by Scott Waterman, Agency of Agriculture
Service and Respect
As I passed through the doors and walked the floors of the Farm Show, I watched vendors interacting with visitors and listening to their stories and concerns. I shook hands and spoke with folks myself. I saw children playing and laughing as they and their parents explored. I learned over the three days of the Vermont Farm Show that it is more than an Expo; it’s like a family reunion.
Some of this family may see each other often, while others have not seen each other for many months, perhaps years or never. The Farm Show is a time to come together to share stories and challenges. This reunion of family has taught me a little bit anyway, about why this new job and the people I serve are so important.
A Place to Learn
The Agency of Agriculture came to listen and learn as well. Representatives from across the Agency staffed our booth to meet and greet visitors, listen to questions and concerns, and provide answers and guidance to anyone looking for information. We encourage you to contact us at any time with your questions, as the specialists at the Agency are ready to serve you year-round, not just at the Farm Show.
Over 150 exhibitors set up shop for the three days, with attractions for both young and old. As impressive as that was to see, what topped it all was the crowd. Starting when the doors opened at 9am Tuesday until they closed Thursday afternoon, a steady flow of visitors emphasized the importance of this community to Vermont. From milk to honey, cheese to beef, maple to turkey and lettuce, we all benefit from the hard work and products our farmers provide.
Looking to The Future
I heard concerns at the Farm Show as well. Regulatory and environmental issues swirled through the conversations of many, all leading to one question: What about the next generation of farmers? At this year’s Vermont Farm Show, the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets promoted careers in agriculture with a packet of information as well as an introductory letter from Secretary Tebbetts. Farm Show organizers recognized this need for information and encouraged all vendors to participate. I was pleased to see the number of people who reached for the packet and expressed interest in learning about the many ways you can work in the agricultural community.
Food, Fun, and Free
I truly enjoyed Consumer Night and the Capital Cook-Off events held the evening of Day 2. Consumer Night gives participating vendors a chance to show-off their products to visitors. From hard-cider and liquor to cheese and local meats, a chance to taste these products can be good for business! In the Capital Cook-Off, three teams of chefs competed to make the tastiest recipes in the span of 90 minutes, utilizing a secret ingredient. The Agency of Agriculture team captured its fourth victory in a row, beating strong House of Representative and Senate teams! The secret ingredient was eggs, and the teams had various types from which to choose. The Agency’s creations were entitled “3 Eggs - 3 Ways” and included a massaged kale salad with a poached quail egg; a scotch duck egg with root vegetables oven fries; and a hen egg smoked maple soufflé. See the winning recipe here. If you couldn’t attend this year, make plans for next year; It’s free!
More to Learn
The Agency’s Water Quality Division brought with them an interactive, toy-like display of a watershed to show those interested in what happens to runoff when it rains. What impressed me in watching the activity around this display was there were as many adults interested in the demonstration as kids, and all seemed genuinely interested in the topic. It certainly helps when dog-poop is chocolate sprinkles!
The fact that folks were asking questions throughout the Show was encouraging and motivating. Secretary Tebbetts, Deputy Secretary Alyson Eastman and all the dedicated scientists and professionals at the Agency also ask questions with the goal of answering those questions for you. Although I learned much at the Vermont Farm Show about our agricultural community and its people, I know I will learn more from my colleagues, and from you.