Author Archives: Mollie

The Journal: In focus: War of words over plan to ban ‘raw milk’

10/9/11
Full Article

A GROUP of artisan foodmakers are at odds with the government’s food safety body over plans to ban the sale of unpasteurised ‘raw’ milk – rejecting claims that the ban is a logical move to reduce health risks.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has recommended that the government restore an outright ban on the sale of such milk, which had been originally introduced in the mid 1990s but overturned by a European directive in 2007.

Opponents of the proposed ban – including some of Ireland’s best-known restaurateurs – believe there is no reason for the ban, arguing that the government should instead try to educate people on how to avoid some of the potential health risks posed.

“The primary reason why we don’t think the ban should go ahead involves choice,” said Elisabeth Ryan, of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in Co Meath, who is leading a campaign urging the government not to ban the sale of raw milk.

“We think people are educated enough and clever enough to be able to read – we’re not saving raw milk should be sold from every single farmer around Ireland! Our suggestion is that small dairy farmers, who have regulations on them, be allowed to sell raw milk – and people be allowed to buy it.”

Ryan explained that the largest consumers of raw milk are farming families who drink the produce of their own dairy herds – and that statistics from the time the original ban was introduced showed suggested that as many as 100,000 Irish families drank raw milk.


The Bridge: The Right to Choose What We Eat

Rural Vermont Drafts Food Sovereignty Resolution
SEPTEMBER 15–OCTOBER 5, 2011
By Sylvia Fagin
Full Article (See page 5)

Does an individual really have the right to eat whatever he or she wants to eat? This is the fundamental question behind Rural Vermont’s food sovereignty campaign. Rural Vermont, the statewide group dedicated to advancing economic justice for Vermont farmers through advocacy and education, is ramping up a campaign to encourage towns and villages to consider the issue of food sovereignty at their 2012 town meetings, according to Robb Kidd, an organizer with the group. Sovereignty means supreme authority. Considering the
issue of food sovereignty, Rural Vermont takes this position:

“We declare the right of communities to produce, process, sell and purchase local foods. In recognition of Vermont’s traditional agricultural systems, we assert these vital principles
as the foundation of local Food Sovereignty.”

This current effort stems from Rural Vermont’s past statewide advocacy work on issues including meat-processing regulation and the right to buy and sell raw milk. Much of
Rural Vermont’s work focuses on ways consumers can purchase food directly from farmers. “In a lot of our work, we’re running into legislative dead ends and federal rules and regulations that don’t allow any more growth in the market,” Kidd said. He noted that the recently released Farm-to-Plate plan reports that only 5 percent
of the food consumed in Vermont is produced in Vermont.

“How are we going to change that?” Kidd asked. “Big food trucks still rumble into Montpelier daily.”

In order for Vermonters to be able to buy more food from their farmer-neighbors, some regulations, both state and federal, will have to change, Kidd said. The first step is educating more people about the issues.

“Even though there’s a lot of support from Vermont politicians, we feel there needs to be a vast culture change,” Kidd said. “One way to do this is in communities themselves. This
campaign is about bringing the message to town halls, to get this issue talked about on a greater level.”

Town Meeting Day discussions serve to inform a greater number of Vermonters on the details of a particular issue, Kidd said, citing past Town Meeting Day topics such as nuclear
power. Rural Vermont is encouraging towns and villages to consider a food sovereignty resolution at their town meeting in 2012 and to adopt resolution language that speaks specifically to the individual community’s history and direction regarding
food and agriculture. “For example, a town may have had a slaughter facility and want to address that issue,” Kidd said.

As a first step, Kidd has convened a group of Montpelier residents to draft a food-sovereignty petition to present to Montpelier voters on Town Meeting Day in March 2012.

The Montpelier group continues to meet to discuss how to build support for this petition. Kidd hopes that the Montpelier petition will build momentum that will spread to other communities. A lot of people are interested, he said. “I could see 15 to 50 towns taking
it on,” he estimated. “Ideally, I’d like to have 250 towns take it on. Even if they all rejected it, they’d have had a conversation about it.”

With this campaign, Rural Vermont aims to build grassroots community support to enable legislators to take a stronger stand on tough agricultural issues, Kidd said. “We want to give legislators the political capital to make tougher decisions or address issues that aren’t being addressed now.”

Kidd introduced the food sovereignty campaign at the Growing Local Fest in Montpelier on September 10. Many attendees were supportive of the effort.

“This is an issue that unites left and right, because there is nothing more fundamental than feeding ourselves,” said Josh Schlossberg of East Montpelier. Rich Scharf of Duxbury agreed: “The decisions about what


Rural Vermont statement on the detention of migrant farm workers

Rural Vermont statement on the detention of two migrant farmworkers detained after traffic stop.

For immediate release: 09/21/11
Contact Person: Jared Carter (802) 223-7222, jared@ruralvermont.org

Rural Vermont supports the right of all farmers to earn a decent living and support themselves and their families irrespective of where they are from or the color of their skin. “The recent detention of hard working migrant farmers runs counter to our vision of an agricultural system that celebrates our diversity and interdependence,” says Jared Carter, Executive Director of Rural Vermont. “As an organization dedicated to the goal of economic justice for farmers, we cannot pick and choose which farmers are worthy of that goal,” adds Carter. Rural Vermont stands ready to work with any and all toward our vision of economic justice for farmers and a vibrant local food system that nurtures people and animals with wholesome, natural products and supports thriving farms and communities.

Rural Vermont’s vision is for a Vermont local food system which is self-reliant and based on reverence for the earth. It builds living soils which nurture animals and people with wholesome, natural products, supporting healthy, thriving farms and communities. These communities in turn work to encourage and support current and future farmers, continuing our Vermont heritage.


Cheddar and Manchego Cheesemaking Class

October 7th at Pine Meadow Farm in Cornwall

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

Luscious and creamy Jersey raw milk being prepared for the cheesemaking process.

Rural Vermont has been hosting its Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing Classes for several years now, and almost everyone who has attended has requested that hard cheeses be included in the offerings. Well, the time has come! On Friday, October 7th from 1-4 pm, join Rural Vermont and Lea Calderon-Guthe for a session about making cheddar and manchego from raw milk at Pine Meadow Farm in Cornwall.

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

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

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

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

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


09/12 Action Alert

In this Alert
Message

Message from the Staff

Rural Vermont is pleased to announce that the Vermont Community Fund Farm Disaster Relief Grants are ready for distribution. If you are a farmer who has been impacted by the flooding, please do not delay in applying, the deadlines are September 19th and September 30th. Please click HERE for the application form.

Rural Vermont will be directly involved with distribution of these funds. Decisions will be made in consultation with representatives from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, NOFA-VT, Vermont Farm Bureau, Rural Vermont, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, and University of Vermont Extension. Decisions will be made within one week of the application deadline and checks will be mailed within two weeks of the deadline.

If you were not impacted by the flood, please consider making a contribution to the VT Community Foundation Farm Disaster Relief Fund to help Vermont farmers who have suffered damages. Make your donation by clicking HERE, and scroll down to “VT Farm Disaster Relief.”

This week, Rural Vermont volunteers will be at the Intervale helping Arethusa Farm recoup after the flood. Please email robb@ruralvermont.org to sign up for Rural Vermont’s Rapid Farm Response Brigades for Wednesday, September 14th at 9:30 am at Arethusa Farm in the Intervale in Burlington. If you’d like to join the Intervale Farm Brigade, you MUST sign up in advance. It’s very important, and therefore worth repeating, that volunteers must be registered in advance – please do not just show up! Confirmed volunteers will receive more details (what to bring, where to meet, etc.).

Also, anyone who would like to raise funds for farm relief efforts and volunteer, check out the Big E fair (http://www.thebige.com/fair) in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is seeking volunteers for this event. The contact at the Agency is Chelsea Lewis at chelsea.lewis@state.vt.us, and there will be a donation area in the Vermont Building at the Big E . Over 1 million people, all of whom are familiar with the damage that Irene caused in Vermont and many who want to help the efforts to rebuild, will walk through this building between September 16th and October 2nd. Please email robb@ruralvermont.org for more details.

In the meantime, Rural Vermont would also like to invite you to our upcoming events. This weekend is the 4th annual Tour de Farms! You can register to ride on the day of the event, and can find more details here. If cycling isn’t your fancy, visit the Rural Vermont Booth Thursday through Sunday at the famous Tunbridge World’s Fair! Stop by and get involved with our campaigns promoting local food sovereignty. If you’re a milk producer (or aspiring to be one) and have interest in the current raw milk law, come to New Village Farm in Shelburne for Rural Vermont’s Farmer to Farmer Workshop, details below. Hope to see everyone out and about and enjoying this beautiful fall weather.

Thanks,

Shelby, Robb and Mollie

ArtCall for Art!Rural Vermont will host its annual “Art for Agrarians” art auction fundraiser this fall, and we are now welcoming art donations that reflect Rural Vermont’s Vision for Food with Dignity! The deadline for submission is Friday, September 30th. Any media is acceptable, but we do ask that it is in final form (matted, framed or otherwise “hang-ready”). If you are an artist who would like to support Rural Vermont’s vision to build living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities, please consider donating! For more info or to make arrangements, please contact our office at (802) 223-7222 or email jake@ruralvermont.org.
** this weekend !!! ** tdfThe 4th Annual Tour de Farms

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Shoreham Green, Addison County, VT

RAIN OR SHINEthe weather forecast is calling for beautiful biking weather – lots of sun and cool temps!

ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.
But don’t worry — you can register onsite at the Shoreham Green. There is no cap on the number of cyclists who can join in the fun!

day-of reg: $50 adults/$20 kids 12 & under, kids in trailers and bikeseats free!

The Tour de Farms is an annual event and collaboration among Rural Vermont, the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, and ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network). Choose between 30, 25, and 10 mile routes (staggered starts; see website for details) and take a leisurely bike ride that includes sampling at various farm stops along the way. The 2011 tour is sponsored by Earl’s Cyclery, Wolaver’s Organic Brewery, American Flatbread Middlebury, and Vermont Fresh Network. New this year – area restaurants Vergennes Laundry, Tourterelle, and Antidote prepare samples using local farmers’ goodies, and NOFA’s mobile pizza oven cooks & sells pizza to hungry cyclists! For more info, click here or email Shelby.

Tour de Farms
Check out this Youtube
video documenting the
2010 Tour de Farms!
Events

Rural Vermont Events


Farmer2farmerFarmer to Farmer Workshop Series
From Cow (and Goat) to Customer: Producing Raw Milk for Direct Sale

Rural Vermont is hosting the final workshop of a series aimed to help current and aspiring raw milk farmers learn about the regulations governing the sale of raw milk, and provide an opportunity for folks to see them in practice on a successful raw milk micro dairy, while learning about animal care and microdairy management.

* THIS WEEKEND! Saturday, September 17th

11 am – 3 pm

New Village Farm, SHELBURNE

note: New Village milks both cows and goats!

$10 for Rural Vermont members, and $20 for all others (no one turned away for lack of funds). For more information click here. Pre-registration is highly recommended. Sign up by calling Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or email Shelby.

**Re-scheduled**

Back-to-Back Raw Milk Webinars on Sept. 21

Two webinars hosted by UVM Extension New Farmer Project and the VT Pasture Program, moderated by Jenn Colby of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Pasture Program. Rural Vermont’s comprehensive seller’s guide is available for download prior to the webinars.

* 11:30 am – 12:15 pm — 2011 Updates on Marketing and Selling Raw Milk in Vermont, presented by Rural Vermont director Jared Carter

* 12:30 – 1:15 pm — Best Management Practices for Raw Milk Handling, presented by Agency of Ag Dairy & Energy Chief Dan Scruton

Newcomers to online learning are welcome. All you need to participate is internet access and a computer that you can hear sound through.

To participate, please click here at about 11:15 am EST on September 21, 2011 and click on “Webinars” on the left-hand menu. For more information, contact newfarmer@uvm.edu or call 802-223-2389×203. If you require accommodations to participate in this program, please let Jessie Schmidt know by Sept. 14 at 802-223-2389 or 1-866-860-1382 (toll-free in VT) or jessica.a.schmidt@uvm.edu.

Creating Nutritious Food AND Feed, From the Soil Up
September 27, 4 -7 pm
Earthwise Farm & Forest, 341 MacIntosh Hill Road, BETHEL

Recommended donation of $10 to support Rural Vermont and Vermont Grass Farmers Association (no one turned away for lack of funds).

After having taken the Nutrient Dense Farming Crop Production Course offered through the Real Food Campaign, Rural Vermont Board Member Lisa McCrory applied what she had learned to her farm and has documented the results from pasture and vegetable plots, and maintained records of applications and all expenses in order to share that information with other farmers seeking to improve marginal lands on a budget. Supported by the VT Farm Women’s Fund and USDA Risk Management. For more info, Jenn Colby, (802) 656-0858, jcolby@uvm.edu

BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING !
You’ve been asking for hard cheeses … here they
are:

* Cheddar & Manchego with Lea Calderon-Guthe
Friday, October 7th / 1-4 pm
Pine Meadow Farm, CORNWALL

Fall schedule coming soon! All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.
To sign up OR to host/teach a class, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

Activist and Volunteer Needs

Tour de Farms event support this Sunday Sept 18th- Just a few open spots left for volunteers! Have fun, help out and get a free event tee! This highly successful event reaches out to lots of people and gets more exciting every year. Help with registration, parking or assisting the farmers along the routes.

Tunbridge Fair Table Support-Friday Sept 16th & Sat Sept 17th- Join us at the exciting Tunbridge World’s Fair! Tablers needed to engage fair goers with Rural Vermont campaigns! Your help is greatly appreciated. A few time slots are still needed.

THIS WEEK OFFICE HELP- Rural Vermont is busy with a lot of events this week and could really use your help in the office! Can you donate some time at the Rural Vermont office this Thursday to help with a variety of tasks?

Farm Relief- Rural Vermont is coordinating with different farms about getting volunteers to join our Rapid Response Brigades to assist in the recovery process. Contact us to help out in your community today!

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! **


The Cornucopia Institute: Dust Flying in Countryside Over USDA Animal ID Proposal

August 31st, 2011
Farmers and Ranchers Appeal to Vilsack for Adequate Time to Respond
Full Article

Austin, TX:  Forty-nine advocacy groups representing the interests of family farmers, ranchers, and consumers have formally requested that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack extend the public comment period for a controversial new proposal that would require livestock producers in the U.S. to incur significant expense tracking animals that cross state lines.  The comment period on the proposed, “Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate,” is scheduled to end on November 9, and the organizations have requested an additional 60 days.

“The period for public comment coincides with the fall harvest and comes during the worst drought ever recorded in some major livestock production regions,” said Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and vice-chair of the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health.  “Our farmers and ranchers are struggling to get their crops in and save their animals, and they need more time to assess the impacts of the proposed rule.”

The groups’ letter to Secretary Vilsack pointed out that many farmers and ranchers are not online, slowing the speed of communication.  “According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, more than 40% of farms do not have internet access,” they noted in the letter.

“We have a significant number of Amish and Mennonite members who can only be contacted by mail or through print publications,” explained Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute.  “They, in turn, will have to mail their comments to USDA.  If the agency actually wants to hear from these livestock owners, it needs to extend the comment period.”

Some groups have questioned the agency’s willingness to respond to producers’ concerns.

“A coalition of cattle groups presented USDA with a reasonable plan for cattle identification, but the agency persists in proposing unworkable rules,” contends R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.  “The least the agency can do is extend the comment period so that the cattlemen can comment on the proposal when they’re not in the middle of the calf-weaning and shipping seasons.”

The proposal has raised concerns about the economic impacts on both livestock producers and related businesses.

Gilles Stockton, a member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils said, “It will take a significant amount of time to pencil out the true costs of this proposal.  Livestock producers, sale barns, and states deserve adequate time to figure these costs and give comment.”


09/08 Alert & Update

In this Alert
Message

Message from the Director

Greetings,

First let me say how extremely grateful we are for the responses we received from people all over the state seeking ways to help farmers recover from the flooding.

We have scheduled the first of Rural Vermont’s Rapid Farm Response Brigades for Wednesday, September 14th at 9:30 am at Arethusa Farm in the Intervale in Burlington. As most have heard, the farms that call the Intervale home were completely flooded and severely damaged. Come help Arethusa Farm, and potentially other farms at the Intervale, pick up the pieces and move on. The need is for a small crew to assist with cleaning up and closing down the farm for the season. If you’d like to join the Intervale Farm Brigade, you MUST sign up in advance by emailing robb@ruralvermont.org with your name and phone number. It’s very important, and therefore worth repeating, that volunteers must be registered in advance – please do not just show up! Confirmed volunteers will receive more details (what to bring, where to meet, etc.) next week.

Throughout the coming weeks, we will continue connecting farmers with local volunteers, and would like to reiterate our call to all farmers; if you need volunteers, please contact us as we have a solid network of people around Vermont ready to help where needed.

As farmers begin the recovery process, one of their biggest needs will be direct financial assistance, and the VT Community Foundation Farm Disaster Relief Fund has been established to do just that. Rural Vermont, NOFA, and the Agency of Ag have partnered with the VT Community Foundation to quickly and effectively set up a grant process that will give farms access to these much needed funds. Your contribution will be wholly appreciated. Make your donation by clicking here, and scroll down to the “VT Farm Disaster Relief.”

Finally, please take a moment to read about Rural Vermont events in your area, and consider attending the workshop on Food Sovereignty at the Growing Local Fest this Saturday in Montpelier. In light of the catastrophic impact of Tropical Storm Irene, the need for us to unite at the local level and provide ongoing support to our communities becomes ever more pressing.

Once again, we hope this email finds you well and that you are continuing to recover from the flooding. Please be in touch if there is anything Rural Vermont can do to help.

Best,

Jared

ArtCall for Art!Rural Vermont will host its annual “Art for Agrarians” art auction fundraiser this fall, and we are now welcoming art donations that reflect Rural Vermont’s Vision for Food with Dignity! The deadline for submission is Friday, September 30th. Any media is acceptable, but we do ask that it is in final form (matted, framed or otherwise “hang-ready”). If you are an artist who would like to support Rural Vermont’s vision to build living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities, please consider donating! For more info or to make arrangements, please contact our office at (802) 223-7222 or email jake@ruralvermont.org.
Events

Rural Vermont Events

Local Food Sovereignty Workshop

at the Growing Local Fest

* Saturday, September 10th / 2pm-7pm

Vermont College of Fine Arts Green, MONTPELIER

Admission: $10 Person; $20 Family; $5 Students/Senior

Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd will be holding a workshop on how to support vibrant local food systems through the “Local Food Sovereignty” campaign. Join us for a day of food, fun and music. More information here.


Farmer2farmerFarmer to Farmer Workshop Series
From Cow (and Goat) to Customer: Producing Raw Milk for Direct Sale

Rural Vermont is hosting the final workshop of a series aimed to help current and aspiring raw milk farmers learn about the regulations governing the sale of raw milk, and provide an opportunity for folks to see them in practice on a successful raw milk micro dairy, while learning about animal care and microdairy management.

* Saturday, September 17th / 11 am – 3 pm

New Village Farm, SHELBURNE
note: New Village milks both cows and goats!

$10 for Rural Vermont members, and $20 for all others (no one turned away for lack of funds). For more information click here. Pre-registration is highly recommended. Sign up by calling Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or email Shelby.

**Re-scheduled**

Back-to-Back Raw Milk Webinars on Sept. 21

Two webinars hosted by UVM Extension New Farmer Project and the VT Pasture Program, moderated by Jenn Colby of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Pasture Program. Rural Vermont’s comprehensive seller’s guide is available for download prior to the webinars.

* 11:30 am – 12:15 pm — 2011 Updates on Marketing and Selling Raw Milk in Vermont, presented by Rural Vermont director Jared Carter

* 12:30 – 1:15 pm — Best Management Practices for Raw Milk Handling, presented by Agency of Ag Dairy & Energy Chief Dan Scruton

Newcomers to online learning are welcome. All you need to participate is internet access and a computer that you can hear sound through.

To participate, please click here at about 11:15 am EST on September 21, 2011 and click on “Webinars” on the left-hand menu. For more information, contact newfarmer@uvm.edu or call 802-223-2389×203. If you require accommodations to participate in this program, please let Jessie Schmidt know by Sept. 14 at 802-223-2389 or 1-866-860-1382 (toll-free in VT) or jessica.a.schmidt@uvm.edu.

Creating Nutritious Food AND Feed, From the Soil Up
September 27, 4 -7 pm
Earthwise Farm & Forest, 341 MacIntosh Hill Road, BETHEL

Recommended donation of $10 to support Rural Vermont and Vermont Grass Farmers Association (no one turned away for lack of funds)

After having taken the Nutrient Dense Farming Crop Production Course offered through the Real Food Campaign, Rural Vermont Board Member Lisa McCrory applied what she had learned to her farm and has documented the results from pasture and vegetable plots, and maintained records of applications and all expenses in order to share that information with other farmers seeking to improve marginal lands on a budget. Supported by the VT Farm Women’s Fund and USDA Risk Management. For more info, Jenn Colby, (802) 656-0858, jcolby@uvm.edu

BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING !
You’ve been asking for hard cheeses … here they
are:

* Cheddar & Manchego with Lea Calderon-Guthe
Friday, October 7th/ 1-4 pm
Pine Meadow Farm, CORNWALL

Fall schedule coming soon! All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.
To sign up OR to host/teach a class, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

TourdeFarmsThe 4th Annual Tour de FarmsSunday, September 18th, 2011Shoreham Green, Addison County, VT

RAIN OR SHINE
advance reg: $25 adults/$10 kids 12 & under** adv reg CLOSES Mon, Sept 12th @ 5 pm!! **

day-of reg: $50 adults/$20 kids 12 & under kids in trailers and bikeseats free! To register online or print registration materials, click here.
The Tour de Farms is an annual event and collaboration among Rural Vermont, the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, and ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network). Choose between 30, 25, and 10 mile routes and take a leisurely bike ride that includes sampling at various farm stops along the way. The 2011 tour is sponsored by Earl’s Cyclery, Wolaver’s Organic Brewery, American Flatbread Middlebury, and Vermont Fresh Network. New this year – area restaurants prepare samples using local farmers’ goodies, and NOFA’s mobile pizza oven cooks & sells pizza to hungry cyclists! For more info, click here or email Shelby.

Tour de Farms
Check out this Youtube
video documenting the
2010 Tour de Farms!
Volunteer

Activist and Volunteer Needs

Tour de Farms poster-hangers and event support on Sept 18.- Have fun with friends in many ways. This highly successful event reaches out to lots of people and gets more exciting every year. Help with hanging posters in advance or with registration, parking or assisting the farmers along the routes.

Tunbridge Fair Table Support-Sept 15, 16, 17- Join us at the exciting Tunbridge World’s Fair! Tablers needed to engage fair goers with Rural Vermont campaigns! Your help is greatly appreciated.

Farm Relief- Rural Vermont is coordinating with different farms about getting volunteers to join our Rapid Response Brigades to assist in the recovery process.
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! **


10/07 Cheddar & Manchego

BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING !
Friday, October 7th/ 1-4 pm
Pine Meadow Farm, CORNWALL
$20-40 sliding scale, advance registration required

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

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

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

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

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

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


Brattleboro Reformer: Plowed under

By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN
09/05/2011
Full Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said the reality is just starting to sink in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Michael Cooper
9/4/11
Full Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there was the emotional toll of losing animals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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