Monday, December 26, 2011

January 6th Grand Opening for Vermont Food Venture Center

Come help us celebrate the grand opening of the newly built Vermont Food Venture Center!

Hosted by the Center for an Agricultural Economy and Northern Enterprises, please join us for an open house, guided tours, invited guest speakers and a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 1:00 PM with Senator Patrick Leahy.

When: Friday, January 6 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Where: Vermont Food Venture Center, 140 Junction Road, Hardwick, VT (located behind Aubuchon Hardware and next to Vermont Soy)

* Heading east on RT 15, from Wolcott, drive into Hardwick, turn right onto Junction Rd
* Heading west on RT 15, from RT 16 junction, turn west at the blinking light and turn left onto Junction Rd.
* Overflow parking will be located at Dona's Car Store and the Waste Water Treatment plant, both located on RT 15/Wolcott St.

Contact: Elena Gustavson,, #802-472-5840

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thank You for Your Support

December 2011

Dear Friends, Neighbors and Partners,

The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) has one vision: To support a thriving, sustainable agricultural economy in a rural community.  This simple, and yet complex, vision has helped guide every step during these last twelve months of enormous growth in our organization, energizing us for the year ahead.

The CAE has made significant strides in 2011:
  • We have begun operation of the newly rebuilt Vermont Food Venture Center, an incubator processing facility for supporting new and established food businesses, as well as being a key piece of infrastructure to our local and regional food system. Throughout the planning and building phases, our ongoing partnership with the Vermont Small Business Development Center has allowed us to provide free business planning for scores of agricultural producers and food businesses.
  • Over the summer, our staff member, Erica Campbell, released our year-long Northeast Kingdom Food System Strategic Plan and Implementation report (in cooperation with the Northeastern Vermont Development Association). This significant study has informed, and will continue to support, the larger Farm-to-Plate Strategic Plan administered by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund for the State of Vermont. 
  • We expanded our outreach and education programs.  Although Tropical Storm Irene prematurely ended our growing season in the Hardwick Community Garden, we continued to offer workshops to the community, ranging from root crop storage to composting.  Our Research Associate, Heather Davis, has worked with high school students to monitor the soils of our local farms. We had a banner year of food system tours for people from all over the state, region and the nation. Ongoing events like Kingdom Farm & Food Days and Pies for People/Soup for Supper, continue to raise awareness about farms, food, and food access in our region.
  • The CAE supports and partners with other key organizations to make a noticeable difference in moving our food system forward.  We continue our involvement with the University of Vermont and their agricultural spire and we are excited about our more recent partnership with Sterling College and their summer curriculum, Vermont’s Table. We have become the fiscal sponsor for Salvation Farms as it reinvents itself to meet the growing needs of food access in the State of Vermont. We partnered with Pete’s Greens and established the Vermont Farm Fund, which has, to date, awarded nearly $100,000 in zero-percent interest loans to farmers who have suffered damage and loss in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Our recipients were among the first farms in the State to receive this kind of aid, a testament to our ability to act effectively.  Finally, we have worked closely with the Hardwick Farmers’ Market to support them in their relocation to Atkins Field, as well as in their acquisition of a grant for allowing for the use of EBT Benefits (Food Stamps) at the Market.
What about 2012?

In summary, the Vermont Food Venture Center will dramatically increase its client base and incubating agricultural businesses. Minimal Processing and related outreach to institutions will expand and business services will continue to be offered.

Part of CAE’s mission is to encourage and support research and monitoring activities in the region.  We will continue our soil monitoring work with several farms and release timely data on progress being made toward getting more locally grown food into the market place. 

Equally important for 2012 is our Food Access and Food Security program, especially our ever-growing Pies for People/Soup for Supper annual community event.  We hope to re-establish the Hardwick Community Garden, despite it being massively flooded in August 2011.

Outreach programs for our well attended Tours will continue, with even more offerings in the works. If you have ever joined one of these events, you know how informative and fun they are!

Please consider supporting the Center for an Agricultural Economy by going to our website and make a tax deductible and secure end-of-the-year donation.  This support will help us maintain our many community-based programs in 2012, including the expansion of the Vermont Food Venture Center programs and client base.

And by all means, stop by in 2012 and visit us in our new office space at 21 Mill Street in Hardwick (same P.O. Box and telephone number). This space is larger and is the site of the Galaxy Bookshop, which is in turn moving to our space on Main Street where we have been since 2007.

Best wishes for 2012,

Monty Fischer
Executive Director

Monday, December 12, 2011

1st Annual Vermont Buy Local Market Taste, Learn, and Buy VT Agricultural Products

1st Annual Vermont Buy Local Market
Taste, Learn, and Buy VT Agricultural Products

DATE:    January 25, 2012
TIME:     4:00 to 8:00 p.m., “Consumer Night” at the Vermont Farm Show
PLACE:  Blue Ribbon Building, Champlain Valley Exhibition, Essex, Vermont
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, in conjunction with the Vermont Farm Show, is pleased to announce the first annual “Buy Local Market” which will be held during Consumer Night on January 25, 2012.  The Buy Local Market will present consumers with an ideal opportunity to “taste, learn and buy Vermont agricultural products” from across our state in one convenient place.  The Buy Local Market is a new feature of the Vermont Farm Show, which relocated from Barre to the Champlain Valley Exhibition in Essex Junction this year. 
This venue will allow 42 different agricultural product vendors to provide tastes and learning materials; for consumers, it will offer a chance to purchase the finest Vermont has to offer.  The Buy Local Market will be located in the Blue Ribbon building from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - hope to see you there!

·         FREE Booth Space for vendors of agricultural products, with a goal of 3 spaces per county, 42 tables total.  Space is limited!  Express your interest in participating by December 28, 2011.
·         Variety of agricultural products from across the state – vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats, grains, etc.
·         Vendors can sell product, provide samples and information to visitors.
·         All products must meet all regulatory requirements.
·         Farm to School programs from across the state will be highlighted.
·         Feature the best that Vermont has to offer on agricultural products during the Farm Show.
·         Farm Show has moved to The Champlain Valley Exhibition in Essex, VT and Chittenden county (largest population in VT) residents will be encouraged to attend.  Expansion of market for products.
·         Your products will be featured during consumer night activities.
·         Local radio and television coverage.
·         Please submit the attached form with your farm or agribusiness name and address, along with a list of products to be vended.
·         Return application by December 28, 2011 to the Agency of Agriculture – Abbey Willard or Koi Boynton or mail to: VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, 116 State St., Montpelier, VT  05620-2901, to express your interest in participating in the Buy Local Market.
·         Only 42 tables will be available; tables are 2’X8’, with two folding chairs per table.
·         Representation from across Vermont’s agricultural communities is desired, so some prioritization may be necessary.
·         For questions or for further information, please contact Abbey Willard at 802-828-3829 or Koi Boynton at 802-828-2084.

Application Form for 2012 Vermont Buy Local Market attached.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Swapping Spaces

For Immediate Release

The Center for an Agricultural Economy and Galaxy Bookshop Take on Transplanting Project

Hardwick, VT – December 6, 2011 – The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) and The Galaxy Bookshop are energized by changes planned for the beginning of 2012, when the two enterprises will swap spaces in downtown Hardwick.

As an organization, CAE has seen much growth since moving into their office on South Main Street. With the move around the corner to the first floor of the Granite Trust building on Mill Street, CAE will have a space better suited to their staff and operations. CAE will also enjoy the company of their neighbor non-profit, The Highfields Center for Composting which is located on the second floor of the Granite Trust building.

The Galaxy Bookshop makes the move to Main Street to be closer to neighbors Buffalo Mountain Coop and Claire’s Restaurant & Bar. The move also reflects the changing climate of bookselling in the age of internet sales and digital books. By moving to a busy spot on Main Street, Galaxy is positioned to be a thriving gathering place where books, ideas and people meet. “Customers can look forward to evening hours, and more events in cooperation with Claire’s,” said owner Linda Ramsdell.

The Center for an Agricultural Economy has out-grown its current space with an expanding staff and program needs. “It is an exciting time to be in Hardwick,” says executive director Monty Fischer. “The additional space in a beautiful and historic building will allow the CAE to continue and expand our agricultural-based work within the community. We were very pleased to be approached by Linda about exchanging spaces.”

The CAE is a non-profit organization based in Hardwick, VT, that focuses on supporting a healthy, ecological and economical local food system, through community involvement and education as well as research and small agricultural business support. In 2012, CAE will operate the newly built Vermont Food Venture Center, an incubator kitchen with a focus on value-added agricultural products. More information is available at

The swap is planned for the beginning of January. To keep apprised of the progress, contact Elena at the Center for an Agricultural Economy,, 472-5840 or Linda Ramsdell,, 472-5533.

We are on the move!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Local Authors' Reading - A night of words and conversation

 We hope you will join us for one of our favorite events of the year, tomorrow night at St. John Episcopal Church, Five West Church St. in Hardwick, Vermont.

Beginning at 6:30pm, in the sanctuary, join local authors and farmers for readings of their original work. 

We are accepting donations of non-perishable food for the Hardwick Area Food Pantry as well as monetary donations for the Center for an Agricultural's Food Access Fund.

Hardwick Area Food Pantry and St. John Episcopal Church - Hardwick, VT

Bethany Dunbar
Bethany M. Dunbar is co-editor of the Chronicle, a weekly newspaper based in Barton, VT.  She is also a regular contributor to Country Folks, a New England-wide weekly farm magazine.  Her guidebook, a collection of photos and stories about farmers and food in the Northeast Kingdom, Kingdom's Bounty, is being published by Umbrage Editions in New York and will be coming out in the spring.  (  A collection of those photos is up at Parker Pie through Christmas.  
For 11 years she and her ex-husband milked Jersey cows, which led her to focus on coverage of agriculture for the newspaper.  She also covers general news, edits, processes photos and is working on a new plan for the Chronicle's web site,   
On Wednesdays mornings at 8:35 you might hear her on WDEV radio talking about the week's news.  She occasionally appears on Vermont This Week about the news of the week on Vermont Public Television.  She went to Craftsbury Academy, the University of Vermont and Lyndon State College, where she got a bachelor of science in education.  She lives in West Glover.  She is past president of the Vermont Press Association and serves on the board.  She also serves on an advisory committee for the multimedia curriculum at Community College of Vermont.  Contact her at

Ben Hewitt  Ben was born and raised in northern Vermont, where he currently runs a small-scale, diversified hill farm with his family. He lives with his wife and two sons in a self-built home that is powered by a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels. To help offset his renewable energy footprint, Ben drives a really big truck. His work has appeared in numerous national periodicals, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Gourmet, Discover, Skiing, Eating Well, Yankee Magazine, Powder, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure, and Outside.

His most recent book is Making Supper Safe: One Man’s Quest to Learn the Truth About Food Safety (Rodale). It was published on June 7, 2011. From dumpster diving, to the battle over food rights, to genetically engineered salmon and the interplay between humans and the bacteria they consume, Ben explores the untold story of food safety with humor and good-natured skepticism.

His first book, The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food (Rodale), was published in 2010. It tells the story of a rural, working-class Vermont community that is attempting to blueprint and implement a localized food system. 
Heifer - Photo by Bethany Dunbar
Pete Johnson
Pete spent his early years on the West Coast, moving with his family to Vermont when he was thirteen, homesteading and skiing with his parents, brother and sisters. Even as a child, he knew he wanted to farm and he ventured into season extension farming as a senior at Middlbury College, eventually turning his greenhouse greens into a business. Although a farmer, not a writer, the vocation has not stopped him from writing pieces for various printed and online publications, including the weekly newsletter for his CSA, Good Eats.

Annie Myers 
Annie Myers is originally from Brooklyn, New York.  She currently lives and works in Craftsbury as the Harvest Manager at Pete's Greens, and posts her writing on her website Thoughts on the TableMyers previously held various food-related jobs in New York City, including waiting tables, wrapping meat, selling cheese, farming (on a city lot), writing profiles for a regional market project, and sourcing local food for the restaurant The Spotted Pig.

Julia Shipley 
Julia Shipley is a 2010-11 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant recipient, completing a manuscript of braided essays about small scale agriculture. As both a professional writer and subsistence farmer she's interested in the overlap and interplay between these two fields. Her chapbook, Herd was published by Sheltering Pines Press and her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Alimentum, Hunger Mountain, Small Farmers Journal, Vermont Life, Vermont's Local Banquet and Whole Terrain
Former Director of Writing Studies and Faculty in Sustainable Agriculture at Sterling College, she's now immersed in writing endeavors as a newspaper columnist, freelance writer, writing workshop facilitator and caretaker of a writer's retreat, as well as growing and raising great food on Chickadee Farm in Craftsbury, VT. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Photo Album: Pies for People 2011

...and here they are! Photos from our fourth annual Pies for People/Soup for Supper event, held in the Sterling College kitchen in Craftsbury, Vermont. Two nights of baking and cooking. Thank you to the farmers, businesses, Sterling College, the students and the amazing volunteers who together, made this another amazing event.

Pies for People 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dec. 2nd, Local Authors Reading in Hardwick, VT

For Immediate Release

Local Authors Reading in Hardwick, VT

Hardwick, VT – November 17, 2011 - Say good-bye to Stick Season and prepare for the coming snow with a cozy gathering of agricultural authors and producers, who will read from  their original work on Friday, December 2nd at 6:30pm at St. John's Episcopal Church on Five West Church St. (catty corner from Hardwick Electric)

Co-sponsored by the Galaxy Bookshop and the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE), the authors are Bethany Dunbar, Ben Hewitt, Pete Johnson, Annie Myers and JuliaShipley. An informal discussion will follow at Claire’s Restaurant at 41 S. Main Street.

Please bring a non-perishable item for the Hardwick Food Pantry or monetary donation to benefit the CAE's Food Access Fund.

For questions, please contact Elena Gustavson at the CAE or call 802-472-5840, ext 2

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pies for People, Soup for Supper- One door closes, but another one opens

Hardwick, VT, November 15, 2011 -With just hours left before our first of two bake nights for our annual Pies for People/Soup for Supper event, I find myself with a rare and quiet hour to reflect. Not on recipes, nor logistics or even hunger, but to reflect on kitchens.

Since its inception in 2009, when Julia Shipley organized the first pie bake, the kitchen at Sterling College, with its u-shaped counter sitting squarely beneath the hanging pot racks, has welcomed a cadre of volunteers to roll dough, simmer soup and bake pies. The ancient stoves and ovens never failed to fire up, every imaginable pot and gadget was within arm’s reach and we blasted the music from the beat up speakers that sat high above the stainless steel sinks. This year, sadly, is our last year to bake in this wonderful little kitchen on the Common.

The hours of work, coordination and stress that lead up to this event - the dozens of phone calls and emails, juggling requests and schedules, checking list after list and then checking again – fade away the moment I walk into this kitchen that I once thought of as my own. Years after leaving, I still feel at home in this space, everything familiar and welcoming. Even under the fluorescent lighting, there is something warm and comforting, about this “institutional” kitchen.

Next year, we will be moving this event to the newly built Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick, where we can take this event to the next level within our Food Access Program at the CAE. In a state of the art facility, with efficient, professional equipment, a large space and easily accessed storage, our goal is to produce enough food for the local pantries to stock their freezers for months. It is exciting to imagine the possibilities and deeply gratifying to know that our work will continue to not only feed our community, but to bring a new awareness to hunger and need in our State.

According to the USDA, 14.6% of our population was food insecure in 2008. That represents over 49 million people, of whom 16 million are children. Those are staggering numbers.

On a local level, we directly impact hundreds of people when they eat the pies or soup at community dinners, school lunch, as a snack at one of the senior centers or as a client of the local Food Pantries. On a regional level, we hope to inspire others to work with food security organizations towards a solution for hunger from a local perspective using fresh, healthy ingredients. Neighbors helping neighbors. A community feeding their community.

We know that we cannot end hunger with a slice of pie or a bowl of soup, but if our Pies for People, Soup for Supper event gets people talking, involved and working towards a solution, then we are supporting those who take on hunger every day. That said, I will work with joy tonight and tomorrow, savoring the last few hours I will spend in this wonderfully funky kitchen that embraces community in every aspect of its internal architecture. When I turn out the lights and lock the doors tomorrow night though, it will be bittersweet.

Elena Gustavson
Program Director
Education and Outreach
Center for an Agricultural Economy, Hardwick, Vermont

Friday, November 11, 2011

Local Author Event on Dec. 2nd - SAVE THE DATE!

We are bringing back last year's popular Local Author Event, in partnership with the Galaxy Bookshop and to benefit our Food Access Fund and the Hardwick Area Food Pantry.

Join us Friday, December 2nd at 630pm, location to be determined, to hear local authors AND farmers read their pieces on food and agriculture. Bethany Dunbar, Ben Hewitt, Julia Shipley, Pete Johnson and others to be announced. 

Monetary donations for the Food Access Fund and non-perishable goods will be accepted at the door. 

Call 472-5840 or email for more information. Stay tuned for more details!

Craftsbury, VT - Photo by A. Perry Heller Photography

Friday, November 4, 2011

CAE and Sterling College - Who is Ready to Bake Some Pies?

For Immediate Release

The Center for an Agricultural Economy and Sterling College get ready for the fourth annual “Pies for People/Soup for Supper”

Craftsbury, Vermont – With donated organic squash puree from local farms, volunteer labor and the donated facilities at Sterling College, the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE), located in Hardwick, VT, is gearing up to bake 150 pies and 50 gallons of soup for area food pantries, community dinners, schools and senior centers.

On November 15th and 16th volunteers from Sterling College and the surrounding community will turn gallons of sweet squash puree into pies and soup. The CAE will then distribute the pies and soup to eight organizations in the area, including the Hardwick Food Pantry and the Hardwick Community Dinner.

Since its inception in 2007, Pies for People/Soup for Supper has strived to raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity in Vermont by capturing high quality vegetables destined for the waste stream, utilizing donated labor and facilities and, most importantly, collaborating with area organizations and businesses to highlight how a community can feed its own community in times of need.

For more information, to donate or volunteer, please contact Elena Gustavson at or visit

Media Contact:                                                         

Elena Gustavson                                                         
Center for an Agricultural Economy                                                  
(802) 472-5840, ext 2                        

Tim Patterson
Sterling College
(802) 586-7711, ext 124

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kingdom Farm & Food Days

Tropical Storm Irene hit approximately two weeks after our weekend long event, Kingdom Farm & Food Days. Although most farms in our area were spared, it was all hands on deck when we launched our Vermont Farm Fund Emergency Loan Program in response. As a result, updating our photo albums and sharing about this wonderful event would take a back seat to more urgent needs.

Now that the days are a bit quieter and the hours a bit shorter, we found some time to upload many photos from the Open Farm Day on Saturday, August 20th.

We started the day with a challenging bicycle tour led by the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Forty plus cyclists, in two groups, started their 16 and 30 mile respective tours from Sterling College on Craftsbury Common.

From 10am to 3pm, Agape Hill Farm, Down to Earth Worm Farm, Hazen Monument Farm, Echo Hill Farm, Bonnieview Farm, Caledonia Spirits, the Vermont Food Venture Center and several others opened their doors to welcome hundreds of visitors on a beautiful August day, ending it with a local food feast, tours and music at Pete's Greens.

Many thanks to Perry of A. Perry Heller Photography for the beautiful photos of people, places and food.

Friday, September 23, 2011

CAE collaborates with local high school for soil monitoring!

The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) is collaborating with Lamoille Union High School in a project to test local farm soils and streams in order to assess their health.

Ecology students from Lamoille Union, under the guidance of their teacher Amber March and CAE Research Associate Heather Davis, will begin farm visits in October. Multiple soil tests will be performed including surveying farmers and then analyzing the data.

The information gathered will support the ongoing efforts of local food systems monitoring by the CAE and supplement available soil data with current information of soil health. This work is an important “action item” that has been identified by Vermont’s Farm to Plate Strategic Plan and the Northern Vermont Development Association’s (NVDA) Northeast Kingdom Food System Plan developed by the CAE in June.

“Soils are a very relevant place to start this monitoring project.” explains Davis, “in my previous research, many farmers indicated soils to be the most important thing relating to the success of their farming. Soils are the base of our food system, and healthy soils are fundamental to successful agricultural production.”

If you have a farm, and are interested in participating, please contact Heather Davis at (802) 472-8024 or They are looking for a diversity of farms to participate in this program, and it is currently limited to six.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vermont Farm Fund Awards $35,000 in Emergency Loans

 Within days of receiving applications, VFF Committee awards loans to farms in need after Irene.

Hardwick, VT, September 20, 2011— Thanks to a dedicated group of advisers, the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) has administered $35,000 in zero interest loans through the Vermont Farm Fund (VFF), to four Vermont farms of varying size. 

  • Little Village CSA, a small farm in Proctorsville, had seven weeks left to deliver to their 30 family membership when Irene hit. They lost all three of their fields, effectively ending their season. 
  • Harlow Farm in Westminister, a farm established in the early seventies that employs over 30 people, lost dozens of acres of produce, while incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. 
  • Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho raises animals and vegetables on 200 acres, running a year round CSA and selling all the food they produce within 25 miles of their farm. When the Winooski River rose suddenly in the middle of the night, they lost animals, forage, crops and equipment in a field that hadn’t flooded in 84 years.

The first to receive a VFF loan, Kingsbury Market Garden in Warren, lost 10% of their tillable land to the river, lost a fall planting season to contaminated soil and the bulk of their crops to the widespread flooding that resulted from Tropical Storm Irene. “The first substantial relief money that we received after the flood was from the Vermont Farm Fund. In less than a week after applying for $5,000 we received word that the money would soon be in our bank account. When the fund increased their maximum loans to $10,000 total, we requested and received another $5,000. “, says Aaron Locker, who works the Kingsbury Farm with his wife and partner Suzanne Slomin. “While I expect to receive relief money from other sources, the Vermont Farm Fund enabled us to get to work quickly rebuilding our existing soil so that we are in the best shape we can be for the 2012 growing season.”

The VFF was established in the spring by Pete’s Greens, in honor of the donations gifted to them after the devastating fire that brought the farm to a standstill in January of this year. To start the fund, Pete’s Greens paid forward $40,000 of those donations and at this printing, a total of $70,000 has been raised for the emergency loan program.

To make a tax deductible donation, please visit or write a check to the Vermont Farm Fund and mail to the Center for an Agricultural Economy, PO Box 451, 41 S. Main St., Hardwick, VT 05843.

To apply for a loan from the VFF, please visit to view and download the application or contact

Media Contact:
Elena Gustavson             
Center for an Agricultural Economy


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Benefit Concert for Vermont Farm Fund

Come join Champlain Orchards in beautiful Shoreham for a 2 day concert, featuring Wyndorf & Bright, Mango Jam, Freeman Corey Band and the Two Tone Deceiver.

All proceeds will benefit our Vermont Farm Fund as well as NOFA-VT's Emergency Fund. 

Visit for more details or call 802-897-2777 for information.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Vermont Food Venture Center is Open for Business.


September 16, 2011, Hardwick, VT - The Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC), a program of the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) is open in Hardwick and ready to support food based entrepreneurs. “The VFVC can support diverse food manufacturing processes with our wide selection of commercial processing equipment,” said George Keener, who serves as Operations Manager.
 In the shared use kitchens, available for rent by the hour,  the VFVC has slicers, mixers, grinders, several types of ovens, tilt skillets, blast freezers, vacuum sealers, labellers, and a variety of other equipment to process and package almost any type of food. Additionally, technical assistance is available for recipe development, business development, packaging selection and distributor access.

Lisa Johnson, owner of YummyYammy, in Norwich, VT creates dips made from northeastern grown sweet potatoes.   “I have worked for three years to develop my food company.” Johnson said in a recent interview, “The VFVC helped me launch my product from a crockpot in my kitchen to a business prepared for national distribution.” Packaging company representatives brought to the area by the VFVC have significantly reduced Johnson’s container costs  “I still have to put in long days of processing” said Johnson, “but thanks to the VFVC, I can efficiently turn out cases of product at a time.”

Carmella Ram, owner of the Magic Spoon Bakery in Hardwick, VT has operated a successful bakery from her second floor apartment for five years, but has outgrown her tiny space; she will be using the bakery at the VFVC to increase her production capacity, freeing up critical time for sales calls and distribution. Ram stated “I couldn’t grow any more in my space; the VFVC will let me increase the size of my company and offer more jobs to local people.” Like Johnson, Ram has utilized the diverse technical assistance offered through the VFVC. “I have learned about labeling and packaging that will help as my business expands” Ram said.
Heidi Krantz of the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) works with companies to grow and develop their businesses. Many of the food processors using the VFVC have accessed her services including Linda Fox of Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont, a manufacturer of “farm to bar” products for mixed drinks. “The VtSBDC has been such a help,” said Fox.  “:Heidi coached me on my business plan which allowed me to access grant funds for web site development.”

Annie Rowell of the VFVC is developing the processing capacity to make the VFVC a resource to all Vermonters by increasing the accessibility and year-round availability of local food.  Through minimal processing of local fruits and vegetables, the equipment and facilities at the VFVC can be used to bring more local produce into local markets, through both retail as well as farm to institution sales.

The VFVC is able to support recipe development and food safety procedures for food processors thanks to funding provided by the Vermont Agriculture Innovation Center. Dale Conoscenti, a research chef employed part time by the VFVC is available to processors using the facility to fine tune their use of ingredients, scale up production batches and develop quality control steps.

In addition to processing and technical assistance the VFVC rents dry storage, freezer, and cooler space to local businesses. Helm Notterman and his son Ben of Snug Valley Farm and the Frozen Butcher use freezer space to store their grass fed beef. “We are in a growth phase right now,” the elder Nottermann explained, “It is really helpful to rent freezer space while our business is expanding.”

Keener is overseeing the on-going development of the processing and storage capacity at the VFVC. “We are finishing up the final section of the building and can accommodate food product businesses that need to rent larger space on a long term basis.” The VFVC has a total of 2500 square feet that can be configured to accommodate flexible needs for potential clients. “At this point we can be creative in how the space is completed” Keener explained.

For more information or to arrange use of the facility,  contact George Keener at of 802-472-5362 ext 1.

Media Contact:
Elena Gustavson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vermont Farm Fund Emergency Loan now offering $10,000 loans

More details to follow, but farmers can now borrow as much as $10,000 at zero interest, payable over 2 years with flexible payment terms.

These loans are meant to help fill an immediate need that many are experiencing since Irene.

You can find out more on our website: Vermont Farm Fund

Our download an application here: Application

Contact Elena Gustavson at or at 802-472-5840 for more information or with questions.

Evening Song Farm - Cuttingsville, VT

“Stock the Pantry” is a success at the Vermont Food Venture Center

September 9, 2011, Hardwick, VT  Over Labor Day weekend, the Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC) gathered summer squash from local gardens  and shred them for area food pantries. The lightly processed vegetables allows pantries to stock fresh, nutrient rich food for their clients, especially through the winter months, while making use of excess produce in neighbors’ gardens. With the newly built facility, The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) can continue to support its Food Access programs by providing opportunities for processing through the Vermont Food Venture Center. The VFVC, along with volunteers, shredded, packaged, and froze 448 servings of summer squash. This food was distributed to the pantries in Morrisville, Johnson, and Woodbury, while all other donated vegetables were delivered to the Vermont Foodbank.  

The Center for an Agricultural Economy sees this event as the first of many to support their mission to increase access to local food.  “Collecting and lightly processing donated summer squash for pantries worked as a great way to initiate important relationships with the area food pantries that really are on the front lines of fighting hunger in our community,” said Annie Rowell, Program Associate at the VFVC responsible for coordinating the event.  Ms Rowell will continue to support Food Access and Security through her work with Farm-to-Institution and minimal processing at the VFVC, so that more locally grown food can be incorporated into the immediate community. 

“This event highlights one of the roles we envision the VFVC will play in the community – a center for fresh, local fruits and vegetables to be collected and redistributed back into the community in a ready to use form,” explained Monty Fischer, Executive Director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy.  Keeping local food affordable and of the highest nutritional quality is no small feat and the VFVC continues to develop and refine processes that make this goal a reality.

Media Contact:
Elena Gustavson