Author Archives: Mollie

Local Food Local Rules: We Are All Farmer Brown

November 13, 2011
Full Article

On Wednesday, November 9, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine for selling food and milk without State licenses. Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns to have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, a local law that permits the types of sales Brown was engaged in. By filing the lawsuit, the State of Maine and Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agricultural Commissioner, are disregarding the Local Food and Community Self-Governance passed nearly unanimously by the citizens of Blue Hill at their town meeting on April 4. Residents of Blue Hill will be attending the Selectmen’s meeting on Friday, November 18 to enforce the provisions of the Ordinance. The Blue Hill residents will be instructing the Town of Blue Hill to send a letter to the Maine Department of Agriculture requesting the State withdraw the lawsuit and recognize the authority of the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.

A rally and press conference will take place Friday at the Blue Hill Town Hall. Details about this event and schedule for press calls will be released Monday, November 14.


Capital News Service: Raw Milk Advocates Protest Outside FDA (Poll)

November 4, 2011
By Brandon Cooper
Capital News Service
Full Article

SILVER SPRING—A group of Maryland moms served raw milk and cookies in front of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters on Tuesday, urging the agency to drop its longstanding ban on selling unpasteurized milk across state lines.

The group of about 15 mothers and other supporters—calling themselves the “Raw Milk Freedom Riders”—purchased raw milk from a Pennsylvania farm and caravanned to Silver Spring to protest the ban.

The mothers were protesting a 1987 regulation issued by the FDA that prohibits the transportation of raw milk across state lines in order to sell it.

But raw milk tastes better than pasteurized milk and has health benefits for children, said Liz Reitzig, a mother and co-founder of the Farm Food Freedom Coalition, which sponsored the protest.

“The [FDA] is undermining our authority as parents,” she said.

While the interstate sale of raw milk is illegal, the sale of it within each state varies. According to the FDA, 20 states prohibit raw milk sales, while 30 allow it in some form. The sale of raw milk is legal in Pennsylvania, but not in Maryland.

At FDA headquarters on Tuesday, protesters welcomed the caravan with chants like “Hey, hey, FDA! Raw milk is here to stay!”

As police looked on, protesters maintained that transporting milk from Pennsylvania to Maryland and serving it for free was illegal. They held signs that said, “I drink raw milk. Arrest me!”

An FDA spokesperson said the agency defines “interstate commerce” to include both the sale of raw milk and giving it away for free. But there were no arrests made Tuesday.

The protesters gathered around Sally Fallon Morell, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition organization, who spoke about the importance of raw milk was to children’s health.

“Our children need this milk,” Fallon Morell said. “We can’t go on with another generation eating industrial foods.”

Joel Salatin, a leading advocate of sustainable farming and the owner of Virginia’s Polyface Farms, told protesters that individuals—not the government—should be able to choose to drink raw milk.


Daily Breeze: Foodies push for homemade food sales law in California

By Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, The Associated Press
11/05/2011
Full Article

Mark Stambler’s handcrafted bread was a favorite at Los Angeles specialty food shops until public health officials cracked down on the crusty loaves leavened in his garage and baked in a wood-burning oven in his backyard.

The home-baked operation ran afoul of strict food preparation laws that prevent Californians from selling homemade goods.

Foodies are fighting back with so-called cottage food laws. At least 30 states now have laws that allow sales of home-made goods – about half passed since the Great Recession began in 2007.

Stambler is now looking for a lawmaker to introduce a bill next year that would allow cash-strapped California residents to make a little scratch from scratch cooking. Currently, even bake sales are illegal here unless they benefit a charity.

By comparison, homemade foods have a $100 million impact on the economy of West Virginia, a state with fewer than 2 million residents and high poverty rates, said Buddy Davidson, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture. The state even teaches home chefs how to market everything from pumpkin butter to baking mixes.

Said Janelle Orsi, a lawyer with Oakland, Calif.-based Sustainable Economies Law Center, “With a really high unemployment rate it’s kind of impractical to assume that people will eventually just find jobs and it’s important for communities and individuals to be able to take their livelihoods into their own hands.”

Orsi is working with Stambler on a more permissive cottage food law for California that would allow casual cooks and aspiring pros to sell shelf-stable homemade goods like breads, cookies, cakes, jams, candy, granola, coffee, tea and baking mixes.

California’s law would be modeled after an Ohio law, Orsi said, which allows chefs the freedom to succeed because there is no cap on how much someone can make off their ventures. Michigan, in contrast, imposes a $15,000 annual limit.

Standing in the way of this commerce now are long-standing public health and food preparation regulations that require permits, inspections and stringent sanitary standards.

Clean hands, hair nets (or hats) and vermin control measures are some of the obvious rules to prevent food contamination and illness. Commercial kitchens are required to have stainless steel food preparation surfaces, easily cleanable equipment and nonporous floors, walls and ceilings.

Current regulations force wanna-be bakers and chefs to go through a rigorous approval process and use commercial kitchens, which rent for as much as $75 an hour, said Iso Rabins, a local food advocate. That’s money that could be spent on the finest ingredients.

“I’ve worked in restaurants most my life and restaurant kitchens are generally far dirtier than any home kitchen you’ll encounter – some are clean, but a lot are disgusting,” Rabins said.

Rabins is a founder of ForageSF, a group that circumvented state laws by billing its Underground Market event in San Francisco as a club. The $5 admission was considered a membership fee to purchase from food entrepreneurs who didn’t go through the permitting process required of other retailers.

It drew 50,000 visitors before health officials shut it down in June and issued a cease and desist order, though Rabins still hopes to open it again.

Others have skirted the law with food swaps – no money changing hands means no enforcement. Home chefs in Los Angeles and San Francisco barter jars, bottles and other individually packaged foods with each other.

The gatherings first gained popularity in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a group called BK Swappers, where co-organizer Jane Lerner says she’s never heard of someone getting sick from any of the food swaps, which are held in cities all over the country including Minneapolis, Austin, Seattle and Detroit.

“The crux of the event is to admire the food you see and then meet people who made it,” said Lerner. The dishes tend to be brag-worthy, carefully prepared and unique – like spicy mango pickles or homemade Italian cookies.

“There is definitely an element of showoff happening, but it’s very friendly and sweet.”

Many of those who try to sell homemade food as a sideline hope to make it a career.


11/10 Alert

In this Alert
Share Your Story

Dear Friends,

As you know, Rural Vermont has been working on the issue of Farm Fresh Meat and on-farm slaughter for several years now.  After successfully advocating for passage of Act 207 in 2008, “The On-Farm Slaughter bill,” an act that allows for consumers to contract with a farmer to raise animals and slaughter directly on the farm (without expensive facilities), we have been continuously working to see that the on-farm slaughter law becomes an effective model of what is possible when farmers, consumers and activists come together to promote real change.

In light of our frustration over moving this issue forward, we have decided it is time to engage you in a conversation that will hopefully move us toward a satisfactory resolution of the on-farm slaughter issue.  To that end, we are asking that you help by providing us with stories about your experiences with locally raised and on-farm slaughtered meat.  We believe that by compiling your stories and providing them to key policy makers in Vermont, we can have a real impact on the state level policy discussion of on-farm slaughter.

Maybe you have tried to purchase meat from a farm and have been told it is illegal, maybe you are a farmer who would like to provide farm-slaughtered meat to your neighbors, or maybe you are a new farmer trying to develop your farm business.  Whatever your story is, Rural Vermont wants to hear it as we attempt to move the ball forward on this vital policy issue. Please let us know if you have a story to tell or an opinion to voice.  We will work to amplify your voice with state policy makers!

By demonstrating that there is a widespread concern for this issue on the part of farmers and consumers alike, we will be successful in jump-starting our effort to bring the economic opportunity of locally raised on-farm slaughtered meat to the struggling agricultural community.

Please consider helping by providing Rural Vermont with your on-farm slaughter story, whatever it may be. Stories can be emailed to robb@ruralvermont.org or mailed to Rural Vermont, 15 Barre St, Suite 2, Montpelier, VT 05602. Please get your stories to us by Tuesday, November 15th.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing from you all.

Sincerely,

The Staff at Rural Vermont

ArtNOW OPEN!! RURAL VERMONT’S 3rd ANNUAL“ART FOR AGRARIANS” ONLINE ART AUCTION

Mon, October 24th – Fri, December 9th at 5pm 
Check out and bid on more than a dozen pieces of artwork donated by Vermont artists that reflect Rural Vermont’s vision for Food with Dignity! This year’s auction includes a great mix of pieces and price points, so there is something for everyone …. original oils, black & white photos, woodwork, hand-forged steel, and much more. The bidding will take place online, but look for one or several pieces on display through November at the following farmstores:

  • WAAWWE in Chester, “Blue Jersey”
  • Mootique, Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center, agricultural jug
  • Family Cow Farmstand in Hinesburg, Fred Tuttle photo & “Autumn Grazing” 
  • Applecheek Farmstore in Hyde Park, “Cleaning up their Grain”

All of the artwork will be available for preview at the Capital City Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market at Montpelier High School on Nov 19th, at the Storytelling Benefit at the Songyard in Chester on Nov 20th, and (*just added!*) at the Burlington Farmers’ Market on Dec 3rd. All auction proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.

Events

Rural Vermont Events

BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING !

Farmhouse Cheddar Curds,  Mozzarella, Yogurt, & Butter

Wednesday, December 7th

1 – 4 pm

Apple Ledge Farm, COVENTRY

More classes coming soon! 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.

** 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!

HOMEGROWN POTLUCK &  

KITCHEN TABLE CONVERSATION
November 17, 6 pm
rsvp for address, NEWBURY  

Rural Vermont kicks off a new series highlighting the traditional foods and connections that make each Vermont community unique. Bring and share food you’ve grown or raised yourself, or a traditional dish from Vermont’s collective past. Wild game? Organ meats? Homemade bread & butter? Pickled any/everything? Pull up a seat around the kitchen table and join neighbors and friends from the greater Newbury community for a supper that celebrates the area’s existing food culture and a conversation about defining this area’s local food system, adopting a long-term vision for this foodshed, and declaring food sovereignty. RSVP to  shelby@ruralvermont.org or call (802) 223-7222.

Visit this page for more information.

* More dates and locations coming soon.

 storyAFTER THE FLOOD: STORIES OF HEART & HOPE

WITH STORYTELLER ANNIE HAWKINS

Sunday, NOVEMBER 20 at 7 pm

the Songyard, 295 Main St., on the green in CHESTER

Rural Vermont is once again partnering with Grafton treasure Annie Hawkins to host the 3rd annual storytelling event and benefit for Rural Vermont. Join us for an evening of stories from past generations and distant cultures that speak to the resiliency, perseverance, kindness and courage that Vermonters displayed in the aftermath of the floods. Coffee and cake reception will follow — meet Annie, check out the “Art for Agrarians” gallery, and buy your farmer flood relief tee. Event most appropriate for adults and older children. $5-$10 sliding scale – all proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  Visit this page for more information.        

FOOD SOVEREIGNTY MEETING
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. Email robb@ruralvermont.org for more information.

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

Volunteer

Volunteer and Activist Needs  

Baking and event support for the Chester Storytelling EventWe have a few tasks that we could use your help with in support of this annual fundraiser. We need volunteers to bake some yummy treats, put up posters, and assist us on the day of the event. 

Local Food Sovereignty Campaign - As we gear up the local food sovereignty 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-Vermont Grass Farmers Association.(Jan 20-21), NOFA-VT,(Feb 11-13) Are you already registered for next year’s conferences ? Please volunteer to help Rural Vermont with our informational and activist tables at these busy events. If you will be available on any of those 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! **

LobbyTraining: Vermont Lobbying & Communications Bootcamp
November 15,  9-3 pm,
Vermont Statehouse, Montpelier Vermont. 

Are you interested in learning how to become an effective advocate and how to influence policy in Vermont? Rural Vermont counts on activists to move our issues forward, and this is a great opportunity to learn the process or polish your skills before the 2012 legislative session begins.

Cost: $25.00

Click here for more details.

**Please note this is not a Rural Vermont event, the training is presented by Common Good Vermont and KSE Partners, LLP government affairs & strategic communications.**


Vermont Farm Viability Program

The Farm Viability Program has helped more than 350 farmers to increase profits, improve farm management, develop new, value-added products, and plan for farm transfers. Farmers are matched with consultants to provide individualized business assistance. The Program is also currently enrolling farmers to work on storm recovery plans. More information can be found online at www.vhcb.org/viability or by calling 802-828-3370.


11/04/11 Rural Vermont Update

In this Alert
Message from the Director

Dear Friends,

I hope this alert finds you well.  I wanted to take a moment to let you all know that after much thought and consternation, I have decided to move on from Rural Vermont.  For family and personal reasons, it made sense for me to make a change at this point.

It has been a true honor to work with all of you on the important issues that Rural Vermont successfully tackles everyday.  In today’s world of industrial scale agricultural and profits over people, it is only through the passion and dedicated hard work of individuals like you that gives the future of a vital agricultural economy in Vermont a fighting chance!

From Rural Vermont’s Food Sovereignty Campaign to our efforts to break down the barriers that prevent Vermont’s farmers from attaining economic justice, Rural Vermont is in a great place to continue this vital fight!

Again, it has been a privilege to work with all of you and, while I am stepping away from my role as director, I look forward to seeing all that you can accomplish through your collaboration, participation and dedication to a sustainable agricultural system in Vermont.

All the best,

Jared

P.S. if you or anyone you know is interested in applying for the directorship, learn more about the position and how to apply HERE.

ArtNOW OPEN!! RURAL VERMONT’S 3rd ANNUAL

“ART FOR AGRARIANS” ONLINE ART AUCTION

Mon, October 24th – Fri, December 9th at 5pm 
Check out and bid on more than a dozen pieces of artwork donated by Vermont artists that reflect Rural Vermont’s vision for Food with Dignity! This year’s auction includes a great mix of pieces and price points, so there is something for everyone …. original oils, black & white photos, woodwork, hand-forged steel, and much more. The bidding will take place online, but look for one or several pieces on display through November at the following farmstores:

  • WAAWWE in Chester, “Blue Jersey”
  • Mootique, Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center, agricultural jug
  • Family Cow Farmstand in Hinesburg, Fred Tuttle photo & “Autumn Grazing” 
  • Applecheek Farmstore in Hyde Park, “Cleaning up their Grain”

All of the artwork will be available for preview at the Capital City Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market at Montpelier High School on Nov 19th, at the Storytelling Benefit at the Songyard in Chester on Nov 20th, and (*just added!*) at the Burlington Farmers’ Market on Dec 3rd. All auction proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.

Events

Rural Vermont Events

BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING !

Rescheduled! Camembert, Queso Blanco, & Mozzarella

with Lea Calderon-Guthe

Wednesday, November 9th

10 am – 1 pm

Macora Farm, WOODSTOCK

Farmhouse Cheddar Curds,  Mozzarella, Yogurt, & Butter

Wednesday, December 7th

1 – 4 pm

Apple Ledge Farm, COVENTRY

More classes coming soon! 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.

** 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!

HOMEGROWN POTLUCK & KITCHEN TABLE CONVERSATION
November 17, 6 pm
rsvp for address, NEWBURY  

Rural Vermont kicks off a new series highlighting the traditional foods and connections that make each Vermont community unique. Bring and share food you’ve grown or raised yourself, or a traditional dish from Vermont’s collective past. Wild game? Organ meats? Homemade bread & butter? Pickled any/everything? Pull up a seat around the kitchen table and join neighbors and friends from the greater Newbury community for a supper that celebrates the area’s existing food culture and a conversation about defining this area’s local food system, adopting a long-term vision for this foodshed, and declaring food sovereignty. RSVP to  shelby@ruralvermont.org or call (802) 223-7222.

Visit this page for more information.

* More dates and locations coming soon.

 storyAFTER THE FLOOD: STORIES OF HEART & HOPE

WITH STORYTELLER ANNIE HAWKINS

Sunday, NOVEMBER 20 at 7 pm

the Songyard, 295 Main St., on the green in CHESTER

Rural Vermont is once again partnering with Grafton treasure Annie Hawkins to host the 3rd annual storytelling event and benefit for Rural Vermont. Join us for an evening of stories from past generations and distant cultures that speak to the resiliency, perseverance, kindness and courage that Vermonters displayed in the aftermath of the floods. Coffee and cake reception will follow — meet Annie, check out the “Art for Agrarians” gallery, and buy your farmer flood relief tee. Event most appropriate for adults and older children. $5-$10 sliding scale – all proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  Visit this page for more information.        

FOOD SOVEREIGNTY MEETING
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. Email robb@ruralvermont.org for more information.

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

Volunteer and Activist Needs  

Baking and event support for the Chester Storytelling EventWe have a few tasks that we could use your help with in support of this annual fundraiser. We need volunteers to bake some yummy treats, put up posters, and assist us on the day of the event. 

Windham/Windsor County residents- If you live in this area, can you hand out fliers advertising Rural Vermont’s Art Auction and storytelling event at your upcoming Thanksgiving Farmers’ Markets?

Local Food Sovereignty Campaign - As we gear up the local food sovereignty campaign, we need your help gathering signatures to place local food sovereignty articles on Town Meeting Day ballots. Contact Robbfor petitions or information to get an article on your Town Meeting Day agenda.

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 hosts Homegrown Potluck & Kitchen Table Conversation

November 17th at 6 pm in Newbury

As part of its food sovereignty campaign, Rural Vermont kicks off a new series highlighting the traditional foods and connections that make each Vermont community unique. On Thursday November 17th at 6 pm in Newbury, join neighbors and friends for an old-fashioned family-style meal that celebrates the area’s agricultural roots, and then stay for a conversation about what makes this foodshed special, and what changes could make it even better! The event is free. Please RSVP to shelby@ruralvermont.org or (802) 223-7222 for exact location.

Consider the potluck supper to be a delicious depiction of the greater Newbury community’s food culture and food system. Bring food with a story! This might be something that is homegrown/raised, or it might be a traditional dish from the area’s collective past. Wild game? Organ meats? Homemade bread & butter? Fermented veggies? The possibilities are endless!

After appreciating and enjoying the bountiful homegrown supper, the group will embark on a discussion that will examine the greater Newbury community’s food system, identify how and where opportunity for improvement exist, and begin the process to address these shortcomings. Folks should expect to walk away with full bellies, a sense of accomplishment, and some clear direction for moving this community towards food sovereignty.

Rural Vermont’s food sovereignty campaign seeks to declare the right of communities to produce, process, sell and purchase local foods. Vermonters have employed a food system based on community and intimate connections between farmers and their neighbors for generations. The advent of modern industry has forced many of these community-based food systems underground, and in many places has even destroyed them. Rural Vermont’s food sovereignty campaign seeks to recognize, revitalize, celebrate, and support these community-based food systems.


The Brattleboro Reformer: Group wants food sovereignty resolution

Move to get local food issue on town meeting warning
By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN
Wednesday November 2, 2011
Full Article

BRATTLEBORO — A statewide advocacy organization wants Brattleboro to consider a local food sovereignty question at this year’s Representative Town Meeting.

Rural Vermont wants towns all over the state to pass the food sovereignty resolutions at town meeting next year, and there will be a meeting to start working on the local initiative Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m., at the Marlboro Graduate Center.

Rural Vermont is working with Post Oil Solutions, a local advocacy group dedicated to energy issues, to stimulate local interest and try to get enough support to have the issue debated at the representative town meeting on Saturday, March 24.

Rural Vermont organizer Robb Kidd said too many federal laws restrict farmers from selling products directly to consumers.

Kidd said small farms routinely struggle with federal regulations and food safety rules that are typically written for much larger agriculture operations.

He wants towns to consider passing ordinances, which have more legal authority, and he said bringing up the resolutions this year will get communities to begin the discussions about local food sovereignty.

“This comes down to the right for consumers to purchase the food they want,” Kidd said. “We want to get people talking about the restrictions that are in place right now, that prevent consumers from buying more local food.”

Some Maine towns have held similar votes, and a few towns, including Sedgewick and Blue Hill, passed a Local Food and Community Self Governance ordinance last March.

Kidd said that while the local food movement has strengthened over the past few years, federal and state laws about raw milk, local meat and processed foods place costly and prohibitive burdens on farmers.

“The federal policy discussions do not take part in communities in Vermont,” said Kidd. “We want Vermont-scale policy. We want food policy to be debated in the community, where it belongs.”

Kidd said Rural Vermont is holding similar meetings all over the state to organize supporters who are willing to gather signatures and get the question on this year’s town meeting warning.

“Consumers should have the right to trust their neighbor on a community level,” Kidd said. “When you get into large, industrial food processing you need these rules. But those same rules shouldn’t prevent people from purchasing something from a local farmer.”

Post Oil Solutions Executive Director Tim Stevenson said Thursday’s meeting will give the groups a chance to gauge the support in Brattleboro for getting the question on this year’s representative town meeting warning.

Stevenson said it’s much more difficult to pass an ordinance, and said a resolution would help the town begin talking about the issue.

“This is a very important issue as we work to develop a community based food system,” said Stevenson. “Most of the federal food safety rules are written for the industrial food system, and they are onerous for small farmers. A resolution is way of saying that we are opposed to that. It is a good start.”


After the Flood: Stories of Heart & Hope: Rural Vermont’s Third Annual Storytelling Benefit

For immediate release: 10/31/11
Contact Person: Shelby Girard, (802) 223-7222, shelby@ruralvermont.org

Professional storyteller Annie Hawkins returns to headline the 3rd annual Rural Vermont storytelling benefit. Photo by Dona Ann McAdams.

Rural Vermont again partners with master storyteller Annie Hawkins for the third annual storytelling benefit in Chester, Vermont. “After the Flood: Stories of Heart and Hope” will feature a series of tales from past generations and distant cultures that speak to the resolve, compassion, and valor displayed by Vermonters in the aftermath of the floods. Adults and older children are welcome to join Annie and Rural Vermont on Sunday, November 20th at 7 pm at the Songyard, located at 295 Main Street in Chester. (Please note this is a different location than years past.) Admission is $5-$10 sliding scale, and all proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.

In explaining how Annie conjured up this year’s theme, she says that, “After the flood, I have been thinking a lot about community and connectiveness. I have been awed by Vermonters’ resiliency, perseverance, kindness and courage. There is also a need for solace. I have been remembering stories from many cultures that speak to our own culture in the here and now and celebrate those attributes that have been so much in evidence after the flood. I also desire to provide hope and solace via these lovely old stories that have nurtured humans for generations.”

Following the one-hour performance, stay for a reception with homemade refreshments and mingling. Meet Annie, learn more about Rural Vermont’s advocacy work on behalf of farmers, and peruse the gallery of artwork that makes up Rural Vermont’s 2011 “Art for Agrarians” online art auction. Artwork reflects Rural Vermont’s vision for food with dignity, and bids can be placed online through December 9th at www.ruralvermont.org.

Proceeds from the door fee will benefit Rural Vermont, and the organization’s work to secure economic justice for Vermont’s farmers. In support and solidarity with the farmers impacted by Tropical Storm Irene, the event will also raise funds for farmer flood relief through tee shirt sales and free will donations. A tee designed by Springfield artist Jamie Townsend will be available for purchase for $20, and a “farm flood relief” donation bucket will be passed. All tee proceeds and relief donations will benefit the Vermont Community Foundation’s Farm Disaster Relief Fund.

Annie Hawkins began her storytelling life when she was a wee sprite dressed in Doctor Denton pajamas and regaling her parents’ dinner guests with her fantastical made-up stories. Since 1989 she has performed at universities, theatres, museums, nature centers and other venues all over the country. Although she no longer wears pajamas when she performs, Annie still brings a child’s sense of exuberance and wonder to the stage. She is also the author of published short stories, poems and essays. Her column Renegade Poet was published in The Kennett Paper, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania for five years and won a Keystone Press Award. She currently writes a monthly column for The Weekly Commons in Brattleboro, VT.


Rural Vermont and Post Oil Solutions Partner to Develop Local Food Sovereignty

For immediate release: 10/12/11
Contact Person: Robb Kidd, (802) 223-7222, robb@ruralvermont.org

Rural Vermont and the Brattleboro area’s Post Oil Solutions announce a collaboration to facilitate discussions about local food sovereignty in the Brattleboro community.

The first meeting will be held at the Marlboro Graduate Center, Room 2 East, 28 Vernon Street, Brattleboro, on November 3 at 7pm. A half hour video presentation featuring Bob St Peter’s discussion about Sedgwick, Maine’s Local Food and Self Governance Ordinances will be aired to stimulate the conversation. Bob St Peter organized the passing of the ordinance in Sedgwick, Maine, is the Executive Director of Food for Maine’s Future and is currently on the board of the National Family Farm Coalition. Light refreshments will be available.

Rural Vermont, a statewide advocacy organization, has embarked on a campaign to facilitate discussions with local partners on developing local food sovereignty. Over the past 26 years, Rural Vermont has been engaged in advocating for agricultural policy change in Vermont, and continues to face enormous hurdles with federal and state policies and a commodity food system that undervalues local sourced food. Rural Vermont is working with communities all throughout Vermont in their campaign to support food sovereignty. Robb Kidd, Rural Vermont Organizer, states that “too many times food policy discussions take place in small meeting rooms in Montpelier, and inadvertently leave the communities out of the discussion. Rural Vermont is bringing food discussions back to the local community, where it belongs.”

Collaborating with Post Oil Solutions, Rural Vermont is excited to work with a local, community-based organization addressing solutions to the challenges of modern society. Tim Stevenson, Founding Director of Post Oil solutions, states that “food sovereignty means food democracy, the right of a people to choose how we will feed ourselves. It means reclaiming our right as communities to control our food system, from seed to table, to produce, process, sell and purchase our local foods as we decide.  As an organization dedicated to building a regional community-based food system, Post Oil Solutions believes that food sovereignty is second to none to fulfilling this mission.”

Rural Vermont and Post Oil Solutions welcome input from the Brattleboro community. Part of the agenda of the meeting is to begin a process for Brattleboro and Windham County communities to cultivate local food sovereignty as each community feels appropriate. Whether the approach is to adopt local food sovereignty ordinances similar to what the community of Sedgwick, Maine passed last March, or to proceed with Vermont’s tradition of Town Meeting Day advisory resolutions, we hope to build upon the success of the growing international movement for food sovereignty.

Rural Vermont is a nonprofit advocacy group founded by farmers in 1985 that advocates, activates, and educates for living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities. For more info, call (802) 223-7222, visit www.ruralvermont.org, or email robb@ruralvermont.org.

Post Oil Solutions is a group of citizens from the Southeast Vermont bio-region who began meeting in June 2005. Post Oils Solutions works in the communities that straddle the Connecticut River between Southeastern Vermont, Southwestern New Hampshire and Northwestern Massachusetts, though most of the work centers on the more populated towns of Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. In working toward the vision of sustainable and socially just communities, they are inspired by what they value most.  For more info, call 802.869.2141, visit www.postoilsolutions, or email info@postoilsolutions.org.