Author Archives: Mollie

Seven Days: Unnatural Selection

A Vermont bill seeks to label genetically modified foods
By Corin Hirsch
Full Article

The label on your corn oil or cereal or tortilla chips reads “pure, 100 percent natural” or “all natural” — but what does that mean?

According to federal rules, not much. There may be traces of genetically modified soy, corn, potatoes or other crops inside. The word “natural” conveys only that a food contains no added color, artificial flavors or additives. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, get a free pass. And, since the word “natural” still has a powerful pull for consumers, its use and abuse aren’t limited to corporate giants such as ConAgra. Food items from companies as seemingly crunchy as Kashi (owned by Kellogg’s) and Barbara’s Bakery have also been fingered for harboring GMOs.

The state of Vermont has more stringent rules on misbranding than the federal ones, and those are at the heart of the bold bill H.722, aka the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. Introduced in February by Rep. Kate Webb (D-Shelburne), it would require all foods that contain GMOs to say so on their packages.

“Vermonters care about food, and Vermonters care about choice. Choice is what this bill is about,” writes Webb in an email. “With this bill, the word ‘naturally’ would actually mean something.”

This is not the first time a state has sought to label foods containing GMOs. With 93 percent of Americans supporting such labels, according to an ABC News poll, 17 states are considering bills to do just that. Supporters in California are gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to bring the measure to a ballot this fall, and a national campaign called Just Label It aims to collect a million comments to send to the Food and Drug Administration urging it to label GMOs.

This groundswell of support feels decidedly retro, at least in the global context. The European Union began requiring GMO labeling in 2004. Fifty nations do the same, and the United States and Canada are the only developed countries that don’t regulate such identification.

“It’s just one more example of how we’re really behind the curve of where the world is going,” says Andrea Stander, director of Rural Vermont, one of the organizations that cowrote Vermont’s bill, along with the Northeast Organic Farming Association and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “So many people are excited about this, because we can draw a line in the sand and say, ‘Enough. We want to know,’” she adds.

According to various estimates, a staggering 60 to 80 percent of all foods on grocery shelves contain genetically engineered components, yet the FDA has shied away from requiring GMO labels. The feds claim they hinder free trade and that no research definitively proves GMOs harm human health.

Despite this opposition, Vermont’s strong stance on accurate labeling could carry H.722 into state law. “As this bill is based on Vermont’s misbranding statutes, it is more likely to survive a challenge in federal court,” says David Rogers, NOFA’s policy adviser. “In the past, labeling bills have been challenged because they might violate the commercial clause of the Constitution. Misbranding statutes are a purview of the states.”

Rogers theorizes that no state has yet successfully passed a GMO labeling law because of the enormous sway of food-industry giants. To counter their clout, Vermont’s 16-page bill draws strength from detailed legalese — it goes as far as defining enzymes, organisms, genetic engineering and “in vitro nucleic acid techniques.”

“Someone has to lead, and Vermont has led before in a number of areas,” says Rogers.

After the EU changed its labeling law in 2004, many consumers stopped buying foods with GMOs, forcing companies to abandon those crops, as well. Here on American soil, the prospect that ConAgra or Frito-Lay might need to relabel all its products to sell them in a tiny state seems almost surreal. Stander points out that, if the bill passes, producers will have just until 2014 to comply.

“If the bill passes into law, we are almost guaranteed a lawsuit from the big food businesses, declaring the new law violates the FDA nutrition-labeling law,” says Rep. Webb. “We believe it does not.”

Stander says she’s been surprised by the intense support of Vermonters in this effort. “In the kinds of issues we work on, there is always a certain amount of controversy,” she says. “[The bill] just seems to be pretty strongly in favor of the very simple, basic right to know.”

H.722 needs to move out of the ag committee by this Friday to “cross over” and continue its passage toward law. And if it doesn’t? “There is always next year,” says Webb. “Or the year after that. Or the year after that.”

“The ag committee in our state has the opportunity to be really bold and respond to the overwhelming public support for this and move this bill forward. That’s all they have to do — move it forward,” says Stander. “We have people lined up to testify who have expertise. We just want the chance to do it.”

Times Argus: Know where your food is produced

By Katie Spring
March 15, 2012
Full Article

On Friday, the House of Representatives will vote on H.722, The Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, which would require genetically modified food sold in Vermont to be labeled as such. It is critical that this bill passes out of the House in order for it to stay alive and for the legislation to move forward into the Senate.

Genetically Modified Organisms are created by using viruses and bacteria to invade cells in order to introduce foreign genes into those cells — a process that cannot occur in nature and is inherently different from traditional cross-breeding between similar species. Some plants are genetically modified to withstand herbicides, some are modified to produce their own pesticide (which cannot be washed off before consuming, since the pesticide becomes part of the genetic makeup of the plant), and some are modified to do both. Because GMO crops can withstand herbicides and pesticides, they are regularly sprayed with higher doses of harsh chemicals than are traditional crops.

Currently, 80 percent of our food contains GMOs, which often show up in processed foods with ingredients derived from corn, soy, and canola, among others. GMOs have been on the market and in our food since 1995, and in 2010 they comprised 165 million acres of American cropland. Foods containing GMOs have never been labeled.

Therefore, there has never been any way to trace how GMOs interact in the human body or the environment, and without this traceability, we do not have the ability to conduct the comprehensive research necessary to understanding how GMOs affect people and natural resources. Vermont is now looking at a bill that can change that. A bill that will mandate the labeling of all foods produced with GMOs.

Right now, the issue is that, according to state and national polls, 90 percent of Vermonters and 87 percent of Americans want to know how our food is produced. We want the freedom of information and our personal choice to be honored, and right now that freedom is being withheld and that choice is being denied.

We have the right to know what is in our food, and it is time to mandate the labeling of all GMOs, and time to give us back our choice. Please call your representative today and let him/her know you support the labeling of GMO foods.

For more information on GMOs and ways to take action, please visit and

Katie Spring grew up in Barre but now lives in Hyde Park.


Dear Members and Friends,

I’m contacting you with an URGENT request for your help. The Vermont Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (H.722), which would require that food sold in Vermont be labeled if it has been genetically engineered, is in danger of getting left behind.

The Legislature has returned from its Town Meeting Week break and is heading rapidly toward a crucial deadline. By Friday of this week, all bills must pass out of the committees where they started in order to continue through the legislative process. This deadline is called “crossover.”

H.722 is in the House Agriculture Committee and we expect there will be testimony taken on it beginning today. However, we are very worried that the Committee will not give it enough attention to pass it in time for the crossover deadline on Friday.


1. Call the State House at 828-2228 within the next 48 hours and leave your name, number and the following message for your representative: I support H.722. Please urge your colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to give H.722 a fair hearing and pass it by this Friday. ASK YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO CALL YOU BACK.

You can find your Representative in the Legislative Directory.

2. If your representative serves on the House Agriculture Committee – [see list below] –  or if you know ANY of the members of the Ag Committee – Contact them TODAY by phone 828-2228 or email and urge the Committee to pass H.722 this week so it can continue through the legislative process.

With your help we can keep this important bill alive.

Thank YOU!

Andrea Stander
Director, Rural Vermont

P. S.

If you haven’t done it yet, please sign the Vermont Right to Know GMOs petition in support of H.722, so we can easily keep you up to date on the next steps in the campaign to label genetically engineered food. And please “like” this campaign on Facebook. THANKS!

House Committee on Agriculture: (phone numbers listed are home phone numbers)

Rep. Partridge, Carolyn (Windham) Chair
(802) 874-4182, E-Mail:

Rep. Lawrence, Richard, (Lyndonville) Co-Chair
(802) 626-5917, (802) 626-5538,  E-Mail:

Rep. Bartholomew, John L., (Hartland)
(802) 436-2151  E-Mail:

Rep. Conquest, Chip, (Newbury)
(802) 757-3803  E-Mail:

Rep. Howrigan, Richard J., (Fairfield)
(802) 827-6513

Rep. Kilmartin, Duncan F., (Newport City)
(802) 334-7883  E-Mail:

Rep. McAllister, Norm, (Franklin)
(802) 285-6363,  E-Mail:

Rep. McNeil, Jim, (Rutland Town)
(802) 775-2665, E-Mail:

Rep. Stevens, Will, (Shoreham)
(802) 897-7031, E-Mail:

Rep. Taylor, Tess, (Barre City)
(802) 479-4235, E-Mail:

Rep. Zagar, Teo, (Barnard)
(802) 558-3966, E-Mail:

EIGHT Communities Demonstrate Support on Town Meeting Day for Vermonters Feeding Vermonters

With the broad support of thousand of friends and neighbors, Rural Vermont successfully petitioned and passed local food sovereignty resolutions on Town Meeting Day in Benson, Calais, Charlotte, Chester, Groton, Montpelier, Peacham, and West Windsor.  These communities demonstrated the broad based support for enhancing and expanding the ability of Vermonters to Feed Vermonters. Communities overwhelmingly voted by wide margins to pass these resolutions. Article 41, the Montpelier Local Food Sovereignty Resolution, passed by 1948 to 461 votes. All other towns easily passed on voice votes.

These diverse communities all support the vision of a local food system that meets the needs of our community, supports our farmers, and sustains our lands. Debate at town meetings and events prior to Town Meeting Day highlighted the real on-the-ground problems farmers and consumers face accessing community-based foods. Whether it is a farmer in Chester who cannot sell milk to her customers at her market just down the road, costly regulatory burdens for a small goat farmer in Peacham, or the concerns of a Calais resident who wants to know if her food has been genetically engineered, Vermonters are concerned about where their food is coming from and want to see policies that are appropriate to the needs of their communities.

Calais Farmer Peter Harvey stated, “Food Sovereignty is about taking back our basic rights to be able to choose what we eat in a country and state that increasingly is forcing us to eat industrially manufactured food. Food Sovereignty is about allowing people to eat food that their neighbors grow, produce, and share on a small local scale, without the threat of violence from the giant food industry and state government regulators.”

Rural Vermont Organizer and Montpelier Resident Robb Kidd said “too many times food policy discussions take place in small meeting rooms of multi-national corporations and Washington D.C., and leave the affected communities out of the discussion.”

Speaking of her town’s resolution, Lisa Kaiman, a Chester farmer, passionately emphasized that “it is ridiculous and silly that consumers have to express a desire to preserve their right to buy local food.  It seems like a ‘given’ in this free country of ours.  The most basic of ‘givens.’  But since it isn’t, we need to stand and be heard or go hungry!”

The Town Meeting Day resolutions are just one piece of Rural Vermont’s broad campaign to support Vermonters Feeding Vermonters. Rural Vermont will continue collaborating with communities and groups throughout Vermont to develop local food systems that sustain our farmers, our communities, and our lands.

For more information, contact Robb Kidd, (802) 223-7222,

05/16 Rural Vermont’s 27th Annual Celebration

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

6:30 – 9 pm
The Wilder Center, 2087 Hartford Ave. (Route 5)
WILDER (just north of White River Junction)

Free for members; $5-$10 sliding scale for all else

With keynote address by BEN HEWITT: “The Future is in the Dirt: Growing the Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”

You’re invited to join us for this festive occasion and annual gathering of Rural Vermont supporters! Celebrate Rural Vermont’s recent progress towards Vermonters Feeding Vermonters over potluck food and drink with live and local music. In addition to Ben’s keynote, also expect Rural Vermont’s annual meeting, farm fresh five raffle, awards ceremony, and board elections.

“The Future’s in the Dirt” will be a lively presentation and conversation that digs into the challenges and potential of Vermont’s rapidly growing local foods movement. How can we build healthy, regionalized economies that honor the producers, consumers, and environment? What will it take to ensure a vibrant culture of Vermonters feeding Vermonters? The answers are not always obvious, but the need to find them has never been more urgent.

Rural Vermont’s 2012 Annual Celebration is being sponsored by NOFA-VT, Upper Valley Food Co-op, Cedar Circle Farm, Chelsea Green Publishing, Building a Local Economy (BALE), Edible Green Mountains, Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association, Bob White Systems, High Mowing Seeds, Sterling College, South Royalton Market, Vermont Compost Company, Local Banquet, and Way Out Wax.

Live Music! Nancy & Mike Wood
“Michael and Nancy Wood … or … bluegrass, folk, and country met classical, blues, and jazz over thirty years ago on an elevator. Vocals, melodic mandolin, finger picking and great guitar chords are blended into a sound that only comes from time and seasoning.”

Cash bar with Vermont Beer
A welcome addition to this year’s event will be bar service, provided by the Hotel Coolidge. Available for purchase will be a variety of red and white wines, as well as the following Vermont brews: Long Trail Ale, Harpoon IPA, Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter, and Otter Creek Vermont Lager. (non-alcoholic beer available too)

Farm Fresh Five Raffle
Buy a $5 ticket, either in advance or at the event, and be entered to win one of five super sweet food & farm raffle prizes. Win gardening supplies and seeds; a basket o’ books featuring authors Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, Daniel Imhoff and keynote Ben Hewitt; two different coolers of the freshest farm fare; or a private dairy processing lesson in your home! Note: Winners pulled at the Annual Celebration, but need not be present to win. For all the details, click the links below.

Learn more about the FARM FRESH FIVE RAFFLE

Special Offer – Help us sell FARM FRESH FIVE raffle tickets and get yourself some freebies!
Farm Fresh Five raffle tickets are on sale, and we need the help of our Rural Vermont supporters to make this fundraiser a big success! Help us sell tickets, and for every five you sell, you’ll get a ticket of your own for free! To get started, email today.

Want to win a Hunger Mountain Co-op gift certificate?
Are you a Rural Vermont member? –> bring a non-member friend, and you’ll be entered! Invite everyone you know!
Not a member? –> Become a member (or renew your membership) at the event with a sliding scale donation of more than $10, and you’ll be entered!

From I-91 North or South, take Exit 12 toward Route 5/Wilder. Follow signs to Route 5 North (Hartford Ave.). Turn onto Route 5 North, and travel a little under a mile to the Wilder Center on the right. It is located at the corner of Route 5 and Gillette Street in the Wilder Village Historic District in the town of Hartford, Vermont.

Please carpool if you can! Park in the Dataman parking lot, located on the left-hand side (coming from the Interstate), just before the Wilder Center. This lot is a very short walk from the Wilder Center. For those who need onsite parking, there is a very limited number of spots available at the Wilder Center.

To Bring:

  • finger food potluck item
  • a place setting to help us minimize trash
  • money for the Farm Fresh Five raffle, merchandise, cash bar, entry and/or membership (for non-members)
  • any Farm Fresh Five raffle tickets you’ve sold and money you’ve collected in advance (see above ‘special offer’)
  • friends, family, neighbors – anyone and everyone you know who cares about real food and supporting our state’s farmers! This annual event is the best way to introduce new folks to Rural Vermont!

Download the ANNUAL CELEBRATION POSTER. Help us spread the word by printing and hanging it around your community!

Read the PRESS RELEASE with more details


Check out the Save the Date Postcard!

03/05 Town Meeting Day Action Alert

In this Alert:
Message from the Director
Legislative Update
Update on Town Meeting Day Events
Dairy Processing Classes – NEW schedule available!
Activist and Volunteer Needs
Join Us!
Message From The Director

Dear Members and Friends:

Whew! We made it. Town Meeting Week! The Legislators have gone home for a week, you can probably find a parking place and a seat for lunch in Montpelier, and we all get to play a role in local democracy on Town Meeting Day!


<<< Please let us know if YOUR town considers a Food Sovereignty resolution on March 6th. If you have questions or need help bringing up a resolution in your town, please contact Rural Vermont’s Organizer Robb Kidd or call the office 802-223-7222. You can learn more about Local Food Sovereignty and our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign on our website.

CORRECTION & APOLOGY: In preparation for Town Meeting Day, Rural Vermont organized a variety of what we called “Town Eating Day” events focused on promoting the Food Sovereignty Resolutions we helped place on several Town Meeting Day ballots. What we didn’t realize is that this phrase had already been claimed by a group of civic-minded residents of Norwich who have been organizing Norwich Town Eating Day for the past six years as a way to promote more participation in local affairs and Town Meeting Day. Our sincere apologies for borrowing a good idea!

Read the Update on Town Meeting Day Events below. Thanks to everyone who helped make them possible Also, please check out the brand new schedule of Raw Milk Dairy Processing Classes. I look forward to reporting to you on the results of our Town Meeting Day efforts next week.

Andrea Stander


VT Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act – H.722

Last week the House Agriculture Committee heard an introduction of the bill by its lead sponsor Rep. Kate Webb of Shelburne. The Committee members asked a variety of questions expressing strong interest in the bill. Unfortunately, Chair of the Committee, Rep. Carolyn Partridge of Windham, has decided that before taking any other testimony on the bill she wanted to hear from Assistant Attorney General Elliot Burg to get his opinion of the legal footing of the bill. Regrettably, Asst. AG Burg will not be available to the Committee until the week after the Town Meeting Break.

The VT Right To Know GMOs coalition (Rural Vermont, VPIRG and NOFA-VT) are working quickly to line up a diverse group of Vermont and national experts to offer testimony to the House Ag Committee as soon as they return after the break. You can help support this campaign right now by joining over 3000 Vermonters and signing the petition in support of the VT Right To Know GMOs campaign. Doing so will enable us to keep in touch with you about specific actions you can take to help pass this bill. We’re going to need all hands on deck to demonstrate that having the Right To Know whether food is genetically engineered is something that Vermonters want NOW! For more information contact Andrea or call Rural Vermont at 223-7222.

The Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bills – H.496 & S.246

Following the unanimous vote by the House Agriculture Committee, the House version of the bill H. 496 has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee where it will be considered after the Town Meeting break. You can read the latest versions of both bills and also learn more about them on the Vermont Council on Rural Development website. Rural Vermont supports the ambitious goal of these bills to create greater investment in and focus on the critical role that our working farm and forest lands play in sustaining Vermont and Vermonters. Please contact Andrea or call Rural Vermont at 223-7222 if you would like more information.

An Act Relating to Establishing a Vermont Farm Guest Worker Program – S.238 This bill, which seeks to address issues of justice and fairness for Vermont’s many migrant farm workers, was taken up in the Senate Agriculture Committee and passed unanimously last Friday. We don’t yet have access to the bill as passed by the Senate Ag Committee. Rural Vermont will be reviewing the details of the bill and will provide more information in our next Legislative Update.


At Town Meeting Day on March 6, 2012, several towns around the state will be considering a local “Food Sovereignty” resolution. In anticipation of this important vote and declaration of support for “Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”, Rural Vermont has partnered with local food justice activists to inform voters about the resolution language, build support for approval of the resolutions, and highlight great local food.

ATTENTION CALAIS RESIDENTS ! Tuesday, March 6th, lunchtime Town Hall, Gospel Hollow, CALAIS During the lunch hour at Town Meeting Day, help yourself to some “Food Sovereignty” fare showcasing Calais’ underground cuisine. Imagine a world, much like the vision outlined in Calais’ Food Sovereignty resolution, where anything and everything our neighbors can grow, raise, and process is legally available to the Calais community. If you’re a Calais resident and would like to contribute a dish to the spread, contact Peter Harvey at (802) 229-4026. Below are highlights from the events that have already happened – please thank and patronize the local businesses and farms that participated.

MONTPELIER’S THREE PENNY TAP ROOM SUPPORTED LOCAL FOOD SOVEREIGNTY Last Thursday, one of Montpelier’s premier watering holes for local food enthusiasts hosted an evening of good beer, good food and good conversation about Article 41, Montpelier’s Local Food Sovereignty Resolution. Many thanks to Three Penny Taproom’s Wes, Scott, and Matt for contributing a portion of the evening’s proceeds to support Rural Vermont’s Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign.

CHESTER’S FULLERTON INN HOSTED “LEAP FOR LOCAL” Rural Vermont extends a sincere THANK YOU to Fullerton Inn proprietors Bret and Nancy Rugg and their head chef James Belliveau for hosting a wonderfully tasty evening (on Leap Day) that showcased the food products of many Chester area farms. Key to the evening’s success (in spite of an impending 10″ snowstorm) was the tireless organizing and outreach by farmer Lisa Kaiman of Jersey Girls Dairy and WAAWWE Farm Market. It was great to meet so many Chester area folks and to sample all the great food that Chef Belleiveau prepared from the local farm products. Many of the items from this special tasting menu are now available on the Fullerton Inn’s regular dining menu – if you missed the event or you’re hungry for more, make a reservation for the Fullerton Inn!

GROTON’S BROWN’S MARKET BISTRO PIZZA PARTY IN SUPPORT OF FOOD SOVEREIGNTY On Feb 13, more than a dozen Groton voters converged on Brown’s Market Bistro to share pizza and discuss strategy for passing their Town Meeting Day Local Food Sovereignty resolution. Rural Vermont is grateful for the assistance of Mary Berlejung in organizing such a tasty way to promote local civic participation, and to Zach Reid for donating the Bistro space.


The inquiries about Rural Vermont’s next round of dairy classes have been rolling in! The chilly temperatures today are reminding me of a recent, similarly cold afternoon that I spent making ricotta cheese from milk purchased at my local farm, which I then assembled into a creamy, gooey, delicious lasagna. If today’s brisk temps are finding you craving nourishing, wholesome foods, then Rural Vermont’s dairy classes are just what you’ll need to warm your soul. Sign up today!

Back by popular demand! Feta, Soft Cheese, Yogurt, & Kefir
with the Metta Earth team & cows’ milk
Sunday, March 25th from 1 – 4 pm
Metta Earth Institute Inc., LINCOLN

Mozzarella, Ricotta, & Butter
with Ben Crockett, Ashlyn Bristle, & cows’ milk
Saturday, March 31st from 1 – 4 pm
Black Dog Farm, NEWFANE
* please note NEW date & addition of butter!

Mozzarella, Ricotta & Ice Cream
with Karen Nicholson & goats’ milk
Wednesday, April 11th from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Stepping Stone Farm, STOWE

Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-style Cheese, & Chevre
with Elizabeth Moulton & goats’ milk
Wednesday, April 25th from 10 am – 1 pm
Popplewood Farm, ANDOVER

Butter, Yogurt, & Mozzarella
with Tamara Martin & cows’ milk
Wednesday, May 9th from 1 – 4 pm
Chandler Pond Farm, WHEELOCK

Cottage Cheese & Yogurt Panna Cotta
with Margaret Osha & cows’ milk
Wednesday, May 23rd from 1 – 4 pm

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
Activist and Volunteer Needs

As a grassroots organization, Rural Vermont relies on the generosity and commitment of volunteers to help us accomplish our goals. Throughout the year we need your help advancing our issues in many ways. Consider working with Rural Vermont to help spread the word about our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaign!

Current Volunteer Opportunities:

Town Meeting Day – Tues. March 6 – is an excellent opportunity to meet and chat with your neighbors. In addition to promoting Local Food Sovereignty Resolutions, we could use your help distributing info regarding the Vermont Right to Know GMOs campaign.

Posters – If you live near one of our upcoming events, please contact us if you can help hang posters in your community! Right now, we especially need help for the March dairy classes. If you live in or around Lincoln or Newfane and can hang posters, please be in touch asap!

Recruiters – Are you good at talking to people and getting them excited about important issues? Consider helping Rural Vermont recruit new members and activists.

Email Robb, or call 802-223-7222 to get involved today!!!
JoinJoin Us!

Rural Vermont communicates with its supporters in a number of ways – email, mail, and phone. To ensure that you’re not missing any important updates, please join the full mailing list here. You can sign up to be a dues-paying member of Rural Vermont by visiting this page.

12/09 Rural Vermont Benefit Contra Dance

Sunday, December 9th
Beginners’ workshop at 7:15 pm, dance starts at 7:30 pm
Sliding scale general admission $10-$15, students & seniors $7

Join Rural Vermont and our friends at Brattleboro Contra for a night of great fun for a great cause! Never contra danced? Contra dancing is an upbeat, accessible, community dance tradition that is deeply rooted in the culture of rural New England. The figures and steps are simple to learn, the dances will be taught and prompted by the evening’s caller Rebecca Lay, and there will be live music by talented performers, including Ethan Hazzard-Watkins on fiddle, Anna Patton on clarinet, and Andy Davis on piano. All levels and ages welcome.

All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont!

More details coming soon …

Fun, fun, fun at last year’s Contra Dance!


11/18 4th Annual Rural Vermont Storytelling Benefit

In the Arms of Mother Earth: Living Close to the Land
with Annie Hawkins
Sunday, November 18th – 7 pm
First Universalist Parish, CHESTER

For four years now, Rural Vermont has partnered with master storyteller Annie Hawkins for an enchanted evening of traditional folk tales rooted in rural life. Join us for the fourth annual event, guaranteed to captivate and delight adults and children of all ages (however not well suited for the very young). Following the performance, stay to mingle over refreshments with Annie and Rural Vermont staff and board, as well as browse Annie’s CD collection and Rural Vermont merchandise.

Annie Hawkins. Photo credit: Dona McAdams.

About Annie:
Annie Hawkins has been performing at universities, theatres, museums, nature centers and other venues all over the country for two decades. She brings a childs 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.

“Please count on us being there with metaphoric bells on. Having seen Annie perform, I know this is an event not to be missed. We’ll be driving about 2.5 hours to come to Chester for anyone who needs a challenge/example/incentive to overcome seasonal or weekend inertia.”  —Fiona Farrell, Full Circle Farm, Saratoga, New York

09/16 5th Annual Tour de Farms

A fundraiser for Rural Vermont, Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, and ACORN
Sunday, September 16th
Shoreham Green, SHOREHAM
Advanced registration now open!

Visit this page for all the details!

Tour de Farms cyclists sampling a variety of quiche at Doolittle Farm

The 5th Annual Tour de Farms, Sunday September 16th, Shoreham VT. Annual event drawing 500+ participants and offering three bike routes and one walking route, each with designated stops along the way where farms and restaurants provide samples of locally-produced foods. Some of last year’s bites included heirloom tomatoes, oriental lamb chops, grilled turkey sausage, and maple-candied nuts. New this year – children’s books in the StoryWalk format at several farm stops, a walking option, a video contest, and the option to fundraise for your favorite group. The Tour is co-organized by ACORN, Rural Vermont, and the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and is a fundraiser for all three organizations. For more information, call Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or visit

Natural News: Harvard Study: Pasteurized milk from industrial dairies linked to cancer

February 27, 2012
Jonathan Benson
American government seeks to further perpetuate the lie that all milk is the same with egregious new provisions in 2012 Farm Bill
The truth has once again shaken the foundation of the ‘American Tower of Babel’ that is mainstream science, with a new study out of Harvard University showing that pasteurized milk product from factory farms is linked to causing hormone-dependent cancers. It turns out that the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) model of raising cows on factory farms churns out milk with dangerously high levels of estrone sulfate, an estrogen compound linked to testicular, prostate, and breast cancers.

Dr. Ganmaa Davaasambuu, Ph.D., and her colleagues specifically identified “milk from modern dairy farms” as the culprit, referring to large-scale confinement operations where cows are milked 300 days of the year, including while they are pregnant. Compared to raw milk from her native Mongolia, which is extracted only during the first six months after cows have already given birth, pasteurized factory milk was found to contain up to 33 times more estrone sulfate.

Meanwhile, raw, grass-fed, organic milk from cows milked at the proper times is linked to improving digestion, healing autoimmune disorders, and boosting overall immunity, which can help prevent cancer. Though you will never hear any of this from the mainstream media, all milk is not the same — the way a cow is raised, when it is milked, and how its milk is handled and processed makes all the difference in whether or not the end product promotes health or death.

American government seeks to further perpetuate the lie that all milk is the same with egregious new provisions in 2012 Farm Bill

Of particular concern are new provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill that create even more incentives for farmers to produce the lowest quality, and most health-destroying, type of milk possible. Rather than incentivize grazing cows on pastures, which allows them to feed on grass, a native food that their systems can process, the government would rather incentivize confined factory farming methods that force cows to eat genetically-modified (GM) corn and other feed, which makes them sick.

As it currently stands, the government already provides incentives for farmers to stop pasturing their animals, instead confining them in cages as part of a Total Confinement Dairy Model, aka factory farms. But the 2012 Farm Bill will take this a step further by outlawing “component pricing” for milk, which involves allowing farmers to sell milk with higher protein and butterfat at a higher price.

Allowing farmers to sell higher quality milk at a higher price provides an incentive for them to improve the living conditions on their farms, and milk better cow breeds. But the U.S. government would rather standardize all milk as being the same, and create a system where farmers continue to produce cancer-causing milk from sick cows for the millions of children to drink.