March 22, 2017

March is Women’s History Month – Take a Moment to Honor a Female Farmer!

March is Women’s History month, and Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets is taking advantage of the occasion to highlight the important role women play in Vermont’s Ag community.

Women represent about 22.3% of the principal farm operators in Vermont, according to the most recent USDA agricultural census. That number is significantly greater than the national average, which is 14%. (A “principal operator” is defined as the person overseeing the daily farm operations.) Vermont ranks 9th in the nation for percentage of principal farm operators that are women.*

Vermont has over 7300 farms total, and more than 4700 female farmers. Vermont ranks 8th in the nation for percentage of total farm operators that are women.**

“We have a strong tradition of female farmers here in Vermont,” according to Mary Peabody, Director of the Women’s Agricultural Network at UVM. “These numbers reflect what we see in our communities every day – women are critical to the success of Vermont’s agricultural economy.”

“As we celebrate women’s history month, I want to thank all the women who play a role in making Vermont’s agricultural economy great,” said Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “They play critical role as business owners, vets, Ag service providers, leaders of our statewide ag organizations, and as members of farm families. We are grateful for all they do!”

Farmer Spotlight: Mari Omland and Laura Olsen operate Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield. Both made a mid-career shift into agriculture, each bringing 15 years of experience managing small to large non-profits and the skills and talents developed along the way. They produce meat (pork, chicken, turkey and goat), eggs, vegetables, and goat milk, and offer a farm share, and farm stay experiences for tourists. To learn more about this unique farm, and the women who make it possible, visit

For more profiles of Vermont’s fearless female farmers, visit:

Jinny Cleland of South Royalton’s Four Springs Farm

Lindsay Arbuckle of Alchemy Gardens in Shrewsbury

Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester

Christa Alexander of Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho

Joanna Lidback of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain in Barton

To learn more about how the Women’s Agricultural Network supports Vermont’s female farmers, visit

Women play a particularly large role in agriculture in the Northeast region, as evidenced below:

2012 USDA Ag Census Rankings

*Vermont ranks 9th in the nation for percentage of principal female operators

  1. Arizona: 39.2%
  2. Alaska: 32.8%
  3. Massachusetts: 32.3%
  4. New Hampshire : 30.9%
  5. Maine: 29.1%
  6. Connecticut: 25.2%
  7. Rhode Island: 24.6%
  8. Hawaii: 22.5%
  9. Vermont: 22.4%
  10. Nevada: 21.6%

**Vermont ranks 8th in the nation for percentage of total female operators

  1. Arizona: 44.8%
  2. Alaska: 42.7%
  3. New Hampshire : 42.4%
  4. Massachusetts: 41.6%
  5. Maine: 41.0%
  6. Oregon: 39.3%
  7. Nevada: 39.3%
  8. Vermont: 39.3%
  9. Connecticut: 39.1%
  10. Rhode Island: 37.6%


March 20, 2017

Local Food System Partners,

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is partnering with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) to conduct an annual Direct-to-Consumer Producer Survey. 

VAAFM is asking producers to please respond to this 10-15 minute survey by Friday, March 31st.

Direct-to-consumer market survey link:

While participation is completely voluntary, responses will help us to:

  1. update our comprehensive Vermont farm stand, CSA, and farmer’s market directory
  2. facilitate consumer awareness opportunities across Vermont to a variety of audiences
  3. gain a better understanding of Vermont’s local food economies
  4. conduct a more accurate market analysis
  5. better address the needs of these direct markets

All sales and economic data will only be shared in aggregate form in reports and publications, individual responses will NOT be shared publicly.

If you have any questions about the survey, please feel free to contact me by phone 802-505-1661 or email

Thank you! 


March 16, 2017

Half of All VAST Trails Cross Vermont Farmland

Winter is back, and Vermonters are ready to play in the snow once more!

It’s no secret that Vermonters love snowmobiling, but did you know that more than 2400 miles of VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) Trails cross Vermont farmland? That’s more than half of all the VAST trails, statewide.

“Without farmers, the VAST trail system as we know it would not exist,” according to Matt Tetreault, VAST’s Trails Administrator, who oversees VAST’s statewide network of 4700 miles of trails. “VAST relies on the generosity of private landowners who allow the trail system to cross their property. We are especially grateful to the farmers who make their land available in wintertime, for our club members to enjoy.”

In fact, 64% of all the private land in the VAST trail network is farmland. (Private land accounts for about 80% of the total VAST trail network.)

According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, there are more than 7300 farms in Vermont, encompassing over 1.25 million acres.

“Farms add to the beauty and character of Vermont’s landscape, and many provide fun recreational opportunities for Vermonters, too” according to Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “Thanks farmers, for all you do!”

“Be safe, enjoy the snow, and have some fun,” he added.


March 16, 2017

by Alison Kosakowski

When the snow comes down heavy and hard, it’s time for farmers to start thinking about barn roof safety.

Heavy snow can put barn roofs at risk, but snow removal must be performed carefully. Removing snow without the proper approach can actually cause more damage, by creating an unbalanced load. Remember, your number one priority must to be protect your own safety!

Farmers are encouraged to consider these safety tips, provided by Cornell University, when considering snow removal from a barn roof.


  • DO consider a systematic approach. You need a plan! For a diagram of the best way to remove snow from your barn structure, see this tip sheet from Cornell
  • DO listen for creaking or moaning – if your barn is built from wood, unusual sounds may indicate there’s trouble afoot
  • DO look for bending or bowing rafters, headers, or columns. There are often visual cues to be found, if you look carefully at the structure
  • DO ask for help. You can’t do this alone. Who is your back up? Is there anyone in your community with expertise or equipment, who might be willing to help?


  • DON’T remove snow unequally from the roof. Unbalanced loads can create even more problems.
  • DON’T pile snow atop the roof. Do not simply move the snow from one area of the roof to another
  • DON’T attempt to clear the snow yourself! Make sure there are others nearby, helping and watching, in the event of a problem


For a full overview of the best way to remove snow from a barn roof, visit

Vermont farmers are critical to our landscape, heritage, economy, and communities. We have NONE TO SPARE! Be safe!


March 6, 2017

Governor Phil Scott officially kicked off Vermont’s maple season today at Silloway Maple in Randolph Center. The Governor joined the Silloway family, Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts, members of the Randolph Center community, and the Orange County Sugarmakers to tap a tree and celebrate the importance of the maple industry to Vermont’s economy, landscape, and heritage.

Vermont makes more maple syrup than any state in the country – a whopping 47.3% of all the maple syrup in the nation comes from Vermont! The 2016 maple season was Vermont’s best yet, with a total of 1.99 million gallons of syrup produced. That’s 4.85 million taps!

“It’s no secret that Vermont’s maple syrup is world-famous. It’s an important part of our brand and economy, and it draws tourists to Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “I could not be more proud of our maple industry. The hard work and ingenuity of those who support the industry represents what Vermont is all about.”

The sun was shining and the sap was running as the Silloways hosted a fun-filled event for the whole community. They opened their sugaring operation to the public for a day of tours, tastings, and fun.

The maple business is a family affair for the Silloways. In 1940, Paul and Louise Silloway began their dairy operation in Randolph Center as newlyweds, and soon after, began tapping trees. Today, the dairy and maple tradition lives on through their children and grandchildren. Grandsons Paul and David Lambert run the sugaring operation, while another grandson, John, keeps the dairy tradition alive.

“Maple and dairy - it does not get more Vermont than this,” said Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “This family business is creating opportunities in the community, and providing the next generation with a chance to stay on the land and make a living. Truly wonderful!”

Silloway Maple holds tradition close, while also embracing innovation. In 2014, a new sugarhouse was designed and built, set facing the south, with a narrow northern roof, and a large southern exposure to accommodate seventy solar panels. Even a cold day, the system can output just over 15,000 watts, according to the Silloways. Averaging throughout the year, this energy supplies the sugarhouse, and also about half of the power used on the family dairy farm, just down the road.

Of course, no maple event would be complete without some authentic maple cooking. The Orange County Sugarmakers offered a delicious, maple-inspired lunch for guests to enjoy, and the Silloways served sugar on snow. As a special treat, the Silloways sorganized a maple cooking contest, and encouraged members of the community to enter. Students from NECI judged the competition, and after much deliberation, choose Barbara Warren’s Maple Angel Food Cake as the winner in the adult competition. Joey Ferris took top honors in the kid competition with his Maple Snickerdoodles.

“Of course, my family members have many wonderful maple recipes,” said host Bette Lambert, daughter of the founders, Paul and Louise Silloway. “But we thought we’d give the rest of the community a chance,” she added, with a smile. Bette was at the helm of the event today, serving as the main organizer among a large crew of Silloways and Lamberts.

“Thank you, Silloway family, for hosting this terrific event,” said Governor Scott. “And thank you to all Vermont sugarmakers, for creating jobs, keeping our landscape in production, building the Vermont brand, and making the very best syrup in the world!”