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.