.” Nicole’s suggestion that other young farmers carefully consider their potential farm’s needs before entering a lease agreement goes well beyond concrete concerns such as roof space, a vegContinued on page 29
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Visit Our Farmstand 90 VARIETIES OF APPLES
maple syrup quince paste
our own fruit pies
Join Our CSA
Heirloom Apple Cider quince, medlars, gooseberries, raspberries, blueberries
VACATION In One of Our HistoricHomes
TAKE CLASSES Hard Cider Making Tart or Pie Baking Pruning and Grafting
A Landmark Trust USA Property 707 Kipling Road . Dummerston, VT www.landmarktrustusa.org www.scottfarmvermont.com 802.254.6868
A Family Feed Company
Pet Food, Bird Seed, Equine, Pet and Stable Supplies, Tack, Hay & Shavings
Open Monday—Friday 9:00-5:30 Saturday 10:00–2:00 802–365–7800
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farm when it was raising beefalo in the 1950s and ‘60s, but challenges bringing beef to market led Sally’s father to quit farming. She eventually faced the reality that money could not be made farming in her situation, so she began promoting small farms and farm products while exploring new avenues of entrepreneurship. Sally now partners with Quarry Hill Farm to raise sheep, sold through Vermont Lamb Company. Quarry Hill also taps the sugarbush and, as longtime tenants, have created a homeschool enrichment program on the property. Mighty Food Farm rents farmhouse space and grows organic produce for 250 CSA shareholders; they also sell at local farmers’ markets. Echoing Carol Tashie’s reasoning for leasing, Sally says her farm tenants find leasing appealing because it’s more about “building cash equity and not putting all that money into land ownership costs.” “Our nine shareholders [in the farm partnership] have talked about selling to current lessees,” Sally says, “but in all reality, that asset split really doesn’t amount to much—and at what cost to local land access for our future generations? We had to look at the possibilities of what could happen to the land if a new owner sells. We began to consider the longevity of land access to pass on to future generations as a family-run real estate leasing operation, instead of a family farm. “Our farming model has helped encourage other small farms
TWO FARMS Continued from page 27
etable processing and wash station, or water and electricity for daily operations. Echoing the words of Emily at Fair Food Farm, she emphasizes that other young farmers need “to make sure that your goals and your ultimate vision are the same [as those you’re leasing from], because if they’re not, then it’s really not going to work.” Seedfolks Farm is fortunate to be renting their land from another active farm, so finding common philosophical ground is easy. For other young farmers, though, the situation can often be much more challenging. “A lot of landowners are just not aware of what a farmer’s needs are and aren’t really familiar with farming in general. Maybe they don’t realize there’s going to be these compost piles or this pig shit on their land. I think talking about everything [in the lease-crafting process], getting everything out on the table, is important”, Nicole said. Formalizing a land lease agreement can be a challenging and tenuous process for all parties involved, marked at times by tension and uncertainty. “We don’t get stressed out by farming,” Nicole says, “but we do get stressed out about our unstableness with our land.” Despite some of the inherent difficulties in the process, Nicole remains confident that Seedfolks Farm will continue to evolve and mature as a unique business entity on land owned by another farm business. “It’s just beautiful land— for vegetables, it’s amazing. There’s no other place in Vermont
along the road,” she continues, “making this valley into a vibrant farm community—a fabric of life unraveling a new farming pattern based on food access for future generations, not simply monetizing the land. This model took work, time, and cost to repair buildings and prepare the land, but this year we plan to pay out a dividend [to partnership shareholders], and hopefully for subsequent years to follow.” Sustainability is the capacity to endure. And food access is critical to our ability to endure. Yet as Rutland landowner Mary Ashcroft says, “The pressure is on prime farmland. Farmers want to use it, as do developers for housing and solar projects, and transportation planners for road projects.” Hope lies with the multiple organizations addressing this pressing issue, and with all the landowners willing to work with farmers to help Vermont achieve the twin goals of preserving land and growing more local food. To learn about farmland leasing or to attend a workshop, visit landforgood.org. More information can also be found at newenglandfarmlandfinder.org, uvm.edu/newfarmer, and nofavt.org. Rachel Carter is a journalist and grassroots marketing consultant who rents a farm building on 90 acres in Charlotte that are for sale. She prays the land is purchased for farming, not a McMansion, and is seeking a small, rural, and affordable homestead or a compatible landowner relationship in central Vermont, where she and her husband can lay down permanent roots.
like this. When we see other properties, we realize that being on this land that just pumps out these beautiful vegetables is pretty special. We’re working hard to make an agreement that works for everyone so we can all continue to grow food and support the community.” The bluegrass band at one end of the farmers’ market finishes a rousing tune as someone announces over the loudspeaker that the market will be closing in 10 minutes. Nicole leans out to wave and smile at Ben, who is manning the Seedfolks Farm booth below us and filling people’s bags with beautiful carrots and onions. She turns back to offer some last advice for other young farmers. “I would recommend leasing—I think that we couldn’t have gotten off our feet if we’d had to purchase land. And right now the reality is that just working on farms doesn’t lead you to farmland—you can’t save enough money to buy farmland from just working on farms. A lot of young people in our area are working other jobs to fund their farm dream and their hopes of having land. We’re going about it differently. We’ll get our own farm someday through farming.” Andrew Stowe currently resides in Brookfield and grows vegetables as the crop manager at Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield. He has been working on small-scale, diversified farms in Vermont for three seasons and, not surprisingly, he is currently on the lookout for good, affordable land for farming in this beautiful state.
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Alpaca Meat Grass Fed, Lean, and Delicious! Cas-Cad-Nac Farm LLC Ian & Jennifer Lutz 490 Wheeler Camp Perkinsville, VT 05151 email@example.com www.CCNFAlpaca.com (802) 263-5740
Katahdin and Dorper sheep, lambs, and meat 217 Darby Hill Road • Rockingham VT 802-376-5474 • w w w.dayspringfarm.com
Local Not-for-profit Financial Co-operative
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Open daily through end of June 10 AM–6 PM 3532 Westminster West Road, in the village of Westminster West (802) 387-2781 * firstname.lastname@example.org
East Hill Bison Farm, Townshend, VT
Brattleboro, Putney, Townshend, Bellows Falls, and Springﬁeld • 802-254-4800 / rivercu.com
Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. ~Mark Twain
The Book Nook — proudly feeding the mind since 2006.
136 Main Street, Ludlow VT 05149 • 802–228–3238 email@example.com • thebooknookvt.com
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If you want to see the chronically upbeat Ethan Wood scowl, ask him about the seafood with which most restaurants work. “You find these paint-can scallops in 10-gallon containers with a three-week shelf life,” he explains. “Now that’s a little suspicious.” And so almost all of his product comes straight from day boats in New England. A few specialty items—octopus from Spain, for instance, or “worry-free,” sustainable caviar from Russia—comes from farther away, but Ethan is quick to emphasize that he’d never sell anything he didn’t consider to be a sustainable stock and is always eager to steer customers to local alternatives first. He holds a special contempt for fish mongers who pollute their product with preservatives like sodium tripolyphosphate, a moisture retaining additive (not to mention a known skin and eye irritant) that lets fish travel longer distances and sit in display cases for veritable ages. It’s a common practice with the wholesalers and auctions at some of the bigger New England docks (although Ethan doesn’t want to name names).
Winter CSA 2013/14 Harlow Farm Organic Produce Available Year Round!
This winter, feed yourself and your family with all the great, organic Harlow Farm produce you love including; root and frozen vegetables, meats, eggs, baked and canned goods, and winter greens, additionally, you support other local producers. Flexible ordering and pick up locations, easy to use online sign up and ordering form.
“People should be eating local, all-natural fish with no chemicals and no preservatives,” Ethan says. “And that’s why I take it to Vermont.”
Up in Waitsfield, Chef Adam Longworth of the Common Man is eagerly awaiting the Wood Mountain delivery. When they bought the Common Man in 2011, Adam, who worked as chef de cuisine at the Michelin-rated Gotham Bar and Grill, and his wife, Lorien Wroten, had one hesitation. “Our only concern relocating here from New York City was that I wasn’t going to be able to get seafood.” At that point, Wood Mountain Fish was doing one delivery a week to the Mad River Valley. Not ideal for a chef who prides himself on seafood. But as soon as he saw the product, Adam convinced Ethan to make more frequent runs. Today, he buys mussels, oysters, clams, Hamachi, octopus, black bass, and what he describes as “massive amounts of halibut” from Wood Mountain. “Ethan gets us as good a fish as I ever got in New York City. And I saw amazing fish there.” For every transplanted flatlander who, like Adam (although he is from Northfield originally), worries that a move to Vermont might mean the end of fresh seafood, there’s a native or longtime Vermonter who has simply never experienced it. Adam thinks that better quality fish, like that supplied by Wood Mountain, better prepared, can actually create some converts. “When we first got here, a lot of the locals just didn’t want fish. They told us they don’t like seafood. But now we give them a fresh piece of seared black bass right out of the pan and they’ll practically do a somersault.” Ben Jervey covers the environment, energy, and climate change as a freelance writer. He lives with his wife in Barnard, where he eagerly awaits the arrival of their daughter, Grace.
Rural Needs From A To Z
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f a r m e r s ’
Les poulets, s’il vous plaît by John R. Clark Applecheek Farm
We learned about this breed from a friend of ours who was raising them and who gave us one to try. At the time, we were pasture raising the very common Cornish Cross chicken (not exactly a breed developed for foraging on pasture). When we put our first Red Bro in the oven, we thought it could not get much better than what we were already growing, but one bite and wow! We were never going back. It’s now our children’s second favorite meat from the farm—after bacon! Not only were we surprised by the taste of these chickens, we were also surprised by their performance as pasture-raised birds. For one thing, we had almost no loss or mortality among the young birds. Second—wow! Did these birds love grass! We discovered the Red Bros to be foraging machines. When they were moved to fresh pasture, they would forget about the grain and jump right into grazing. We figured we went from 15 percent of diet being grass (Cornish Cross) to at least 50 percent of diet being grass (Red Bro).
PHOTO COURTESY OF APPLECHEEK FARM
As “foodie” farmers, we were very excited; we were not only raising a bird with superior taste and texture, but one with superiority in nutrition. When animals forage on grass, the higher the nutritional value: higher levels of vitamins, lower saturated fats, lower cholesterol, and a balance of omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids. Part of Applecheek Farm’s mission is “to be a model of sustainability and create healthy food that provides optimal nutrition and restores ecological capital within our soils, while providing space where community can come together to celebrate food.” Red Bro chickens fit right into that mission. Applecheek Farm is a second-generation family farm in Hyde Park that sells beef, pork, veal, chicken, duck, milk, and eggs. You can find them at the Montpelier farmers’ market on Saturdays and the Stowe farmers’ market on Sundays. Or join their meat CSA and enjoy deliveries to Montpelier, Stowe, Waterbury, or Burlington. Contact: 802-888-4482 or applecheekfarm.com.
No Frills, Straightforward (and Really Tasty) Chicken It’s fast, easy, delicious, and the minimal seasonings will enable the cook to take the leftovers in any number of directions. This recipe is adapted from Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover’s Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies, and Living Deliciously, by Shannon Hayes. Serves 6 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted 1 4–5 pound, whole, pasture-raised chicken 1 to 2 Tbs. coarse salt 2 tsp. ground black pepper 1 whole clove garlic, peeled Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. Thoroughly brush the melted butter over the surface of the bird, sprinkle the outside with salt and pepper, and place the garlic clove inside the cavity. Put the chicken, breast side up, in a large cast-iron skillet or any roasting pan. Roast the bird approximately 1½ hours until the juices between the cavity and the thigh run clear; the internal temperature of the breast should read 160 degrees, and the internal temperature of the thigh, taken on the inside at the meatiest part, 165 degrees. Serve the chicken au jus.
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k i t c h e n
When we’re selling at a local farmers’ market or get a call ordering a CSA share, we’re often asked, “What is a French chicken?” I, or my wife Rocio, will often say, “Well, it’s a chicken that speaks French and has a little pointy, black mustache,” but actually we’re referring to our certified organic Red Bro chickens. These delicious birds originated from France, where they are referred to as poulet rouge (red chicken) and are found under the label “Rouge” (Red Label). The Red Label in France indicates that the chickens had plenty of space, were raised on pasture, and had grass on which to forage. Of interest, though, is that they must also meet gourmet standards. In France, the poultry are tested every year by consumers in blind taste tests. They’re rated in comparison with other poultry on appearance, taste, and texture. There are also sensory profiles performed twice a year by a jury of trained experts.
COMMUNITY F E E D S TO R E E QU I N E
DAIRY POULTRY & P E T S
Junction of Rte. 5 and 123 Westminster Station, VT 05159 802–722–9852 email@example.com A Family Feed Company
8–5 Monday–Friday 8–2 Saturday Closed Sunday
Meat, Deli, Produce and huge selection of Wine. company, inc.
Fast and Friendly service!
roofing & construction
Route 103 Chester Depot 802-875-4715
802-874-9912 802-348-7189 www.vermontslateroof.com slate, standing seam metal, cedar, and asphalt roofing
Help us become a leading resource for community, environmental, economic, physical and social well-being within the Great Falls region. For information and to join:
“Feed the Mind, Feed the Belly” 767-4258 * Open 7 days * 7:30 am–6 pm
Pfister Farm wagon & sleigh rides
Contributing Local Farms
Full menu available with daily food and drink specials. More than 35 beers to choose from. Extensive wine list.
Harlow’s Farm Old Athens Farm LMC Ranch Hope Roots Farm Pete’s Stand
THURSDAY OPEN MIC 8 PM MON –FRI • 4 PM till 11PM
www.karlpfistersleigh.com 34 local banquet
Call for reservations 802-824-4663
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SAT • 2PM till 11PM SUN • 12PM till 11PM FULL MENU EVERYDAY AT 5 PM SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
802– 869 – 4602 16 MAIN STREET SAXTONS RIVER
10% discount if you mention this ad
CALENDAR June 1, 10am–3pm
June 9, 11am–3pm
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park 54 Elm Street, Woodstock The 5th Annual Trek to Taste—a celebration of local food and local trails. Join a guided walk, or grab a map and head off along one of three spectacular routes. Each trail leads to samples of delicious farm-fresh treats prepared by local students and community groups—and you’ll also encounter family-friendly arts and crafts activities, trail games, trail work demonstrations, community health exhibits, music, ice cream, and more. Free. 457-3368, trektotaste.info
Hartland Public Library Hartland Family-friendly event featuring more than 40 local vendors selling farm products, plants, prepared food. This celebration is the major annual fundraiser for the Hartland Elementary farm to school program. Held next to Hartland Public Library. Donation requested, no pets please. Amy Richardson 436-7017 or Kelly Meacham 295-8563, hartlandfarmfest.org or facebook.com/ hartlandfarmfest
Trek to Taste
June 5, 10am–2pm Market Opens
Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market Downtown Brattleboro Market opens downtown at the Whetstone Pathway (by the Co-op), every Wednesday through October. 254-8885 brattleborfarmersmarket.com
June 8, 9am–2pm Kid’s Day
Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market Route 9, Brattleboro Kids are vendors, too! Kids can sell things they make and grow. No cookies from boxes, please. 254-8885 brattleborfarmersmarket.com
June 8, 10am–6pm
Vermont Community Garden Network: Champlain Valley Sweet Potato Slip Sale
Red Wagon Plants, Hinesburg The benefit sale brings together gardeners from all over Vermont. The well-rooted Beauregard sweet potato plants thrive in Vermont gardens. Call 861-4769 for bulk pre-orders. 100% of proceeds from sweet potato slip sales support VCGN’s garden-based education and outreach programs. 861-4769, burlingtongardens.org
6th Annual Hartland Farm & Food Fest
656-8672, http://learn.uvm.edu/ sustainability/food-summit/ food-systems-conference/
pling, buying, learning, and networking. Come and celebrate the season. 800-884-6287, vtcheesefest.com
June 30, 10am–4pm
11th Annual Strawberry Festival at Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center
225 Pavillion Road, off Rte 5 East Thetford Family fun! Ongoing horse-drawn wagon rides, strawberry picking, kidsÕ crafts and live music. Organic good food concession, strawberry shortcake! No pets please. Rain or shine. Parking $5/car. 785-4737, CedarCircleFarm.org
June 15–16, 10am–4pm
July 26, Various times
Merck Forest and Farmland Center 3270 Route 315, Rupert This two-day farm festival is a collaboration with Green Mountain Draft Horse Association and will showcase the importance of draft power within the working landscape. This event is open to everyone interested in learning about draft power for farming. MFFC staff will lead children’s activities related to draft power, our horses, and farm. Free. 394-7836, merckforest.org
Wilmington, Jacksonville Whitingham, Readsboro, and Dover Visitors to the Valley will find childrens activities, jam making, blueberry themed specials in the local eateries, blue music events, a blue car auto show, blueberry bake sales, blue beer, there will be many events over this 10 day festival. 464-8092, vermontblueberry.com
June 27, 12–6pm
Waterfront Park Burlington Celebrating craft beer and the brewers who brew them. The third weekend in July at Burlington Waterfront Park with scenic views of Lake Champlain framed by the Adirondack Mountain Range 760-8535, vtbrewfest.com
Hay Days, Demonstrating Draft Power in the Working Landscape
The Necessary (r)Evolution for Sustainable Food Systems
University of Vermont Royall Tyler Theatre, Burlington The power of this one day and the hundreds gathered together will awaken some, re-energize others, help advance a shared vision for the future of food we desire, fortify the movement, and make clear specific ways each person can help transform the system. Please visit our website for more information and to register.
Vermont’s 6th Annual Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival
July 19, see website for times
Vermont Brewers Festival
July 21, 10am–4pm
Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Fresh Network’s 17th Annual Forum
Shelburne Farm 1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne The event brings together Vermont’s top chefs, farmers, brewers, vintners, distillers, cheesemakers, beekeepers, and food artisans in a celebration of Vermont’s local food landscape. Basque in the beauty of the Shelburne Farm’s Coach Barn, on the shore of Lake Champlain, as you enjoy the best of Vermont food, drink, and company. Tickets will go on sale in June—so stay tuned! 434-2000, vermontfresh.net
August 18, 9:30 AM–3:30 PM Fungi Workshop
Mount Independence State Historic Site Orwell Noted mycologist Sue Van Hook leads another daylong workshop on foraging for mushrooms, what to look for, whats safe and whats not. Workshop fee. Preregistration required. Call for details. 948-2000, http://historicsites.vermont. gov/mountindependence/
August 24, 2–4pm
5th Annual Tomato Tasting by the River at Cedar Circle Farm
226 Pavillion Road, off Rte 5 East Thetford Celebrate heirloom tomatoes with an assortment of tomato appetizers and live music, on the farm along the Connecticut River. Fee, preregistration on website. 785-4738, CedarCircleFarm.org
Shelburne Farm 1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne Spend a high summer day along the shores of Lake Champlain at the historic Shelburne Farms Coach Barn sam-
STUDENTS Continued from page 21
“Sustainable agriculture has experienced tremendous growth on all fronts,” says Philip Ackerman-Leist, associate professor and director of the Farm & Food Project at GMC. “Both programs are really on the rise. Right now there are about 55 students associated with the undergraduate program and 55 students in our Master’s program.” Undergraduate students within the program receive a liberal arts-based education, with classes in history, anthropology, the natural sciences, philosophy, business, economics, and art. They also participate in farm chores and other activities on the 22-acre on-campus farm, which provides food to the dining hall as well as a CSA share for faculty and staff. The master’s program offers a range of classes in history, food systems, and business that provide a variety of applicable ideas to promote change through various regional food systems. “The beauty of the master’s program is the geographical diversity and the
diversity of backgrounds that people bring into it, and the level of professional experience that people have had regardless of whether it’s been in food systems or not,” says Philip. “There’s a real sophistication that the cohorts bring and that’s what the program is really all about.” Students enrolled in the undergraduate agriculture program at GMC are often looking to become farmers themselves after graduation. Philip advises that students “find a good mentor and stake their claims” to try to learn as much as possible in order to make farming after graduation a successful career. “It does take time and probably longer than people think initially,” he says. Kristen A. Schmitt is a writer based in the Green Mountains of Vermont. She writes about health, nutrition, and the environment and has interviewed many leaders within the farming, food, and hunting communities. Contact Kristen via Twitter: @kristen_schmitt.
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The Family Car as Solar Dehydrator
All summer long, I feast like a queen from the garden, but never lose sight that fall is coming, and we’ll still want to eat. My husband and I therefore freeze, ferment, can, and dehydrate food for winter, and since one of our goals is to avoid the use of fossil fuels to prepare or store our food, we often favor dehydrating. Dehydration has to be done quickly and thoroughly. Too much moisture left behind causes veggies to get moldy in storage. Drying too slowly costs flavor and quality. Too much heat causes scorching. We started with an electric dehydrator. It had a number of handy trays and a fan that blew warm air across the veggies. It did a good job, but used a lot of electricity. Sun drying came next. That worked great when we lived in Montana, where laundry dried on the line in as little as 10 minutes and a picnic sandwich turned to toast before we got to the last bite. Not so in Vermont. Bugs abound here, too, making it necessary to screen out unwelcome taste testers. If the day’s produce fails to dry by sundown, we use the oven to finish, but there we go using electricity, again. Sometimes the best and simplest solution is sitting right under your nose. In this case it was sitting in our driveway. You know how hot a closed vehicle gets on a sunny day? There aren’t many bugs in there, either. I figured the car had all the right conditions for dehydrating food, so I chopped up some herbs and gave it a try. Here’s our method: For leafy herbs and greens, snip them off with scissors, or pick off individual leaves. Spread them onto cookie sheets and place in the car. The dashboard works especially well. Every now and then, stir the contents of the trays for more even drying. Finer herbs such as thyme and oregano can be left on the stem and hung on a line between the headrests, secured with clothespins. Herbs may take as little as an hour, greens half a day. If it’s too hot in the car, open the windows a crack. 36 local banquet
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Dense, moist fruits and vegetables do best on a food grade screen so air can get to them from below as well as above. A reflective cookie sheet under the screen speeds drying. Husked cobs of flint corn can be spread on a clean sheet or hung on clotheslines in the car for the first round of drying. After they’re shelled, spread the kernels on cookie sheets for round two. To store our dehydrated bounty, we prefer glass jars. (Plastic seems to encourage mold growth.) Herbs and greens should be dry to the point of crumbling. Tomatoes and fruit should be firm and leathery, summer squash somewhere between leathery and crisp. If we’re the least bit worried about mold, we store the dried goods in plastic bags and freeze them. Dried produce can go straight into soups, stews, sauces, or casseroles without rehydration. They’ll soak up the flavors of broth or marinade while they cook. Dried fruits, including sliced tomatoes and summer squash, can be eaten as snacks, or snipped with scissors and used in breads, desserts, soups, and salads. Certainly, there are disadvantages to passive solar dehydration in a motor vehicle. That classic “new car smell” indicates that volatiles are leaching from the interior, and we probably don’t want those in our food. Our solution? We don’t buy new vehicles. Another disadvantage is that some produce imparts an odor to the car. Don’t get me wrong; I like the smell of chives. I really do. It gets a bit old, though, if I have to drive in a chive-laden miasma on a rainy day with all the windows up. On the upside, it makes for an interesting conversation starter when we pick up passengers. Who knows—it might tip an unsuspecting wanna-be gardener over the edge into the delights of greater sustainability and frugal self-sufficiency! Chris Sims homesteads on two-thirds of an acre in Jericho, where a summer’s harvest of vegetables and fruits feeds the family all year.
PHOTO BY CHRIS SIMS
by Chris Sims
64 Vermont Route 104, Cambridge VT (802) 644-8151 www.vermontice.com
Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market Saturdays 9-2
Rte 9, Western Avenue May – October
A Wood-Fired Artisan Bakery In Alstead, NH
Market is now at the Whetstone Pathway by the Co-op. June – October
Live Music Saturdays EBT & Debit
Available in Stores & Farmers’ Markets Throughout the Region
www.orchardhillbreadworks.com Now Offe ring All Natural Premium Ice Cream made w/fresh, local cream from St Albans Co-op Creamer y!
Royal Ice Cream Stand Open for the Season ! Grass-Fed Burgers, Fresh Seafood , Salads & Veggies from our own Garden.
Learning Visits & Tours of the region
Free facility tours, every third Thur. of the month!
Monthly Classes & Workshops
Food business & technical support
Co-packing services offered Value added processing and production for farms
Office: 802-472-5362 www.hardwickagriculture.org
The Sapling Maple family has grown. Try our original Maple Liqueur, our new Maple Bourbon, and Maple Rye today!
Together, Better Choices
…like partnerships with local farmers.
Uniquely Vermont and without equal!
Adam’s Berr y Farm, Bur
Photo by J.Silverman
City Market is dedicated to strengthening the local food system. We’re grateful for our local farmers who provide our Co-op’s members and customers with nourishing food all year long! Produced by Saxtons River Distillery Brattleboro, VT 35% alc. by Volume
Visit www.saplingliqueur.com for more information.
82 S. Winooski Ave. Burlington, VT 05401 Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. (802) 861-9700 www.citymarket.coop
Your prime desination for healthy, local, and organic food 335 River Street Springfield 802.885.3363 Open 7 Days a Week Monday–Saturday 8am–7pm Sunday 10am–5pm
A full-service auction company, Sharon Boccelli & Company is a trusted name in the antiques trade, with over 30 years experience buying, selling and appraising antiques and collectibles. Whether you need a complete estate liquidation, appraisals for probate or insurance, or to sell individual pieces, your needs will be handled professionally and promptly by our experienced staff. Call us for a free site visit. Visit our website for upcoming auctions.
46 Canal St. Bellows Falls VT 05101 802-460-1190 or cell 617-413-4054 www.sbauctioneers.com
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Local Banquet Ad.indd 1
5/6/13 4:42 PM
Published on Jun 1, 2013
Published on Jun 1, 2013
Vermont’s Local Banquet is a quarterly magazine that illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities.