Author Archives: Mollie

11/20 Update: Telling the Stories of our Food

 In this update:
FromDirectorMessage from The Director

Dear Members & Friends:

In response to my last message, a long-time and staunchly loyal Rural Vermont member wrote back to me: “Too many words!” He had a point. Searching for brevity (let alone achieving it) is a constant quest for me – indeed for all of us at Rural Vermont. We have a lot of stories to share!

Our challenge is that we often work on issues that are complex and we’re often part of stories that have many chapters – indeed, some go on for years. That challenge is compounded by the fact that YOU, our audience, is diverse. You are farmers and customers, advocates and legislators, chefs and food producers, educators and students, long-time Vermonters and “wannabe” Vermonters… and you have different interests, points of view and frankly, attention spans.

So here is my short(er) message: Read on and follow the links below for lots of information and opportunities – I’m confident you will find something of value to you.

Also, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for this opportunity I have (however brief) to address this wonderful community of people who care about our farms and our food. Thanks!

Wishing you a bountiful holiday,

Andrea

P.S. Here is a poem I like to turn to at this time of the year:

BlackMarket

“Black Market Bounty” Storytelling & Potluck
THIS SUNDAY! November 24th, 6 – 8:30 pm
Unitarian Church, 130 Main St., MONTPELIER

All are welcome! FREE!
Donations appreciated and
please consider becoming a member of Rural Vermont


NOTE: Please bring a potluck dish to share and a place setting! 

Rural Vermont’s “Black Market Bounty” evening begins with a shared potluck meal highlighting Vermont’s abundant harvest, and continues with true stories about making, raising, accessing, selling, and sourcing the best food you CAN’T buy.

Why is it that many of Vermont’s traditional farm fresh foods are so hard to come by?
Photo courtesy of Local Banquet.

Following supper, you’ll will be entertained and intrigued by true stories about Vermont’s veritable underground railroad of farm fresh foods. The storyteller line-up includes diverse personalities and styles. The evening will be emceed by farmer & author Ben Hewitt.  These true stories will shed light on different aspects of Vermont’s thriving fresh food “black market.”

Some stories will be lighthearted and fun. Others will be serious and powerful. All will make you question why some of the highest quality foods being produced in Vermont are illegal to sell, and therefore banished to back alley transactions and late night covert deliveries, as described by one featured storyteller.

Want a taste?

“How does one cup of raw milk drive two people in love completely insane?”

“I’ve got a broken rib, an 8 1/2 month pregnant wife – perfect time to get a cow, right??”

“I’ve lassoed a 1200 pound steer and I’m holding the rope. Now what?”

Hungry for more? Check out the press release and website for more details. Join the Facebook event, and invite friends to do the same!
MilkAction

FARM FRESH MILK CAMPAIGN
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP NOW: 
If you produced raw milk at any time during 2013, please complete Rural Vermont’s 2013 Raw Milk Survey. This data (which is kept completely confidential) is essential for the preparation of our Annual Raw Milk Report to the Vermont Legislature which we will be presenting in early January. We need this year’s report to have the largest possible number of responses to help support our effort to pass a bill to improve the raw milk law.
You can complete the survey online, get a paper copy in the mail by contacting Rural Vermont Organizer, Robb Kidd or by calling the Rural Vermont office at 223-7222.
IMPORTANT: If you are a raw milk customer, please make sure your farmer completes the Raw Milk Survey!
 
If you would like to get involved in supporting our Farm Fresh Milk Campaign, there are lots of opportunities at the local level and at the State House – please contact Robb Kidd for more information.
FSMA

ONE LAST CHANCE TO TELL THE FDA: Fix FSMA!

Due to repeated problems with their online comment website, the FDA has extended the deadline for submitting comments on the two proposed FSMA rules to Fri. Nov. 22.

Thanks to Rep. Peter Welch for pressing the FDA to acknowledge that many people were prevented from submitting comments due to their comment website being unavailable numerous times in the past couple weeks.
(Seems to be a common problem these days!) 

If you farm or you eat, the FDA needs to hear from you
by Fri., Nov. 22.


Go to our website for links to information and assistance in submitting your comments.

Additional information is available through our friends at

In Farming Magazine, Vern Grubinger has written a very accessible and comprehensive analysis of the proposed FSMA rules and offers suggestions for alternative solutions.
Please contact Andrea Stander if you have questions or have any trouble accessing any of these materials.
Interns
Rural Vermont is Seeking Winter/Spring Interns
Come work with us!
Rural Vermont is seeking to fill
several internship positions for the winter/spring semester
(beginning in January or earlier)

Complete descriptions are available on our website.
For more info or to apply, email or call Mollie at the Rural Vermont office 802-223-7222.

“[The internship with Rural Vermont] was the first job where I was advocating for something I cared about, and it fostered an intense, self-growth that I do not think I could’ve gained elsewhere. After traveling all over the state, I have really increased my sense-of-place in Vermont, and with that increased awareness I think I figured out a lot about myself, my values, and what I care about. Going into the future, I know I want agriculture and education to be two major parts of my life, and without my experience this summer, I can’t say I would’ve found my way to where I am now.”

– Samantha Frawley, summer 2013 outreach intern

Interns are a crucial part of our team, especially during the Legislative Session.These positions are open until filled.

VolunteersVITAL NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS:

Do you have some time and skills to contribute? As we gear up for our upcoming fall events and the legislative session, Rural Vermont needs your help!

Contact Robb Kidd if you’re interested in helping out with any of the below, or if you’d like to be kept informed about future volunteer opportunities.

Upcoming Opportunities:

This week! “Black Market Bounty” invite calls: If you have a couple hours to make friendly phone calls inviting Montpelier area folks to Sunday night’s event, Rural Vermont will provide a call list and script. These calls can be made from our office or from your home

Sat, Nov 23, 10am-2pm at the Thanksgiving Farmers Market in Montpelier: Looking for one more person! 10-12 or 12-2 shift — hand out invites to shoppers and vendors for the “Black Market Bounty” Storytelling & Potluck event.

Rural Vermont could not accomplish nearly as much as we do without our incredible volunteers. Our staff and Board recognize that your time is valuable, and we’re grateful to everyone who can contribute in this way to support our work.

Thank You!
At its heart, Rural Vermont is a grassroots advocacy organization. That means our ability to get things done that you care about is directly tied to the number of members who support our work.

Our credibility and power comes directly from you – the people who share our values and our vision for a community-based food system that enables family farms to be economically viable and offers everyone access to locally-produced foods of their choice.

To make this vision a reality,
we need you.
 
THANKS!
P.S. If you THINK you’re already a member but aren’t 100% sure
(and just because you’re receiving this email does NOT necessarily mean you’re a member) please contact Mollie Wills to find out your membership status.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

CALL – (802) 223-7222
WRITE or VISIT: Rural Vermont, 15 Barre Street, Montpelier, Vt 05602

Our Strength is in Our Numbers

"Revelry"

“Revelry” by Shawn Braley

Help Rural Vermont Grow! Give a Gift Membership to someone you care about.

Recipients of Rural Vermont Gift Memberships come with a special card by VT artist Shawn Braley. More details here.


The Oregonian: Raw milk producer sues Oregon Department of Agriculture over advertising ban

11/19/13
By Lynne Terry
Full Article

An Oregon farmer filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday in a bid to overturn the state’s decades-old ban on the advertising of raw milk.

Christine Anderson, owner of Cast Iron Farm in McMinnville, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Portland, asking for a judgment that declares the ban a violation of free speech rights.

Oregon law forbids retail raw milk sales but allows farmers with a limited number of animals to sell unpasteurized milk directly to customers on-site. But the law bans any advertising, including website postings, fliers and emails.

Anderson says that ban infringes on her business.

“Raw milk is legal to sell but you can’t talk about it,” she said. “I work really hard, and I do a good job as a producer. I want to be able to talk about it. I would like to go about my small farm business without a lot of fear that what I’m doing can be construed as breaking the law.”

Katy Coba, director of the Department of Agriculture, is named in the suit as the sole defendant. She declined to comment.

Bruce Pokarney, the department’s spokesman, said agriculture officials did not enact the law but are responsible for enforcing it.

But he said raw milk is not a department priority.

“We haven’t gone out and looked for anybody who’s advertising raw milk,” Pokarney said. “But if we become aware of it … we’ll respond to somebody’s complaint.”

A complaint is exactly what led to the lawsuit, Anderson said. In August 2012, an Oregon Department of Agriculture inspector visited her farm over a complaint about a raw milk price list on her website. The inspector told Anderson that constituted advertising, which is banned under the law.

Anderson took it down. She later received a cease and desist order from the department, she said, telling her to stop selling raw milk cheese. Anderson said she doesn’t make cheese so that didn’t pose a problem for her. But she said the advertising ban means that she can’t put a sign in front of her property, indicating it’s a raw milk dairy, post fliers at local health food stores or promote her business at local fairs.

She said the ban hampers sales of the milk, which she sells for $14 a gallon.

The suit is backed by the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm headquartered in Virginia. The group also filed two other lawsuits on Tuesday, one over Florida’s ban on front yard vegetable gardens and another against Minnesota’s restrictions on small food producers, as part of a nationwide “food freedom initiative.”

Anderson is not trying to change the ban on retail raw milk sales in Oregon, enacted in 1999. Before that raw milk dairies were inspected by the Department of Agriculture. But Oregon law has long required small producers to only sell on-site while barring them from advertising, agriculture officials said.

The exemption allows small producers such as Anderson to have up to three cows, nine sheep and nine goats and sell raw milk on the farm. For decades, the law has banned small farms from advertising, agriculture officials said.

Under the law, a farmer who violates the ban is subject to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, $6,250 in fines and civil penalties up to $10,000, the lawsuit says.

The law aim to limit access to raw milk, widely considered by health officials to be a high-risk product.


McClatchy Washington Bureau: Hemp proponents hope to lift haze surrounding crop

By Rob Hotakainen
November 18, 2013
Full Article

WASHINGTON — Authorities arrested David Bronner when he locked himself in a steel-bar cage in front of the White House last year and began using a hand-powered press to extract fresh oil from 12 large hemp plants, which he planned to put on French bread and serve to passers-by.

Bronner, a California executive, says there’s no good reason that growing hemp – the non-intoxicating sister plant of marijuana – is still illegal in the U.S.

On Monday, he came back to Washington, joining a group of 50 citizen-lobbyists who urged Congress to lift the federal ban, saying it would allow more domestic hemp to be used in food, clothing, body-care products, construction materials, even auto parts.

“It’s time to grow hemp,” Bronner said. “I mean, it’s been a long and ridiculous situation.”

The issue gained traction in September, when California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow farmers in the state to grow hemp if the federal government lifts its ban. California joined nine other states with similar laws, but growers still never know if they’ll face federal prosecution.

“You have to be willing to bet the farm to find out,” said Tom Murphy, national outreach coordinator for a pro-legalization group called Vote Hemp.

Ryan Loflin, a Colorado farmer who joined the group at the Capitol, decided to take the risk, growing 60 acres of hemp and harvesting the crop last month. It was touted as the first acknowledged commercial hemp crop in the U.S. in more than 50 years.

“It’s a ridiculous policy, so I just challenged them on it,” Loflin said, adding that he so far hasn’t faced any threats of enforcement action.

Growers say the situation in the U.S. is complicated by the fact that it’s legal to buy and sell hemp products but not to grow and cultivate the crop. They’re out to sell legalization with economic arguments, saying the industry already has more than $500 million in annual retail sales.

Not everyone’s convinced, however.

“Hemp is the forgotten child of drug policy, and for good reason: I have never heard a solid rationale for legalizing something with such little demand,” said Kevin Sabet, the director of the University of Florida Drug Policy Institute and a former adviser on drug issues to Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Hemp backers say they’ll secure another big win if they can convince House of Representatives and Senate negotiators to include language in a new farm bill that would allow colleges and universities to grow hemp for academic and agricultural research.

Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, imports the plant from Canada and uses it in his line of natural soaps, saying it contains the popular omega-3 essential fatty acid and produces a smooth lather that’s less drying to the skin.

“It’s just a really good oil,” he said.

Bronner said “the most ridiculous part of the drug war” has been banning hemp at all, because it can’t be used for getting high. He said it never should never have been classified with marijuana as a controlled substance in the first place and that it now became “increasingly untenable” to maintain the hemp ban as states moved to legalize marijuana.

He and other hemp supporters said it was only a matter of time – perhaps a few years at most – before the federal government would give a green light to their industry.

“We’re just really excited,” Bronner said. “It’s been a long time coming.”


“Black Market Bounty” Success

Harvest Abundance at Rural Vermont Storytelling Event

Harvest Abundance at Rural Vermont’s Storytelling Event. Photo by Vanessa Emery.

Thank you to our storytellers and all who came out to enjoy Rural Vermont’s “Black Market Bounty” Storytelling and Potluck. The event was a great success. Check out more photos by Vanessa Emery on this page.


Storytelling Success!

Thank you to Vanessa Emery for taking photos at the event.

  • Full House

  • Storyteller Peter Burmeister

  • Storyteller Katie Spring

  • Storyteller Jonathan Falby

  • Storyteller Jacquelyn Rieke

  • Storyteller Heather Pipino

  • Storyteller George Schenk

  • Storyteller and Emcee Ben Hewitt

  • Harvest Abundance at Rural Vermont Storytelling Event

  • Ample Dessert


Thank You, Gift Membership Givers!

Thank you for helping us grow our number of grassroots supporters! Your Gift Membership will be processed shortly. Please call the Rural Vermont office at (802) 223-7222 with any questions.


Give the Gift of Membership!

At its heart, Rural Vermont is a grassroots advocacy organization. That means our ability to get things done that you care about is directly tied to the number of people we can count on as supporters of our work.

Can we count on you to help us grow?

Do you have a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor or local farmer who you think would like to be a Rural Vermont member? Invite them to join you by giving them a Gift Membership.

A Rural Vermont Gift Membership is delivered immediately in a beautiful, agriculturally-themed gift card by Vermont artist Shawn Braley. Choose your image from the selection below.

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Please provide the information below about yourself and the recipient of your Gift Membership. If you prefer, you can print the Gift Membership form and mail it to the address below with your contribution.

Rural Vermont
15 Barre St, Suite 2
Montpelier, VT 05602

If you have any questions, call Mollie at (802) 223-7222.

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11/20 Update: Join Us for Black Market Bounty!

Join us for “Black Market Bounty”
a Potluck and evening of Storytelling
Sun. Nov. 24, 6PM, Unitarian Church, Montpelier
 In this update:
FromDirectorMessage from The Director Dear Members & Friends:

In response to my last message, a long-time and staunchly loyal Rural Vermont member wrote back to me: “Too many words!” He had a point. Searching for brevity (let alone achieving it) is a constant quest for me – indeed for all of us at Rural Vermont. We have a lot of stories to share!

Our challenge is that we often work on issues that are complex and we’re often part of stories that have many chapters – indeed, some go on for years. That challenge is compounded by the fact that YOU, our audience, is diverse. You are farmers and customers, advocates and legislators, chefs and food producers, educators and students, long-time Vermonters and “wannabe” Vermonters… and you have different interests, points of view and frankly, attention spans.

So here is my short(er) message: Read on and follow the links below for lots of information and opportunities – I’m confident you will find something of value to you.

Also, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for this opportunity I have (however brief) to address this wonderful community of people who care about our farms and our food. Thanks!

Wishing you a bountiful holiday,

Andrea

P.S. Here is a poem I like to turn to at this time of the year:

BlackMarket

“Black Market Bounty” Storytelling & Potluck
THIS SUNDAY! November 24th, 6 – 8:30 pm
Unitarian Church, 130 Main St., MONTPELIER

All are welcome! FREE!
Donations appreciated and
please consider becoming a member of Rural Vermont


NOTE: Please bring a potluck dish to share and a place setting! 

Rural Vermont’s “Black Market Bounty” evening begins with a shared potluck meal highlighting Vermont’s abundant harvest, and continues with true stories about making, raising, accessing, selling, and sourcing the best food you CAN’T buy. 

Why is it that many of Vermont’s traditional farm fresh foods are so hard to come by?
Photo courtesy of Local Banquet.

Following supper, you’ll will be entertained and intrigued by true stories about Vermont’s veritable underground railroad of farm fresh foods. The storyteller line-up includes diverse personalities and styles. The evening will be emceed by farmer & author Ben Hewitt.  These true stories will shed light on different aspects of Vermont’s thriving fresh food “black market.”

Some stories will be lighthearted and fun. Others will be serious and powerful. All will make you question why some of the highest quality foods being produced in Vermont are illegal to sell, and therefore banished to back alley transactions and late night covert deliveries, as described by one featured storyteller.

Want a taste?

“How does one cup of raw milk drive two people in love completely insane?”

“I’ve got a broken rib, an 8 1/2 month pregnant wife – perfect time to get a cow, right??”

“I’ve lassoed a 1200 pound steer and I’m holding the rope. Now what?”

Hungry for more? Check out the press release and website for more details. Join the Facebook event, and invite friends to do the same!
MilkAction

FARM FRESH MILK CAMPAIGN
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP NOW: 
If you produced raw milk at any time during 2013, please complete Rural Vermont’s 2013 Raw Milk Survey. This data (which is kept completely confidential) is essential for the preparation of our Annual Raw Milk Report to the Vermont Legislature which we will be presenting in early January. We need this year’s report to have the largest possible number of responses to help support our effort to pass a bill to improve the raw milk law.
You can complete the survey online, get a paper copy in the mail by contacting Rural Vermont Organizer, Robb Kidd or by calling the Rural Vermont office at 223-7222.
IMPORTANT: If you are a raw milk customer, please make sure your farmer completes the Raw Milk Survey!
 
If you would like to get involved in supporting our Farm Fresh Milk Campaign, there are lots of opportunities at the local level and at the State House – please contact Robb Kidd for more information.
FSMA

ONE LAST CHANCE TO TELL THE FDA: Fix FSMA!

Due to repeated problems with their online comment website, the FDA has extended the deadline for submitting comments on the two proposed FSMA rules to Fri. Nov. 22.

Thanks to Rep. Peter Welch for pressing the FDA to acknowledge that many people were prevented from submitting comments due to their comment website being unavailable numerous times in the past couple weeks.
(Seems to be a common problem these days!) 

If you farm or you eat, the FDA needs to hear from you
by Fri., Nov. 22.


Go to our website for links to information and assistance in submitting your comments.

Additional information is available through our friends at

In Farming Magazine, Vern Grubinger has written a very accessible and comprehensive analysis of the proposed FSMA rules and offers suggestions for alternative solutions.
Please contact Andrea Stander if you have questions or have any trouble accessing any of these materials.
Interns
Rural Vermont is Seeking Winter/Spring Interns
Come work with us!
Rural Vermont is seeking to fill
several internship positions for the winter/spring semester
(beginning in January or earlier)

Complete descriptions are available on our website.
For more info or to apply, email or call Mollie at the Rural Vermont office 802-223-7222.

“[The internship with Rural Vermont] was the first job where I was advocating for something I cared about, and it fostered an intense, self-growth that I do not think I could’ve gained elsewhere. After traveling all over the state, I have really increased my sense-of-place in Vermont, and with that increased awareness I think I figured out a lot about myself, my values, and what I care about. Going into the future, I know I want agriculture and education to be two major parts of my life, and without my experience this summer, I can’t say I would’ve found my way to where I am now.”

– Samantha Frawley, summer 2013 outreach intern

Interns are a crucial part of our team, especially during the Legislative Session.These positions are open until filled.

VolunteersVITAL NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS:

Do you have some time and skills to contribute? As we gear up for our upcoming fall events and the legislative session, Rural Vermont needs your help!

Contact Robb Kidd if you’re interested in helping out with any of the below, or if you’d like to be kept informed about future volunteer opportunities.

Upcoming Opportunities:

This week! “Black Market Bounty” invite calls: If you have a couple hours to make friendly phone calls inviting Montpelier area folks to Sunday night’s event, Rural Vermont will provide a call list and script. These calls can be made from our office or from your home

Sat, Nov 23, 10am-2pm at the Thanksgiving Farmers Market in Montpelier: Looking for one more person! 10-12 or 12-2 shift — hand out invites to shoppers and vendors for the “Black Market Bounty” Storytelling & Potluck event.

Rural Vermont could not accomplish nearly as much as we do without our incredible volunteers. Our staff and Board recognize that your time is valuable, and we’re grateful to everyone who can contribute in this way to support our work.

Thank You!
At its heart, Rural Vermont is a grassroots advocacy organization. That means our ability to get things done that you care about is directly tied to the number of members who support our work.

Our credibility and power comes directly from you – the people who share our values and our vision for a community-based food system that enables family farms to be economically viable and offers everyone access to locally-produced foods of their choice.

To make this vision a reality,
we need you.
 

 THANKS!

P.S. If you THINK you’re already a member but aren’t 100% sure
(and just because you’re receiving this email does NOT necessarily mean you’re a member) please contact Mollie Wills to find out your membership status.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

CALL – (802) 223-7222
WRITE or VISIT: Rural Vermont, 15 Barre Street, Montpelier, Vt 05602