Thursday, September 30, 2010

Witness for Peace Tour - Kiado Cruz speaks in Hardwick

Monday, October 18th at 7pm
Hardwick Town Hall
The New England Region of Witness for Peace brings Kiado Cruz, Community Organizer for RASA (La Red Autónoma por la Soberanía Alimentaria: The Autonomous Network for Food Sovereignty).

RASA is a spin-off of UniTierra, a school that concentrates on indigenous forms of education such as mentoring, horizontal networking and apprenticeship, community service, and environmental sustainability. RASA is an ever-increasing, city-wide network of people who are learning, and then teaching, inner-city gardening, while rediscovering their cultural food roots. The people of RASA are reclaiming their complex agricultural and culinary heritage, "roof by roof, yard by yard."

Señor Cruz will speak on sustainable agriculture as well as the community organizing that has been instrumental in the current autonomous movements in Oaxaca and Chiapas. He will also address questions about the effects of U.S. trade policies and increasing privatization that have been damaging to Mexico. He will also discuss how these issues relate to the large contingent of undocumented farm-workers, many of them from Mexico, now working on area dairy farms.

With this presentation, We hope to enrich the cross-borders dialogue between those who are creating and supporting local food systems and local economies; engaging in education reform; advocating for immigration reform; and promoting fair and just international trade, both in Latin America and in the U.S.

Please join us for this exciting dialogue!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interim Project Manager Hired for the Vermont Food Venture Center

For Immediate Release

Contact: Louise Calderwood, 802-586-2239,

Interim Project Manager Hired for Food Processing Incubator in Hardwick

The Center for an Agricultural Economy is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Louise Calderwood of Craftsbury as the interim project manager for the 15,000 square foot Vermont Food Venture Center being constructed in Hardwick. The new building is a shared-use kitchen incubator for value-added and specialty food producers who can rent the kitchen on an hourly basis or arrange for co-packing or storage at the facility. The operation plan calls for anchor tenants in two sections of the building devoted to dairy processing and meat processing. The facility is expected to generate the equivalent of 16 full time jobs when it is fully operational.

Site work began on the Vermont Food Venture Center in mid May and currently the structure is a combination of steel supports sheathed in yellow insulation board. Work is on target for the building to be closed in and construction to continue through the winter months.

Calderwood is expected to provide outreach to prospective users of the Vermont Food Venture Center and to finalize lease arrangements with anchor tenants. Additionally, she will be responsible for providing leadership on many details necessary to ensure the project stays on track for an anticipated mid March 2011 opening date.

Tom Stearns, owner of High Mowing Seeds and member of the Vermont Food Venture Center steering committee stated “We are pleased to have Louise on board. With her knowledge of agriculture and attention to detail she will streamline access to the building for Vermont food processors.”

The non-profit Vermont Food Venture Center is a central piece of defining and promoting a local food system begun in recent years emphasizing community involvement, integrated and responsible agri-business, and a commitment to economic and nutritional health. Other parts of the localfood system includes the expanding of food system educational programs at the non-profit Center for an Agricultural Economy, the preliminary steps for creating an agricultural education center at the 15 acre Atkins Field at Cooper Creek in Hardwick, and the increasing number of garden plots available at the Hardwick community garden space located along the banks of the Lamoille River.

Funding for creation of the Vermont Food Venture Center has been provided by USDA Rural Development, the Vermont Agency of Economic Development, The US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Economic Development Administration. Individuals interested in utilization of the Vermont Food Venture Center can reach Calderwood at 802-586-2239 to arrange a tour.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Summer/Fall Newsletter 2010

Find out about our new staff, new projects, what we've been up too these past few months and where we are headed in the coming season.

View our newsletter in it's full color glory by clicking on the link below.


or by selecting, copying and pasting the url below into your browser.

Oct. 15 & 16: 2010 Hardwick Fall Film Festival!

Embedded in the very word "agriculture" is our own underlying culture, the human values that inspire and motivate our lives.

Independent Vermont filmmakers have explored these issues with a creative honesty and four of their works can be seen on October 15 and 16 in the 2010 HARDWICK FALL FILM FESTIVAL at the Hardwick Town House. The festival has been organized by Harriet Wood and David Rodgers and is sponsored by the Center for an Agricultural Economy.

Friday, October 15th: "My Mother's Early Lovers", by Nora Jacobson, 8 PM
Saturday, October 16th:
"Man With a Plan", 4 PM, by John O'Brien
"Neighbors", 6 PM, by Meredith Holch
"The Summer of Walter Hacks", 8 PM, by George Woodard/ Gerianne Smart

The films will all be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and in the case of "My Mother's Early Lovers", by the author of the novel that the film was patterned after, and possibly the filmmaker as well. This will be the only chance to see the latest film of George Woodard, which can only be screened at film festivals. The films are all made in Vermont with Vermont actors and locations and the theme of rural Vermont connects them.

In addition, there will be a special exhibit of Vermont landscapes and barns by Michael Jermyn in the gallery at the Town House.

Tickets will be available at the door an hour before each screening. $6.00 per film or $18.00 for the entire series. No checks or credit cards. For more information call (802) 456-8708.

Images are stills from:
Meredith Holch "Neighbors"
Nora Jacobson's "My Mother's Early Lovers" George Woodard and Sue Ball

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Atkins Field Survey

Atkins Field was purchased by the Center for an Agricultural Economy in 2007 with funds from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and was designated for agricultural purposes. There were two objectives in mind with the purchase of this property: to have a place for community ties to be built and reinforced, and to develop and strengthen the local food system and food security. The property is located in the village of Hardwick, and is 15 acres of fields and woods with Cooper Brook running through it. There is also a historic granite shed on the property that the CAE has plans to restore. Some of the possible ideas about the use of the building and grounds include: facilities for food preservation, community garden, workshops, indoor year-round farmers market, cooking classes, museum, outdoor skate park and music amphitheater, outdoor art displays, etc. The purpose of this survey is to build upon previous work, including a community visioning in the summer of 2009. We want to collect community input regarding the most desired uses of the space and to get an idea about the current interests and skills of the community at this time. We believe that it is important to get the opinions of and contributions from the community regarding the use of this property – we want it to be for you!

Please take advantage of this opportunity to have your voice heard and to create exciting opportunities and resources for our community! We, at the Center for an Agricultural Economy, want to build an agricultural and community center at Atkins Field that will fill the needs and desires of the Hardwick region in the best way possible.

If you have any questions or would like to participate in this project, please leave your contact information on our sign-up list and/or contact me at 802-472-5840.

Thank you for your participation!

Heather Davis
Graduate Research Fellow – Food System Monitoring and Evaluation
The Center for an Agricultural Economy

* Participation in this survey is confidential and therefore no identifying information is requested.

SURVEY LINK -This will take you to eSurvey Pro or copy and paste the following in your browser:

New Projects at the Center for an Agricultural Economy

Hardwick, VT— Three new projects at The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) aim to help increase farm vitality and plan for a vibrant economic future for the Northeast Kingdom. The CAE has recently hired three new staff members to work on regional projects in Essex, Caledonia, and Orleans counties.

“We are thrilled to have three new staff on board at the CAE who will be working throughout the entire Northeast Kingdom on a variety of initiatives aimed at expanding our mission to build upon local tradition and bring together the community resources and programs needed to develop a locally-based 21st century healthy food system,” says Monty Fischer, Executive Director.

Through the Regional Food System Development project, the CAE will conduct a strategic planning process in the Northeast Kingdom that will inventory the current food system and identify goals and strategies to improve and expand the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of local foods. This Regional Innovation Grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor through a grant from the Vermont Department of Labor and is administered by the Northern Vermont Development Association (NVDA). The purpose of this project is to study the current regional agriculture system and recommend programs and policies that will improve regional economic outcomes throughout the Northeast Kingdom.

The CAE has hired Erica Campbell as project manager, who has a host of experience in long range planning, policy research, and economic analysis. She will be reaching out to multiple stakeholders throughout the NEK to gather input for plan development.

“Erica brings statewide and national planning experience to the CAE that will provide us with a better understanding of the gaps as well as the opportunities of the regional food system throughout the NEK,” says Fischer.

The CAE, in conjunction with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), has hired Heidi Krantz to be an Agricultural Business Advisor. Heidi will provide regional support, counseling, training, and resource networking services to small food- and agriculture-based businesses owners and prospective business owners within the NEK region. Heidi Krantz who resides in Craftsbury, has been an independent business owner and consultant for over 30 years with extensive experience in personnel and organizational development and training, strategic planning and implementation and marketing.

Heidi’s work will also be connected with the Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC). The VFVC is a food business incubator that provides a wide array of business development resources including production space and technical assistance. The VFVC is will be moving to Hardwick from its current location in Fairfax when the state of the art facility has completed construction in March, 2011.

The CAE also recently hired Hardwick resident Heather Davis as a graduate research fellow. Heather is a current graduate student at School for International Training and will be developing a local foods monitoring and evaluation program, as well as a regional indicators project for food systems. Her work will help the CAE and other areas of the Northeast Kingdom determine the impact of local food production, distribution, and consumption.

“While we see many positive community outcomes, we would like to better measure the success of our programs and the impacts of local food systems on communities. Heather’s monitoring project will provide us with more definitive answers to these questions,” says Fischer.

Heidi Krantz can be reached through email at or by telephone at 802-595-3394 or leave a message for her at 472-5840, ext 3.

Erica Campbell can be reached through email at or by telephone at 802-472-5840, ext 4.

Heather Davis can be reached through email at or by telephone at 802-472-5840, ext 5.

The Center for an Agricultural Economy is building upon local tradition and bringing together the community resources and programs needed to develop a locally-based 21st century healthy food system. The Center is supporting the desire of rural communities to rebuild their economic and ecological health through strong, secure, and revitalized agricultural systems to meet both their own food needs locally as well as to determine and build the best opportunities for value-added agricultural exports.