Author Archives: Mollie

Organic Common Sense: Anonymous Takes Down Monsanto.com

1/21/2012
Full Article and Video

In a thread of hack events from the Anonymous group, the most recent target has been Monsanto.com. Anonymous, which briefly knocked the FBI and Justice Department websites offline as well as Music Industry websites in retaliation for the US shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload, is a shadowy group of international hackers.

Anonymous Message To Monsanto: We fight for farmers! – Video Transcript
To the free-thinking citizens of the world: Anonymous stands with the farmers and food organizations denouncing the practices of Monsanto We applaud the bravery of the organizations and citizens who are standing up to Monsanto, and we stand united with you against this oppressive corporate abuse. Monsanto is contaminating the world with chemicals and genetically modified food crops for profit while claiming to feed the hungry and protect the environment. Anonymous is everyone, Anyone who can not stand for injustice and decides to do something about it, We are all over the Earth and here to stay.

To Monsanto, we demand you STOP the following:

  • Contaminating the global food chain with GMO’s.
  • Intimidating small farmers with bullying and lawsuits.
  • Propagating the use of destructive pesticides and herbicides across the globe.
  • Using “Terminator Technology”, which renders plants sterile.
  • Attempting to hijack UN climate change negotiations for your own fiscal benefit.
  • Reducing farmland to desert through monoculture and the use of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Inspiring suicides of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers.
  • Causing birth defects by continuing to produce the pesticide “Round-up”
  • Attempting to bribe foriegn officials
  • Infiltrating anti-GMO groups

Monsanto, these crimes will not go unpunished. Anonymous will not spare you nor anyone in support of your oppressive illegal business practices.

AGRA, a great example:
In 2006, AGRA, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, was established with funding from Bill Gates and The Rockefeller Foundation.

Among the other founding members of, AGRA, we find: Monsanto, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter and Gamble, Merck, Mosaic, Pfizer, Sumitomo Chemical and Yara. The fact that these corporations are either chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturers is no coincidence.

The people of the world see you, Monsanto. Anonymous sees you.

Seeds of Opportunism, Climate change offers these businesses a perfect excuse to prey on the poorest countries by swooping in to “rescue” the farmers and people with their GMO crops and chemical pesticides. These corporations eradicate the traditional ways of the country’s agriculture for the sake of enormous profits.
The introduction of GMOs drastically affects a local farmers income, as the price of chemicals required for GMOs and seeds from Monsanto cripples the farmer’s meager profit margins.

There are even many cases of Monsanto suing small farmers after pollen from their GMO crops accidentally cross with the farmer’s crops. Because Monsanto has a patent on theri brand of seed, they claim the farmer is in violation of patent laws.

These disgusting and inhumane practices will not be tolerated.

Anonymous urges all concerned citizens to stand up for these farmers, stand up for the future of your own food. Protest, organize, spread info to your friends!

 

We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us


Rutland Herald:Tangletown Farm winners in state’s mobile slaughterhouse auction

By Thatcher Moats
1/26/2012
Full Article

MONTPELIER – Central Vermont chickens beware: There’s a new slaughterhouse in town.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced that Tangletown Farm in Middlesex was the big winner in the auction of a mobile poultry processing unit that was owned by the state.

The online auction, which drew a bit of media attention, ended with Lila Bennett and David Robb paying $61,000 for the unit.

The processing unit was designed and built in 2008 with a $93,000 investment from the Vermont Legislature and the Castanea Foundation.

The mobile unit, which hit the road in 2009, is the first of its kind for farmers to process poultry under state inspection right on the farm, the agency said.

Sounds delish.


01/21 Rural Vermont Update & Alert

In this Update
directorMessage from the Slightly Less New Director

Dear Friends:

Does anyone else feel like time is accelerating?  I could swear that I blinked and a whole week went by.  I hope you are all staying snug and safe on this weather roller coaster we’re riding.

I’m grateful to report that the Rural Vermont Staff and Board are continuing to show extraordinary patience, compassion and good humor in helping me learn the ropes.

As always, please make sure to read (or at least scan) this entire update so you don’t miss any of the opportunities and events that are coming up. Today, Sat. 1/21 many of us will be at the Vermont Grass Farmers Association conference in Fairlee and next week we’ll have a table at the Vermont Farm Show in its new home at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex. I hope I’ll get a chance to meet you at one of these events – please don’t be shy about introducing yourself.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

The State House has settled into a fast-paced schedule with almost every committee meeting daily and with a full schedule of testimony. Here are some issues and bills we are tracking:

> H. 496 and S. 246 – After last week’s introduction, the Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bills were the subject of a well-attended public hearing before both the Ag Committees as well as some members of the Commerce Committees. Carl Russell from Rural Vermont’s board and I both attended the public hearing and offered testimony. Although almost everyone who testified offered praise for the broad goals of the bills, House Ag Chair Rep. Carolyn Partridge (D-Windham-4) pointedly reminded everyone that one of the key provisions of the bill calls for a $3 million investment by the State in the first year. She encouraged anyone with information about where they might find $3M to contact the Committee. A variety of committees are now hearing testimony on the many details encompassed by this legislation.   You can read H. 496  and S. 246 on the Vermont Legislative website

> In response to the introduction of S. 239, titled: AN ACT RELATING TO ENSURING THE HUMANE TREATMENT AND SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS,  the Senate Agriculture Committee has been taking testimony from both public sector and private sector witnesses. Rural Vermont had the opportunity to offer comments on the general subject of livestock slaughter and processing and we were also invited to suggest additional people to the Committee who could offer testimony. If you are a Rural Vermont member with experience in livestock slaughter and processing and would be interested in testifying (we’ll help you prepare) please contact Andrea or call the office at 223-7222.

> Next week we have been invited to present the 2011-2012 Raw Milk Report to the House Agriculture Committee. We will make this report available on our website as well.

As always I look forward to hearing from you with your ideas, concerns and suggestions. You can reach me by email or by calling our office at 802-223-7222.

Yours truly,

Andrea Stander

FoodSov

*** RURAL VERMONT PRESENTS: “Vermonters Feeding Vermonters: Growing Local Food Sovereignty”    
February 4, 5:30pm

Capitol City Grange Hall, Montpelier
Northfield Street – Route 12 just south of

Montpelier (physical address: 6612 Vt. Rt 12, Berlin)

Free and open to the public, potluck to follow.

Robb Kidd, Organizer for Rural Vermont, will discuss Food Sovereignty and the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign with members of the Capital City Grange.

February 11, at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference

The Davis Center, UVM 

Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd and board member Carl Russell, co-owner of Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel, will host a special Food Sovereignty workshop. For more information or to register, visit this page.

If you are interested in having Rural Vermont facilitate a Food Sovereignty discussion in your community, please contact robb@ruralvermont.org.

DairyClasses

 
*** RURAL VERMONT’S “BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING” CLASSES   

If your new year’s resolution is to feed your family better, cook from scratch more, eat closer to home, or invest more in your community, then Rural Vermont’s dairy classes are just what you need! And lucky for you, a new year brings a new schedule of classes. Read on for the details … (and more classes coming soon!)

Butter, Chevre, & Yogurt  

with Tiny Sykkes & cows’ milk

Friday, January 27th from 1 – 4 pm

Windy Corners Farm, CHARLOTTE

Feta, Soft Cheese, Yogurt, & Kefir

with the Metta Earth team & cows’ milk

Sunday, January 29th from 1 – 4 pm

Metta Earth Institute Inc., LINCOLN

Cheddar, Gouda, & Manchego  

with Lea Calderon-Guthe & cows’ milk

Wednesday, February 1st from 1 – 4 pm

Red Wing Farm, SHREWSBURY

Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-style Cheese, & Chevre

with Elizabeth Moulton & goats’ milk

Wednesday, April 25th from 10 am – 1 pm

Popplewood Farm, ANDOVER

All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  To sign up, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

 

STILL SEEKING HOSTS & TEACHERS! If you’re a raw milk dairy and would like to host a class OR a raw milk enthusiast eager to share your kitchen skills with others, please contact shelby@ruralvermont.org or call (802) 223-7222.  We’ve got a specific need for teachers in the counties of LAMOILLE and ADDISON/RUTLAND!

BenefitBake

*** SAVE THE DATE *** RURAL VERMONT BENEFIT BAKE 

Monday, February 20th from 5 – 10 pm 

BURLINGTON HEARTH, 115 St. Paul Street, BURLINGTON

Each month, the Burlington Hearth hosts a benefit for an organization they heartily support – and for February 2012, they have chosen Rural Vermont! Join us and our friends at Burlington Hearth for a Benefit Bake. On this special evening, $4 of each large flatbread and $2 of every small purchased at the restaurant or through take-out will benefit Rural Vermont’s efforts to
build living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities.
 Spread the word! Thanks Burlington Hearth!!
***VOLUNTEER & ACTIVIST NEEDS:   

Winter Events- We need volunteers to help at the Farm Show on January 24-26 at the Champlain Valley Expo, and the NOFA-VT Winter Conference Feb 10-12!

Poster Hangers –

We’re in need of folks to hang Benefit Bake posters all throughout Chittenden County, northern Addison County, and southern Franklin County. The more bodies we get in the door, the more dollars we raise! Get your stack by emailingRobb.

Phone Callers and Activist Leaders – The Vermont Legislature is back in session, which means we may need to rely on your help making phone calls to engage others into action. We will also be looking for activists to testify at hearings and other events. Please contact Robbto learn how you can play a role in ensuring the success of  Rural Vermont’s campaigns and supporting family farmers.

Newspaper Clippings - We need your help gathering paper copies of newspaper and magazine articles from around the state featuring Rural Vermont’s issues. Contact Robb to help us with this important task.

Email Robb, or call (802) 223-7222 to get involved today!!!

**Want to help but not interested in the above activities? Contact us and we’ll see how we can plug you in!**


Addison Independent: Ferrisburgh farmer turns back time to generate power

By Andrea Suozzo
Full Article

FERRISBURGH — From a distance, the vertical green panels revolving in a back field at Boundbrook Farm in Ferrisburgh look more like an art installation than a piece of farm equipment.

But don’t be deceived: Come spring, the unconventional windmill will pump as many as 150 gallons of water a minute into farmer Erik Andrus’s 5-acre rice paddy, day in and day out.

The windmill is the final result of a project that started two years ago, when Andrus and his wife, Erica, noticed a spike in the farm’s energy usage when milling wheat to make flour for Good Companion Bakery bread, one of the many outputs of the diversified farming operation.

“We noticed this big increase in our electric bills,” he said. “I wondered if there was some way to use wind for this.”

A standard commercial windmill costs tens of thousands of dollars and must be installed in a suitably windy location in order to justify the cost. Even then, it takes years to generate enough electricity to offset the cost of even the smallest windmill, and, Andrus noted, if any piece of the windmill breaks, the owner can’t repair it alone.

Then Andrus stumbled across the “Savonius rotor,” a simple machine that’s more like a medieval European wind turbine than today’s commercial windmills.

In the Savonius rotor, the propellers rotate slowly around a vertical shaft, catching the wind with scoop-shaped arms. The design goes against the grain of much of the common wisdom on wind power — it’s low to the ground, heavy, slow moving and not very efficient. While similar machines are widely used across Europe as low-cost, low-profile forms of power generation, Andrus said they are virtually unheard of in the U.S.

“This is the kind of wind-engineering project that no one pays attention to,” said Andrus.

But where some qualities of the Savonius rotor looked like drawbacks, Andrus saw opportunity. The windmill didn’t have to use lightweight materials or expensive energy conversion mechanisms. It could use cheaper materials, and the construction and maintenance would be relatively simple.

“It’s all within the realm of the average individual to be the master of this technology,” said Andrus. “That’s why I like it.”

And the low-cost input and maintenance, Andrus realized, meant that the machine could pay itself off within just a few years.

So Andrus went to the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education organization (NE-SARE), landing a $10,000 grant to research and build a prototype wind turbine suited to use on a farm.

That Andrus had no prior experience working with wind energy didn’t deter him.

“I like to mess around with machines,” he said.

Working with retired engineer Victor Gardy of Charlotte, the two came up with a workable model, and Andrus set out to build a full-sized version.

The project wasn’t without its hitches. Until just a few months ago, the series of prototypes Andrus had created were large, clunky rectangular boxes containing wooden propeller systems. Andrus presented the design at a couple of sustainable energy and agriculture conferences, but still wasn’t satisfied.

So after wrestling with the design, he went to NE-SARE for a grant extension and headed back to the drawing board.

This time, he came up with a lightweight wooden frame, 20 feet high by seven feet wide and anchored to the ground with guy wires, with steel propeller blades made of salvaged 275-gallon fuel tanks. The materials cost less than $1,000.

Andrus estimates that this turbine would produce about 1,750 kilowatt-hours per year in average wind speeds of about 10 miles per hour. Hooked to a generator, that’s the equivalent of about $400.

While 1,750 kWh is less electricity than a commercial wind turbine can make, Andrus said the real value in the turbine lies in the slow-moving mechanical energy it creates, which is most suited for applications that can use the energy directly, without converting it to electricity — things like powering a water pump, pressurizing an air compressor or running a band saw.

While this turbine won’t be milling flour, it will replace two gas pumps that used to supply water for Andrus’s rice project, which he will expand from one acre to five this spring. The turbine will power an “Archimedes screw,” an ancient mechanical device used to move water uphill, to lift the water out of a pond and pipe the water to the end of the rice paddy. To Andrus, this system makes far more sense than fueling and maintaining two gas pumps for the same job.

“There’s no reason I should be using a gas pump when I can pump water essentially for free,” he said.

“I grew up on a farm in Vermont, so I have an interest in on-farm energy,” he said. “I’m interested in the question of whether it would be good for someone handy to go out and build this themselves.”

And Gorton said the prototype is also a good educational tool as well because it is a simple machine that can create the same energy all homes and farms use.

“There’s a lack of energy literacy when it comes to how you actually make it,” he said. “We’re all so plugged into the grid.”

The report will be posted in February on the NE-SARE and UVM Extension websites and at goodcompanionbakery.com. Andrus said he’s done building windmills for a while, but that he hopes this prototype inspires others to try their hand at creating simple, low-cost wind projects.

“This sort of thing can really make a dent in our energy usage, as farmers,” he said. “Power is power, and you can use it in many different ways.”


01/13 Update

Message from the STILL Very New Director

Dear Friends:

Well, it’s the end of my second week at Rural Vermont, I just got through my first official meeting with our board of directors, and in spite of it being Friday the 13th and it’s sleeting outside, I’m still coherent enough (I hope) to send you a brief update.

First, I want to send a huge shout out to the Rural Vermont staff, interns, volunteers and the board of directors for all their patience and support in helping me get my legs under me in this new job.  What a fantastic community of people!

Second, I want to encourage you to cruise all the way through this email because we have a number of great events coming up from Raw Milk Classes to informational meetings about our Food Sovereignty Campaign – Vermonters Feeding Vermonters – to a Benefit Bake in Burlington and the NOFA-VT Winter conference.  I look forward to meeting you at these events.

Activity under the Golden Dome definitely accelerated this week with new bills being introduced and heavy traffic in the committees of people testifying. Here are some issues and bills we are tracking:

> There are several bills either introduced or being drafted that address the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our food system. We will have more details on these next week.

> A bill, S.239, was introduced and referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee. It is sponsored by Sen. Giard (D-Addison District) and is titled: AN ACT RELATING TO ENSURING THE HUMANE TREATMENT AND SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS.  Rural Vermont staff are reviewing this bill and we have been invited to testify on it next week.

> A major event this week was the introduction of H. 496 and S. 246 the Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bills. These bills are the culmination of a two-year process led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development and supported by the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership. Rural Vermont staff are reviewing these bills and the board of directors will be hearing a presentation about them soon. You can learn more about them on the VCRD website:  http://vtworkinglands.org.

The other big event at the State House this week was the Governor’s Budget Address. As with his State of the State Address, Governor Shumlin focused largely on priorities related to the impacts of Irene. There was nothing specific in the address that relates to Rural Vermont’s priority issues. We will now turn our attention to the Appropriations Committees to see how they will respond to the Governor’s budget.

As always I look forward to hearing from you with your ideas, concerns and suggestions. You can reach me at andrea@ruralvermont.org or by calling our office at 802-223-7222.

I look forward to talking with you!

Andrea Stander

P. S. I hope you will also consider joining us and our allies at a Rally at the State House Fri. Jan. 20 at 3PM in support of Sen. Ginny Lyon’s Resolution supporting a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people.  More info below.

Events

Rural Vermont Events

*** Vermonters Feeding Vermonters ***  

GROWING LOCAL FOOD SOVEREIGNTY    

January 19, 6pm-7:45pm
Kellog Hubbard Library, MONTPELIER

Rural Vermont will be facilitating a discussion with Transition Town Montpelier about how communities can grow local food sovereignty. In preparation for Town Meeting Day articles, discussion will highlight Montpelier’s Food Sovereignty Resolution and other methods to raise awareness about the campaign.

February 4, 5:30pm
Capitol City Grange Hall, Montpelier

Northfield Street – Route 12 just south of

Montpelier (physical address: 6612 Vt. Rt 12, Berlin)

Free and open to the public, potluck to follow.

Robb Kidd, Organizer for Rural Vermont, will discuss Food Sovereignty and the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign with members of the Capital City Grange.

February 11, at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference

The Davis Center, UVM

Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd and board member Carl Russell, co-owner of Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel, will host a special Food Sovereignty workshop. For more information or to register, visit this page.

If you are interested in having Rural Vermont facilitate a Food Sovereignty discussion in your community, please contact robb@ruralvermont.org.

*** BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING!  

If your new year’s resolution is to feed your family better, cook from scratch more, eat closer to home, or invest more in your community, then Rural Vermont’s dairy classes are just what you need! And lucky for you, a new year brings a new schedule of classes. Read on for the details … (and more classes coming soon!)

Butter, Chevre, & Yogurt 

Friday, January 27th from 1 – 4 pm

Windy Corners Farm, CHARLOTTE 

 

Feta, Soft Cheese, Yogurt, & Kefir

Sunday, January 29th from 1 – 4 pm

Metta Earth Institute Inc., LINCOLN  

 

JUST ADDED! Cheddar, Gouda, & Manchego 

Wednesday, February 1st from 1 – 4 pm

Red Wing Farm, SHREWSBURY 

Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-style Cheese, & Chevre

Wednesday, April 25th from 10 am – 1 pm

Popplewood Farm, ANDOVER 

All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  To sign up, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

STILL SEEKING HOSTS & TEACHERS! If you’re a raw milk dairy and would like to host a class OR a raw milk enthusiast eager to share your kitchen skills with others, please contact shelby@ruralvermont.org or call (802) 223-7222.  We’ve got a specific need for teachers in the counties of LAMOILLE and ADDISON/RUTLAND!

*** BENEFIT BAKE at Burlington Hearth

Monday, February 20th

115 St. Paul Street, BURLINGTON

Rural Vermont’s friends at Burlington Hearth are hosting a Benefit Bake! Four dollars of each flatbread purchased on this special evening will benefit Rural Vermont’s efforts to build living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities. Spread the word and join Rural Vermont for dinner! Thanks Burlington Hearth !!

Volunteer

Volunteer and Activist Needs  
Phone Callers and Activist Leaders-The Vermont Legislature is back in session, which means we may need to rely on your help making phone calls to engage others into action. We will also be looking for activists to testify at hearings and other events. Please contact Robbto learn how you can play a role in ensuring the success of  Rural Vermont’s campaigns and supporting family farmers.

Newspaper Clippings - We need your help gathering paper copies of newspaper and magazine articles from around the state featuring Rural Vermont’s issues. Contact Robb to help us with this important task.

Winter Events- We need volunteers to help at the Farm Show on January 24-26 at the Champlain Valley Expo, and the NOFA-VT Winter Conference Feb 10-12 ! Please volunteer to help Rural Vermont with our informational tables at these busy events. If you will be available on any of these days, email Robbto volunteer for a time slot.Email Robb, or call (802) 223-7222 to get involved today!!

**Want to help but not interested in the above activities? Contact us and we’ll see how we can plug you in!** 

Rural Vermont Participating Event

Rally at the State House for the Anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC ruling!

Fri. Jan 20th at 3pm - Activists from around the state will be gathering in front of the State House in Montpelier to rally in support of Senator Ginny Lyon’s resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people.  Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd will join other organizations in addressing the crowd about the impact multinational corporations have on farmers.


Rural Vermont Announces a New Series of Dairy Processing Classes

Jan 27th in Charlotte, Jan 29th in Lincoln, and Feb 1st in Shrewsbury

Lea Calderon-Guthe cutting the cheese curd in the process of making cheddar. Photo credit: Robin Reid.

Rural Vermont’s first round of 2012 dairy processing classes will kick off at the end of January, starting in Chittenden County and then heading south to Addison County, before ending up in Rutland County. If your new year’s resolutions included feeding your family better, cooking from scratch more, eating closer to home, or investing in your community, then Rural Vermont’s Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing Classes are for you!

On Friday, January 27th, Windy Corners Farm in Charlotte hosts and leads a butter, chevre, and yogurt class with raw cows’ milk. On Sunday, January 29th, Metta Earth Institute in Lincoln hosts and leads a feta, soft cheese, yogurt, and kefir class with raw cows’ milk. On Wednesday, February 1st, Red Wing Farm in Shrewsbury hosts a cheddar, gouda, and manchego class, taught by former cheesemaid Lea Calderon-Guthe, with raw cows’ milk. Additional classes around the state will continue through the winter and into the spring.

At each of the classes, folks can also expect a tour of the host farm and the opportunity to purchase raw cows’ milk and immediately put their new skills to use! All classes are from 1-4 pm. The fee for each 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, to sign up, or to be added to Rural Vermont’s mailing list, call (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

Windy Corners Farm is a small-scale agricultural farm where the arts and crafts of homesteading are being practiced. The farm is located in Charlotte, nestled between Mt. Philo and Lake Champlain, and the property includes a straw bale house. The farm’s 14 acres of land is home to pigs, chickens, goats, cows, and bees – and a few people! There are vegetable, fruit, and flower gardens throughout the farm, and various farm products – including raw milk! – available for purchase. For more info, visit www.windycorners.info.

Metta Earth Institute, Inc. is a non-profit, educational retreat center that focuses on contemplative ecology. Based on 158 acres, Metta Earth has fields and pastures, forest ecosystems, an apple orchard, organic garden, a traditional timber frame barn, greenhouse, and a large main house providing meals, accommodations, and teaching spaces. Two cows and a steer, Icelandic sheep, and about 50 laying hens graze the pastures rotationally. For more info about Metta Earth Institute, Inc., visit www.mettaearth.org.

Red Wing Farm is home to John Pollard and his herd of happy, healthy Jersey cows. They are grass-fed and organically managed. New raw milk customers are always welcome!

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!


Burlington Free Press: Lindsay Harris: “Retail sales of raw milk are legal in other states including Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Vermont is behind the curve on this

Burlington Free Press
Emily McManamy
January 9, 2012
Full Article 

Free Press: You and your husband run a tiny raw-milk dairy in Hinesburg. How does your perspective on the challenges facing Vermont agriculture differ from that of a farmer milking 100 to 200 cows and selling to the wholesale market?

Harris: Obviously the challenges we face day-to-day on our farm are very different, but I’m an advocate for all farmers. One difference is the economic pressures that larger farmers are under to expand their herds to make enough money to support their families. Some farmers who milk hundreds of cows would like to milk fewer, but they can’t figure out how to do it financially.

One thing that pushed me into selling unpasteurized milk was that there was no way I could afford to start a bigger farm that would sell to the wholesale market. Philosophically I love raw milk, but I didn’t really have choice. I was forced to direct-market my product.

Free Press: How good a job do you think Vermont is doing at making locally grown food — meat, milk, vegetables — more available and accessible?

Harris: It depends what you compare it to. Only 5 percent of the food consumed in Vermont is produced in Vermont. That sounds like a very low number, and we can do much better. In fact, people want to do much better, but they need more access to food that farmers grow and farmers need more opportunities to get their food into the hands of consumers.

Free Press: So, what are some of the barriers to that happening?

Harris: One thing we really are focusing on at Rural Vermont is encouraging Vermonters to feed other Vermonters. Markets in New York and Boston are important to some farmers in Vermont, but there are 6,000 small farms in Vermont, so the real agricultural economic powerhouse lies in the commerce between neighbors. Recently Rural Vermont has worked on making raw milk more accessible and making on-farm slaughtered meat legally available.

We’d like to build on those legislative successes. There is more to be done. For example, there is some ambiguity about federal and state interpretation of the law that allows a consumer to contract with a farmer to raise an animal that the consumer owns, and for that animal to be slaughtered and butchered on the farm without having to use a state or federally inspected slaughterhouse. We need to clarify that law.

In the realm of raw milk, we applaud the Legislature’s efforts. They have taken steps in the right direction, but there is more work to be done there. Speaking as an owner, we have to meet extremely strict milk-quality standards, way more strict than any farm that ships milk to the wholesale market. Despite the strict regulation and our dairy’s history of meeting the standards, we are still restricted in where we can sell our milk. We can’t sell at a farmers market; we can’t sell in a store — we have to deliver it to our customers or have them come to the farm.

Personally I would like to see retail sales allowed of raw milk in Vermont. Maybe the state is ready to do that. Retail sales of raw milk are legal in other states including Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Vermont is behind the curve on this.

The other area where I would like to see progress, and Rural Vermont would like to see progress, is to have more flexibility in marketing raw-milk products. We are not allowed to sell any dairy product except whole milk. Even pouring off the cream is considered processing, so we are not allowed to sell cream or skim milk or yogurt or fresh cheese.

Providing access to slaughterhouses continues to be just a huge issue. Our farm is trucking animals we sell commercially, cattle and pigs, three hours each way to be butchered. What I hear from slaughterhouse operators is that the regulations are really onerous. What’s really sad about the food industry in general is that regulation tends to be one size fits all. If our tiny farm wants to make cheese, we have to follow the same rules as Kraft cheese. That makes absolutely no sense. There are inherent, undisputable differences in how we raise and handle our food, and how Kraft raises and handles their food.

We need a tiered regulatory structure that can accommodate different sizes of farm. That way, small producers can adhere to rules that make sense for them. I don’t need the state to tell me to make clean milk. My friend comes here with her 3- and 5-year-old children to buy her milk. I make clean milk because I care about those people, not because the Agriculture Agency said I have to meet some standard. There is a level of responsibility inherent in the direct sale of food from the farm to the consumer. Our laws should reflect that trusting, one-to-one relationship that does not exist when you go to the grocery store.

Free Press: Last year’s Legislature had a new report on how Vermont can increase the market for food raised in the state, the Farm to Plate report. My sense is that lawmakers only began to consider the report’s recommendations. Is there more they can do?

Harris: The Legislature will have a full agenda, with the budget and the aftermath of Irene, but we certainly we want to see lawmakers continue to work on helping Vermonters feed Vermonters, and on economic justice for farmers.

Lindsay Harris milks six cows with her husband, Evan Reiss, in Hinesburg. Their micro dairy, Family Cow Farmstand, sells raw milk. Harris also serves on the board of Rural Vermont, a farm advocacy group. 


Food Safety News: Maine City Considers Raw Milk Info at Farmers Markets

By Cookson Beecher
12/05/11
“Buyer, be informed.”
That’s the goal of a raw-milk “package deal” in Maine sent last month to the Portland City Council for consideration. It not only recommends that raw-milk sales be allowed at the city’s farmers markets, but would also require raw-milk vendors at the city’s three farmers markets to supply customers with information advising them of the potential health risks of consuming raw milk or raw-milk products.’
The irony of this new development on Maine’s “raw-milk front” is that the raw-milk vendors at the city’s farmers markets had no idea that the city prohibited such sales.
That’s not surprising because some of them had been selling their raw milk there for years with no indication from the city that they weren’t supposed to be doing so.
Then, too, state law allows raw milk from state-licensed raw-milk dairies to be sold on the farm and at retail establishments, which includes farmers markets.
But it turns out that when it comes to what’s allowed to be sold at Portland’s popular and well-attended farmers markets, unpasteurized milk isn’t on the list.
The raw-milk vendors discovered that in September when the city’s new full-time food-service inspector visited the city’s farmers markets and saw raw milk being sold there. She told the vendors they could no longer do that.
Heather Donahue, co-owner of Balfour Farm, and one of the raw-milk vendors at the Wednesday farmers market, said it came as a complete surprise, not only to the vendors but also to their customers.
Casting about for solutions, a group of about 12 raw-milk advocates showed up at the city’s Health and Recreation Commission’s meeting while its members were deliberating on whether hard cider could be sold at the farmers markets.
That gave them an opening to ask that raw milk also be included on the list of approved sales  items.
Maine does not allow the sale of raw milk and raw-milk products in restaurants, schools, hospitals or nursing homes.
Balfour Farm’s Donahue said that no other farmers markets in the state require farmers to supply customers with cautionary information about raw milk, nor do stores where it’s sold. And that includes stores in Portland, itself.  According to Maine law, no sort of warning notice is required on raw-milk containers. In fact, the state requires only that the word “unpasteurized” to be included on the label.
Donahue said she’s not against the idea of a placard informing people about the potential risk of drinking raw milk, although she wonders why produce growers who use pesticides on their crops don’t have to warn consumers that the produce they’re buying might be contaminated.
Even so, she said that “the more we can educate people about food, the better.”
When talking about her customers, Donahue readily said that “many people are adamant about raw milk.” A lot of people tell her they grew up drinking raw milk and she often hears: “I’ve wanted to come back to this.”
She describes her customer base as “varied” — older people as well as moms with kids.
“Raw milk is really a draw for farmers markets,” she said. “We (raw-milk producers) have farmers market managers calling and asking us to come and sell at their markets.”
A Portland farmers market vendor Hanne Tierney, co-owner of Cornerstone Farms, agrees.
“That’s absolutely true,” Tierney told Food Safety News. “A well-rounded market includes raw milk. It’s absolutely fantastic to have.”
Balfour Farm’s Donahue said she has found that people in Maine are an independent lot who hold true to their independence and freedom.
“The people here value their small farms,” she said. “They treasure that part of their history and want to see it continue.”
As for the placard advising people of the potential health risks association with raw milk, one Portland farmers market manager told newspaper reporters that he worries that it could be a “slippery slope” leading to required warnings on other foods such as lettuce and spinach sold at farmers markets.
Maine, which has 32 operations that are allowed to sell raw milk and 65 licensed to sell cheese, is one of 11 states that allows the sale of raw milk at retail stores separate from the farm. Along with 7 other states, it has high standards for cleanliness of the milk, with a coliform standard of no more than 10 coliform bacteria per milliliter, which is equivalent to the national and some international standards for pasteurized milk
What about the  Blue Hill lawsuit? 
lawsuit  filed by the state on Nov. 3 against  Blue Hill, Maine, farmer Dan Brown, owner of Gravel Wood Farm, for selling or offering raw milk and raw-milk products at farmers markets and his farm stand, as well as for not labeling his milk as “unpasteurized,”  differs from what’s happening in Portland.
Unlike the licensed raw-milk farms that sell at Portland’s city’s markets, Gravel Wood Farm is not a licensed raw-milk dairy. However, Brown, who sells directly to customers, is claiming that under a “food sovereignty” ordinance passed by five Maine towns, his small farm is exempt from all state and federal licensing, labeling and inspection regulations.

Vancouver Sun: Raw milk activist splashes health authorities with lawsuit

By Randy Shore
12/16/2011
Full Article 

VANCOUVER — Raw milk activist Gordon Watson has filed a civil lawsuit against the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities and their officers, alleging they exceeded their power by acting to shut down the Home on the Range dairy in Chilliwack, B.C.

“The main thing is to make civil servants accountable,” said Watson, a founder of the dairy, now operating as Our Cows.

He alleges in the suit filed this week that the health authorities acted against the dairy with no evidence that it was a threat to public health, destroyed his property (the milk) and acted beyond their authority.

In Canada, it is illegal to market, sell, distribute or deliver unpasteurized milk, cream or cheese. But it is legal for farmers and their immediate families to consume it.

Watson maintains that because the products of the dairy are not offered for sale to the public, public health statutes do not apply.

The raw milk dairy is a co-operative farm that produces unpasteurized milk and dairy products for the families that own shares in the cow herd. Watson argues that cow-share members are the owners of the herd and can legally use the products.

Roy Thorpe-Dorward said Fraser Health served the dairy’s operators with a cease-and-desist order, ordering it to stop producing and distributing raw milk products and alleging the operators were violating health-hazard regulations of the provincial health act.


01/06 Rural Vermont Update

In this Update
Message from the Still New Director

Dear Friends:

First, I want to thank everyone for the warm and helpful welcome I have received in my first week as Director of Rural Vermont. It is thrilling to be part of such a talented, creative, knowledgeable, passionate and compassionate group of people.

That being said, my first week has felt a bit like drinking from a fire hose in terms of the amount of important, interesting and detailed information I have been given, sent, told or listened to. I look forward to coming up for air this weekend and then diving back in to continue my education.

In addition to this being my first official week on staff, it was also the opening of the Legislative session. I spent a good bit of time at the State House this week and had the opportunity to introduce myself to many legislators and other denizens of the golden dome. The atmosphere was very much one of “glad to see you, now let’s get to work.” Needless to say, there are a great many challenges facing the legislators and the expectation is that the session will end in early May as this is an election year (again.) Irene recovery, redistricting and of course, balancing the budget are the “must dos.” Unfortunately Gov. Shumlin’s State of the State address yesterday, in my opinion, contained nothing specific or particularly hopeful for Rural Vermont’s issues.

I sat in on meetings of the House and Senate Ag committees during which they received briefings from the VT Agency of Ag and from the staff of Sens. Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch. I gathered a great deal of information, which I will share in future updates.

For those of you who follow such things, one item of note is that Rep. John Malcolm (D-Rutland-8) was reassigned from House Ag to Natural Resources & Energy and he was replaced by one of the newly appointed Representatives, Teo Zager (pronounced Jagar) (D-Windsor-6-1) who looks to be a good ally in that he is a CSA and raw milk buyer. If you live in his district please drop him a friendly note of welcome.

Moving away from legislative issues, I will be making a lot of calls and hopefully some visits over the next few weeks to talk with members and allies about all our key issues and the Rural Vermont board will be meeting next week to finalize our legislative and public policy priorities for this year. We’ll present details on them in an upcoming alert.

I also look forward to meeting some of you at the NOFA-VT Direct Marketing Conference on Sunday at Vermont Law School.

Please read on for additional information about upcoming classes and events and PLEASE be in touch with your ideas, concerns and suggestions. You can reach me at andrea@ruralvermont.org or by calling our office at 802-223-7222.

I look forward to talking with you!

Andrea Stander

Ps. If you received our end of the year appeal and have not had time to respond, your support now would be so helpful as we enter the legislative season. You can make a secure donation here.

Events

Rural Vermont Events

*** Vermonters Feeding Vermonters: ***   GROWING LOCAL FOOD SOVEREIGNTY    

January 19, 6pm-7:45pm
Kellog Hubbard Library, MONTPELIER

Rural Vermont will be facilitating a discussion with Transition Town Montpelier about how communities can grow local food sovereignty. In preparation for Town Meeting Day articles, discussion will highlight Montpelier’s Food Sovereignty Resolution and other methods to raise awareness about the campaign.

February 4, 5:30pm
Grange Hall, Montpelier

Northfield Street – Route 12 just south of

Montpelier (physical address: 6612 Vt. Rt 12, Berlin)

Free and open to the public, potluck to follow.

Robb Kidd, Organizer for Rural Vermont, will discuss food sovereignty and the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign with members of the Capital City Grange.

If you are interested in having Rural Vermont facilitate a food sovereignty discussion in your community, please contact robb@ruralvermont.org.

*** BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING!  

If your new year’s resolution is to feed your family better, cook from scratch more, eat closer to home, or invest more in your community, then Rural Vermont’s dairy classes are just what you need! And lucky for you, a new year brings a new schedule of classes. Read on for the details … (and more classes coming soon!)

Butter, Chevre, & Yogurt 

Friday, January 27th from 1 – 4 pm

Windy Corners Farm, CHARLOTTE 

 

Feta, Soft Cheese, Yogurt, & Kefir

Sunday, January 29th from 1 – 4 pm

Metta Earth Institute Inc., LINCOLN  

 

Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-style Cheese, & Chevre

Wednesday, April 25th from 10 am – 1 pm

Popplewood Farm, ANDOVER 

All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  To sign up, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

 

STILL SEEKING HOSTS & TEACHERS! If you’re a raw milk dairy and would like to host a class OR a raw milk enthusiast eager to share your kitchen skills with others, please contact shelby@ruralvermont.org or call (802) 223-7222.  We’ve got a specific need for teachers in the counties of LAMOILLE and ADDISON/RUTLAND!

Volunteer

Volunteer and Activist Needs  
Phone Callers and Activist Leaders-The Vermont Legislature is back in session, which means we may need to rely on your help making phone calls to engage others into action. We will also be looking for activists to testify at hearings and other events. Please contact Robbto learn how you can play a role in ensuring the success of  Rural Vermont’s campaigns and supporting family farmers.

Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign - We need your help gathering signatures to place local food sovereignty articles on Town Meeting Day ballots. Contact Robb for petitions or information to get an article on your Town Meeting Day agenda.

Winter Conferences- We need volunteers to help at the Farm Show on January 24-26 at the Champlain Valley Expo! Please volunteer to help Rural Vermont with our informational  table at this busy event. If you will be available on any of these days, email Robbto volunteer for a time slot.Email Robb, or call (802) 223-7222 to get involved today!!

**Want to help but not interested in the above activities? Contact us and we’ll see how we can plug you in!** 

Solidarity

FINAL CALL

SUBMIT YOUR SALES TOTALS BY 1/10/12
Farm Fresh Milk Producers-Survey Information Needed

Over the past few years, Rural Vermont has worked very hard with farmers all across the state to expand the legal allowances of raw milk sales in Vermont. Since the 2009 passage of Act 62, the Raw Milk Bill, farmers’ rights to sell raw milk are protected in statute. Despite this, the law is not perfect and we need your help demonstrating this.  No matter what size your miking operation, we want to hear from you. Your information will help us convince legislators that raw milk provides important economic opportunities for Vermont farmers and further changes are needed in the raw milk law for these opportunities to be fully realized.

How Can You help ?

Rural Vermont is asking all raw milk producers across the state to participate in a raw milk production survey in order to compile a comprehensive report on the economic benefits of  raw milk. The legislature has requested that we present this data to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to reflect the economic impact of raw milk sales in Vermont. Whether you have been selling raw milk for a number of years or just started milking, your participation in this survey is very important as it helps legitimize the economic importance of raw milk in Vermont!

If you are a raw milk producer, please take the survey.

**Please note this survey includes data from Dec 1, 2010 to Dec 1, 2011. We are hoping to get this information to the legislature in early January.**

Your support and participation is greatly appreciated. Of course, your personal information will remain anonymous in Rural Vermont’s report.

If you know someone who is a raw milk producer, please forward them this email or have them contact Rural Vermont for a copy of the survey so that we can demonstrate an accurate reflection of raw milk sales to the legislature. Once again, thank you for your input, it is invaluable in helping us create positive change in Vermont agriculture.