Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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.

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