Author Archives: Mollie

Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund: New Hampshire Does Right by Its Motto

By Peter Kennedy
8/15/12
Full Article

June was a great month for food freedom in New Hampshire–one in which the state did right by its motto, “live free or die”. Two different bills were signed into law which will potentially set a favorable precedent elsewhere for those producers selling raw milk and those consumers trying to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice.

RAW DAIRY PRODUCTS

On June 7 the state dairy code was amended to provide that “a milk producer-distributor who daily produces for sale less than 20 gallons of raw milk or processes less than 20 gallons of raw milk into cheese aged at least 60 days, yogurt, cream, butter, or kefir shall not require a milk producer-distributor license, provided these products are offered as direct sales from the producer-distributor’s own farm, farm stand, or at a farmers’ market to the food consumers within the state of New Hampshire only.”

The dairy amendment creates an opportunity for producers to increase their income by selling value-added products, something very few other states allow. It is difficult to see why states have not legalized the sale of raw dairy products other than milk and cheese aged 60 days because in the states where the sale of raw butter, cream and yogurt have been legal there are few, if any, cases of foodborne illness attributed to the consumption of these products. The sale of aged raw cheese is legal in every state but even small-scale cheese producers are subject to burdensome dairy plant requirements to be in compliance.

In addition to expanding the kinds of raw dairy products that can be sold, the bill also allows the sales to take place at farmers’ markets. Most states that have legalized the unlicensed sale of raw milk have limited sales to the farm, decreasing the producer’s potential customer base. The bill (HB 1402) is a significant step in opening up new markets for small-scale raw milk producers.

JURY NULLIFICATION AFFIRMED

The other important law enacted in New Hampshire in June has nothing directly to do with food rights but can still be a precedent that could substantially impact the right to obtain raw milk and other foods of choice. On June 18 a bill strengthening the jury’s power to engage in jury nullification was signed into law. The bill (HB 146) requires that “in all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the jury has the power to engage in jury nullification and acquit the defendant even if the law and the facts of the case point towards the defendant’s guilt; under the nullification power, the jury can acquit the defendant if it believes the law is unjust as applied to the facts of the case. The trouble with jury nullification is that in most juries the jurors don’t even realize they have the power to exercise it. Courts have consistently rejected the right of defendant’s counsel to inform the jury of its power to engage in nullification, leaving juries in the dark on a power every juror should know about.

JURY NULLIFICATION & FOOD RIGHTS

The importance of jury nullification to raw milk and other food rights issues is that judges in this country have refused to recognize that there is a fundamental right to obtain the foods of choice, that there is a difference between public and private distribution of food, and that people have the right to waive the protection of the public health laws. Further, the courts have indicated that if raw milk producers and consumers don’t like their rulings, they need to convince the legislature to change the law.

This article originally appeared in the August-September 2012 edition of Graze Magazine. Those interested in learning more about Graze may go to www.grazeonline.com or call 608-455-3311.


Rural Vermont and RAFFL present “Getting to Know Farm Fresh Poultry”

Cooking Class & Picnic Potluck on August 26th at Pine Hollow Farm
Contact Person: Shelby Girard (802) 223-7222, shelby@ruralvermont.org

Pine Hollow Farm’s happy, healthy Freedom Ranger pastured poultry. Photo credit: Robin Gordon Taft.

Rural Vermont and RAFFL present “Getting to Know Farm Fresh Poultry”:

Cooking Class & Picnic Potluck on August 26th at Pine Hollow Farm, NORTH CLARENDON

see www.ruralvermont.org for directions. do NOT use GPS or online mapping – you’ll get lost.

This Sunday August 26th, Rural Vermont partners with the Rutland Area Farm & Food Link (RAFFL) to host “Getting to Know Farm Fresh Poultry” with two back-to-back events at Pine Hollow Farm in North Clarendon. Pastured poultry will be the focus and featured menu item at each event, with a “Learn to Cut, Cook, and Extend Chicken” class from 1-4 pm, followed by a FREE “Poultry Picnic Dinner” from 6-8 pm. These events are sponsored by the Ludlow Farmers’ Market.

Learn to Cut, Cook, and Extend Chicken”

From 1–4 pm, Rural Vermont will host a traditional cooking class “Cut, Cook, and Extend Poultry”, led by farmer home-chef Scott Gordon where a small group of folks will learn how to break down a whole raw bird into pieces and parts, and then cook it using a variety of methods and tantalizing recipes.

This will be a hands-on class and every participant will have the opportunity to break down a bird and be introduced to what chef Scott considers to be a crucial step in the preparation of pastured poultry – brining! Together, the class will make Thai barbeque chicken, oven baked chicken, and roasted chicken using an outdoor cooker, oven, and stove top. There will also be a conversation and demonstration about how to extend your poultry purchase with leftovers – stock, soup, and arroz con pollo.

The class fee is $20 – 40 sliding scale, and proceeds benefit Rural Vermont. Pre-registration is required, class size is limited, and this class is sure to sell out! Reserve your spot today!

FREE “Poultry Picnic Dinner

Following the cooking class, Pine Hollow Farm will host a “Poultry Picnic Dinner” from 6–8 pm. All the chicken prepared by Scott Gordon and class participants throughout the day will be the main attraction of the evening’s spread. Never had brined chicken? What about Thai barbeque or arroz con pollo? Or free-roaming, farm-slaughtered chicken? There’s no better way to get to know pastured poultry than to eat it! In the words of local Shrewsbury resident Lindsay Arbuckle, “Pine Hollow’s chicken was one of the best I’ve had–juicy and full of delicious flavor. Simply brine, roast, and eat! YUM!”

Join Rural Vermont and RAFFL for “meat & greet”, music, and fun! Bring your favorite dish if you can, as well as friends and neighbors. The farm is located in North Clarendon, VT and directions are available at www.ruralvermont.org. The picnic is family-friendly, rain or shine, and free (donations welcomed).

Come to one event, or come to both! To sign up for the cooking class (required) or to RSVP for the potluck (optional, but appreciated), call Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

Pine Hollow Poultry raises “happy birds for healthy people” – primarily chicken, but also ducks and turkeys. After having raised and processed birds for themselves for five years, Scott Gordon and Robin Gordon Taft decided to make their delicious birds available to the community. They raise heritage Freedom Rangers exclusively, they pride themselves on feeding natural and locally-sourced fed, allowing freedom to roam on pasture, and using humane practices for butchering. After twelve years in North Clarendon, they continue to spend their spare (?!) time beautifying the farm and tending their birds…and also eating them!


Drug War Chronicle: New Hemp Bill Introduced in US Senate

by Phillip Smith
August 07, 2012
Full Article

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The bill, if passed, would get around the DEA’s refusal to differentiate hemp from marijuana and could result in American farmers being allowed to grow the industrial crop.

The bill, Senate Bill 3501, was introduced last week by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and cosponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). It would amend the Controlled Substances Act to make clear that hemp is not a drug, even though it is part of the cannabis family. Hemp has much lower levels of THC than marijuana grown for recreational or medicinal purposes.

The bill marks Wyden’s second attempt this year to get hemp delisted. He tried to offer an amendment to the farm bill the Senate passed in June to do just that, but the Senate leadership ruled the amendment was not germane.

“I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it resembles an illegal one,” Wyden said. “Raising this issue has sparked a growing awareness of exactly how ridiculous the US’s ban on industrial hemp is. I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and Members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near future.”

Meanwhile, another hemp bill, House Resolution 1831, which would also clarify that hemp is not marijuana for the purposes of the Controlled Substances Act, languishes in the Republican-controlled House.


Sanders’ co-sponsors the Senate Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Aug. 3, 2012
Contact: Robb Kidd, (802) 223-7222,robb@ruralvermont.org

On Thursday Aug. 2nd, Senator Ron Wyden-D of Oregon introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S 3501, to the United State’s Senate, a companion to the House’s H.R. 1831. Rural Vermont is delighted that Senator Sanders is an original co-sponsor of S 3501, which will allow Vermont’s family farmers the opportunity to cultivate hemp once again.

The bill simply excludes industrial hemp from the definitionof marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. It will allow states that have already passed industrial hemp laws to regulate hemp as defined by their state laws. With strong grassroots advocacy, Vermont passed an Industrial Hemp bill in 2008, so this national bill will pave the way for Vermont farmers to begin growing this versatile and profitable crop. This past spring the Vermont legislature passed legislation that reaffirmed Vermont’s commitment to hemp and authorizedthe Vermont Agency of Agriculture to start the rule-making process. Once this federal legislation is enacted Vermont farmers will be at the front of the line to take advantage of this economic opportunity.

“We are very pleased that Senator Sanders is a co-sponsor of S 3501, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. De-regulation of hemp is about giving Vermont farmers and businesses every opportunity to succeed,” said Robb Kidd, Rural Vermont organizer. “Our experience is that once a person is educated about hemp, they immediately become a supporter, no matter what their political persuasion. Rural Vermont applauds Senator Sanders commitment in creating economic opportunities for Vermont family farmers to cultivate hemp.”

Hemp’s diverse uses make it a very versatile and lucrative crop. Hemp can be used for food, fuel, fiber, animal bedding and feed, and building materials. Netaka White of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund estimates that a Vermont farmer could potentially receive an additional three-thousand dollars an acre in needed revenue. Farmer Ken Van Hazinga, of Tio Grain Farm in Shoreham, says “the seeds are potentially useful for oil, but also a very good source for a high protein animal feed. With the current price of soybeans approaching $900 a ton, it basically is becoming unfavorable for a farmer to survive. Potentially this canbe an alternative to soy.” Hemp has played an important role in the fabric of American and Vermont history, so with farmers and grassroots activists, Rural Vermont is advocating for an end to its prohibition.


08/02 Senate Hemp Bill Introduced, Road Trips & Raffle

Message

Dear Members and Friends:

Since my last road report I’ve had the chance to visit some more gorgeous parts of Vermont and more deeply committed farmers and activists. I’m proud to drive my mud-caked car around Montpelier because mud means there’s been some rain and rain is what everyone who grows food needs. More mud please!

I was delighted to visit the Clark family, who operate Applecheek Farm in Hyde Park, to talk about creative ways they can expand their educational and public outreach programs to increase the economic viability and long term impact of their farm. If you haven’t been there, please check them out.

That same day I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with Theresa Snow, Director of Salvation Farms, and got a great update on how what started as a basic gleaning program has expanded to become a comprehensive agricultural resource management organization. Theresa has a wonderful blog that provides lots of updates on their new initiatives and partnerships.

On Sunday July 22, with our terrific summer intern Emma Paradis navigating, we made a gorgeous late afternoon trek up to Flack Family Farm in Fairfield for Rural Vermont’s celebration of our 50th Dairy Class, and a tasty Raw Milk Ice Cream Social. You can read all about it in an essay by activist Katie Spring.

My most recent trip took me to Addison County where I visited with one of our newest Board Members, Rachel Schattman. Rachel recently moved Bella Farm to Monkton, where she has expanded from culinary herbs to vegetables and products like delicious pesto.  You can learn more about this farm in an article in the current issue of Edible Green Mountains. (The road to Rachel’s is where my car acquired its lovely coating of mud.)

On the same showery day, I had the chance to spend some time with Adam Wilson, co-owner with Corie Pierce of Bread & Butter Farm, and his raw dairy manager Stephanie Eiring who gave me a personal tour of their milking parlor and introduced me to their small herd. Adam and Stephanie shared both the success and the ongoing challenges of being a Tier 1 Raw Dairy producer.  They contributed some valuable information for Rural Vermont’s ongoing campaign to expand access to farm fresh milk.

I’m chaining myself to my desk for the next couple weeks to focus on much needed fundraising for our fall programs and events, but stay tuned for more road reports later in August.

AndreaP.S. If you would like to help support Rural Vermont’s work, please consider joining or renewing your membership now or making a special gift today. THANKS!

hemp

Sen. Sanders Co-Sponsors Senate Industrial Hemp Bill

Rural Vermont is excited to announce that Vermont’s Senator Bernard Sanders joined Senator Wyden of Oregon, Senator Merkley of Oregon and Senator Paul of Kentucky in introducing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, Senate bill 3501. The Senate bill is a companion to Representative Ron Paul’s House Bill, H.R. 1831, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, which Vermont Congressman Peter Welch cosponsored last September. Rural Vermont is looking forward to working with Vermont’s congressional delegation to once again allow Vermont farmers to grow industrial hemp.

The bill simply excludes industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. It will allow states that have already passed industrial hemp laws to regulate hemp as defined by their state laws. With your strong grassroots advocacy, Vermont passed an Industrial Hemp bill in 2008, so this national bill will pave the way for Vermont farmers to begin growing this versatile and profitable crop once again.

You can find more information on Rural Vermont’s Hemp Campaign on our website.

Please email or call Senator Sanders with a personal message of thanks for his support, and please call Senator Leahy to encourage him to sign up as a cosponsor of S. 3501 too.

Senator Bernard Sanders                     Senator Leahy

332 Dirksen Building                           437 Russell Senate Bldg

United States Senate                            United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510                       Washington, D.C. 20510

(800)-339-9834                                     (800)-642-3193

Web form for Sen. Sanders             Web form for Sen. Leahy

Also, as Congress is about to embark on their summer recess, please be sure to talk with all members of our federal delegation throughout their travels back home in Vermont to share your concerns and appreciation for their work.

Raffle

RURAL VERMONT’S
FARM FRESH SUMMER RAFFLE
Get your tickets now!
Rural Vermont’s Summer Raffle is in full swing! Whether you like to read about, cook, or just eat good food, this raffle is for you! Each $5 ticket enters you to win one of the following prizes: (You can also get 5 Raffle Tickets for just $20)>> Farm Fresh Book Duo – “Real Food” bibles Nourishing Traditions and the River Cottage Meat Book

>> Farm Fresh Cooking – Two spots in a Rural Vermont dairy or meat cooking class plus a handmade cutting board by Craig Bunten and cheesemaking goodies

>> Farm Fresh Fare – A $75 gift certificate for the farm or farmers’ market of your choice!

All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont programs supporting family farms. Get the details and download your tickets here.

Events
SUMMER EVENTS
:

Dairy Classes:
 Last Thursday, a lively bunch of 18 cheese enthusiasts gathered at New Village Farm in Shelburne to learn how to make paneer, ricotta, mozzarella, and yogurt. Some participants traveled from as far as Rutland County and Montreal for this special event! Farmer Michaela Ryan and gourmand Lisa Boisvert-McKenzie led the class through cheesemaking basics and then served up samples of paneer with curry, ricotta with roasted apricots, and mozzarella with bruschetta. After that heavenly smorgasbord, class participants cleaned out New Village’s fridge and headed for home to cook up some cheese of their own!  Thank you to Robbie Stanley for documenting the afternoon in photos:
       boy draining cheese  
Does this pique your interest? Want to get in on an upcoming class? Next up is Gelatto in Calais and Goat Cheese in Sudbury. Stay tuned for dates and details!
Getting to Know Farm Fresh Poultry: Cooking Class followed by a FREE Chicken Picnic Dinner!
Sunday, August 26
Pine Hollow Farm, 102 Rte 7B South, NORTH CLARENDON

1-4 pm: How to Cut, Cook, and Extend Poultry w/ Scott Gordon
$20 – $40 sliding scale – advance reg required
6-8 pm: Meat & Greet CHICKEN Dinner! Free!

To register for the cooking class or RSVP for the dinner, email Shelby or call (802) 223-7222.
SAVE THE DATE – 2012 Tour de Farms – 5th Anniversary!
This one-day bicycle and walking tour of farms and food producers is a collaborative fundraiser for Rural Vermont , Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, and ACORN.New this year! 5 mile walking route, Storywalk stories at several farms, lower price for teens, more farms & stops, a video contest, and more!
Sunday, September 16th
Routes start from the Shoreham Green, Shoreham, VT

Registration NOW OPEN through September 10th at 5pm

More info online here!
Volunteer

SHARE IN THE FUN:
VOLUNTEERING FOR A MISSION!
As a grassroots organization, one of Rural Vermont’s greatest assets is our talented, committed and generous team of volunteers.  Throughout the year, we need help with a variety of projects. Please consider volunteering with Rural Vermont to help with our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaigns!

Current Volunteer Opportunities:   

Writers – There are dozens of cool events that Rural Vermont hosts or attends each year. Can you lend a hand in documenting these events?  Also, we are looking to recruit a few people to help us interview and profile participating farmers at this year’s Tour de Farms.

Tour de Farms Posters - Help us spread the word about this fun event. Can you put up a poster in your community? We want posters displayed in all corners and valleys in the state.

Upcoming Event Support - Can you help out at the 5th annual Tour de Farms, September 16, or staff the Rural Vermont booth at the World Famous Tunbridge Fair, September 13-16 ? A three hour shift  at the Tunbridge Fair will get you free admission.

Email Robb, or call 802-223-7222 to get involved today, or tell us about other ways you’d like to help out.

THANKS!

Join
HELP US GROW TO SUPPORT OUR FARMERS

At its heart, Rural Vermont is a grassroots advocacy organization.

Our soul is you – the people who share our values and our vision for a community-based food system that allows small family farms to be economically viable and offers everyone access to healthy, locally produced food.

To make this vision a reality, we need lots of people to join us so we have the credibility and the resources to accomplish our goals!

BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

THANKS!


Food Consumer: “Monsanto Rider” Snuck into 2012 Farm Bill Includes Big Giveaways and Reduces Oversight

8/2/12
From Institute for Responsible Technology
Full Article

Intense lobbying on Capitol Hill by agriculture giants seems to have paid off in the form of exemptions, giveaways and deregulations included in the Farm Bill approved by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. A provision, widely deemed the “Monsanto Rider,” deconstructs the already insufficient regulations restricting new genetically engineered crops while creating new environmental loopholes and reducing the time frame the USDA has to study and approve applications for new GMOs. Another rider also disables the ability of courts to stop the introduction or sale of GMOs, while the appeal process is underway. This amendment to override the courts’ jurisdiction demonstrates the outrageous extent of Monsanto’s influence – they seek to disable the US balance of powers between the three branches of government, tipping the scales in favor of GMOs at any cost.

The Senate passed its own version of the Farm Bill and should the House bill pass as proposed, the two legislative bodies would have to reconcile differences in language. In the meantime, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) has introduced an amendment to kill the rider with support from groups such as the Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety and the Alliance for Natural Health USA.


Hill Country Observer: Vermont labeling law stalls as attention shifts to California

By Tracy Frisch
June 2012
Full article (pdf)

On an April weeknight in Montpelier, the Vermont House Agriculture Committee held a public hearing on a bill to require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. To the surprise of even the bill’s supporters, more than 400 people showed up. “Nobody was prepared for the amount of public support and the passion of that support,” said Andrea Stander, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Rural Vermont, one of the organizers of a statewide coalition supporting labeling. “Even we were overwhelmed by how many people turned out.
… Many legislators said they had not seen so much interest and so many people on any other issue since the civil union law.”

That evening, 112 people testified. Not one spoke against the bill, though some faulted it for not going far enough. The committee ultimately voted 9-1 to advance the bill. But the issue never came to a floor vote in the full House. In the second year of the biennial legislative session, time was running out. The bill’s progress stalled in the face of concerns by some legislators and Gov. Peter Shumlin that the state might not be able to defend itself against a threatened lawsuit by biotechnology companies
opposed to the labeling law. “Vermont has gone head to head with some very large corporations and lost, so there’s a high degree of sensitivity,” Stander explained. In the past few years, the state has lost highprofile legal cases involving its attempts to
regulate campaign contributions, marketing bypharmaceutical companies and the relicensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Dissatisfaction over the court losses has helped to fuel a Democratic primary challenge to the incumbent state attorney general, William Sorrell, this year. But fears of a court battle seem unlikely to quiet the coalition of consumer groups, organic farmers and others who favor labeling of genetically engineered foods. This year’s lobbying effort in Montpelier included a busload of activists who traveled to the capital city from Rutland, organized by a local organic farmer. In a new wave of activism sweeping the nation, Vermont was one of as many as 20 states in which citizens pushed for labeling legislation this year.

At the national level, the Just Label It campaign delivered more than 1 million signatures to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, calling on the agency to require labeling of genetically altered foods. And in California, activists have collected
nearly a million signatures, far exceeding the number required, to put the labeling issue to a statewide vote in November. Opponents of the ballot question — biotech corporations, food manufacturers and large-scale farming operations – are expected to spend heavily in an effort to defeat it. Public opinion is strongly in favor of labeling, however. A national CBS/New York Times poll in 2008 found that 87 percent of people favored labeling of genetically engineered foods, while a
poll conducted in March by the Mellman Group found 91 percent favored labeling.
About 50 other countries, including most of the nations in Europe, require labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.


Capital Press: First cottage food permit goes to law’s prime mover

July 24, 2012
By STEVE BROWN

OLYMPIA — Felicia Hill first came to the state Capitol to urge legislators to permit home cooks to sell products made in their own kitchens.

When she came to Olympia on July 23, it was to receive the first state-issued permit.

In an ceremony at the Natural Resources Building, WSDA Director Dan Newhouse presented Permit No. 00001 to the self-described “stay-at-home mom” from Vancouver.

In the process of pursuing her dream, Hill became the leader of the cottage food movement in the state. Her Facebook page — Washington State Cottage Food — has nearly 700 followers.

In a conversation with Kirk Robinson, assistant director for WSDA’s Food Safety and Consumer Services Division, Hill said, “I told him, when I started this it was to help myself. But as I realized how many people I’m reaching, it’s quite empowering.”

Hill’s cake design business, FH Cakes, had been limited by state laws requiring that food prepared for sale must be processed in a commercial kitchen. She testified before legislative committees that small home business operators should be able to use their kitchens.

“I’m forced to put my children in daycare,” she told them. “(If SB5748 is enacted) I will be able to provide an income for my family and care for my two children.”

She has two sons, ages 4 and 6, one of whom is allergic to peanuts, which is what got her into specialty cooking to begin with.

Hill’s cake recipes, in 12 different flavors, include peanut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free options. Each separate recipe had to be approved by state inspectors.

The required home inspection “went really quick,” she said. “They used me as a guinea pig, and it gave them the opportunity to see what works and didn’t.”

The Facebook connection is just a starting place, she said. “My intent is to let this run for one full calendar year. I’ll start rallying supporters and present hard evidence to legislators” about how much the cottage cooks could have made with more food products approved and a higher limit on gross sales.

That limit is now $15,000 a year. The approved product list includes breads, cakes, cookies, granola, nuts, jams and jellies and other low-risk products.

It took almost exactly one year to put the legislation into action, WSDA public information officer Mike Louisell said. The Cottage Food Act, modeled after a Michigan law, went into effect July 22, 2011, but before the agency could implement the legislation, it had to write the rules.

Louisell said 17 have applied for permits, and “We’ve heard interest expressed by about 250.”

WSDA will inspect the kitchens annually. Operations must meet sanitary standards, and operators must have a food worker card from the local health department.

WSDA estimates the cost of meeting all requirements should range from $230 to $290 a year.


5th Annual Tour de Farms Offers Great Food, Fun and Bicycling!

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 25th

Contact person:  Shelby Girard, shelby@ruralvermont.org, (802) 223-7222

Advance Registration Opens August 1st

Bicyclists eagerly sample an array of ripe tomatoes at the Golden Russet Farm during the 2011 Tour de Farms (Photo courtesy of Jerry Lasky)

Shoreham, VT–Fantastic foods, amazing bicycling, and spectacular scenery are in store for all those who participate in the 5th Annual Tour de Farms!  Scheduled for Sunday, September 16 in Shoreham, VT, the Tour de Farms offers three loop rides (approx. 10, 25 and 30 miles) and a family-friendly five-mile walking or biking option . At frequent designated stops, family farmers will treat bicyclists and walkers to tasty samples of local foods such as apple cider, quiche, bread, roasted vegetables, yogurt, wine, maple syrup, and cookies.    Because the event is a tour and not a race, the pace is low key, allowing ample time to chat with farmers and relax with friends in the beautiful Champlain Valley.  This year’s Tour is sponsored by Earl’s Cyclery & Fitness, City Market, Healthy Living, Cabot Creamery, the Lodge at Otter Creek, Vermont Sun,and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. The Tour attracts approximately 600 bicyclists from Vermont, northeastern states, and Canada.

The Tour de Farms is co-organized by the Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), Rural Vermont, and the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and is a fundraiser for all three nonprofit groups.  Each year, the tour is enhanced by the addition of new features, such as NOFA-VT’s wood-fired pizza for sale and a stop at a quirky art gallery.  This year’s Tour will offer a handful of new farmers and food producers and three StoryWalk® choices for young children.  StoryWalk® offers the opportunity to read great children’s books while walking in beautiful, natural settings.  There is also a competition open to all who wish to make a short film about the 2012 Tour de Farms.  More details coming soon.

Participants can expect to sample from B Vineyard, Champlain Orchards, Danz Ahn Farm, Doolittle Farm, Golden Russet Farm, Lemon Fair Honeyworks, Millborne Farm, Misty Knoll Farms, Neshobe Farm, North Branch Farm & Gardens, Singing Cedars Farmstead, Solar Haven Farm, Stonewood Farm, Sunrise Gardens Greenhouse, Sylvan Shade Farm, Vermont Trade Winds Farm, Windfall Orchard, and the restaurant Tourterelle.

If you’re not interested in riding, but want to be involved, consider volunteering! Volunteers are needed to assist with various aspects of the Tour de Farms, including registration, parking, farmers’ helpers, photography, crowd control, and ride marshalling. In return for a three-hour time commitment, volunteers will receive a free Tour de Farms t-shirt. Those who get in touch early are more likely to secure assignments of personal interest.

At noon on September 16, Shoreham will kick off an AppleFest on the town green, complete with continuous live music, crafts, and a farmers’ market featuring a variety of delicious items for sale.  AppleFest continues until 5:00 pm and all proceeds benefit the Platt Memorial Library in Shoreham.

Advance registration fees for the Tour de Farms are:  $28 for adults and $13 for kids 16 and under.  Day-of registration fees are $50 for adults and $20 for kids 16 and under.  Children in trailers and bike seats ride free and don’t need to be registered.  Registration opens on August 1 at www.ruralvermont.org.  All routes begin and end at the Shoreham Town Green.  The 30-mile riders depart at 10:30 am, the 25-mile riders depart at 11:00 am, and the 10-mile riders depart at 11:30 am.  For more information, contact the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, www.vtbikeped.org (802) 225-8904 or Rural Vermont, www.ruralvermont.org (802) 223-7222.

Rural Vermont is a non-profit advocacy group founded in 1985.  For more than 25 years, Rural Vermont has been advancing economic justice for Vermont farmers through advocacy and education. For more info, call (802) 223-7222 or visit www.ruralvermont.org.

ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network) is a non-profit community network based in Middlebury whose mission is to revitalize our local economy to help our communities provide sustainable sources of food, water, energy, employment, and other essential resources, and to promote conservation and a healthy environment. For more information, please visit: www.acornvt.org

The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition is a nonprofit organization that works, through education and advocacy, to transform Vermont into a truly bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly state for residents and visitors alike. For more info, call (802) 225-8904 or visit www.vtbikeped.org.


A Hot Summer Night and Cool Raw Milk Ice Cream

Celebratory Ice Cream Social Recap
By Katie Spring

Rural Vermont’s 50th raw milk processing class at Flack Family Farm was a sold-out success!  Seventeen participants were guided by four experienced teachers as they learned how to make raw-milk ice cream, soft cheese, cultured milk, and yogurt on Sunday afternoon. 

Many newcomers to dairy-processing left feeling inspired by the simple cheese and yogurt recipes, and excited to take home their new skills.  Despite the muggy summer heat, the group made a multitude of ice cream flavors, including blueberry-honey, strawberry, mint, and vanilla, which were scooped out later that evening during the free ice cream social.  Over 60 people came to celebrate with us as we spent the evening listening to live music by the Missisquoi River Band and going back for seconds and thirds of delicious homemade ice cream.

Doug Flack, owner of Flack Family Farm and the host of the whole event, spoke about the need to look seriously at our food system and return to living foods that create health versus industrially processed foods that are correlated with increased illnesses.  As he spoke, he pointed to an illustrated timeline he created depicting the correlation between the rise of the industrialized food system and our declining health.  Rural Vermont’s raw-dairy processing classes are one way to step closer to a more healthful system while strengthening community at the same time.  Indeed, as everyone stood with bowls in hand, they could feel good not only about the ice cream they were eating, but also about the cows that produced the milk and the teachers and students who came together to create a delicious summer treat.

The event stretched well past the 8:30 end time as people enjoyed the cooler evening talking, playing Rural Vermont’s trivia game, and listening to more music provided by Cosmic Bakery owner Mike McCarthy and friends.   Everyone had a great time celebrating good food and strong community at Rural Vermont’s 50th raw milk processing class and Ice Cream Social.