Starting in the summer of 2015, the State of Vermont is committing to a new approach to meet and expand the original goals of the Workplace CSA Program. In addition to promoting CSA farms, we will also promote other local food direct-to-consumer and retail marketing channels like farmers’ markets, farm stands, buying clubs, coops and grocery stores.
Our new and expanded goals are:
- Exposing farmers to SOV employees as a new market to sell product
- Increasing SOV employees’ access to local food
- Improving workplace wellness through better nutrition
- Engaging state employees in learning about Vermont’s food system and facilitate awareness opportunities.
When you buy local food, you are contributing to Vermont’s long-lasting heritage in the working landscape. You are also contributing to the local economy by supporting Vermont businesses. But beyond all of that, you are making a choice to use the freshest ingredients, while connecting more closely to the community of producers who grow, raise, and process your food. You are engaging in an activity that helps you connect more deeply to the soils, hills and topography of our beautiful state!
The meaning of the term local, when related to food, is very personal, and can differ between people. Rather than a geographic-specific term, it can be more of a values-based definition that encompasses other criteria including the type and amount of energy used in production, labor standards or the level of familiarity one has with the specific farmer in question.
However, from a legal standpoint, the term local can be very concretely defined. In Vermont, according to statute, the term "local," "locally grown”, and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised originated within Vermont or 30 miles of the place where they are sold, measured directly, point to point, except that the term "local" may be used in conjunction with a specific geographic location, such as "local to New England," or a specific mile radius, such as "local-within 100 miles," as long as the specific geographic location or mile radius appears as prominently as the term "local," and the representation of origin is accurate. http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/09/063/02465a
However you define what local means to you, or if you have never thought a about it before, we hope this initiative will provoke thought, inspire discussion, and, most importantly, help you access fresh, local food!
The State of Vermont Local Food Wellness and Consumer Awareness Initiative will educate state workers about the benefits of eating local food by promoting farmers markets, farm stands, buying clubs, food hubs, grocery stores and co-ops.
Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets, Department of Human Resources State Employees Wellness Program, and Building and General Services (BGS) piloted the Workplace CSA delivery program to SOV employees working in Addison, Washington and Windsor counties in 2012. The program, coordinated by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, began statewide offerings of CSA shares from farms across the state to all SOV employees in the spring of 2013.
The goals of this initiative were to expose farmers to SOV employees as a new market to sell product, increase SOV employees’ access to local food, improve workplace wellness through better nutrition, engage state employees in learning about Vermont’s food system, and facilitate consumer awareness opportunities.
Participants that had CSA shares through the program were very happy with the quality, quantity, and convenience, and were mostly new to the CSA model. However, over the three year duration of the program, enrollment was relatively low, guiding us toward a new approach to meet and expand the original goals of the Workplace CSA Program. In the summer of 2015, the SOV expanded the program to promote CSA farms, along with promoting other local food direct-to-consumer and retail marketing channels.
For continued CSA promotion, we have created opportunities to connect state of Vermont employees with farmers, by making available a list of farmers who are interested in delivering to State of Vermont worksites.
If you would like to learn more about the history of the program, please click here.