Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Letter from our Executive Director

Dear Friend of the CAE,

How much food could New England (and the greater Hardwick area) really produce? We hear a lot about the virtues of “eating locally,” “food security,” and a “regional food system,” but what might such a system really look like on the ground?

There is a bold, new food vision that calls for the region to build the capacity to produce up to 80% of clean, fair, just and accessible, Good Food for all New Englanders by 2060.

The Center for an Agricultural Economy not only believes it is possible to produce most of the food we need right here in our corner of Vermont, but we have been putting the pieces of this local food system together for most of this decade. That is why we are writing to ask you to make your annual gift to support the next steps of this work. Your tax-deductible gift of $25, $50, $100 or more will make you part of this work, too.

Here are a few reasons why we know you will want to make this part of your holiday giving. Last year your contributions, both large and small, helped the Center for an Agricultural Economy advance the local food system in the following ways and the goals for the coming year are equally as ambitious.

  • The Food Access Fund gave the Hardwick Area Food Pantry for over $5,000 to buy LOCAL food for their larder. Fresh bread, meat, dairy and vegetables from LOCAL producers went to area residents who are challenged to feed themselves and their families. Our goal is $7,000 to reseed the Fund for the coming year. 
  • When Irene wiped out the Hardwick Community Garden, we decided to relocate to Atkins Field and build again! We raised $2,000 in grants from the Vermont Community Garden Network and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, another $2500 of in-kind support through community volunteers and donated services, and we still have $5,000 to go to complete the project. The new gardens are in a more prominent and accessible location adjacent to the Farmers' Market, and here, 6 months before its scheduled opening date, 30% of the gardens are taken! The relocation of the gardens is an exciting and important initiative of CAE, and gives Atkins Field a newfound sense of vibrancy.
  • The Vermont Farm Fund has awarded over $125,000 in Emergency and Innovative Loans to 14 Vermont farmers and food producers, and 100% of our borrowers are already beginning to pay them back. In fact, many of them are paying back MORE than the agreed-to payment. Our goal is to have this revolving loan fund support 3 to 4 farmers each year with $5,000 to $10,000 zero or low-interest loans. 
  • The Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC) has incubated and supported over 70 small businesses since its opening in January 2012, and 20 producers are producing in our kitchens regularly. Products run the gamut - from natural syrups to organic baby food, yam dips to kimchee. In our first full year of operation and programing at the VFVC, we are humbled by the value and role this facility and program have in supporting the evolution of Vermont's food system, local economies and a diversified agriculture.
These are exciting times as this local food system renaissance unfolds. CAE is one of its leaders, not just in the 9 town area it calls home, nor just in Vermont, but throughout New England-New York it continues to be a source of inspiration, information and help to communities interested in supporting their local farmers, eating healthier food that in its growing protects our environment, revitalizing their local economies, and most important putting in place a system that will feed everyone.

Please join us and help advance this work in 2013. Send your gift today.

As the holiday season approaches, make a gift or a gift in a friend’s or family member’s honor.

Thank you very much, and eat well,

 R. Monty Fischer CAE Executive Director

 P.S. There’s never been a more important time to give than right now. We have many key projects in the works for 2013, and we truly need your support. Please consider a gift today.

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