local banquet spring 2012 | issue twenty
Wagyu Beef Vermont Heirloom Vegetables Square-Foot Gardening
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C ON T E N T S s p r i n g
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The Davis Swing Churn, manufactured by the Vermont Farm Machine Company of Bellows Falls, with a treadmill attachment that allowed a dog, goat, or sheep to supply the power to swing the butter churn.
4 Publishers’ Note 6 Be Square with square-foot gardening
8 Out of the Ashes A Brief Local History of Potash and Pearlash
10 Set the Table with… Fennel
12 Reflections of a Restaurateur Part I: Getting local food through the door
16 Vermont Heirlooms
20 Food Sovereignty, Food as Community 22 The Wow of Wagyu 24 CSA Meat Shares 31 Farmers’ Kitchen Maple Beyond the Breakfast Table
33 Calendar 34 Last Morsel
Publishers’ Note Publisher Schreiber & Lucas, LLC It’s hard for us to believe that this is our 20th issue! When we started publishing Vermont’s Local Banquet in 2007, “locavore” (without the “l”which is a Northeast addition) was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year. Folks were holding “localvore challenges” to learn how to eat locally, and there was lots of talk about food being essential to surviving in a “postoil” world. Today, eating locally is commonplace for many people, but these were among the first steps Vermonters took toward recognizing the fundamental shifts taking place on our finite planet.
Editor Caroline Abels Art Director Meg Lucas Ad Director Barbi Schreiber Proofreader Marisa Crumb
Since we published our first issue, we have seen the emergence of “food hubs” up and down the state—centrally located facilities that help aggregate, store, process, distribute, and market locally produced foods. In 2009, the state legislature recognized the importance of local food by approving the Farm to Plate (F2P) Initiative, with the mission of developing a 10-year strategic plan to strengthen Vermont’s food system. And when we started publishing Local Banquet there were 60 farmers’ markets; today there are more than 90, and more than 40 of these accept EBT/debit cards, making locally grown food more accessible to all. We have indeed been witnesses to the creativity, initiative, and hard work of countless Vermonters who are adapting to our changing world. This year we’d like to nominate “resilience” as word of the year. Last year’s extreme weather showed that Vermont farmers are irrepressible and more aware than ever about potential challenges from our changing climate. Talk has been white-light focused on ways to deal with these continuing challenges. The Farm to Plate Initiative continues to try finding “infrastructure investments and public policy recommendations that will support new and existing agricultural enterprises that increase local resiliency in today’s changing times.” And NOFA’s Winter Conference this February, aptly titled Community and Ecological Resilience: Building an Adaptable and Enduring Food System, offered keynotes and workshops aimed at creating a strong food system that will serve us now and into the future. Around the state people continue to ask tough questions and to seek insight into our path forward. No one knows what the future may bring, but we will strive to continue inspiring our readers with articles that address these evolving times. Meg Lucas
Contributors Peter Burke Claire Fitts Emma Marvin Pat McGovern Suzanne Podhaizer Susan Ritz Carl Russell Tatiana 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.
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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) 2012. 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: A Rochester, VT barn; photo by Caroline Abels. Contents page: Davis Swing Churn, Vermont Farm Machine Company.
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local banquet 5
How to garden easily and productively with square-foot gardening by Peter Burke
I started the preparations at the end of April, when the snow finally melted, by laying down two large sheets of black plastic over the 20’ x 25’ area where I planned to put the garden. This included a 2-foot-wide pathway around the whole garden. Next, my son and I built 12 wooden frames, each 4 feet square, out of 2 x 6 spruce boards from the local lumberyard. On May 8, we peeled back the plastic sheets, put down the wooden frames (leaving 2-foot-wide paths between the boxes), filled the frames with a soil mix, and then spread bark on the paths between the boxes. We then watered the soil and planted. All in one day we established a garden. There were a number of reasons I decided to make this lawnto-garden conversion. One was that my wife and I wanted more garden space, and all we had done with the lawn was spend our weekends mowing it. But also, I was curious: I had just bought the book All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! by Mel Bartholomew and I wanted to test the changes he’d made in this edition. The original version had been my garden bible since 1981. The new edition advised people to build raised beds and to fill them with a special soil mix rather than dig down into the ground and improve the soil over time. There are a few key elements to the square-foot gardening method, which Bartholomew developed: permanent beds, permanent paths, perfect soil, grid planting, using a trellis and succession plant6
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ing. Any one of these concepts will improve your gardening, but all of them together make a complete system for growing more in less space. In fact, the subtitle to the new book should be Grow More in Less Space with a Whole Lot Less Work! because the new system makes everything easier. uuu Permanent bedsare one of the most important tools that a gardener has. In the classes I teach, I often emphasize that gardening is not “farming in miniature” but its own unique craft, and a permanent bed is one of those very productive things a gardener can use that is not considered practical on a larger farm. The garden bed is never walked on, so the soil stays loose and aerated and creates a perfect environment for critters like earthworms that maintain soil structure and add fertility. Also, rather than spread enhancements on the whole garden—or in the case of a farm, on the whole field—we add the manure, compost, fertilizer, sea kelp meal, lime, Azomite, or any soil additive to the bed only, not the path. Same thing with watering: If you only water the beds then the paths remain more hostile to potential weeds. I also like the look of permanent beds. There is a wide range of bed-making materials to suit your aesthetics, although be careful not to use any pressure-treated lumber that uses arsenic as a preservative; check with the lumberyard first. In fact, I would not use any used pressure-treated lumber because it is impossible to tell what was used to treat the lumber. Permanent pathways are sort of like the yin to the permanent beds’ yang—they complement each other in that the paths are a bad place to grow things, while the beds are a good place to grow things. I guess the fact that there is little or no weeding in a squarefoot garden is the most important advantage, but keeping my boots out of the mud is something I like a lot, too. Then there is the fact that it looks good. I know of one gardener who used pea gravel for her
Photos courtesy of Peter Burke.
Three years ago I converted my front lawn into a garden plot. But it wasn’t your typical garden with rows of vegetables planted side by side. Instead, it was a garden of 12 raised beds that were divided into a bunch of square-foot plots, each one easy to plant and manage. I know it sounds counterintuitive—gardening is supposed to be hard work—but I am a fan of the simple method of square-foot gardening, which doesn’t refer to the size of your garden or the size of the beds, but to the method of preparing, planting, and maintaining a garden made up of square-foot grids.
garden paths because she liked how it felt on her bare feet! I do put a layer of landscape cloth down first and then the bark mulch. In the older section of my garden I only use the bark and it tends to disappear down into the dirt after a year, so now I use the landscape cloth. Another option for paths is grass or clover that you mow every week. You get the idea; there are lots of different types of mulches for the permanent garden path—bark, brick, gravel, grass. One thing that can be a disaster, though, is hay, which is loaded with seeds and can spread weeds. Perfect soil might sound a bit presumptuous but most of us are used to the idea of using a special germination mix for growing plant sets or starts, or using a potting mix for plants grown in a container. Well, the garden bed is kind of like a big container, so using a special mix of soil makes perfect sense. What is perfect soil? A one-third mix of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. The peat and vermiculite you use only once at the beginning, and from then on you only add compost at each planting and fertilizers as needed. If this combination is the soil you are trying to end up with, why not just start using it at the beginning? You only need 6 inches of this soil mix to grow just about anything, and this is why you only need a 6-inch high box for the garden bed. Grid planting is one of the most effective ways to grow more in less space. The concept is simple. Instead of growing one row of vegetables with a wide path in between, you plant one square foot in a grid (thus the name squarefoot gardening). Look at a seed package and if it says to thin every 3 inches then plant a seed every 3 inches in a square foot, which comes out to four rows of four seeds, or, say, 16 carrots. The same idea for beets. One of my larger varieties thins to every 4 inches; the packet says plant every inch, then thin. What I do instead is plant one seed every 4 inches in a grid, so that would be 9 per square foot, or three rows of three. I plant fewer seeds, thin less often, and save the seeds for another planting in a few weeks, or even next year. Broccoli, for its part, is a big plant and wants a full 12 inches between plants, so you can only plant one in a square foot. Lettuce needs 6 inches to make a head, so that comes out to 4 plants per square foot. Let me give you an example of how productive grid planting is when compared with row planting. I was reading a newspaper recently (yes, a real paper) and there was an article about a community group trying to grow produce for the
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local banquet 7
Out of the Ashes: A Brief Local History of Potash and Pearlash
by Pat McGovern
Thoughts went back to colonial times. What had our Upper Valley ancestors used for leavening? Sourdough starter was a possibility for bread, and popovers and sponge cake could be made with egg whites. But what about cornbread, gingerbread, biscuits, and cookies? That question was a tug on a thread whereby things started to unravel; tug on the history of baking soda and lots of fascinating history comes with it. ✦ Early colonial settlers faced a forested landscape when they first reached Vermont. They worked hard clearing the woods to create open land for homes, crops, and pastures. According to A History of Norwich Vermont, published in 1905, “There was a welcome source of extra income in sending the straightest, largest logs by water to Hartford. But the greatest profit came through burning them. By a process of leaching and boiling, large hardwood logs were manufactured into potash and pearlash.” The ashes were mixed with hot water and the resultant caustic lye (which could be used as bleach) was drained off. The lye was boiled down, resulting in a black residue known as black salts. The black salts were heated until they fused into a molten mass: potash. Potash, a crude potassium carbonate, was used in the manufacture of soap, glass, and gunpowder, and for cleaning wool. When Great Britain needed potash for their Industrial Revolution, the new colonies were a great resource. Asheries sprang up in many towns, including Norwich, Hartford, Woodstock, Newberry, and Royalton. It took 200 bushels of ashes to make 100 pounds of potash. Some individuals made potash their main business while others were able to get cash or barter for goods by selling ashes, including their fireplace ashes. (A Vermont Journal ad states: ”The subscriber will pay 14 shillings per hundred weight in cash for well-dried SALTS OF LYE or #18 shillings per hundred, ¼ part money and the remainders in goods for any quantity delivered to his store in Windsor. He hath on hand a quantity of shoe leather of good quality.”) Pearlash was a further refinement of potash. It was used in the manufacture of pottery, china, and soap, and as a chemical leavening agent in baking. It is a bit of a mystery as to how a caustic lye product, used for bleaching textiles, ended 8
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Illustration by Herbert M. Stoops. “ Today’s Thrift Provides for Tomorrow”, May 21, 1945. Used by permission of National Life Group. Montpelier, VT.
Salt, spices, and baking soda: these culinary staples posed a major challenge to Upper Valley localvores attempting our first 100-Mile Diet Challenge in August 2005. Such products couldn’t be found locally. The closest salt works were in Maine, just beyond our 100-mile radius. We had access to local herbs but few spices. And we wondered: just what is baking soda?
up becoming a staple of early American bakers. (There were reported deaths from accidently drinking dissolved pearlash.) It is known that Native Americans used ashes in their cooking. The Abenaki boiled corn in lye made from wood ashes when making soups or hominy (a boiled corn they called kakiwatal). Navajos used the ash of junipers and Hopis used the ash of chamisa bushes. Ash has a high mineral content and adds nutritional value to food. In his book Baking Soda Bonanza, Connecticut chemist Peter Ciullo writes that by the 1760s, settlers were adding pearlash to sourdough; when a small amount was mixed with a mild acidic solution like sour milk, vinegar, honey, maple syrup, or molasses, carbon dioxide bubbles formed, causing quick breads and cakes to rise. Feeding America: The Historic American CookBook Project at Michigan State University indicates that the first known cookbook to use pearlash as a leavening for dough was American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796. (Simmons’s book was also the first to bring together certain Native American products, such as corn, turkey, cranberries, and squash, and apply them to English culinary traditions.) ✦ The American Revolution had made Britain and other governments and industries wary of dependence on American potash and pearlash, but Europe had limited woodland to sacrifice to wood ash. As a result, the French Academy of Science offered a prize for the best process for converting sodium chloride to soda ash (sodium carbonate). Nicholas LeBlanc won the prize in 1791. He went on to build a “soda ash” business, but it was confiscated by the French revolutionary government, which refused to pay him the prize money he had been entitled to 10 years earlier. In 1802, Napoleon returned the plant (but not the prize) to him, but by then LeBlanc could not afford to run it. He killed himself in 1806. The sodium carbonate production process continued to be improved and, in time, Europe no longer had to depend on American pearlash. In 1846, New Englanders John Dwight and his brother-in-law, Dr. Austin Church, began the manufacture of bicarbonate of soda, called Dwight’s Saleratus, which became the Arm & Hammer baking soda we know today. By 1790, potash and pearlash were Vermont’s leading exports, and the state, which had been 95 percent forested in the 1760s, was largely deforested. George Perkins Marsh, now known as the “Father of the American Conservation Movement,” had grown up in his family home on the slope of Mt. Tom in Woodstock and noticed the erosion and loss of topsoil caused by the clearing of land, as well as the destruction of fish habitats by siltation. As Vermont’s representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, Marsh warned farmers of the dangers of continued clearing of the land and described responsible forest management practices being used in Europe. In an 1847 speech he stated that “steep hillsides and rocky ledges are well suited to the permanent growth of wood, but when in a rage for improvement they are improvidently stripped of this protec-
tion, the action of sun and wind and rain soon deprives them of their vegetable mould….They remain thereafter barren… producing neither grain nor grass.” As stated in A History of Norwich Vermont, “As early as 1830, the tide began to turn. The land was showing signs of weakness, the pioneers had mined it rather than cultivated it.” While Vermont continued to be a major producer of potash and pearlash into the 1840s, many Vermonters turned to sheep and wool as their cash crop. Today, much of our baking soda is processed from the natural mineral deposits of trona in the Green River Basin of Wyoming, the world’s largest known deposit of trona ore. (Green River trona was created by the evaporation of a highly alkaline ancient lake.) It is the basic ingredient in baking powder (which has added acidifiers, such as cream of tartar and/or aluminum sulphate and drying agents such as cornstarch). We no longer use pearlash in baking, but traces of the importance of potash/pearlash in Vermont’s history remain in names such as Potash Bay in Addison and the Potash brooks and Potash Brook roads in many Vermont towns. A version of this article originally appeared in Upper Valley Image. Pat McGovern is a retired teacher, an advocate for local foods, and one of the founders of Upper Valley Localvores. (Check out her blog at uvlocalvores.wordpress.com) She is also a volunteer manager of the Canillas Community Garden in Lebanon, NH.
Recipe for Cookies (from American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, “an American Orphan,” 1796) “One pound sugar boiled slowly in half pint water, scum well and cool; add two teaspoons pearl ash dissolved in milk, then two and a half pounds flour, rub in 4 ounces butter and two large spoons finely powdered coriander seed, wet with above, make rolls half an inch thick and cut to the shape you please; bake fifteen or twenty minutes in a slack oven, good three weeks.” Gingerbread Recipe (from The American Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy, by Mrs. Child, 1833) “A very good way to make molasses gingerbread is to rub four and a half pounds of flour with half a pound of lard and half a pound of butter, a pint of molasses, a gill of milk, tea-cup of ginger, a tea-spoonful of dissolved pearlash stirred together. All mixed, baked in shallow pans twenty or thirty minutes.”
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local banquet 9
set the table with…
fennel by Claire Fitts
The feathery stems and leaves of a fennel plant (the “fronds”) are abundant and voluminous and make tasty additions to salads or to salad dressing (see sidebar recipe). But unless you love munching on feathery licorice on a regular basis, you’ll probably end up with more fennel fronds than you know what to do with. My hands-down favorite use for leftover fennel stems and fronds is in vegetable, chicken, or beef broth. I save all my tasty vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer and then boil them with a little salt when I have a spare hour in the kitchen. I freeze the tasty broth to use in soups, risottos, or whatever suits the mood. The broths that include fennel are always sublime. I’m often tempted to just eat the broth straight, it’s that good. Fresh fennel shares the licorice-tasting flavor compound, anethole, with licorice and anise and all are key ingredients in the potent potable called absinthe. While many folks confuse the names, all three plants are completely unrelated (fennel is actually part of the parsley family). Fennel is also an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. If you’re bold enough to eat a whole bulb, you’ll get more potassium from fennel than from a banana. This essential electrolyte could be the reason that Pheidippides was able to run his extraordinary distance in the Battle of Marathon in ancient Greece, as the Greek word for fennel is “marathon,” and the storied battle is said to have taken place in a fennel field. While fennel is abundant on Vermont farms, to me, fennel was always a street weed. Its love of full sun and well-drained, nutrient-poor soil meant that it grew in every abandoned lot and poorly maintained yard in my northern California home-
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town. I loved snacking on the fronds while out and about, in part because I loved the licorice taste, but mostly because it horrified my licorice-hating friends (those were the friends who always gave me their black jelly beans). But it never occurred to me to eat the bulb. I was always confused when I heard about folks cooking with fennel because they would use it in dishes where a licorice flavor had no place. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I figured out that cooking fennel nearly eliminates the licorice flavor, leaving behind a sweet essence that goes well with almost any dish. I now like to think of cooked fennel bulb as having the flavor of cooked onion crossed with celery and an extra little bit of something delicious. In fact, many folks recommend using fennel in place of celery in fresh or cooked dishes. After I learned this, I immediately started putting the scrumptious bulb into just about everything I make and have never stopped. Actually, while developing the recipes for this article, I had to repeatedly buy more fennel bulbs because I kept using my supply in dishes that had nothing to do with this article. It makes a great base flavor for hot sauce, soups, stirfries, and almost anything else in which an onion or celery would taste good. I even sautéed it with the vegetables destined for a lamb liver páte. If you’re including fennel bulb alongside onion in a dish, slice it thinner or dice it smaller than the onion. The fennel bulb’s denser structure means that it takes a little longer to cook. The seeds and/or the cooked and puréed bulb also make a delicious addition to meatballs. And it’s great straight up. Slice the bulb in half or in quarters and remove just enough of the core that the layers of the fennel bulb still hold together, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill it for 10 to 20 minutes, until delicious. You can eat it just like that, or drizzle the cooked fennel with lemon juice or your favorite sauce or salad dressing. I love tossing slices of fennel into a pan with onions and spinach for my morning eggs. Truth is, there are few savory dishes that wouldn’t improve with the right part of the fennel plant added at the right stage. This is a “go crazy” kind of ingredient. Have fun and experiment and you’ll surely create something delicious. Claire Fitts is the owner of Butterfly Bakery of Vermont and a professional recipe developer. In her spare time she likes to eat yummy foods.
Illustrations from WikiMedia Commons and by Meg Lucas.
One of my favorite things about fennel is how there are so many different edible parts of the plant and how tasty they all seem to be. The bulb is what most folks think of when they think of cooking with fennel, but the seeds (which, interestingly, aren’t actually seeds, but dried up little fruits) are used around the world. Europeans, who first cultivated the fennel plant, include the seeds in Italian sausage. Middle Easterners use it in dukkah (a spice blend seasoning). Indians will often use it in chai. And Chinese fivespice powder is used across the nation (theirs and ours). The seeds can also be used medicinally or as a breath freshening after-dinner snack. I find that they make a spectacular addition to breads, especially in place of caraway seeds. I also like adding them to ground beef dishes, to give a dish a nice sausage flavor, without the added fat.
Fennel Onion Soup 1 tb. olive oil 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced 1 large yellow onion, sliced 1/2 tsp. salt 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth salt & pepper to taste croutons (optional) shredded hard cheese of choice—parmesan, romano, etc. (optional) In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion, fennel, salt, and olive oil over medium high heat, until the vegetables start to brown. Add the broth and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavor has permeated the broth. Serve with croutons and shredded cheese.
Fennel Frond Miso Salad Dressing 1/2 cup sweet white miso (or another un-aged miso) 6 tbs. Vermont maple syrup 6 tbs. rice vinegar 1 tb. yellow mustard 1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds 3 tbs. olive oil 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 tbs. lemon juice Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. (Or use an immersion blender and a medium bowl).
Hot Fennel Potato Salad Fennel Bread 3 cups whole spelt flour 2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1 heaping tb. fennel seeds 1/2 cup raisins 2 eggs 2 tbs. olive oil 1¾ cup buttermilk 1/2 cup Vermont maple syrup 2 tbs. salted butter Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together the spelt flour, baking soda, salt, fennel, and raisins. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and then add the olive oil, buttermilk, and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are just incorporated. Don’t over mix. Add the mixture to the greased loaf pan and dot the top of the batter with the butter. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 350° F, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
2–5 lbs. red potatoes 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced 1 large yellow onion, sliced 1/3 of a large green cabbage, sliced 1/2 garlic bulb, peeled and thinly sliced 1/4 cup olive oil, divided 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper salt and pepper to taste 1/2 lb. fully cooked sausage, sliced (optional) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water with approximately 1 tbs. salt per 3 qts. of water. Drizzle or spray the top of the water with oil to help prevent the water from boiling over. Wash and cube the potatoes (leave the skins on). Add the potatoes to the water, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook potatoes until fork-tender (10–15 minutes). Drain. While potatoes are cooking, sauté the vegetables with 2 tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until cooked to desired doneness, usually 5–10 minutes. If adding sausage, add at the very end, just to warm up. Toss the vegetables with the cooked potatoes and remaining 2 tbs. olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot (or cold, if desired) and enjoy!
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local banquet 11
Reflections of a Restaurateur Part I: Getting local food through the door
by Suzanne Podhaizer
As I walk toward the table, the customers— a 50-something couple—are deep in conversation. The woman, with wavy, silver hair, turns away from her companion to spread softened butter on a roll and sprinkle on a pinch of smoked sea salt, noticing my approach as she does. “I came to tell you a little more about our menu,” I explain, gesturing to a large chalkboard on the wall. It’s covered in cursive that sometimes slopes down at the end of the line and is smudged in places. “The rabbit on the appetizer menu comes from Tangletown Farm in Middlesex. We mix the meat with sautéed wild leeks and serve it on a buttery biscuit. And last week we were using brisket in our beer-braised beef entrée, but the farm we were buying it from ran out, so now we’ve got shank instead….” Over the course of 34 years, including four years as the food editor at Seven Days, I never heard a restaurateur pin the blame on a farm when a particular dish ran out. But when I left my editing job to open Salt, a tiny restaurant in Montpelier, I knew that I wanted to be more transparent than usual about the eatery’s food supply.
But even as the names of growers and producers appear more often on menus at farm-to-table eateries, the systems behind the purchase, storage, and pricing of the local meats, vegetables, and cheeses remain a mystery to most diners. 12 local banquet
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Photo by Meg Lucas.
Having watched the state’s communitysupported agriculture movement grow and evolve, I knew, as most CSA customers do, that when hail or floods damage crops, shareholders will get fewer vegetables. And I knew, as most farmers’ market patrons do, that when late blight wipes out the August tomato crop, it’s understood that the per-pound price of the remaining fruits will go up.
Why? Perhaps because talking about them means telling customers things they don’t want to hear when they’re on a date or celebrating a special occasion: that the beef cows were trucked all the way to Massachusetts for slaughter because Vermont lacks crucial pieces of agricultural infrastructure; that vegetarian dishes are pricey because local spinach and Brussels sprouts cost more per pound than even pastured organic chicken; and that sometimes frozen bell peppers are the only ones that are affordable and ethical.
Photo by Caroline Abels.
When I began thinking of opening Salt, there were many parts of the localvore equation that I did not yet understand. For example, I wondered why so many high-end Vermont restaurants purchase duck from a large farm in New York State instead of one closer by. (Now I know that plucking oily, slippery duck feathers is a royal pain, and without the right equipment, it’s not worth the time.) I thought that potatoes, carrots, and cabbage would be readily available all winter, but now know that sometimes even farmers with sizable root cellars sell out. Given that Salt only has six tables, I figured it would be pretty easy to find numerous suppliers who could keep up with the restaurant’s demand, and my original goal was to support as many of them as possible. I dreamed of writing out a long list of other businesses entwined with ours, each of which would send us a few of their best ingredients each week. Reality check: no farmer wants to drive 20 minutes each way to drop off $15 worth of radishes. The petite, diversified farms I like so much as a model of sustainable agriculture are perfectly suited to selling to individ-
uals. A better fit for our purposes are the medium-scale businesses that specialize in vegetables or a variety of meats rather than both. Their practices are still in line with our ethics, yet they can deliver the amount of product we need to feed 100 or so customers per week. Want to use local ingredients and feed 100 customers or more a day? You’ll mainly be limited to a handful of highly specialized farms, the ones that just raise cows, or chickens, or only sell milk. That’s why most eateries that offer local chicken buy theirs from Misty Knoll Farms in New Haven, and eggs delivered by Shadow Cross in Colchester are found nearly everywhere. When a chef orders from a distributor such as Vermont’s Black River Produce, nearly any snazzy ingredient she desires can appear on her doorstep with fewer than 24 hours notice: blood oranges, caviar, Italian olive oil, and saffron strands. Black River’s fleet of trucks and copious warehouse space— which includes a 54,000-square -foot facility with a massive refrigeration unit—make this possible. But start to deal with smaller suppliers and the lead time extends dramatically. If I want to serve goose at Christmas, I need to make that decision before the small-scale poultry farmer purchases her chicks, approximately six months prior to the holiday. Farmers show up at my door in January asking me how many pounds of potatoes I’ll want to buy next November. For a restaurant like Salt, which is more quirky than elegant, hitting a price point that feels comfortable for customers is crucial. For most of my 20s, I lived without a car or cable TV and spent what I earned on eating. I lost sight of supermarket prices because I’d go years without setting foot in a Shaw's or Price Chopper. I happily paid whatever farmers asked for Continued on page 15 S p r i n g
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REFLECTIONS Continued from page 13
So I gave up on the idea of offering an elegant cheese plate and quickly determined that we would have to eschew fancy cuts of meat in favor of the larger, tougher pieces that people don’t often cook at home. On the flip side, burgers seduce diners away from higher-priced options, to the detriment of the bottom line. Can a restaurant survive without serving burgers or a steak, I wondered? The answer, it seems, is yes. Salt’s customers care about learning where our food comes from, and how it’s prepared. A few have visited for every single one of our three-week menus— from the Eastern European iteration, for which we made two types of pierogi and a rich borscht, to the one based on Alice in Wonderland, which featured a dish made of white rabbit. Many ask questions, give constructive criticism, and leave generous tips. Sourcing local food is possible, and restaurants are doing it, but it takes plenty of time and effort on the part of the buyer—and the farmer. When you’re panicking because it’s an hour until your first customer walks in the door and your box of lamb chops hasn’t arrived yet, it’s important to take a breath and remember that the farmer is the one who got up at 4 a.m. to help a sow give birth, then got the tractor stuck in a heap of mud and had to tow it out in a brisk drizzle before he could show up at your door with the goods. When that happens, and you can offer him a cup of mulled cider and describe how somebody raved about the chops last night and see a smile spread across his face as he takes a minute to relax and bask in a little bit of culinary glory, you see that the system might be frustrating at times and that there are plenty of flaws, but that things are heading in the right direction.
Yes, please send me a one-year subscription to Vermont’s Local Banquet. I’ll receive 4 issues for $22, starting with the Summer 2012 issue.
microgreens, artisan cheeses, and pork loin. I was shocked when I opened Salt and realized that to purchase those same types of items for restaurant dishes would necessitate charging New York City prices.
name address city, state, zip
By the time I return to the table, the couple knows what they would like to order. The woman orders cream of sorrel soup and pastured veal with lemon-mint risotto and fiddlehead ferns. Her partner gets a snap-pea and baby beet salad and wild mushroom-chevre ravioli. They know by now that we grew the sorrel and peas ourselves and that the veal was humanely raised on Applecheek Farm in Hyde Park. And the guy who sold us the mushrooms and fiddleheads? An old acquaintance of theirs from back when they lived in Calais. I walk back to the kitchen thinking that when diners are so intimately connected to the food they're served, their appreciation of it seems a little bit deeper. No matter what's on the menu, community is an excellent sauce. Part II of this series will appear in the Summer issue of Local Banquet.
Enclosed is my check made payable to Vermont’s Local Banquet mail to: PO Box 69 Saxtons River, VT 05154
Suzanne Podhaizer is the owner of Salt in Montpelier. She’s been obsessed with food since she was a youngster, designed her own degree in “Food Studies” at the University of Vermont, and spent four years working as the food editor for Seven Days. Her most exciting project at the moment is planning a miniature farm that will supply vegetables and herbs to the restaurant.
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Vermont Heirlooms: Plants with (more than one) story to tell by Tatiana Schreiber
My plan was to write an interesting story about a few vegetables that have a Vermont heritage—that is, they were grown in Vermont over many years or were thought to have first been developed commercially by Vermont farmers or breeders. I was thinking of Gilfeather® turnips, Green Mountain potatoes, Chester beans, and Roy’s Calais Flint corn, as examples. I also wanted to include an interesting sweet corn thought to have been grown by the Abenaki in the Connecticut River Valley hundreds of years ago and recently “returned” to a Koasek Abenaki band after being saved for generations by non-Indians. I wanted to tell these tales because I believe the tenaciousness of farmers and seed-savers who kept these varieties alive all these years says something important: These seeds were saved because they are good vegetables, well adapted to our climate, and resilient to the vagaries of cold, wet springs, unexpected summer droughts, or early fall frosts. They were also saved because of their unique qualities—such as the sweet, mild taste of the Gilfeather even when it grows as big as a well-fed woodchuck.
Of course, potatoes did not really “originate” in Vermont, or anywhere else in New England—they were first domesticated by the Inca in the Andean highlands of what is now Peru. Corn was first domesticated some 9,000 years ago by indigenous farmers in Mexico, and the earliest archeological evidence for the common bean comes again from the Peruvian Andes and dates to 8,000 years ago. As for turnips, according to Rebecca Rupp’s How Carrots Won the Trojan War (you’ll have to read the book to find out), they may have come from the eastern Mediterranean, or perhaps Afghanistan or Pakistan; the rutabaga, on the other hand, may be from Sweden. We 16 local banquet
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owe our enjoyment of all of these food crops to the skill and inventiveness of farmers who have grown and saved these seeds, always selecting for adaptation to the local climate and passing them on, generation after generation, for millennia. uuu The Gilfeather “turnip” was either brought to Wardsboro, Vermont, from Europe, or developed through hybridization or selection by one John Gilfeather of Irish heritage, described by those who knew him as a tall, skinny, soft-spoken gentleman who was very particular about his turnips. My favorite line in Theresa Maggio’s film, The Gilfeather Turnip: Rooted in Wardsboro, comes when Theresa, off camera, calls out a question to old-timer Wales Read: “Why would John Gilfeather concentrate a lot of his precious time on a turnip?” Wales leans on his hoe, in the classic “thinking farmer” pose, considers a bit, and then replies, “Because he probably wanted to make a better turnip.” To me this epitomizes the value of “heirloom” vegetables—they testify to the ingenuity of farmers since the very first one (probably a woman) noticed that a good wild plant produced seeds and it might make sense to save them, plant and nourish them, and pay attention to the results.
Photos by Meg Lucas.
The “Chester” bean
Little did I realize, however, how murky these waters would be. It turns out that there is ardent debate about whether the Gilfeather is a turnip or a rutabaga; Chester beans may have come from New York; Roy’s Calais Flint may be from the Iroquois even though it is listed as Abenaki on the “Slow Food Ark of Taste”; and as for the sweet Abenaki corn, the history of native people’s use of sweet corn (as opposed to field or flour corn) is hard to come by. As far as I know, no one disputes the origin of the Green Mountain potato: It was developed in Vermont in 1878 and was named in 1885 by one O.H. Alexander of Charlotte.
While learning and passing on the stories of heirloom seeds is mostly a fascinating and inspiring adventure, there is also sadness in it—not only for the seeds that have been lost along the way, but for the fear, anxiety, greed, and bad blood that has accompanied this history. These days, with the advent of patenting, genetic modification, and lawsuits filed against farmers who plant seeds patented by someone else, it is not surprising that seed stories are not so readily shared, and that there is anxiety about seeds getting into the wrong hands. But even in John Gilfeather’s time (he was born in 1865) farmers sometimes kept their seed secrets close to their chests. Gilfeather is said to have cut off the tops and bottoms of his turnips before he brought them down to Brattleboro and Northampton to sell so no one could grow them out for more seed. Later, in the early 1980s, Mary Lou and Bill Schmidt of Dummerston trade-marked the name Gilfeather with the state of Vermont (hence the little ® you often find next to the name) to make sure no big seed company “from away” got hold of the seed and didn’t respect its Vermont roots. These days, although the trademark still exists, you can readily obtain Gilfeather seeds (from Fedco Seeds, for example, which pays a fee to re-sell them), and don’t tell anyone I told you: If you store plants with roots attached you can replant them the next year and grow out the seeds for your own use.
We owe our enjoyment of all of these food crops to the skill and inventiveness of farmers who have grown and saved these seeds. The Gilfeather is a big, light-fleshed, sweet-tasting vegetable that can be eaten raw, made into soups and stews, roasted, or sliced up for slaw. The Friends of the Wardsboro Public Library, who every year sponsor the Gilfeather Turnip festival, have put out a cookbook filled with Gilfeather recipes. It seems like everyone in Wardsboro is sure their famous vegetable is a turnip (Brassica Rapa) but most folks outside of town believe it’s a rutabaga (Brassica Napobrassica) because of its long growing season and large size. Mary Lou Schmidt, one of the trademarkers, says, “It’s neither; it’s in a class by itself. Some say it may have a sweet German turnip” in its parentage, while others point to a white rutabaga called “Sweet German” that could be an ancestor. Will Bonsall, who directs the Scatterseed Project in Industry, Maine, where he saves and grows out hundreds of unusual varieties, believes the Gilfeather is definitely a rutabaga, due to its “rough skin, slight neck, (true turnips have a hollow crown, no necks) and the bluish-green foliage color” that comes from the wild kale in the rutabaga’s parentage. I’ll just go with the comment of another Wardsboro resident in Theresa Maggio’s film: “I like ‘em anyway I get ‘em.” uuu “It’s a good bean,” was the only information Gale Flagg of Maine had when she acquired some black-flecked seed from an old farmer she visited in Chester in the mid-1970s. He was
The Gilfeather® turnip growing these extremely tall pole beans in a garden near a barn she was looking at, and he gave her some. She, in turn, gave some to Will Bonsall. I met Will at a seed-saving conference in Brattleboro in 2004, where he passed some on to me, and I have been growing these “Chester” beans ever since. They grow 10 feet or more, are very productive, and have a robust flavor that some describe as “lima-like,” although Will is certain this is not a lima. He says the bean, which is beautifully mottled with black or dark brown swirls, reminded one plant breeder he showed it to of the “Vermont Horticultural Lima,” although that used to be white. But William Woys Weaver, of the Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods in Pennsylvania, says that what we now call the Chester bean is identical to what the Cornplanter Senecas grew in the New York and Pennsylvania region in the 1800s and called the Skunk bean. If any reader recalls growing this bean here in Vermont in the past, please let me know so we can fill in some gaps in its story. Vermont has a long history of commercializing good potato varieties. For example, a Chilean variety called Garnet Chili Continued on next page S p r i n g
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(known to be resistant to Late Blight, the fungal disease that caused the Irish potato famine and that devastated our own potato and tomato crops two years ago) was the parent to a variety called Early Rose, developed by Albert Bresee of Hubbardton, Vermont, which became extremely popular, and in turn was a parent to the wildly successful Russet Burbank. According to Harold L. Bailey, in Vermont’s Potato Story (1955), more than 80 commercial varieties became standard in Vermont between 1860 and 1890, all originating from the selection work of Vermont farmers and plant breeders. The Green Mountain, still popular here, produces high yields of whitefleshed tubers that have great flavor, store well, and are resistant to several potato diseases.
hopes that this early resilient variety would help the Haitians develop a good variety for their own climate. Their cautiousness around allowing these seeds to be grown by others is understandable, given the long history of Abenaki oppression in this state. For hundreds of years the Abenaki had to live underground, and their language all but went extinct, as did this corn. Sweet corn is a mutation of the starchier field or flint corn, and some sources suggest that it was the white settlers who first began the widespread use of sweet corn for fresh eating. Whether or not this particular strain was used by the Abenaki as sweet corn 300 years ago may be less important than its use and enjoyment now. But there is fear that in the wrong hands this corn, now considered sacred, could be sold and marketed by large seed companies, trading on Abenaki cultural history and not benefitting the Abenaki at all.
Vermont also has a much longer history of corn cultivation. Radiocarbon dating of corn kernels found at an archeological site in Springfield puts the first widespread corn agriculture uuu at about AD 1120 in the Connecticut River Valley. Indigenous farmers grew corn in the river intervales and oxbows continu- Another corn thought by many to be Abenaki is Roy’s Calais Flint corn, commercialized by Tom Stearns of High Mowously until their lives and settlements were disrupted by the ing Seeds in Wolcott. It was grown by French and Indian War and the arrival Roy Fair in Calais and given to Stearns of settlers in the 1700s. However, some in the mid-1990s. Tom wrote in High good relationships may have existed Mowing’s 2001 seed catalog that it was between the indigenous Abenaki and “the most exciting heirloom [he’d] ever settlers; in 1973 Newbury sheep farmbeen handed.” The corn was grown ers Sarah and Charles Calley received by Roy Fair’s grandparents and used an unusual sweet corn from Carroll for johnnycakes, cornmeal, or hominy. Greene, a New Hampshire descenDoug Guy, who grew up next door to dent of the earliest white settlers of the Fairs, told me he remembers seeNewbury. Carroll told the Calleys that ing “great garlands of this red and yelAbenaki farmers had befriended his low corn” hanging from the attic rafancestors in the 1760s and had given ters, where Roy would dry it in the fall. him some kernels from a short plant Doug says this corn’s claim to fame that produces a 3-to 4-inch ear, which was its cold-hardiness in a valley that he always called “Indian Corn.” It was never got even 90 frost-free days, and passed down for generations, and Carno other corn could mature in time. roll, who was elderly at the time, asked It produces some ears that are comthem to keep the seed for the future. pletely yellow and some completely The Calleys describe Carroll as “a charred, but none that are mixed. Doug acter and a half…old-style, self-reliant, recalls that when he was growing up, cantankerous at times, persistent, a litPotatoes of the Green Mountain variety about one-fifth of the ears were red, tle stubborn.” In short, all the characand that at husking bees “if you got a teristics that make a good seed saver. red ear you got to kiss your girlfriend… that’s part of why the The Calleys in turn grew out the seed in a corner of their garred ears were kept in that strain.” den for another 35 years. In 2006, they “returned” the corn to Somewhere along the way the story emerged that Abenthe Koasek Abenaki of the Koas (based in the Newbury, Veraki gave this corn to Roy Fair’s grandparents, but according mont and Haverhill, New Hampshire areas). According to to Doug, Roy’s parents, who came from western New York in Chief Nancy Millette, there is oral history suggesting that this the 1920s, always called it “Iroquois 8-row” and he thinks it is “rare strain of corn was grown and harvested and eaten, and ground down to make into soups and flour … it’s a short stalk, more likely the corn was Iroquois than Abenaki. Nonetheless, it’s now listed on the Slow Food Ark of Taste (a compendium one ear on a stalk, it’s an early corn, very sweet.” The Calleys of notable crop varieties in danger of extinction if not appresay they can plant this corn in late April up on their mounciated and protected) as an Abenaki (Sokoki) corn. Whatever tain above Newbury and that it is ripe in July. In 2009, this the real story is, all agree that this is a good corn—coldhardy, corn was given to a different Abenaki band, as well, and both high in protein, reliable, productive and tasty. Doug calls it groups are successfully growing it out. At this time they pre“lazy,” in that if you grow it in a region that’s not so cold and fer to keep it in Abenaki hands, although Chief Millette says some was sent down to Haiti following the earthquake, in the give it more time, it will quickly adapt and begin to require a longer growing season. Savvy seed-savers know that to 18 local banquet
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Photo by Frank Delano, 1940. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
HEIRLOOMS Continued from previous page
Sweet Abenaki corn
Roy’s Calais Flint corn achieve plants that are most resilient you need to grow them in the most difficult environments and select for those plants that do well at the margins.
Photos from Wikimedia Commons and the White Pine Association.
Some seed-savers feel like they are at the margins, too, quietly keeping their seeds, year after year, and keeping with them the stories and the knowledge of how the seeds should be nurtured for the best results. These days, however, to the benefit of all, more and more seed-savers are coming out of their gardens to meet and share their stories, knowledge, and seeds that all agree are “good vegetables.” The Upper Valley Seed Savers, for example, are looking for local vegetable and herb varieties to preserve and add to their collection of local open-pollinated seeds. They are especially interested in unknown varieties that have been grown in this area for years or even generations and that are no longer or have never
been available commercially. They are also very interested in the stories or family histories that go with the seeds. If you have seeds and stories to share, contact Ruth Fleishman at firstname.lastname@example.org. For me, the detective work that goes into learning the history of these varieties is part of their allure, as is discovering the passion and pride of the people who have maintained and passed on these seeds. Protecting seeds for the future is critical not only because of the genetic diversity they embody (and with that, perhaps, resistance to the next devastating blight), but because they represent an intimacy between people and the land that is as endangered as the plants themselves. Tatiana Schreiber is a journalist, teacher, and tiny-scale farmer in Westminster West. She can be reached at email@example.com. She thanks Sylvia Davatz, Will Bonsall, Gale Flagg, Anne Miller, Doug Guy, Theresa Maggio, CR Lawn, Tanya Stefanec, Peggy Fullerton, Sarah and Charles Calley, Nancy Millette, William Woys Weaver, Ben Watson, Dave Skinas, and Ginger Nickerson for their contributions to this (ongoing) story.
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seeds for change
Food Sovereignty, Food as Community by Carl Russell
I understand why people want these kinds of products. In 1986, I decided that I wanted to have access to food that didn’t compromise my principles about health, the environment, economics, and society. I didn’t want to take part in a food system that deprived farmers of fair wages, robbed land of nutrients, destroyed ecosystems, denatured food through processing, degraded animals to undignified widgets, and limited, through regulation, my choices for how I sourced food. For me the answer was to grow and raise my own. For more than 25 years, my wife and I have made an annual habit of filling our freezers, pantry, and root cellar, and, in turn, our plates, with fresh homeraised food grown with limited inputs on a small farm powered with draft animals. The milk at our farm is squeezed by hand from our cows tethered at pasture’s edge, and we use it, unpasteurized, to drink and to make cheese, butter, and yogurt. We eat meat from animals that we have handled since birth, raised with dignity, and slaughtered with our own hands, right where they lived. We grow our vegetables in soil that has been cultivated using hand and horse power only, and we cycle a variety of excess organic matter into animal feed and compost it with manure for our primary nutrient inputs. But the direct sale of farm-fresh products such as these, to people who long for them, can be complicated. Due to many layers of regulation, the production and sale of traditional foods can be limiting. All transactions of commerce, including food sales, are regulated to prevent competitive disadvantage and to ensure that consumers are not harmed by faulty, unsafe, or fraudulent products. In the case of farming and food production, these laws vary from rules on how animals are raised to how a product is processed and packaged. With the current surge of interest in local food, discussions about policies, regulations, and rights associated with the production of, and access to, farm-fresh food have come to the surface in venues from local stores to the halls of the Statehouse. Concerns have been raised about the possibility 20 local banquet
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that regulation may eventually prohibit people from having the security to find food that is produced traditionally. For the purposes of this article, I will keep the discussion of regulations general, because I think it is important to explore a distinction between buying food through the modern food distribution system and buying traditional food directly from the farm. The problem with regulatory attempts to equalize the playing field is that additional expenses are often required to meet governmental standards, such as building facilities, hiring outside services, and investing in costly technology. For largescale enterprises, these costs are absorbed through economies of scale and other cost-cutting measures, which in turn lead to the production of the very food I chose to stop buying a quarter century ago. For people who want to grow their own food in age-old ways for their own consumption, there are exemptions, but these don’t legally extend to community members who want to buy that food. We are on the verge of regulating ourselves into a situation where access to food on a community scale will be limited to industrial food distribution systems. You can’t buy the food I eat, because if I sold it, I would be required to take steps that would add to the cost of, or denature, the product, such as pasteurizing milk. These issues have given rise to Food Sovereignty campaigns in Vermont and several other states. At the core of the Food Sovereignty movement is a conviction that humans have inalienable rights to produce, process, and exchange food and farm products, regardless of regulations that may dictate otherwise. These insightful initiatives are motivating people to validate, through legal means, food-related rights. They are also awakening people to just how limited our rights are pertaining to food choice. In Vermont, two organizations working on such campaigns are Rural Vermont (of which I am a board member) and the Vermont Coalition for Food Sovereignty. Each group has a slightly different emphasis, but there is a sense of unity in the common belief that traditional rights are being denied through governmental regulation. In simple terms, sovereignty is defined as self-governance— independence from outside authority. But sovereignty is not simply about living without restrictions and rules. It doesn’t allow for anarchy, for irresponsible freedom from others, but gives authority to measures that cultivate and protect us as individuals and as communities. It is also about not needing those measures to be validated by governmental decree.
Photo courtesy of Carl Russell.
Every year my wife and I get inquiries from people who want us to provide them with products that are raised and processed the way we do it for ourselves on our farm in Bethel. They want raw food, unadulterated food, food that comes in its natural form, its most basic form, or that is processed in traditional ways—the kind of food people have been providing to each other for eons. They also want to take part in our farm, to participate in the story of our farm—and to become characters in their own food story. Food that has a story that people want to be a part of connects them to life, land, and their community.
While Food Sovereignty supports practices related to food and food production, it also has to be about freedom to develop community food systems that are free from government regulation. Declaring sovereignty over feeding ourselves as communities requires consensus about the role food plays in defining the communities, and in turn how that definition relates to sovereignty. Our commodity-based industrial food system has diminished our ability to think of our food in ways that relate to how it is raised, where it is raised, and who is raising it. This has turned our food into commodity groups, reduced farming to industry, and has led to regulation of production and access to certain food. We have allowed industry to define how we relate to our food, to the land where it is raised, and to the community that interacts around it. We have been misled to believe that economics are more valuable than relationships with other people, more important than a meaningful relationship with food and land. Yet food is arguably our most basic need, one that sustains us in many ways. Relationships that facilitate access to food are the underpinning of human existence. When we think of food in these terms it takes on deep meaning. Food is not only a source of energy and well-being for individuals, but it is fundamental to human social traditions. Food is at once the foundation, and the adhesive, for our communities. By connecting producers, processors, and consumers to foodbased communities by way of shared relationships to food, then the food under consideration is not so much food, as it is the primary factor that defines the community. In this sense food isn’t a commodity. It is not an item of commerce. Food under these terms is the very fabric of the community and a conduit that connects its members in ancient ways that supersede regulation.
Food Sovereignty is about reaffirming our rights to produce, process, and exchange food because our innate connection to it is too valuable to be defined in commercial terms. Some of the strategies endorsed by Food Sovereignty efforts are targeted at town governments. The Rural Vermont Food Sovereignty campaign has been working with people to reclaim their rural heritage and to declare sovereign rights through the cultivation of local rules embracing existing local food systems. The Vermont Coalition for Food Sovereignty has also been working with towns, passing resolutions declaring residents’ inalienable rights to save seed and grow, process, consume, and exchange food and farm products. As important as the legal ramifications are, the long-term benefits to our society would go much deeper. Vibrant functional local food systems that encourage ecologically sound farming practices, low-cost food production methods, foodcraft skills, and the perpetuation of traditional relationships between individuals facilitating access to healthy, unadulterated food will provide the foundation for truly sustainable communities. It isn’t just “Local Food” that people are looking for, it is a story that they can be part of. This is a part of the human food story that we are not telling enough of these days. We have allowed ourselves to be socialized away from doing so on a large scale, and we run the risk of regulating it out of our reach, to never regain it, if we don’t work together to declare our rights to feed ourselves as communities. Carl Russell lives in Bethel. He and his wife Lisa McCrory own and operate Earthwise Farm and Forest, where they raise organic vegetables and grass-fed livestock, use draft animals for logging and field work, and offer workshops on skills for sustainable livelihoods. They occupy a shared seat on the Rural Vermont board of directors, and are both active in agricultural advocacy.
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The Wow of
Wagyu by Susan Z. Ritz
They are, however, Vermont’s first herd of 100 percent Wagyu cattle, a Japanese breed that is prized for its succulent, hearthealthy, high-end cuts of beef, found in the world’s foremost restaurants and steakhouses. According to Spring-Rock owner and farmer Sheila Patinkin, they are the caviar of the beef world, yielding filets and steaks so tender you can cut them with a fork. The magic, Sheila explains, is in the intramuscular fat, which delivers not just superior taste and texture, but also a good dose of Omega-3 fats, the fatty acids found in salmon and nuts that are essential to brain development and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It’s no wonder that discerning chefs and diners alike are willing to pay top dollar for the famed Wagyu (also known as Kobe) beef, which is attracting the attention of a few Vermont niche farmers like Sheila and her neighbor Mary Beth Fischer. uuu Six years ago, after her husband unexpectedly passed away, Sheila Patinkin returned home to family and friends in Vermont from Chicago, where she had lived for more than 30 years. A pediatrician who went to medical school while raising four children, she knew little about farming but a lot about hard work and determination. When she found a farm for sale just down the road from her alma mater, Springfield High, she immediately felt at home. Originally known as the Fletcher Farm, it was established in the 1790s in the Parker Hill settlement and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it consists of 100 acres straddling the Springfield-Rockingham line (hence the farm’s name, SpringRock), with idyllic views of the Connecticut River and New Hampshire beyond. A large lilac bush planted in 1790 by Mrs. Fletcher, the original owner, still flourishes just outside the kitchen window of the restored farmhouse. 22 local banquet
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Once on her new land, Sheila, now an energetic 59, began to look for ways to make her new farm both economically and environmentally sustainable. “I thought maybe raising sheep would be fun. They would look beautiful, not big and intimidating,” she laughs. Then she met her neighbor Mary Beth Fischer, an experienced farmer and livestock handler. Mary Beth, who has raised Simmental and Angus since 1983 and now also has her own herd of half Wagyus, convinced the newcomer that cows were the way to go. Sheila's father-inlaw had raised Red Angus on his farm in Illinois, so she was not unfamiliar with cattle, but she wanted to explore the idea further. She took a trip to visit a cousin on his ranch in Montana and he enthusiastically suggested that she invest in Wagyu, a breed he himself was raising. “I spent the whole day touring his farm, asking a thousand questions. Then he served me a Wagyu hamburger and I thought, wow, these are really good! I’d eaten a lot of different kinds of beef on my father-in-law’s farm, but always thought beef was beef. These were completely different.” Back home she discovered that Wagyu, which means Japanese cow, were originally bred in the late 1800s in Japan as draft animals, crossing Asian and European cattle including Holstein, Simmental, Swiss and Angus until the breed was well established and closed to outside bloodlines in 1910. The breeding produced an animal with the high endurance and quick energy needed to pull carts and plows or serve as pack animals. Their power derived from the deep intramuscular monounsaturated fat that makes them so highly sought after today. Sheila's cattle are rich chocolate brown, deep-chested, and small-rumped, resembling their distant cousins the Holsteins. Their stature makes them good breeders that give birth easily to relatively small calves with an average birth weight of 65 pounds. “Also,” Sheila says, “unlike most American and European breeds of cattle, the Wagyu have gentle, docile temperaments. Out West you never handle the beef cows except to
Photos by Barbi Schreiber.
On an early January morning in Springfield, the snow-covered pastures of Spring-Rock Farm sparkle in the sun and a small herd of cattle dot the fields like black velvet buttons. From a distance, it’s hard to tell that these animals are anything out of the ordinary.
castrate them. They’re totally wild. My animals you can get up close to, touch them. They’ve gotten even more friendly over the years.” Mary Beth, who began breeding her own herd of half Wagyu-half Angus just before Sheila, thinks it is more a chicken and egg thing. She believes the cows are quieter because they are handled so often on small farms. Touching does seem to be a key ingredient for the Japanese farmers who are said to massage their Wagyu with beer and sake to develop the shiny, healthy coats that signal superior meat to the Japanese market. As Sheila learned more about the breed, she also discovered that acquiring stock was no easy task. Except for a few bulls released to the U.S. in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, Japan has slammed the door shut on exports of livestock, embryos, and semen of this breed they consider a national treasure. Today, there are only 200 registered U.S. breeders, mostly in the Northwest and Texas, with a total of only 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle compared to the U.S. Angus herd that totals 30 million. Most of the western Wagyu are actually crossed with Angus (the USDA allows beef with 50 percent Wagyu to be sold as American Wagyu or American Kobe). Because there are so few, a full-blooded heifer for breeding can cost between $5,000 and $13,000, and some go for as much as $30,000, as compared to $2,000 to $3,000 for an Angus breeder. Low supply, high demand, and the superior quality of the meat all play into the high price that customers pay for Wagyu on their plates. Sheila plans to sell her 100% Wagyu beef for prices ranging from $6 to $8 a pound for hamburger up to $50 a pound for high-end steaks, considerably less than Wagyu is advertised for online, but certainly more than you would pay for conventional prime Angus. Eventually, Sheila bought one steer from Washington State, but her herd really began in 2009 when she acquired 13
embryos and implanted them in Jersey surrogate mothers. “They’re great mamas. They raise the babies as their own and even have milk left over for us to use on the farm,” she explained. After adding another herd from Washington, she now has 28 heifers. This year they produced a crop of 19 calves, including a set of twins. Ideally, she’d like to grow her herd to 24 head, giving her one a month to sell to restaurants, a female to sell as livestock, and a couple of heifers left over for breeding. Using this three-pronged strategy of selling embryos, livestock and meat, Sheila, with the help of her assistant, seventh generation cow handler Phil Ranney, hopes to make SpringRock Farm economically self-sustaining by 2013. Their success will rest on both nature and nurture. “The ‘wow’ in the meat comes from how we breed and how we feed,” Sheila says. As a pediatrician, she specialized in genetics, and this has helped her choose embryos and semen for artificial insemination from cattle that have consistently yielded the well-marbled meat and gentle temperaments that make Wagyu such a valuable breed. Currently, she is building her own embryo stock, which will be advertised for sale this year. By selling embryos and calves and sharing her own expertise, Sheila hopes to build a vibrant and profitable Wagyu community in northern New England. uuu Raising livestock for sale as meat is another challenge. Sheila and Phil have restored the farm’s neglected 10 acres of pasture through carefully planned rotational grazing, slowly replacing buckthorn and milkweed with a rich cover of clover and legumes. Initially the cattle are grass fed, but as they get closer to slaughter, at two and a half or three years, they are put on a diet of grains and corn for the final six months to improve the marbling of their meat. “We don’t need to feed them beer or sake like they do in Japan,” Sheila says. “Here we have good pasture and I’m learning more all the time about the best grain mixtures to get the highest grade beef.” A chart of marbling scores on the barn door shows just how the meat will be graded according to fat content. The chart is from Australia, where most of the world’s Wagyu are presently raised. “The USDA only recognizes three levels of prime marbling,” Sheila notes, pointing to the chart’s first two pictures of bright red beef slabs. “But Australians have 12 grades.” She moves her finger up the chart to a piece of pinkish meat deeply interlaced with an intricate network of white Omega-3 fat. This is grade eight, and Sheila hopes her particular methods of breeding and feeding will yield this grade or above. Finding restaurants to buy the beef, however, has been more of a challenge than she imagined. “It’s amazing with all the hoopla going on about direct farm-to-table, it’s really hard to get their attention.” Because Sheila is selling very high-quality, expensive 100 percent Wagyu, her search for markets has concentrated on New York City rather than the local Vermont market. After many frustrating cold calls to New York’s threestar Michelin restaurants, she is finally in discussion with a network of chefs who are showing preliminary interest in her Continued on page 29
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Meat Shares BLOOMFIELD FARM chicken, lamb Charlotte 425-2256 h bloomfieldfarm.net
CHAMPLAIN ORCHARDS beef, pork Shoreham 897-2777 h champlainorchards.com
FULL MOON FARM chicken, pork Burlington 863-2199 h fullmoonfarminc.com
THE LAST RESORT FARM chicken, beef Bristol 453-2847 h lastresortfarm.com
INTERVALE FOOD HUB
NORTH BRANCH FARM AND GARDEN chicken, turkey, pork, duck Ripton 388-2059 h GreenMountainGrown.com
JERICHO SETTLERS FARM chicken, beef, pork, lamb Jericho 899-4000
ROCKVILLE MARKET FARM chicken, beef, pork, lamb Starksboro 355-0059 h rockvillemarketfarm.net
MAPLE WIND FARM chicken, pork, lamb, beef, turkey Huntington 434-7257 h maplewindfarm.com
Bennington GREEN PEAK FARM chicken Manchester 724-316-0293 h greenpeakfarm.com
NEEDHAM FAMILY FARM, LLC
MERCK FOREST & FARMLAND CENTER lamb Rupert 394-7836 h merckforest.org
MIGHTY FOOD FARM chicken Pownal 823-0102 h mightyfoodfarm.com
SOMEDAY FARM chicken, turkey East Dorset 362-2290
chicken, beef, pork, lamb Burlington 660-0440 x112 h intervalefoodhub.com
chicken Hinesburg 428-2047 h needhamfamilyfarm.com
NEW VILLAGE FARM beef, pork, chicken Shelburne 338-0116 h newvillagefarm.com
STONY LOAM FARM chicken, beef, pork, lamb Charlotte 238-0255 h stonyloamfarm.com
TAMARACK HOLLOW FARM pork, chicken, lamb, beef Burlington 535-1515
CHANDLER POND FARM chicken South Wheelock 626-9460 h chandlerpondfarm.com
HOUDE FAMILY FARM chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, goat, veal St. Johnsbury 748-2835 h houdefamilyfarm.com
Franklin MAPLEWOOD NATURAL ORGANICS chicken, beef Highgate 868-5083 h maplewoodorganics.biz
VALLEY DREAM FARM, LLC chicken, beef, pork, lamb Cambridge 644-6598 h valleydreamfarm.com
Grand Isle BLUE HERON FARM chicken, beef Grand Isle 372-3420 h blueheronfarm-vt.blogspot.com
Lamoille APPLECHEEK FARM pork, beef, chicken, turkey, guinea fowl Hyde Park 888-4482 h applecheekfarm.com
ROONEY FARM CSA beef Morrisville 888-8440
Orange BROTHERLY FARM ORGANIC chicken, turkey, beef, pork Brookfield 276-9904 h brotherlyfarm.com
ARCANA GARDENS AND GREENHOUSES chicken, beef, pork, lamb Jericho 899-5123 h arcana.ws
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This information is updated annually as a joint effort by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets and NOFA Vermont.
As farms diversify and more consumers seek out local meat, it has become increasingly common to find beef, pork, lamb, and poultry in Vermont CSA shares. Here’s a list of CSA farms that offer meat as part of their vegetable shares, or that offer meat-only shares.
Orleans BERRY CREEK FARM chicken, turkey, beef, pork Westfield 744-2406 h berrycreekfarmvt.com
PETE’S GREENS chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb Craftsbury 586-2882 ext. 2 h petesgreens.com
Rutland GROUNDWORKS FARM chicken, pork, turkey Pittsford 310-4951 h GroundworksFarm.com
NESHOBE FARM pork Brandon 310-8534 h neshobefarm.com
TWO DOG FARM AT SMOKEY HOUSE CENTER pork, beef Danby 293-5121 h twodogfarmvt.com
WOODS MARKET GARDEN chicken, turkey, beef, pork Brandon 247-6630 h woodsmarketgarden.com
Washington FIELD STONE FARM AND CSA chicken, turkey Northfield 485-3349 h fieldstonefarmvt.wordpress.com
GAYLORD FARM chicken, beef, pork Waitsfield 496-5054 h gaylordfarm.com
GREEN MOUNTAIN GIRLS FARM
CIRCLE MOUNTAIN FARM
turkey, lamb, pork, chicken Green Mountain Girls Farm Northfield 505-1768
chicken Guilford 257-0902
HARTSHORN’S SANTA DAVIDA FARM
chicken, pork East Dummerston 254-9111 h vtfarmorg.com
yak Waitsfield 496-3081 h hartshornfarm.com
DWIGHT MILLER ORCHARDS
GUERRILLA GROWN PRODUCE
HOWLING WOLF FARM
meats Westminster Station 289-3420 h firstname.lastname@example.org
chickens, turkeys, pork East Randolph 728-2045 h raffarms.org
OLD ATHENS FARM
LUNA BLEU FARM
chicken Putney h oldathensfarm.com
beef, pork, chicken South Royalton 763-7981 h lunableufarm.org
WILD CARROT FARM chicken, turkey, lamb Brookline 802-365-4075 h wildcarrotfarm.net
SCREAMIN’ RIDGE FARM chicken East Montpelier 461-5371 h screaminridgefarm.com
SUGAR MOUNTAIN FARM LLC
CEDAR MOUNTAIN FARM
pork West Topsham 439-6462 h SugarMtnFarm.com
chicken, beef Hartland 436-1448 h cedarmountainfarm.org
DEEP MEADOW FARM
rabbit, chicken, guinea hen, pheasant, turkey, lamb, pork, beef Middlesex h tangletownfarm.com
chicken, turkey, pork Ascutney 463-3009 h deepmeadowfarm.net
VERMONT GRAND VIEW FARM
FAT ROOSTER FARM
chicken, pork, lamb Washington 685-4693 h grandviewfarmvt.net
beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey South Royalton 763-5282 h fatroosterfarm.com
FOUR SPRINGS FARM chicken, turkey Royalton 763-7296 h fourspringsfarm.com
BOYD FAMILY FARM lamb Wilmington 464-5618 h boydfamilyfarm.com
SUNRISE FARM chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb White River Junction 295-1456 h sunrisefarmvt.com
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Full menu available with daily food and drink specials. More than 35 beers to choose from. Extensive wine list.
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Junction of Rte. 5 and 123 Westminster Station, VT 05159 802–722–9852 email@example.com Good food, simple practices A Family Feed Company
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Grown in Westminster, Vermont
SQUARE-FOOT GARDENING Continued from page 7
food shelf. There was a picture of a nicely made raised bed about 30 inches wide with three rows of carrots growing down the middle of the bed about 10 inches apart. It was a better job than the standard farming model of one row three feet apart to make room for a tractor wheel. But still, I noticed that the rows needed to be thinned and I couldn’t help but do the math on this picture. If they had planted the beds with seeds every three inches apart in a grid, the yield would have been about 40 carrots per foot. As it was the yield would be roughly 12 carrots a foot in these beds (three rows of four per foot). So the yield could be increased threefold just by planting on a grid, and people wouldn’t have to go back and thin an entire bed of carrots, either. Using a trellis can be a huge space saver. For instance, on a 4-foot trellis I plant 2 seeds or sets in each square foot for a total of 8 cucumber plants along the north side of a garden bed. The same 8 plants grown in a hill, as it
is called when you plant 3 cucumber plants grouped together, would need approximately 27 square feet of space for the cucumber vines to grow on the ground. So just by using a trellis you can use a third of the space for the same number of plants. I trellis tomatoes, baby watermelon, pole beans, peas, and trombone zucchini; so I have a trellis on almost every bed in my garden. Succession Planting makes sense for a gardener who is not always looking for a huge crop all at once but rather, an extended harvest over a whole season. Take lettuce, for instance: if you grow a 25-foot row of lettuce, then you may have 25 to 50 heads of lettuce ready all at once, when in fact, you only really need 2 to 7 heads a week. And more than likely, many of your heads of lettuce will bolt and get bitter before you can use them. So rather than planting a whole row of lettuce, plant 4 or even 8 seeds every few weeks so your lettuce is ready a little bit at a time and not all at once. It is a simple idea that works with
carrots, beets, many greens, and radishes. Just keep planting a square foot or two all season long to get a steady harvest of veggies at their peak. uuu I’ve been so pleased with the squarefoot gardening method that last year I added another row of 4-foot square beds and plan to add a few more beds this year to finish the lawn conversion. If you want to start a garden that’s productive and easy to manage at the same time, I recommend that you give square-foot gardening a try. Peter Burke has lived in Calais since 1977 and works in Barre as a granite salesman at Cochran’s, Inc. His hobby is gardening and he has been teaching classes about indoor gardening and square-foot gardening since 2006. Visit Peter’s website: thedailygarden.com
SHARE A TASTE OF VERMONT Savor the experience of inspired American cuisine, thoughtfully prepared with locally sourced food. Enjoy the candlelit ambiance of The Old Tavern restaurant (open nightly), or choose the Phelps Barn Pub for casual dining (Thurs-Sun). 92 Main Street, Grafton, VT 05146
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Rutland Co-op WAGYU Continued from page 23
product. Chef Mike Anthony of Grammercy Tavern recently committed to trying half of her first steer. The other half will be carved in the kitchen of Chef Greg Lang at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel on March 21st, where an educational carving session with a butcher is planned. Sheila looks forward to the day she can sell her high-end beef locally. In the meantime, to promote sales of Wagyu in Vermont, she is helping neighbor Mary Beth Fischer market her half Wagyu, half Angus cattle in Vermont. Mary Beth had been able to sell her grass-fed Angus and Simmental to local customers but had yet to break into Vermont restaurants with her Wagyu. The two farmers thought lower-priced ($6 a pound hanging, for retail) but still excellent above-prime cuts of 50 percent Wagyu would do the trick. The women held a Wagyu tasting for a number of Vermont chefs a couple of years ago, using steaks, roasts and burgers from out-of-state producers because they didn’t have their own product yet. A year later Mary Beth finally got an order from The Inn at Essex’s new executive chef Shawn Calley, who had found her card in a drawer not quite emptied by his predecessor. Since then he has ordered two sides of her beef and proudly offers it to customers in his restaurants. In the informal Tavern, he serves up pub-style Wagyu steak and chips, burgers, and shepherd’s pie. He serves the finer cuts in his high-end restaurant Amuse, where he offers only locally raised meats. “I walk around with the beef before I cook it, show the diners what they are eating to educate them about the marbling. I cook it right in front of them and they come away saying it was amazing.”
At the Rutland Area Food Co-op, we’re much more than just a source of groceries— we’re also supplying our communities with knowledge, ideas, creativity and the means to live sustainably. Visit The Co-op—where organic and local food comes naturally.
• Dairy Products • Beef, Poultry & Pork • Fruits & Vegetables • Breads & Baked Goods • Large Bulk Section • Full Selection of Frozen Foods
• Beer & Wine • Earth Friendly Household Products
• Supplements & Body Care • Special Orders–just ask • Much, much more
Home of the Winter Farmers’ Market November ‘til May, Saturdays 10am–2pm Open 7 days: Mon–Sat 9am–7pm, Sun 10am–5pm 77 Wales Street, Downtown Rutland, Vermont 05701 802–773–0737 w w w.rutlandcoop.com
That doesn’t surprise Sheila and Mary Beth. They already know they have a superior product and they are proud to bring the wow of Wagyu to Vermont farmers, chefs and diners alike. Susan Z. Ritz is a freelance writer, creative writing teacher, and community activist who lives with her husband in Montpelier. She tries to eat locally as much as possible and is grateful that she lives in the midst of such abundance.
Saturdays 9-2 Rte 9, Western Avenue May – October Wednesdays 10-2 Downtown by Merchants Bank June – October 802-254-8885..................... Live Music Saturdays EBT & Debit
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All Natural Organic Land Care Supplies
SANDY’S Visit us on the web at www.norganics.com for the location of your nearest retail dealer or wholesale distributor
“Feed the Mind, Feed the Belly” 767-4258 * Open 7 days * 7:30 am–6 pm
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(802) 747-7414 51 Wales St. Rutland, VT 05701
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Feed your body, mind, and community with the help of our friendly staff and wide selection of local products.
Springfield 335 River Street, Springfield, Vermont www.springfieldfoodcoop.com 802.885.3363
f a r m e r s ’
Maple Beyond the Breakfast Table by Emma Marvin Butternut Mountain Farm
The questions sugarmakers ask aren’t much different from those other farmers ask about when to plant crops or to gather in the harvest, but harvesting maple syrup is different. We gather our crop in a short window—six weeks. Our crop is only bountiful if we have cold nights and warm days. We work in the woods rather than in fields. And we take our harvest from the same trees not just year after year but often generation after generation. What Vermonters may take for granted—pure maple syrup— many people in the rest of the country, even the world, may not recognize as being different from high-fructose table syrups. But as we all know, it is. Pure maple syrup is something incredibly special—something pure, natural, and wildcrafted. Made by boiling down the sap of wild grown maple trees, it is collected and concentrated using a process that is a regional tradition extending back past the first settlers to the Native peoples of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.
Photo courtesty of Butternut Mountain Farm.
I grew up across the street from our sugarhouse. Folks working with my mom and dad would come across the dead-end dirt road to use our bathroom, the only facilities on the farm. By the time I was 5, my parents had five employees working in the woods, shearing Christmas trees, packaging maple syrup, and doing whatever it took to keep Butternut Mountain Farm going. Twenty-five years later, Butternut Mountain Farm is now a diversified maple company, with a maple packaging and distribution plant in Morrisville in addition to our home farm operation. At the plant, we process maple syrup from producers throughout Vermont and the maple-producing region, providing pure maple syrup, granulated maple sugar and other maple products to consumers across the country. My family eats maple nearly every day, often as an ingredient in entrees you might not expect. These Maple Pork Medallions take maple beyond the breakfast table and are too good not to share. Butternut Mountain Farm is based in Johnson, with additional land in Barton. The Marvin family also operates Marvin’s Country Store in Johnson and a processing and distribution plant in Morrisville. For more information, visit butternutmountainfarm.com.
Maple Pork Medallions adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. 2 lbs. pork tenderloin cut into 1 ½" rounds 12–14 slices of bacon cooked for approximately 5 minutes (fat removed but neither brown nor crisp) 2 tbs. olive oil 1 medium onion chopped 1 cup apple cider (or chicken broth or water) 1/3 cup maple syrup 3 tbs. maple or wholegrain mustard Wrap a slice of bacon around the pork and fasten with a toothpick. Drizzle olive oil into a pan on medium high heat. Add pork, cut side down. Cook for 3–5 minutes, making sure to not move the pork while it is cooking. Flip pork and cook for another 3–5 minutes. Finally, place pork on edge turning as necessary to cook the bacon. Total cooking time should be between 8 and 15 minutes for the meat. Place pork pieces on plate and cover with foil. While the pork is resting, remove excess oil/grease from the pan. Decrease pan temperature to medium and add onions. Cook onions for 3–5 minutes until softened and browned. Add the liquid to the pan and deglaze, making sure to loosen cooked-on pieces. Cook the liquid until it is reduced by half to twothirds, roughly 5 minutes. Then, add maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, and any juices from resting meat. Cook until the sauce is thick, an additional 3–5 minutes; there will be a cup or so of sauce. If the sauce gets thicker than desired, add slightly more liquid. Place meat on plate, drizzle sauce over each medallion, and serve.
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k i t c h e n
In Vermont, spring is synonymous with sugaring season. With the January thaw comes questions of when to begin tapping: Is the end of January too early? Town Meeting Day too late? What will the season yield and how will Mother Nature treat us?
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ca nn i ai as psipriirti st s& &ww i ni n er cl aeld eo do eyr y Hardwick, Vermont Hardwick, Vermont ToT uo r su rasna dnTa TisnTings gs d sTa firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 802.472.8000 802.472.8000
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Lunch and Dinner Menu - Homemade Desserts - Kid’s Menu Vermont Microbrews - Rick’s Famous Pizza
Live Music Thursday’s & Saturday’s www.rickstavern.net Route 30, Newfane, VT 802–365–4310 Closed Tuesday
America and how herbs play a role in healthcare today. A First Wednesdays lecture. 773-1860 rutlandfree.org
Upper Valley Food Co-op, upstairs White River Junction Healthy People, Healthy Planet is a sixsession reading and discussion series that explores “good health,” the connection between human health and the environment, and how we can sustain both. The discussion topics include precautionary medicine, eating well, household toxins, and healthy natural systems. Throughout the discussion guide there are individual actions that promote good health and in turn, promote a healthier environment. Healthy People, Healthy Planet is for groups of 8–12 people, meets weekly for 1½ hours, and is based on a discussion guide and anthology, A World of Health, by the Northwest Earth Institute. The discussion is largely self-facilitated with start-up assistance from experienced volunteers. The guidebook, at $15 per person, is the only cost for the program. catamountearthinstitute.org
March 10, 1–3pm
Healthy People, Healthy Planet Discussion Group
Tenth Annual NOFA-NH Winter Conference Growing Food, Farms & Community
Sanborn Regional High School 17 Danville Road, Kingston, NH This year our keynote speaker is Frances Moore Lappe’ author of 18 books including Diet for a Small Planet and cofounder of three organizations including Food First: The Institute for Food and Development Policy and, more recently, the Small Planet Institute, a collaborative network for research and popular education. Please join us for more than 40 workshops–including some led by teens–and programs for youth and children. This year herbalists from the NH Herbal Network will be leading several of the sessions. Plan on strolling through the popular Green Market Fair where vendors and a farmers’ market offer all things green and organic. For the first time, there will also be educational presentations in the Green Market Fair, and once again you can participate in our delicious potluck lunch. Bring a dish for six to pass, or you can purchase a plate. nofanh.org/winterconference
March 6, 11:30am–1:30pm
Addison County Farm Animal Homeopathy Study Group
Taconic End Farm 1395 Leicester–Whiting Road, Leicester Meets first Tuesday each month. Open to all levels. Great peer support; learn how other farmers are applying homeopathy to their herds or flocks. A relaxed discussion that usually includes an in–depth look of at least one remedy, some theory, and a case analysis. Bring your resources (if you have them) and a current or past case that you would like to discuss. FREE. For more information, contact Annie Claghorn at firstname.lastname@example.org. 247-3979.
March 7, 7pm
Open House for Wisdom of the Herbs School
Tulsi Tea Room 34 Elm Street, Montpelier You are invited to visit with Annie McCleary director, and George Lisi, teaching naturalist, to learn about our unique nature-based experiential programs embracing the wild plants, holistic health, and sustainable living skills— valuable tools for living on the earth in these changing times. 456-8122 wisdomoftheherbsschool.com
March 10 & 17, 8:30am–3:30pm
Stone Wall Workshop
Our introductory stone wall building workshops for homeowners and trades people promote the beauty and integrity of stone. The one-day, hands-on workshop focuses on the basic techniques for creating dry-laid walls with a special emphasis on stone native to Vermont. Workshops are held inside warm greenhouses in Hinesburg. The one-day workshop is $100. Space is limited. For complete schedule and registration information, go to the link queencitysoilandstone.com/workshops.html 318-2411
March 13, 2012–10:00am
from all across Vermont. All proceeds from the event will strengthen Farm to School programs across the state, supporting the health of families and farms in our communities. Jr. Iron Chef VT hosted by the Burlington School Food Project and Vermont FEED, a project of Food Works at Two Rivers Center, NOFA-VT, and Shelburne Farms. It is made possible by the support of City Market, Blodgett Supply Company, and many other generous sponsors. Find out all the details at jrironchefvt.org. 434-4122
March 24 & 25
11th Annual Statewide Maple Open House Weekend
See website for locations throughout the state. Visitors are welcome at sugarhouses all over Vermont to see how pure maple syrup is produced and to sample maple products. Admission is free. 800-837-6668
March 25, 31 April 15, 22 & 29 10am–12pm Chosen Garden Workshops Hoop House & Cold Frames Chosen Garden, Putney
Robert King will be offering a series of workshops on the production, preserving, and cooking of food this spring to maximize year-round food production. Limited enrollment. $15 per session. Registration required. 387-5769.
Growing Your Agri Tour & Food Tour Business
March 31, 12:30–2pm
Applecheek Farm Morrisville For Lamoille County-area farms of all kinds; value-added producers; wineries, brewers, and hospitality operators who want to establish or grow their agri-tour business or connect with people who do. Panel discussion followed by light lunch-and-connecting time. Panelists will address issues such as liability, marketing, packaging, networking, and how opening up the farm can affect the family—all practical issues that mean business. Event sponsored by Lamoille Economic Development Corp. 467.8379
Hunger Mountain Coop, Montpelier With George Lisi, naturalist, and Annie McCleary, director of Wisdom of the Herbs School. Join George and Annie for a slide show presentation of local wild edibles of wetlands, rich woods, open fields, thickets, and garden edges. Learn sustainable harvesting principles, how to put wild edibles by for winter, and ways to offer gratitude to the plants. Members $2, non-members $3, sliding scale. Sign up at the coop or call the coop to register. 223-8000
March 17, Pruning 9–11, Grafting 11–12
Pruning & Grafting Workshop with Zeke Goodband
The Scott Farm A Landmark Trust USA Property 707 Kipling Road, Dummerston Scott Farm will host a pruning and grafting workshop for backyard fruit growers from 9 am to noon. Participants will receive instruction while pruning a variety of old and young fruit trees from 9–11 and practice grafting apple trees from 11–12. This class will discuss caring for their trees, the proper tools to use, and will give participants the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to work on their own fruit trees at home. The fee is $40 and reservations are necessary. 254-6868 scottfarmvermont.com
The History of Herbal Medicine in America
March 24, 9:30am–3:30pm
Rutland Free Library 10 Court Street, Rutland Expert herbalist Rosemary Gladstar examines the early history of herbalism in
Champlain Valley Expo 105 Pearl Street, Essex Junction Jr Iron Chef VT is a cooking competition for middle and high school students
Jr Iron Chef VT
Wild Edibles Slide Show
April 15, 11am–4pm
Flavors of the Valley
Hartford High School 37 Highland Avenue, White River Junction Flavors of the Valley is the greater Upper Valley’s premier tasting, informational, and buying event for locally grown foods. Meet farmers and chefs. Please bring your own plate, cup, and utensils; checkbook or cash for shopping; reusable shopping bags or cooler. $8/person, kids 6 and under free, $25/family maximum. 291-9100 vitalcommunities.org
April 25, 10am–1pm
Rural Vermont Hosts “Beyond Milk! Raw Dairy Processing Class”: Learn to Make Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-Style Cheese, and Chevre
Popplewood Farm, Chester Join Rural Vermont and Elizabeth Moulton of Popplewood Farm for an afternoon learning how to process raw goats’ milk into several varieties of delicious cheeses. Workshop to include dairy demos, tastings, and a farm tour. Class fee is $20–$40 sliding scale, and all proceeds benefit Rural Ver-
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March 1, 6–7:30pm
mont. Advance registration required. 223-7222 ruralvermont.org
April 26, 6:30pm
The Western Abenaki: History & Culture
Springfield Town Library 43 Main Street Who were the native people of Vermont and how did they live? This lecture, by Jeanne Brink, examines the importance in Abenaki society of elders and children, the environment, and the continuance of lifeways and traditions. 885-3108.
May 5 & 6, 10am–5pm
Sheep Shearing & Herding with Border Collies
Billings Farm & Museum 69 Old River Road, Woodstock A weekend devoted to our Southdown sheep and their border collie friends. Watch the spring shearing of the farm’s ewes and demonstrations of border collies herding sheep in the farm fields. The Teago Volunteer Fire Department will provide lunch—all proceeds benefit the department. Admission includes a children’s art show and the 27th annual spring commemorative button. 457-2355 billingsfarm.org
May 5, 9am–4pm & May 6, 10am–3pm
Annual Fruit Tree Sale
The Scott Farm A Landmark Trust USA Property 707 Kipling Road, Dummerston Scott Farm will hold its 11th annual Fruit Tree Sale. The sale will feature the best quality bare root trees available, plus lilacs and a selection of perennials. Zeke Goodband, the orchardist at Scott Farm, will answer any fruit growing questions and provide advice on planting and tree care throughout each day. 254-6868 scottfarmvermont.com
May 26, 10am–4:30pm The Pale Blue Dot: Food for Thought
The Nature Museum 186 Townsend Road, Grafton Explore the cultural food revolution and sustainable food systems through a variety of hands-on workshops and speakers. The objective of the 2012 Pale Blue Dot: Food for Thought is to set the proverbial table with tasty edibles that will provoke people to steward our Earth’s natural resources. We are welcoming vivid and engaging activists/chefs/farmers/artists/musicians/ writers/business people to bring their “dish” to share with our audience hungry for a taste of inspiration just as the summer growing season begins. 843-2111 nature-museum.org
May 26 & 27, 10am–5pm
Cheese & Dairy Celebration at Billings Farm & Museum
Billings Farm & Museum 69 Old River Road, Woodstock Celebrate Vermont’s distinctive heritage during a weekend of sampling delicious Vermont cheeses and meeting local cheese makers. Dairy education programs, making cheese, ice cream, and butter. 457-2355 billingsfarm.org
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Photo by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Walter Gaylord and son on a sled with a vat full of sap in 1940, Mad River Valley, Waitsfield, Vermont.
Together, Better Choices
…like partnerships with local food producers.
Golden Russet Farm, Shor
Photo by J.Silverman
City Market is dedicated to strengthening the local food system. We’re grateful to our local food producers who provide our Co-op’s members and customers with nourishing food all year long!
82 S. Winooski Ave. Burlington, VT 05401 Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. (802) 861-9700 www.citymarket.coop
Growers of Familiar and Unusual Spring Plants for Your Garden Perennials, Annuals and Certified ORGANIC Herb and Veggie Starts Visit our website for info about our Summer Share CSA Program
802–442–4273 clearbrookfarm.com Opening late April for Plants and June for Produce Rt. 7A Shaftsbury
VT Locations: Waitsfield, Middlebury, Burlington WWW.AMERICANFLATBREAD.COM
W I N T E R F A R M E R S M A R K E T
THE MARKET RUNS EVERY SATURDAY 10 AM–2 PM
THROUGH MARCH 31 EBT & Debit Cards Welcome More info: 802.869.2141 or email@example.com
B R A T T L E B O R O
Local Fruit, Produce, Meats, Eggs, Wine, Preserves, Baked Goods, Lunch Cafe, Live Music, Hand-Crafted Holiday Gifts & More. This Winter Farmers’ Market banner ad is generously underwritten by the following businesses
We s t R i v e r Fa m i l y D e n t a l Jared V Rediske DDS Jeffrey W Wallace DDS
Hand thrownVermont pottery Available at the Saturday Winter Farmers’ Market in downtown Brattleboro Susan Dunning 802.228.3230 firstname.lastname@example.org www.swdpotteryworks.com
74 Grafton Rd Townshend, VT 05353 802–365–4313
Chai-Wallah’s Authentic Organic Fair Trade
beadniks 115 Main ai Street ee
Brattleboro, a e o o Vermont e o ting Celebra ! 20 years
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
Hand crafted hearth baked breads baked in a wood ﬁred oven.
Vermont’s Premier Bead Store & A Whole Lot More
JD McCliment’s Pub Rt.5 Putney, VT 05346 www.jdmcclimentspub.com
Email … firstname.lastname@example.org phone … 802-387-4499
Available throughout the region at: Harlow Farm Stand • Walpole Grocery Springfield Food Co-op Putney and Brattleboro Food Co-ops or… COME SEE US AT THE BRATTLEBORO FARMERS’ MARKET
Published on May 9, 2012
Vermont’s Local Banquet is a quarterly magazine that illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities.