Blog

August 4, 2015
By Alison Kosakowski, VAAFM
 
More than forty purveyors of local food convened on the Statehouse lawn today as part of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets’ (VAAFM) first ever summer Buy Local Market. The event, which coincides with National Farmers’ Market Week and Vermont Open Farm Week, was organized by VAAFM as part of the State’s Local Food Wellness and Consumer Awareness Initiative, in partnership with the Capital City Farmers’ Market and The Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT (NOFA-VT).
 
 
From 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., shoppers browsed booths offering a wide variety of produce, local meat, cheese, ice cream, specialty foods, and baked goods. Organizers say they sought to offer the same great quality, diversity, and freshness available at the weekend Montpelier Farmers’ Market to weekday shoppers, who might otherwise miss out.
 
“More than 2800 state employees report to Montpelier for work every day,” according to Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Chuck Ross. “We organized this market to provide these employees access to healthy, local foods, build Ag Literacy, and create a new market opportunity for our local producers.”
 
 
 
State employees were joined by town residents and privately employed workers as they perused the assortment of offerings displayed on the Capitol lawn. Montpelier’s Mayor, John Hollar, Vermont’s Secretary of Administration, Justin Johnson, and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Diane Bothfeld, addressed the crowd, stressing the importance of local food, community, and workplace wellness. A band of musically-inclined Agency of Agriculture employees entertained the crowd as the Agency’s mascot, “Clover the Cow,” posed for photos with young shoppers.
 
“We are so pleased by terrific turn-out for our first summertime Buy Local Market,” said VAAFM’s Local Foods Administrator, Abbey Willard. “Both farmers and shoppers have been very positive about their experience, even in the midst of some unpredictable weather. We hope to make this an annual event!”
 
The State’s Local Food Wellness and Consumer Awareness is an effort born out of Act 38 (2007) and Title 6 (2011), which aimed to increase the amount of local food procured by Vermont institutions in an effort to create opportunities for local farmers. Since then, the program has evolved to include employee wellness.
 
 
The goals of the program include:
·         Connecting farmers to state employees as a new market to sell product
·         Increasing state employees’ access to local food
·         Improving workplace wellness through better nutrition
·         Increasing Ag Literacy (an understanding and appreciation for how food is produced) among state employees
As part of this initiative, the Agency of Agriculture launched the first State of Vermont Workplace CSA, connecting farmers and state employees and enabling deliveries of fresh, local food to worksites across the state. Program administrators have also worked to increase local purchasing in state government, and to provide employees with resources to connect with farmers in their home communities. VAAFM also organizes an annual wintertime Buy Local Market each January as part of the Farm Show at the Chaplain Valley Exposition.
 
For a full list of the vendors that participated in today’s event, visithttp://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/market_access_development/buylocalmarkets
 
 
Today’s Buy Local Market at the Statehouse was one of several events held across the state in recognition of National Farmers’ Market week, including the first statewide “Open Farm” event, organized by NOFA-VT. To learn more about open farm week, visit http://www.diginvt.com/blog/openfarmweek/
 
For more information about the Agency of Agriculture’s efforts to support local farmers and increase consumption of local food, visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/market_access_development
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August 4, 2015

By Chelsea Lewis, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Boston-based Vermonters looking for a taste of home won’t have to travel far when Harlow’s Vermont Farm Stand opens in the Boston Public Market, which officially opened its doors July 30.                               

The Boston Public Market is the only locally-sourced market of its kind in the United States. Everything sold at the Market will be grown in or originate from New England.

Harlow’s Vermont Farm Stand inside the Market will feature Vermont favorites such as apples from Champlain Orchards and caramel sauce from Fat Toad Farm. In addition to a wide variety of fresh produce from Harlow Farm in Westminster, Vt., the state’s world-renowned, artisanal cheesemakers will be well-represented, including Vermont Creamery, Plymouth Artisan Cheese, Lazy Lady Farm, and Shelburne Farms.

“From carrots and cauliflower, to parsnips, peppers and fresh-cut herbs—we’re incredibly proud of the quality of our produce, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer it to our friends and neighbors in Boston,” said Paul Harlow of Harlow Farms. The farm stand will also offer Vermont specialty foods such as maple syrup, oils and vinegars, and summer salsa. A wide range of ready-to-eat soups will be available to go.

“Vermont has always been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement,” said Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. “People who visit the farm stand at Boston Public Market will be supporting Vermont’s family farmers and helping to maintain our working landscape. It’s a great way to stay connected to a very special place.”

Located at 100 Hanover Street above the Haymarket MBTA station, the Boston Public Market will be open Wednesday-Sunday, 8 am-8 pm, as of July 30. Harlow’s Vermont Farm Stand was made possible by a collaboration among the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development; and Harlow Farm. 

This project was advanced by the Agency of Agriculture’s “Domestic Export Program,” which helps local producers expand their market beyond the state of Vermont. The program is administered in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. For more information about The Domestic Export Program, contact Reg Godin at Reg.Godin@state.vt.us or (802) 522-3648.  For more information about Boston Public Market, please visit www.bostonpublicmarket.org

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August 3, 2015

By Alison Kosakowski, VAAFM

This August, a number of events across the state will provide an up-close view of agriculture, in action – connecting Vermonters with local food and farmers, and building Ag Literacy. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a taste of local agriculture with family and friends!

Buy Local Market on the Statehouse Lawn 
On Tuesday, August 4th, from 10 am – 1pm, the statehouse lawn in Montpelier will be transformed into an open-air market, where local producers will sell produce, cheese, meat, baked goods, and many other local produced foods. Dubbed the “Buy Local Market,” the event will be hosted by Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM), , in partnership with the Capital City Farmers’ Market and The Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT (NOFA-VT). The event is being organized by VAAFM as part of the State’s Local Food Wellness and Consumer Awareness Initiative. “More than 2800 state employees report to Montpelier for work every day,” according to Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Chuck Ross. “We are organizing this market to provide these employees access to healthy, local foods, build Ag Literacy, and create a new market opportunity for our local producers.” 

Vermont Open Farm Week
Vermont’s first Open Farm Week will be held Monday, August 3 – Sunday, August 9, 2015. Open Farm Week is a weeklong celebration of Vermont farms. Over 100 farms are participating, many of whom are not usually open to the public. Open Farm Week offers Vermonters and visitors alike educational opportunities to learn more about local food origins, authentic agritourism experiences, and the chance to build relationships with local farmers. Activities vary and may include milking cows and goats, harvesting vegetables, collecting eggs, tasting farm fresh food, scavenger hunts, hayrides, farm dinners, and live music. All participating farms, geographic location, and offerings are at www.DigInVT.com. Farmers’ markets will also be a part of the Open Farm Week celebration as organizers planned the event to coincide with National Farmers’ Market Week – also the first week of August.

Breakfast on the Farm
Nea-Tocht Dairy Farm of Ferrisburgh, VT will host Vermont’s first “breakfast on the farm” August 22 from 9 am – 1 pm. There is no charge to attend, but guests are required to reserve their free ticket in advance online at vermontbreakfastonthefarm.com In addition to enjoying a delicious breakfast, guests will have the opportunity to see a working farm, up close and in-person. Nea-Tocht Farm is owned and operated by Raymond and Linda Vander Wey. Sponsors for the event include the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council, NE Dairy Promotion Council, The Vermont Feed Dealers Association, WOKO, and Poulin Grain. For more information visit VermontBreakfastOnTheFarm.com

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July 30, 2015

By Reg Godin, VAAFM

Vermont specialty food producers took home gold at this week’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.  The sofi Awards, which stands for “specialty outstanding food innovation,” are the most prestigious awards in the specialty food industry and represent the best of the best. Vermont’s winners were Big Picture Farm, Fat Toad Farm, and Vermont Creamery, along with Wozz! Creative Kitchens, a New Hampshire producer who makes their product at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick.


Goats win big! The gals at Big Picture Farm and Fat Toad Farm, respectively, wowed judges at the New York Fancy Food Show. Photo Courtesy of Big Picture Farm

This year's winners were selected from 2,771 entries across 32 categories and were announced at the gala red-carpet awards ceremony by television’s Chopped host Ted Allen, and judge, Alex Guarnaschelli.

“With five golds bestowed on Vermont manufactured products it was a very good night for the state’s specialty food industry. Only the much larger states of California and New York came away with more awards than the Green Mountain state.” Said Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

Jim Harrison of the Vermont Specialty Food Association added “It is pretty amazing how well Vermont food producers did with the awards this year, as they also did last year. We should all be very proud of our state’s specialty food industry and the positive reflection it has on Vermont.”

Two of the top awards went to Fat Toad Farm for the coveted Outstanding Product Line and to Big Picture Farm for New Product with their Raspberry Rhubarb Goat Milk Caramels. Big Picture also took home a very rare second gold with their Goat Milk Chai Caramels in the Confection Category. Vermont Creamery, which has won a number of sofi Awards in the past, received honors for their Cultured Butter Sea Salt Basket in the Classic Category. Wozz! Creative Kitchens was recognized for their Kiwi Lime Salsa Verde in the Salsa and Dips Category.

The three day Fancy Food Show, held at the Javits Center in New York City, features specialty food companies from around the world.  Thirty Vermont producers exhibited at the show gaining direct access to over 25,000 buyers.


Fat Toad Farm’s Prize winning offerings, on display. Photo Courtesy of Fat Toad Farm

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets includes several programs which help local farmers and producers promote their goods to markets beyond the state’s borders as part of its Domestic Export Program.  This includes sponsoring a Vermont booth at the Fancy Food Show that samples Vermont product (Vermont is the only state to have such booth).  The Agency also offers grants to help new producers afford the costs of exhibiting at a trade show.  To learn more about the Domestic Export Program, contact Reg Godin at Reg.Godin@state.vt.us or (802) 522-3648.

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July 20, 2015

By Chuck Ross, Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

Agricultural exports are a thriving aspect of our state’s economy. It is a story of incredible growth and promise for Vermont’s working landscape. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture, between 2010 and 2014 Vermont’s agricultural exports increased by 100 percent. You read that correctly: the data shows a steady increase and a doubling of export sales over the past five years. We actually almost couldn’t believe it ourselves when we first looked at the numbers, so we called in Dennis Lynch of Food Export-Northeast, an expert on national export data. He confirmed our analysis and described this growth as “on fire”. In fact, Vermont ranks number six in the country for growth in agricultural export sales.

Photo: Vermont’s Dairy Exports saw 100% growth from 2010-2014

It is worth calling out the dairy sector in particular, which is seeing incredible potential in the global marketplace. Dairy exports grew from $30.6 million in 2010 to $61.3 million in 2014 – 100% growth. Overall, Vermont exported $222.3 million worth of agricultural products in 2014. When you include forest products, this number increases to $315.9 million.

Our Agency sees the importance of exports in the agricultural economy, and has been working hard over the past five years to contribute to this growth. We work in collaboration with Food Export Northeast – a non-profit State Regional Trade Group based in Philadelphia – to offer a range of export enhancement services to agricultural and value-added food and beverage companies. Each year, Food Export-Northeast receives 9 million in USDA funding to help small businesses across the northeastern states increase export sales. Services offered include: exporter education, trade missions, buyer matchmaking at trade shows, and customized market research.  Financial assistance is also available for Vermont companies to help offset international marketing expenses as well as booth space at international (and some domestic) trade shows.

In 2014, we helped 45 Vermont companies to take advantage of this export assistance. These companies achieved over $8 million in actual sales as a result of their participation in our programs, and they anticipate additional sales of $22 million. 22 of these companies achieved first-time sales in new markets, 54 new distributorships were added, and 13 jobs were created. Impressive results.

We look forward to continuing to work with the state’s working lands businesses to meet global demand for Vermont’s high-quality products.

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