May 1, 2016

Grow the Movement!  VT Farm to School Conference

November 2-3, 2016
Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, VT

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and Vermont FEED in partnership with the VT Farm to School Network is pleased to announce a state-wide conference designed to bring together members and leaders of the farm to school community for two-days of education, networking and inspiration. Join the movement and help bring food, farm and nutrition education and local purchasing to all VT schools.

Don’t miss this event! The conference will feature:
• 12+ workshops
• Keynote speakers from USDA Farm to School
• Deep-dive sessions with local, regional and national experts
• Opportunities for youth leaders

Registration Opens in August!

Learn more & join our mailing list for event details at:
April 27, 2016
Vermont Cheese Council Members Win Multiple Awards in Madison, WI

By Tom Bivins, Vermont Cheese Council

Jasper Hill Farm cheeses captivated judges at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison, WI.  Along with Jasper Hill Farm, three other Vermont Cheese Council members, Vermont Creamery, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, and Boston Post Dairy, also captured top awards in their categories.  Jasper Hill Farm, located in Greensboro, won two “Best in Class” awards for “Winnimere,” a washed rind, seasonal cheese and “Moses Sleeper,” a brie style, bloomy rind cheese.  In addition, its “Harbison” won a second place award and its much loved “Bayley Hazen Blue” won a third place award.  “Winnimere” was one of four outstanding American cheeses that made the cut for consideration for Best in Show, but lost to the “Grand Cru Surchoix,” an Emmi-Roth USA cheese made in Wisconsin.  This is the first American cheese to win the top prize in 30 years.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative, located in Cabot, also won two “Best in Class” awards, for their “Cabot Sharp” (6 months- 1 yr.) and Cabot Greek Yogurt.  In addition, Cabot received a third place award for its “Vermont Farmhouse Reserve,” part of its new Farmers Legacy Collection.  Vermont Creamery, located in Websterville, was named “Best in Class” for its “Fresh Crottin”, a fresh goat cheese.   Boston Post Dairy, located in Enosburg Falls, won a third place award for its gouda-style goat cheese “Tres Bonne.”

The World Championship Cheese Contest is held annually in Madison, Wisconsin and boasts a record-breaking 2,955 cheeses submitted from around the world. There were 110 judging categories, with only 11 percent of all the cheeses taking prizes in their classes.  The World Championship Cheese Contest is the world’s largest technical competition for cheese, butter and yogurt.

The Vermont Cheese Council is a non-profit trade association with 50 members. Its mission is to promote and advance quality cheesemaking in Vermont.  The Vermont Cheese Council prints The Vermont Cheese Trail Map and will host the 8thAnnual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival on July 17, 2016.  The Festival was recently named “Top Five Food Festivals to Plan Your Vacation Around” and Fodor’s Travel “Top Ten Summer Food Festivals in the United States.”

For additional information, please email Tom Bivins, Executive Director for the Vermont Cheese Council at or call 802-451-8654.


April 27, 2016

Vermont Technical College and the University of Vermont announced the 2016 Farm and Agricultural Resource Management Stewards (FARMS) 2+2 scholars during the Green Mountain Dairy Farmers annual Statehouse reception today.

The 2016 2+2 scholars were chosen for their academic potential, their interest in a bachelor’s degree in dairy management, and their commitment to the agriculture industry.  The students were honored at the Statehouse event by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Diane Bothfeld, House Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Partridge, Dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Tom Vogelmann, and Vermont Tech President Dan Smith.  The 2016 2+2 scholars are:

  • Derrick Daigle, Troy
  • Henry DelaBruere, North Troy
  • Lucas Lanphear, Hyde Park
  • Keltsey Ruston, Grafton
  • Levi Vaughn, East Thetford

(From left to right in this picture: Derrick Daigle of Troy, Henry De La Bruere from Derby, Keltsey Ruston from Grafton, Levi Vaughn from East Thetford. Lucas Lanphear from Hyde Park. Dan Smith President of VTC. Backrow – Thomas Vogelmann – UVM Dean College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Representative Carolyn Partridge – Chair House Agriculture and Forest Products Committee)

The FARMS 2+2 scholarship is funded by the State for Vermont for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in dairy and agricultural resource management through the unique Vermont Tech-UVM partnership.  The program funds half tuitions for two years of study at Vermont Technical College and full tuition for two subsequent years at the University of Vermont.  The program includes a semester at Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, New York.

Over 65 2+2 scholars have graduated in the past 15 years and are now active in agribusiness industries and on farms across Vermont.


April 27, 2016


George Cook, UVM Extension

Everyone reading this has likely experienced back pain at some point in their life, especially low back pain, likely the most common ailment anywhere. In fact, you’ll find a large percentage of worker’s compensation claims would stem from back issues. Chronic pain, difficulty moving, standing, bending, walking, reaching, all common symptoms. Just this spring, the constant bending, squatting, lifting, picking up arms full of firewood during sugaring season has initiated chronic low back pain. Hmm…sure some of it may be getting older, but we’ve all been there, no matter our age. Improper lifting techniques either now, or in the past may very well have caused injury to your back or increased your chances today for these issues. With warmer weather upon us, the list of chores in front of us will surely add to the likelihood of back pain.

So what should be done to prevent this sort of chronic irritation? Several key things come from various sources. Here are some pointers:

When possible, prior to beginning your work or exercise, loosen up a bit; warm up that back, legs and arms before your work detail. Athletes do this all the time, there’s a reason; when is the last time you did? Stretch those muscles that you will be using, limber up. Remember those exercises we used to do before gym class? Again, there was a practical reason for doing those.

Plan ahead. Do you have the needed help to get the job done? You don’t have to do everything yourself. Lifting stuff? Can you handle that amount of weight, or should you get someone to assist? Locate items to be moved so that you minimize the travel necessary. Check your pathway, is it clear, or will 5 minutes of cleaning and prepping save you effort.

When appropriate, use assistive technology to ease the burden on you and your back. Consider equipment such as forklifts, dollies, hand-carts, or a hoist of some sort. I absolutely love hydraulics; my tractor loader bucket has been a life saver, and likely a back saver. Just make sure you’re trained and comfortable using such equipment before attempting. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety toed shoes or boots.

Again, get help when needed. If it is too heavy to lift safely alone, get someone to assist you. Is it awkward, bulky, heavy…wait, sounds like a two person job!

Use proper lifting techniques.

  1. Get as close to the object you need to lift as possible.
  2. Get a good broad stance, with feet place squarely under you. Avoid twisting.
  3. Bending your knees, squat down, keeping your back straight, grasp the object securely with both hands. Use gloves if needed.
  4. Look up, that alone will help keep your back straight and not arched…try it, you’ll see and feel the difference whether looking down or looking up. I learned this during a rescue squad training years ago, and it has proven invaluable ever since.
  5. Hug the object to be lifted close to you, like you’re holding a baby.
  6. Get ready to lift, tightening your muscles, keeping your back straight and strong, looking forward and upward.
  7. Lift slowly, with your legs, do not jerk; breathing out slightly as you lift and stand.

For more information on back injuries, lifting techniques, etc., I found these websites very quickly: - OSHA – National Safety Council or just do a search of back safety, back injuries, lifting safety, safe lifting techniques or something similar. More sites will emerge than you have time for.


April 27, 2016

By Emma Hanson, VAAFM

On Thursday, February 25th, the Forestry Committee of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) released the final report of the Forest Systems Analysis, conducted by St. Albans based Yellow Wood Associates.  The year-long project brought together hundreds of forest and wood products professionals to collaboratively chart a path forward for the industry. 

The three main takeaways defined a need for:

  • increased public awareness of the economic importance of the forest and wood products sector
  • industry wide network development; and
  • increased consumer demand for Vermont-made wood products.

“We’ve come together to examine obstacles and opportunities and to help chart a return to a thriving forest economy,” said Michael Snyder, Commissioner of Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. “Over the year-long analysis, it was gratifying and absolutely critical that so many Vermonters from such a wide swath of the sector came together to participate.  We developed a shared understanding of the problems we face and we inspired each other to consider how we can shape our collective future.”

Additionally, the committee unveiled a new tool to help both industry members and consumers connect. The Vermont Forest and Wood Products Online Directory is an interactive map of wood and forest related businesses and resources in the state.  The tool can be utilized for a variety of purposes, including:

  • To find a nearby forester
  • To find a kiln that dries a particular type of wood

The online directory is linked to the Working Lands website as well as that of the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation.

The directory was compiled from scores of documents from various organizations and the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.  The committee is encouraging industry members to review their business information and email corrections to with “Asset Map” in the subject line.  Identifying businesses listed in the directory that are no longer active is also appreciated.  With such a tremendous amount of data, the industry’s involvement is absolutely essential to making this tool as accurate and helpful as possible.

The report and directory were unveiled at the Southern Vermont Forest Meetup, hosted by the WLEB Forestry Committee on February 25th, 2016.  Held at the Marlboro School of Graduate and Professional Studies in Brattleboro, the event was followed by a tour of Cersosimo Lumber, the largest sawmill in the state.  Over 60 industry members and partners were in attendance. The event built on the success of last June’s Forestry Summit, held at Sugarbush Resort, and focused on building connections within the sector.

WLEB Forestry Committee Chair and Consulting Forester Joe Nelson, County Forester Matt Langlais, and Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Director Ellen Kahler provided remarks.  A three-person panel moderated by Ken Gagnon of Gagnon Lumber illustrated Southern Vermont’s value chain.  Panelists included Eli Gould, a WLEB grant recipient and owner of Ironwood Brand, Jeff Hardy from Cersosimo Lumber, and George Weir from the Windham Regional Woodlands Association.

Following the meeting, committee chair, Joe Nelson said, “The strong attendance today is a testament to how dedicated these folks are to the forestry sector.  And it reinforced how important it is that we reach out and connect to each other across the state to enhance these private-public partnerships in order to maintain and strengthen Vermont’s forest economy.”

Link to Vermont’s Forest Sector Systems Analysis:

Link to the Forest and Wood Products Directory: