Vermont is a leader in Farm to Institution efforts, initiated by our guidance in the Farm to School movement. What began as connecting students to local food in the cafeteria, classroom and their community has evolved to include other institutions like hospitals, health care facilities, colleges, universities, and correctional facilities.
Vermont has a growing number of schools interested in serving local food, nursing homes and hospitals purchasing directly from farmers, Vermont students familiar with farm to school efforts now in our state colleges and universities demanding increased local food options, and farmers looking to scale up to serve institutions in their community.
Farm to Institution in Vermont and the New England region is capitalizing on these opportunities by engaging our students, elderly and sick with producers, distributors, food hubs, and corporations in building a viable local food system. Connecting institutional customers with local farmers opens new markets for Vermont products and creates economic opportunity, improves community health, and helps preserve the working landscape.
Farm to Institution can serve as the necessary compliment to direct marketing routes of farmers’ markets and CSA’s for our local growers. Models and best practices are being developed and shared in communities across the country, as interest in local sustainably food continues to grow.
The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has collaborated with external partners to produce the following reports on Farm to Institution market opportunities.
VAAFM collaborated with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) to develop and administer a survey of Vermont producers to better understand food and farm businesses that are currently engaged or interested in selling to institutions and wholesale markets. This report demonstrates growing interest in and viability of wholesale markets and offers suggestions for technical assistance to Vermont producers.
VAAFM collaborated with NOFA-VT and The University of Vermont (UVM) to interview higher education food service operations throughout the state about opportunities and barriers to increasing local food procurement. The project was commissioned by the Vermont Farm to Plate Aggregation & Distribution Working Group as a means of achieving Goal 2 of the Vermont Farm to Plate Strategic Plan—increasing local food served in Vermont institutions. This report outlines current local food procurement practices at higher education institutions in Vermont, compares current practices to best practices documented in other publications from around New England, and offers recommendations for increasing local food procurement in Vermont colleges and universities.