Author Archives: Mollie

10/07 Cheddar & Manchego

Friday, October 7th/ 1-4 pm
Pine Meadow Farm, CORNWALL
$20-40 sliding scale, advance registration required

The class will cover the basics of hard cheese making, demonstrate the process for cheddar and manchego, and include recipes and info about making other types of hard cheeses. Folks can also expect a tour of Pine Meadow Farm and raw milk will be available for purchase from the farm, so that participants can bring it home and start practicing their new cheesemaking skills right away!

All Vermonters know and love cheddar, but for those who aren’t as familiar with manchego, it is a Spanish cheese with a firm and compact consistency and a buttery texture, and often contains small, unevenly-distributed air pockets. The cheese has a distinctive flavor; it is well developed but not too strong, creamy with a slight piquancy.

The fee for the course is $20-40 sliding scale, and all proceeds will benefit Rural Vermont. Pre-registration is required and space is limited, so be in touch today to reserve your spot! For more information or to sign up, give Rural Vermont a call at (802) 223-7222 or email

Pine Meadow Farm is a family-run dairy farm that is home to a small herd of Jersey cows. Dave Rising, along with his wife Sharon and son Sean, care for their girls like family. Their rich and creamy raw milk feeds 20-30 families in and around Addison County, and they’re welcoming new customers!

Lea Calderon-Guthe is a Middlebury College student with a sincere interest in the art and science of cheesemaking. She has trained with, and worked under, Cindy West of the renowned Hillsborough Cheese Company in Orange County, North Carolina. She loves sharing her passion for cheesemaking with Vermonters!

To sign up OR to host/teach a class, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email

Brattleboro Reformer: Plowed under

Full Article

GUILFORD — There was very little Paul Harlow could do last week as the muddy brown waters of the Connecticut River spilled over and flooded his fields following the torrential rains of Tropical Storm Irene.

Like just about everyone else, Harlow thought the worst was behind him when he awoke last Monday, the day after the storm.

But as he prepared for a day of harvesting, the water quickly rose and within hours rows and rows of produce that he had been cultivating all season were destroyed.

“We worked for an hour, throwing dirt up to try to stop the water but it was useless,” Harlow said Friday as he prepared to plow under a massive pile of ruined produce. “It came a lot faster than I thought it could.”

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture sent out an advisory late Friday telling farmers that any fruits or vegetables that came in contact with flood waters would have to be destroyed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is impossible to adequately clean produce after a field is flooded.

And even though Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross knows the flooding occurred at one of the busiest times of the state’s short growing season, he asked all farmers to abide by the directive to protect consumers.

“We understand this is a huge financial loss for our farmers,” Ross said Friday. “But in order to keep our food supply safe and ensure Vermont’s reputation for high quality, Vermont farmers are advised to follow this FDA guidance.

Harlow said he will have to get rid of about $250,000 worth of produce, about one-sixth of his annual sales.

September, he said, is his busiest time of the season at the farm stand, with local potatoes, peppers, carrots, cabbage and winter squash all overflowing out of baskets.

He said the reality is just starting to sink in.

“Walking around and looking at the fields, it really hit me how much we lost,” he said. “It’s really depressing when you think about it.”

He made it clear that any produce that did come into contact with flood waters was left, and over the following days he turned over thousands of dollars worth of organic vegetables.

The Agriculture Agency says assistance will be available and any farmers who suffered losses due to Tropical Storm Irene should contact their county Farm Services Agency.

The Vermont Economic Development Authority is also allocating up to $10 million in low interest loans to farms and businesses hurt by the floods.

Vern Grubinger, vegetable and berry specialist with University of Vermont Extension, said he has been hearing stories like Harlow’s from farmers all across the state.

Vegetable farms tend to be located on rich, bottom lands, along rivers, and all across Vermont farmers are reporting damage to their crops, machinery and fields.

So far, he said, losses are approaching $2 million.

Grubinger said in some of the most extreme cases, entire fields were washed away, and he said unlike previous floods or storms, Irene pounded the entire state.

But as bad as the flooding was for some, Grubinger said a majority of the farms in Vermont were spared the devastation, and there should be local produce available in the coming months.

“The good news is that most vegetable farms are located above the areas that were flooded,” he said. “In addition, the majority of farms that experienced flooding also have some fields that were not flooded. The result is that there is a lot of fresh, safe produce available.”

Grubinger stressed that consumers should trust any produce that is for sale.

Farmers across the state are in contact with UVM extension and are doing the right thing, as hard as it has been to trash their produce after a long season of hard work.

“Farmers understand what is at stake. Any farmer in Vermont will stand behind what he or she sells,” Grubinger said. “People should know they can buy produce with confidence. If you can’t trust a a farmer, then who can you trust?”

New York Times: Vermont Turns Out for Its Dairies as They Take Stock and Dig Out

By Michael Cooper
Full Article

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. — As soon as the news of the disaster at the Perley Farm began to spread — how the fast-rising waters of the White River had washed away nearly 200 bales of hay, flooded the farmhouse and then swept some of the cows down the river to their deaths — neighbors and strangers alike began arriving at the muddy barn here to offer help.

Some of the Perley Farm cows showed signs of their ordeal almost a week after the flood.

Agriculture students from Vermont Technical College showed up with shovels and began digging. A couple from Hartland, Vt., brought a wheelbarrow and mucked out the barn, and then returned a few days later with a homemade lasagna. A couple from New Hampshire brought grain to feed the surviving cows and wood shavings to line the barn.

“My husband and I, we’re people that give, you know — we’ve never had to be on the receiving end,” said Penny Severance, who runs the farm with her husband, Larry, for its owner, Harland Perley, 81, whose family has had it for a century. “So it’s really hard. We’re so grateful.”

“We had people that came down with shovels because there was no way out here,” she said, fighting back tears. “The road was totally cut off. And people walked in with shovels and were like, ‘We’re here, what can we do?’ Then we had the calf barn, the back where the heifers are, our silo room, our grain room was just full of muck. And they just cleaned it out for us.”

The flooding unleashed a week ago Sunday by the remnants of Hurricane Irene played havoc with farms across Vermont. Rushing waters left fields of silt-caked cornstalks matted down on their sides. Farmers are still checking to see what vegetables and flowers can be saved.

But for livestock farmers — especially the dairy farmers who are a symbol of Vermont — the toll has been more gut-wrenching, and the crisis has lasted longer, as they have struggled to take care of their animals.

With power out in many places, some dairy farmers could not operate the machines they use to milk their cows. Smaller farms relied on volunteers to milk them the old-fashioned way. Others got their hands on generators to run their machines. The cows needed to be milked, but with dairy pickups halted in many parts of the state because the roads were inaccessible, some farmers were forced to dump thousands of dollars worth of milk.

Then there was the emotional toll of losing animals.

Of the farm’s 65 cows, about two dozen are still missing.

Mr. Perley had only come back to the farm the night before with his nieces after a long trip to New Jersey, where he had visited relatives and had a pacemaker installed. “We didn’t expect that we’d be coming out in a boat, but we did,” he said in a telephone interview from New Jersey, where he returned after the flood.

The outpouring of help has moved Mr. Perley and the Severance family. Some heard about them through word of mouth. Others read about their plight in The Valley News. Others offered assistance after the farm asked for help on Vermont Public Radio and on a Web site called #VTResponse, which was created after the storm as a sort of Twitter-age version of the venerable Swopper’s Column in Yankee Magazine, connecting volunteers and supplies with the flood victims who needed them.

“We are in desperate need of 16% pellets for cows whose food will run out tonight,” read one post on the Web site. The next day, people arrived with feed for the cows.

As the Severances continued the cleanup on Friday, Tamara Burke, a sheep farmer from Mansfield, Vt., pulled up in her pickup truck (license plate: EWEHAUL) with wood shavings, new wire fencing and a gate.

“I know that there’s a tremendous amount of need,” said Ms. Burke, who had visited several farms. “Because people hadn’t brought their second-cut hay in, even if your barn escaped, your hay was on the ground. So we don’t have a whole lot of hay, and unfortunately we need hay.”

The days have been long for the Severances. “We’ve been working until about midnight every night here trying to do stuff and go home, and we’re up by 5 o’clock in the morning — and that’s late for us, because my husband, sometimes he’s down here at 3 o’clock in the morning on a normal day — and we start all over again,” Ms. Severance said.

“It’s been amazing, the support from the community we’ve gotten,” she said. “It really is. People are like, ‘What are you going to do?’ And I say, ‘What are we supposed to do, just throw our hands up and say the heck with it?’ This is our life. Of course we’ve got to keep farming.”

Reuters: Polish president vetoes bill allowing GMO seeds

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by James Jukwey
Full Article

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski on Wednesday vetoed a new legislation that would allow some genetically modified seeds in the country, saying it ran against European Union rules.

Poland currently forbids any GMO cultivation or sales on its soil and must align its legislation with the more lenient one of the EU after Warsaw lost a court case against Brussels on it.

But Komorowski said the bill was faulty after parliament changed the government’s original proposal significantly, finally approving a bill that still contradicted EU rules.

“If the parliament approves my veto, I will immediately propose a seeds bill that would not have the GMO element because we need a seeds bill,” Komorowski said, adding he knew of no proof that GMO food could be dangerous for human health.

At the same time individual farmers in Poland import modified animal feed for their animals, which formally is not illegal.

Flood Resources

NOFA’s flood resources webpage for information for farmers about how to deal with flooded vegetable farms, hay and corn fields, reporting damage, and seeking financial help.  Information for consumers about how to support their local farmers.

URGENT: Message from the Director


I hope this alert finds you well.  I have heard from many folks throughout Vermont who have been impacted by the floods and, on behalf of Rural Vermont, I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a speedy recovery.  While the pain is evident from the stream of photos we see, we at Rural Vermont have also been inspired by the willingness of Vermonters of all stripes to pitch-in and lend a helping hand.  This is exactly the type of community-based response that Vermont is known for, and we look forward to working with you to help our agricultural community rebound stronger than ever!

We’ve received many phone calls and emails detailing the devastation that Irene has brought to Vermont farms.  From destroyed farming equipment and machinery to the loss of crops, the flooding associated with Irene has been one of (if not the worst) natural disasters suffered by farmers in the history of Vermont.


  1. Go to your local farm and purchase whatever products are available-and if possible pay/donate extra.

Spending money at a local farm will help provide farmers with an important influx of funds while they deal with damaged crops, buildings, equipment or animals.

  1. Be on the look out for information about ways you can provide financial support to farms as they rebuild after the flooding.

Rural Vermont is working with organizations like the Vermont Community Foundation (See the sidebar) throughout Vermont

to develop a fund that will provide much needed financial support directly to farms that have been damaged by the flooding. We will keep you posted as this important effort continues.  Once it is up and running, please consider donating.

  1. Volunteer to be a part of a Rural Vermont Rapid Farm Response Brigade.

In light of the devastating impact the storm caused, one of the biggest things we can do is organize volunteers to help at farms throughout the state.  In the coming days and weeks, Rural Vermont will be organizing Rapid Farm Response Brigades in different regions of the State to provide bodies and boots to farms in need.

Be on the look out as we develop these brigades and PLEASE consider volunteering for one of them in your area as they get under way.  The “sweat equity” your volunteering can provide will make a tremendous difference in the success farmers have in dealing with the devastation.


Contact Rural Vermont and let us know if you could use volunteers from one of our volunteer brigades or to discuss other ways Rural Vermont may be able to help AND

Check out the links at the bottom of this email to officially report damage. To ensure that Vermont receives the full amount of federal assistance needed to restore our farming communities, it’s critical that damage be reported.



"Farmer to Farmer” Workshop Series Continues

Rural Vermont Hosts Final Farmer Workshop of Raw Milk Series:

Learn the Ins and Outs of Producing Raw Milk for Direct Sale

Rural Vermont wraps up its series “From Cow (and Goat) to Customer” with a final workshop on Saturday, September 17th from 11 am – 3 pm at New Village Farm, located at 700 Harbor Road in Shelburne. There is a suggested donation of $10 for Rural Vermont members and $20 for all else. Advance registration is not necessary, but preferred and appreciated – to sign up, call (802) 223-7222 or email

“From Cow (and Goat) to Customer” will illustrate the options available to those current and aspiring farmers considering the production and sale of raw milk. Participants can expect to learn about the regulations governing the sale of raw milk, and to see them in practice on a successful raw milk micro dairy, while learning about animal care and micro dairy management. At the end of the day, participants will debrief with a cold and refreshing glass of New Village raw milk and cookies donated by From the Ground Up Bakery.

This workshop will be useful for anyone considering raw milk sales as a profitable farm addition. The information presented will be applicable for goat, sheep, and cow dairies. Bring a brown bag lunch and lots of questions! Informational materials will be provided by Rural Vermont, including a detailed seller’s guide, outlining everything farmers need to know to sell raw milk within the confines of the law.

The New Village Farm setting will provide an opportunity to check out a successful microdairy and raw milk business, and see how they have incorporated the requirements of the new law by investing a limited amount of money and time. Farmer Michaela Ryan will share what she’s learned along the way, and will welcome questions about the farm and her raw milk endeavors.

For the last several years, Rural Vermont has been advocating for common-sense raw milk regulations that are sensitive to the small scale of farming here in Vermont. In July 2009, a new law went into effect that established a set of reasonable and basic standards that all raw milk sellers are expected to follow. There are a few additional requirements for those selling more than 50 quarts per day, and/or making home deliveries.

New Village Farm is a biodynamic learning farm that offers a practical skills-building education program. It is owned and operated by Michaela Ryan, and along with the help of local children and the community, New Village produces and sells raw milk, eggs, beef, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken. Animals are raised on pasture and organic feed, and all farm products are available at the farmstand. For more info, visit

Orlando Sentinel: Honey sales deregulated in Florida — a boon for backyard beekeepers


Small-scale honey producers no longer need permits, inspections
By Joseph Freeman, Orlando Sentinel
7:13 p.m. EDT, August 22, 2011
Full Article

For J.R. Denman, making honey over the past three years hasn’t been that sweet a deal. Denman, who works in technology, spends about $1,500 a year on the protective suits, new hives, lids and bottles that make up his sideline.

“Beekeeping is a money-losing proposition,” Denman said. “I can bottle all the honey I want, but I can’t sell it.”

That’s about to change. Florida’s Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it’s adding honey to its list of “cottage foods.” Small-scale beekeepers — those who have no more than $15,000 a year in sales — can now bottle and sell honey without getting permits and preparing it in a Department of Agriculture-inspected kitchen.

Making, selling and storing “cottage foods” in unlicensed home kitchens was approved earlier this year by state legislators. The list of products includes rolls, biscuits, fruit pies and trail mix.

The action will help backyard beekeepers whose costly hobbies haven’t been sustainable. Denman, for instance, said the new rule would let him make about $3,000 annually. It also could help consumers who want to buy local foods and are “a little bit more aware of organic food production,” said Jerry Hayes, chief of the apiary section for the Department of Agriculture. A pound of honey sold out of somebody’s house goes for about $5.

He explained that honey was added to the list of cottage foods because it doesn’t support the growth of bacteria and fungus: “They’ve found honey in the tombs of Egypt.”

Any cottage food product needs a label bearing the name and address of the seller, as well as ingredients. The label has to say that the item is made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations.

Because the law is aimed at hobbyists, adding honey won’t threaten larger-scale distributors. In some places, such as Winter Park, local governments have imposed their own regulations and still require permits for cottage foods to be sold.

What’s more, cottage food operators can’t hawk their products over the Internet or to local restaurants or grocery stores because “wholesale” transactions aren’t permitted. They must sell their products directly to the consumer at a roadside stand or at a market. And they intend to.

The whole endeavor can be time- and space-consuming. “My wife doesn’t like it,” he quipped — but not even the Legislature can help with that.


09/10 Food Sovereignty Workshop at the Growing Local Fest

2:00 to 7:00pm
Vermont College of Fine Arts Green in Montpelier.
Admission:  $10 Person; $20 Family; $5 Students/Senior

Participants of this workshop will be able to effectively communicate the importance of local Food Sovereignty with their community and be equipped with the procedures to address the issue at Town Meeting Day in 2012. Presented by Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd.



Act 62 (H. 125), as signed into law by the Governor

Read it here.