In an effort to demonstrate the economic value of Farm to School, the Center for Rural Studies (CRS) at the University of Vermont recently conducted an economic impact study of local food procurement by Vermont schools for the Vermont Farm to School Network with funding provided by the Vermont Community Foundation. Key findings from the study include:
- Vermont schools spent $915,000—or 5.6% of all food purchased—on local foods during the 2013-2014 school year;
- Every dollar Vermont schools spent on local food contributed an additional sixty cents to the local economy, resulting in a $1.4 million overall contribution to Vermont’s economy;
- If 75% of Vermont schools doubled their local food spending (from 5.6% to 11.2%) the total economic impact would increase to $2.1 million.
The results and implications of this economic impact study will be the topic of a workshop at the 2016 Vermont Farm to School Conference on November 3rd. If you are interested in attending the conference, learn more and register here.
The full report, “Economic Contribution and Potential Impact of Local Food Purchases Made by Vermont Schools,” can be found here.
This study demonstrates the positive impact Farm to School programming has on our local economy by supporting food producers, thereby allowing them to grow their businesses and support other businesses like distributors and retail outlets. Just imagine the possibilities if more of the remaining 94.4% of food budgets was spent on local products!
The findings of this study help to measure the Farm to School Network’s progress towards their goal of having 75% of Vermont schools purchasing at least 50% of their food from local or regional sources by 2025. As the findings indicate, Vermont schools have quite a way to go to meet the Network goal, but the economic impact of meeting the goal would be highly beneficial for the state.
Farm to school programming in schools doesn’t only have positive impacts on the economy. It also has educational and health benefits for students. Farm to School programs enhance nutrition education, promote agricultural literacy, and serve as a platform to incorporate all subjects in an engaging and tactile way. Moreover, they help expose students to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are critical to a healthy lifestyle. Vermont schools with Farm to School programs have reported twice the national average in vegetable consumption and students who know a farmer or grow their own food indicate that they eat more fruits and vegetables. Improved student health also has long-term economic implications in the form of reduced healthcare expenditures in the future.
Almost all Vermont schools are engaged in Farm to School at some level, and we are working hard to make sure that this programming is strong in every school throughout the state, incorporating Farm to School into the classroom, cafeteria and community. With such a robust Farm to School movement in our state, we have a great opportunity to expand our food and farm economies by supporting the procurement of local food in schools.
If you’d like to learn more about the study or the Farm to School Network, please contact Ali Zipparo at Alexandra.Zipparo@vermont.gov or (802) 505-1822.
Director of Communications & Policy
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets
Farmers are Invited to Share Ideas and Feedback
Under the direction of newly-appointed Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts, and Deputy Secretary, Alyson Eastman, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets has announced plans to host a statewide listening tour throughout the month of February. The public meetings, which will be held in Lyndonville, St. Albans, Brattleboro, and Middlebury, are designed to open the lines of communication between the Agency, the farming community, and the public.
“I am inviting all farmers, and all Vermonters interested in agriculture, to attend these meetings, to share thoughts and ideas about the future of farming in our state,” said Tebbetts. “I want to learn about the issues that matter most to our farmers, and how the Agency can support them.”
“We hope to hear from farmers of all types, and sizes – from maple to meat, to produce and dairy,” said Eastman. “This is an opportunity for us to listen and learn from the people who are driving Vermont’s agricultural economy.”
- Friday, Feb. 10 – Lyndon State College Theater, 10 a.m. - noon
- Friday, Feb. 17 – Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center in Brattleboro, 10 a.m. - noon
- Monday, Feb. 27 – Middlebury Parks & Recreation Gym, 10 a.m. - noon
- Thursday, March 2 – St. Albans City Hall Auditorium, 10 a.m. – noon
- Wednesday, March 15 – Pavilion Auditorium, Montpelier 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For complete location details and directions, please visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/listeningtour2017
The Agency will start the meeting with a brief but broad overview of the status of agriculture in our state, and will then open the floor to hear ideas from attendees.
For more information about the listening tour, please visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/listeningtour2017 or call 802-828-5667.
Vermont Largest Agricultural Showcase Returns Jan. 31 – Feb. 2
The Annual Vermont Farm Show, a great Vermont tradition, returns to the Champlain Valley Expo Center January 31st, February 1st and 2nd. Now in its 87th year, the show celebrates the heritage of Vermont farming, while continuing to evolve and grow with our agricultural community. Packed with fun and educational events and displays, the show is sure to impress agricultural enthusiasts of all ages!
This year’s show will feature more than 150 agricultural exhibits, ranging from tractors to livestock to cutting-edge equipment. For a full list of exhibitors and their respective booth numbers, visit http://www.vtfarmshow.com/2017-exhibitors.html
“There’s something for everyone at the Farm Show,” says, Jackie Folsom, Farm Show Director. “Of course, for farmers, it’s a chance to see the newest products and innovations up close, and connect with resources to strengthen their businesses. But there’s also local food, exhibits, animals, and meetings for just about every agricultural group in the state – from Christmas tree growers to beekeepers! There’s so much to see and enjoy.”
“This time of year, the Farm Show is the place to be,” according to Vermont’s Ag Secretary, Anson Tebbetts. “It’s both educational, and fun!”
This year Consumer Night will be held Wednesday, February 1st. Consumer Night begins at 4:00 p.m., and show hours will be extended until 7:30 p.m. that evening. Food enthusiasts will enjoy the Buy Local Market, which will showcase foods and products from Vermont farms. The “Capital Cook-off,” an Iron Chef-type competition in which teams from the Vermont House of Representatives, Senate, and Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will face off in a battle of culinary skills, will also occur again this year.
There will also be opportunities for the next generation of Vermont farmers to convene at the Farm Show.
"We're proud to host two groups of young agriculturists at the Show - the FFA students on Wednesday, and the 2+2/FARMS students from VTC and UVM on Thursday," said Dave Martin, president of the Farm Show Board. "They are the future leaders of our industry, and they need to meet our exhibitors and see what technology and efficiency has in store for them!"
The great tradition of product competitions continues this year! Beekeepers, hay makers, fiber spinners, and more are invited to display their goods and compete for ribbons. For a full list of product categories and entry rules, visit http://www.vtfarmshow.com/-product-contest.html
Organizers are proud to once again partner with the Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf. Admission and parking are free, but guests are encouraged to donate a canned or boxed good at the entrance of the Miller Building.
The hours for the show are as follows:
- Tuesday, Jan. 31: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 1: 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m
- Thursday, Feb. 2: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For more directions, farm show history, exhibitor information, and more, visit the farm show website at http://www.vtfarmshow.com
See you at the Farm Show!
Contact: Jackie Folsom Vermont Farm Show email@example.com 802-426-3579
On Friday, January 20th, eight Vermont businesses were presented with a Good Food Award at the gala Awards Ceremony, which took place at the historic Herbst Theater in San Francisco, California. Chosen from 2,059 entrants and 291 finalists, the Good Food Awards describes the 193 award recipients as rising to the top in a blind tasting and rigorous vetting to confirm they met specific standards around environmentally sound agricultural practices, good animal husbandry, sourcing transparency and responsible relationships throughout the supply chain.
“We are extremely proud to once again be recognized as a national leader in tasty, authentic, and responsibly produced food,” says Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. “Vermont will continue to grow our food system to support our thriving local economy, and produce the most delicious and innovative products across the country.”
Below are the eight Vermont awardees honored for their exceptional products and contribution to a local, sustainable economy:
- Big Picture Farm, Farmstead Chocolate Covered Caramels
- Fat Toad Farm, Vanilla Bean Goats’ Milk Caramel Sauce
- Grafton Village Cheese, Bear Hill Cheese, a 100% sheep’s milk, washed-rind, alpine-style cheese
- Green Jam Man, Honey Sage Pear Jam
- Spring Brook Farm, Reading Cheese, a raclette-style, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese
- Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont, Farm to Bar Tart Cherry Rich Simple Syrup
- Vermont Amber Organic Toffee, Fennel Seed Toffee
- Vermont Creamery, Bonne Bouche, an aged, 100% goat’s milk cheese with a geotrichum rind sprinkled with ash
Allison Hooper of Vermont Creamery, who spoke for the Good Food Awards cheese winners says, “It’s a tremendous honor to be a Good Food Award recipient. For Bonne Bouche to earn this accolade twice in two years, is a true testament to our team’s commitment to transparency and innovation.” Vermont Creamery introduced Bonne Bouche in 2001 and quickly won the hearts and palates of cheese lovers and brought home a bronze medal at the 28th annual World Cheese Awards.
On Saturday, January 21st, 13 Vermont crafters and one Vermont retailer attended the Good Food Mercantile, an un-trade show hosted to connect Good Food winners, finalists, and members. Six of the 13 Vermont businesses received funding to support their attendance in part from the Trade Show Grant Program administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.
The seventh Good Food Awards recognized businesses in 14 categories: beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, honey, pantry, pickles, preserves, spirits, oil, and preserved fish. Vermont businesses were represented in four of the 14 categories; cheese, confections, preserves, and spirits; and had 16 finalists of which the eight winner were chosen. Each winner will be identified with the Good Food Award Seal which guarantees a high quality, delicious product committed to environmentally sound business practices and social good within their community.
For a comprehensive list of the 2017 Good Food awards winners visit Good Food awards.
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
The Vermont Building Provides Local Companies Access to more than a Million Consumers
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is now accepting proposals from Vermont businesses and organizations for vending and exhibiting space in the Vermont Building at the 2016 Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) in West Springfield, Massachusetts. This 2017 fair dates are September 15th – October 1st. Approximately 1 million patrons passed through the Vermont Building during the 2016 Big E, spending $1.8 million on Vermont products. Learn more about the Big E on their website: http://www.thebige.com/
“The Vermont Building at The Big E, part of the Agency’s Domestic Export Program, is a special opportunity for Vermont businesses to connect with consumers throughout the region at our ‘embassy to the South’,” said Business Development Section Chief, Chelsea Lewis. “We’re looking for vendors who embody the Vermont brand and who want to share that with a million customers and potential visitors.”
The Big E is located in The Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and is billed as “New England’s Great State Fair.” Founded in 1916 by Joshua Brooks, The Big E is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the fifth-largest fair in the nation. The Big E is inclusive of all six of the New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Each of the New England states is prominently represented at the fair in its own building, located along the “Avenue of the States.”
The 2016 Vermont vendors at The Big E included Long Trail Brewing, American Flatbread, Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, Cold Hollow Cider, Champlain Orchards, Danforth Pewter, Vermont Smoke and Cure, and Vermont Flannel, among others. The application deadline for 2017 is Monday, January 23rd by 5 p.m. Vendors will be chosen in a competitive process and reviewed by an independent committee.
VAAFM extends warm wishes and many thanks to outgoing building manager, Sheila Masterson. After six years of service as building manager, and close to a decade of managing the Vermont Sugar Makers Association booth prior to that, she is retiring. Laura Streets, owner of LLS Events, will take the helm as the new building manager. Laura brings eight years of experience running the Vermont Brewers Festival.
Watch this video to learn more about the Vermont Building at the Big E, and the benefits of becoming a vendor: http://youtu.be/lVlwfsxAAnc
To apply for exhibition space in The Vermont Building at The Big E, visit: http://www.vermontbusinessregistry.com/BidPreview.aspx?BidID=19149
Follow the Vermont Building on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/vermontbuildingBigE/
For more information, please contact Emma Hanson, Working Lands Coordinator, at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets at 802-522-3132 or firstname.lastname@example.org .