Author Archives: Mollie

Science Daily: Barley Takes a Leaf out of Reindeer’s Book in the Land of the Midnight Sun

May 11, 2012
Reprinted from materials provided by Norwich BioScience Institutes
Full Article

Barley grown in Scandinavian countries is adapted in a similar way to reindeer to cope with the extremes of day length at high latitudes. Researchers have found a genetic mutation in some Scandinavian barley varieties that disrupts the circadian clock that barley from southern regions use to time their growing season. Just as reindeer have dropped the clock in adapting to extremely long days, so has Scandinavian barley to grow successfully in that region’s short growing season. This new knowledge may be useful in efforts to adapt crops for regions where the growing season is short.

The timing of when a plant flowers during the year is crucial to its overall survival and fitness, and in crop plants it has major affects on the overall yield. Barley’s wild ancestors and modern winter barley varieties germinate in the autumn, but don’t flower until after winter has finished. One stimulus that triggers flowering is the longer days that come with spring.

To know how long the day is, the plant uses its built in circadian clock, with which they time a 24 hour period. Circadian clocks are found throughout the plant and animal kingdom, and affect all manner of processes such as when animals eat and sleep, or when plants photosynthesize. As anyone who has suffered jet lag knows, anything that disrupts the circadian clock of an organism causes big problems, which is why when researchers from the John Innes Centre and the Max Planck Institute sought to characterize Scandinavian barley varieties, they were surprised to find a mutant gene that knocked out the circadian clock and its functions.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that by disrupting the circadian clock Scandinavian barley varieties flower independently of the length of the day. This means that they flower much earlier than their southern counterparts and so can fit their growth cycle into the shorter growing season.

In the UK and much of Western Europe cold winters and warm wet summers favored the development of barleys which didn’t need the period of overwintering and could be planted in the spring. A late flowering mutation in another gene called Photoperiod-1 allowed barley to be planted in the spring and use the long days of summer to build up its yield, without its growing season being shortened by the high temperatures experienced by its ancestors from the south. This gene was also identified at the John Innes Centre, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

As barley cultivation moved north this late flowering background became unsuitable for the short growing season in Scandinavia as the plants couldn’t achieve good yields before temperatures plunged. This was overcome by introducing a second mutation that removes the influence of the circadian clock, making the barley plants insensitive to day length and allowing earlier flowering.

Alternatively, the mutation may combine early flowering with additional useful side effects such as turning off the circadian control of photosynthesis. This could help Scandinavian barley exploit the 20 hours of sunlight during the day. This physiological explanation has an intriguing parallel in animals. Reindeer have similarly evolved to switch off their circadian clock, abandoning the more regimented lifestyle of their antelope ancestors to be able to display more opportunistic behavior.


05/10 End of Legislature Wrap Up

Legislators go home – Our work continues! 

Dear Members & Friends,

The streets (and parking spaces) in Montpelier are emptier these days and that is a sure sign of the changing of the seasons. Vermont’s citizen Legislature has wrapped up another biennium and headed home.

I’m relieved to have survived my first season as Rural Vermont’s official “lobbyist” and I want to share with you a few details on the status of the issues we worked on and what comes next.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the session that just ended, I’d like to invite you to become an active partner in supporting Rural Vermont’s advocacy work. It requires a lot of resources to ensure that the interests of Vermont’s small diversified farmers are well represented in the halls of the State House. But it is actually during the “off season” when we must invest in research, public education and grassroots organizing to build the broad support needed to achieve meaningful changes in public policy.

Can you help us build a strong platform to support community-based food systems and economic and regulatory fairness for farmers?
You can make a secure donation here
to support our public education and advocacy work.
Our strength is in our numbers – THANK YOU!


LABELING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD – H.722

No one was more disappointed than us that the VT Right To Know GMO Food Labeling bill did not become the law this session. Even with over 300 people packing the House Chamber for a public hearing on April 12th and over 100 testifying in unanimous support of the bill, the threat of an immediate lawsuit by the powerful biotech industry was enough to prevent the bill from making it beyond the House Agriculture Committee.

The Committee took hours of testimony, did a great deal of work strengthening the bill and passed it by a strong 9-1-1 vote. Recent polls confirm that 97% of Vermonters and over 90% of Americans want genetically engineered food to be labeled. We will build on that unprecedented support and introduce an even stronger bill next January. This summer and fall we urge you to talk with your representatives and candidates and let them know this is a crucial issue for you.

Help us spread the word and stay in touch with the

VT Right To Know GMOs Campaign by “LIKING” VT Right To Know GMOs on Facebook

WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE INVESTMENT BILL – H.496

Thanks to a broad and dedicated coalition led by Paul Costello and Amy Shollenberger, the Working Lands bill was one of the success stories of this session. After many twists and turns it is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The bill will create the Working Lands Enterprise Fund and the Working Lands Enterprise Board, which will oversee the Fund. The legislation includes a $1.175 million initial investment in the Fund. The purpose is to stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest products sectors by systematically supporting entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation. A detailed summary and the final version of the bill is available here. Rural Vermont will be meeting with theVermont Council on Rural Development to learn more about the proposed implementation of the bill – stay tuned for more details.

VERMONT GUEST FARM WORKER PROGRAM – S.238 With strong grassroots organizing by Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante, S.238 was passed and creates a study committee charged with introducing legislation in 2013 to create access to driver’s licenses and ID regardless of immigration status. You can see the legislative history of this bill here. Rural Vermont partnered with Migrant Justice and many other economic and social justice organizations for the May 1st “Put People First – One Movement for People and the Planet march and rally which drew over 500 to the State House.

If you have questions or want to get more involved in Rural Vermont’s advocacy campaigns please contact Robb Kidd, Rural Vermont’s Organizer, or call 223-7222

Thank you for your activism and support!

Andrea Stander

Rural Vermont Director

P.S. I hope you will be able to join us at the Rural Vermont Annual Celebration on May 16th. It’s going to be a fun evening with good food, good company and a lively conversation about “The Future is in the Dirt” with farmer and writer Ben Hewitt who is the author of ‘The Town that Food Saved” and “Making Supper Safe.” You can see all the details here.

I look forward to the chance to meet you there!


Boston Globe: New index ranks Vermont tops in locally grown food

By Lisa Rathke
May 8, 2012
Full Article

MONTPELIER, Vt.—A committed “locavore,” Robin McDermott once struggled to stock her kitchen with food grown within 100 miles of her Vermont home. She once drove 70 miles to buy beans and ordered a bulk shipment of oats from the neighboring Canadian province of Quebec.

Six years later, she doesn’t travel far: She can buy chickens at the farmers market, local farms grow a wider range of produce, and her grocery store stocks meat, cheese and even flour produced in the area. A bakery in a nearby town sells bread made from Vermont grains, and she’s found a place to buy locally made sunflower oil.

Nationwide, small farms, farmers markets and specialty food makers are popping up and thriving as more people seek locally produced foods. More than half of consumers now say it’s more important to buy local than organic, according to market research firm Mintel, and Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan called the local food movement “the biggest retail food trend in my adult lifetime.”

But with no official definition for what makes a food local, the government can’t track sales. And consumers don’t always know what they are buying. A supermarket tomato labeled “local” may have come from 10, 100 or more miles away.

Strict locavores stick to food raised within a certain radius of their home — 50, 100 or 250 miles. Others may allow themselves dried spices, coffee or chocolate.

McDermott has eased up after eating locally during a Vermont winter, which meant a lot of meat and root vegetables. She now allows herself olive oil and citrus and in winter, greens.

“In 2006, I felt like a Vermonter of years past,” she said. “You know, I was going down into my root cellar and saying, `I guess it will be potatoes again.'”

Two of the more common standards used by locavores are food produced within 100 miles or within the same state that it’s consumed. A new locavore index ranked Vermont as the top state in its commitment to raising and eating locally grown food based on the number of farmers markets and community supported agriculture farms, where customers pay a lump sum up front and receive weekly deliveries of produce and other foods.

Vermont has 99 farmers markets and 164 CSAs, with a population of fewer than 622,000, according to the 2012 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index, which relies on U.S. Department of Agriculture and census figures. Iowa, Montana, Maine and Hawaii rounded out the top five.

USDA spokesman Aaron Lavallee said the definition of local varies from state to state and region to region depending on the season. In small New England states, food from 100 miles away could be from another state, while food could travel hundreds of miles in Texas or Montana and still be within the borders.

In cases where produce is labeled “local,” with no point of origin, he advised consumers to ask sellers where it was raised.

The locavore movement grew out of consumer concerns about how and where food is produced, following episodes of contamination in spinach, meat and other foods. People committed to it buy locally produced foods to support farmers, because the food is fresher and to reduce the environmental effect of trucking it across country.

But there’s more to it, said Jessica Prentice, a San Francisco Bay-area chef who coined the term locavore.

“Really what it’s about is moving into a kind of food system where you’re connected to the source of your food,” Prentice said. “You’re buying from people that you know or can meet and you’re buying food grown in a place that you can easily drive to and see.

“This is more about creating an oasis really in the context of a globalized food system that’s completely anonymous,” she said.

McDermott said being a locavore has changed how she and her husband eat. They used to have steak often; now it’s only once a year. She grows garlic, onions, potatoes and carrots and freezes large amounts of tomatoes each year.

While local foods tend to cost more than those mass produced, McDermott figures she still spends less. She and her husband buy half a pig with a friend each year and use most of the animal. They eat lesser cuts, making stews and braising meat to make it tender.

“We eat low on the hog,” she said.


Big News for our Raw Milk Dairy Processing Friends

Included in this email:
Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration Invite
Farm Fresh Raffle including private dairy lesson!
Sally Fallon Morell comes to Vermont
Open Spots in May Dairy Classes

Hey folks!

I’m writing to you because you’ve either attended or expressed interest in Rural Vermont’s “Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing” classes. I’ve got some important and exciting updates for our growing following of raw milk enthusiasts.

RURAL VERMONT’S 2012 ANNUAL CELEBRATION:

YOU’RE INVITED!

First of all, I want to extend an invitation to all of you (your families and friends too!) to join Rural Vermont for our 2012 Annual Celebration on Wed May 16th from 6:30-9pm at the Wilder Center, which is just north of White River Junction and an easy drive from most places. We’ve got a great night in store, including live music by a local folk duo, finger food potluck, cash bar with VT beer, an interactive presentation and discussion led by our special guest Ben Hewitt (farmer and author of The Town that Food Saved and Making Supper Safe), plus plenty of time for mingling with old friends and getting to know new ones. We hope you can join us! You can see all the details here http://www.ruralvermont.org/.

FARM FRESH FIVE RAFFLE:

WIN A PRIVATE DAIRY CLASS IN YOUR KITCHEN!

At this annual gathering, we will also be drawing the winners of our FARM FRESH FIVE raffle. I wanted to personally tell all of you about this exciting opportunity because I think that one of the prizes in particular will be of serious interest to many of you. One lucky person will win a PRIVATE dairy processing class in YOUR kitchen making 3-5 products of YOUR choosing with cheesemaid Lea Calderon-Guthe. For those of you who have taken classes with Lea, you know that she not only has an incredible depth and breadth of knowledge about all things dairy processing, but she is an absolute pleasure to be around and one of our favorite teachers. Lea is currently down in North Carolina working with the cheesemaker who got her started, and looks forward to sharing her sharpened skills with the winner when she returns to Vermont this summer.

Among the other prizes up for grabs are two different food baskets, both featuring homemade dairy products (of course from raw milk), grass-fed/pastured meat, organic veggies, and a few surprises. We’ve also got a gardening goodies prize featuring supplies donated by Gardener’s Supply and seeds from High Mowing Seeds, and a basket o’ books with titles from food/ag leaders Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, Ben Hewitt, and Daniel Imhoff. For all the details, visit http://www.ruralvermont.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/raffle-sign1.pdf

RAW MILK/REAL FOOD HERO SALLY FALLON MORELL
COMES TO VERMONT IN JUNE!

If you’re a big fan of raw milk, then you either know or should know of Sally Fallon Morell. She is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and the author of the real food advocates bible Nourishing Traditions. Sally does not make it to Vermont all that often, and in collaboration with Shelburne Farms, she is offering a jam-packed schedule of events that is not to be missed! Lectures and workshops will span Thurs, June 7th to Sat, June 9th. Rural Vermont has arranged for a special event devoted entirely to raw milk! Details for the raw milk event are below, and details for the full series of events can be found here: http://www.ruralvermont.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/NourishingTraditionsPoster3.pdf

>> Real Milk – Friday, JUNE 8 from 9-11 am

Location TBA, SHELBURNE

An interactive workshop on the safety, health benefits and economics of raw milk as the cornerstone of a traditional diet. An open discussion welcoming questions from milk producers, people making products from raw milk and those wanting to know more about this versatile food.

NOTE: Childcare available. Space limited. Reservations recommended.

OPEN SPOTS IN MAY DAIRY CLASSES:

WED 5/9 (TOMORROW!) AND WED 5/23

We’ve still got a few spots available in this Wednesday’s dairy class at Chandler Pond Farm in South Wheelock. We’ll be making butter, yogurt, and mozzarella from 1-4 pm. The weather forecast is kinda crummy, so why not come out and huddle ’round a warm stove? If you want to sign up for this class, email me by 10am Wed morning, or call my cell phone (856) 287-1531.

There’s also space in our Wed 5/23 dairy class 1-4 pm at Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center. We’ll be making cottage cheese, a product that we’ve gotten numerous requests for but haven’t been able to offer often, and yogurt panna cotta – a brand new product to the dairy class inventory! Be in touch if you’d like to register. And if you’ve enjoyed a Rural Vermont dairy class, please tell others and help us spread the word about these and other upcoming classes!

Stay tuned for the summer’s raw milk ice cream socials and dairy processing classes, including a special event to commemorate our 50th dairy class in July!

Thanks,

Shelby


04/29 Alert

Join Rural Vermont at the
Put People First! One Movement for People and the Planet
March from Montpelier City Hall to the Statehouse
Tuesday May 1st 12 noon

Hi Rural Vermonters and Friends,

I am writing to invite you to march with Rural Vermont at the “Put People First” rally this Tuesday. As a supporter of Rural Vermont’s recent campaigns of Labeling GMO’s or the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaigns you realize that in order to build a strong movement to overcome our obstacles we will need to join forces with others, so

Rural Vermont is proud to be teaming up with the Vermont Workers Center:

 

Put People First! One Movement for People and the Planet 

Tuesday, May 1st  12 Noon
Meet at City Hall, Main Street, MONTPELIER

We’re joining forces with The Vermont Workers Center and many other social and economic justice organizations to carry a unified message to our elected leaders that it’s essential to make public policy decisions and allocate public resources for the benefit of the people and the planet.

March alongside Rural Vermont and show your support for Vermonters Feeding Vermonters by wearing your farming/gardening garb, and bringing a farm implement and sign (“Power to the Farmers!” ~ “Eating is an Agricultural Act!” ~ “Let Vermonters Feed Vermonters!” You get the idea … get creative!).

Arrive at City Hall at 12 noon and look for the Rural Vermont signs and huddle. For more info or to RSVP for the Rural Vermont contingent, contact  Robb or call the office at (802) 223-7222.

In Freedom and Unity,

Robb Kidd

Rural Vermont Organizer

p.s. In the spirit of Rural Vermont’s history of activism, please join us May 16 at Rural Vermont’s annual meeting in which we will honor Will Allen of Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford, VT. Will Allen will be awarded the Jack Starr Award for his vision, energy, and dedication he has displayed in support of Vermont’s 2012 GMO labeling bill. The annual meeting will be at the Wilder Center in Wilder, VT at 6:30 – 9 pm click here for more information


Rural Vermont Hosts a “Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing” Workshop

For Immediate Release: Monday, May 7th, 2012

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

 Cottage Cheese and Yogurt Panna Cotta at Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center

On May 23rd, Rural Vermont will be partnering with traditional farm cook Margaret Osha of Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center to offer an afternoon of dairy processing, taste testing, and information sharing. Margaret will lead participants through the process of making cottage cheese from fresh, raw cows’ milk and yogurt panna cotta from Turkey Hill’s own commercially-produced yogurt. The workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, May 23rd from 1 – 4 pm at Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center.

Join Rural Vermont and Margaret Osha for an introductory class that will inspire participants to get started on their own dairy processing adventures. To start, folks will learn that cottage cheese is easy to make and its versatility renders it a welcome addition to both sweet and savory dishes.

Most know panna cotta to be a traditional Italian dessert that is both delicious and elegant, but its best kept secret is that it’s easy to make too! Made with Turkey Hill’s whole milk creamline yogurt, this version is a bit lighter than its counterpart, yet maintains the velvety smooth texture and luscious creaminess that define this delightful dessert.

Amid the instruction and some dairy taste testing, Margaret will lead folks on a tour of Turkey Hill Farm, where signs of spring will be abound – young and tender crops, lambs in the fields, and brilliantly green and lush pastures. Among other things, participants will have the opportunity to meet the lovely ladies whose milk will be used for the class and available for purchase in their Moo-tique farm store.

The fee for the class is $20-$40 sliding scale, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Rural Vermont. Pre-registration is required and classes often sell out quickly, so be in touch today to reserve your spot! For more information, to sign up, or to be added to Rural Vermont’s mailing list, call (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.

For many years, Turkey Hill Farm has been an incredible asset to customers near and far, providing some of the highest quality and wholesome food that can be found anywhere! Their 50 acre farm is currently home to five milk cows, chickens, pigs, lambs, flower and vegetable gardens, and a maple sugaring operation. They operate a raw-milk micro dairy and sell their fluid raw milk in their farm store, the Moo-tique. Turkey Hill Farm is in the beginning stages of a transition that will allow Margaret to focus more fully on her cooking and education classes, while she and her husband Stuart will have more time to serve as a resource for people interested in farming, sustainability and the benefits of real food. For more info, visit http://www.turkeyhillfarmvt.com/.

Rural Vermont’s summer series of dairy processing classes will be announced shortly, and will include the ever-popular ice cream socials and a special event to commemorate Rural Vermont’s 50th dairy processing class! The schedule will be announced at Rural Vermont’s 2012 Annual Celebration, scheduled for May 16th from 6:30 – 9 pm at the Wilder Center, just north of White River Junction in Wilder, Vermont.


04/27 Update & Alert

In this Alert:

 

Message

Message From The Director 

Dear Members and Friends:

Last night I came across a quote from Wendell Berry, (if we had a US “farmer laureate” I would nominate him) that gave me so much hope.

“In affection we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind,
and conserving economy…”

On Monday night, Berry delivered the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. As reported by Scott Carlson on Grist, “the lecture was a discussion of affection and its power to bind people to community. It was also a meditation on place and those who “stick” to it – as caretakers and curators.” You can read or watch the entire lecture here.

Back to present reality – it’s been a tough couple weeks as we have fought hard to pass the VT Right To Know GMO Food Labeling bill and lost out to the tick down of the legislative clock and fear of the bio-tech industry’s threatened lawsuit. But the campaign to give Vermonters the right to know what is in their food will continue – see below for details.

We’ll do a complete Legislative Wrap-up after the session ends next week.

It is said that “hope springs eternal.” I kind of like another version: “spring hopes eternal.” And there are reasons for great hope in this spring season.

I hope you will come to Montpelier City Hall next Tues. May 1st at Noon and join the Rural Vermont contingent at the Put People First March and Rally: One Movement for People and the Planet.

We’re joining forces with The Vermont Workers Center and many other social and economic justice organizations to carry a unified message to our elected leaders that it’s essential to make public policy decisions and allocate public resources for the benefit of the people and the planet.

I also hope to see you all at Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration on Wed. May 16th, 6:30-9:00PM at The Wilder Center in Wilder (just north of WRJ). What could be more hopeful than gathering with new and old friends, enjoying  good food and music, winning prizes and talking about how we’re going grow a culture of Vermonters feeding Vermonters?


Scroll down for more details about both events. See you soon!

Andrea Stander

 

  Action

Put People First! One Movement for People and the Planet 
Tuesday, May 1st
12 Noon
Meet at City Hall, Main Street, MONTPELIER

Join Rural Vermont, along with many other social and economic justice groups and activists, on May 1st as we converge on the Statehouse lawn to demand that our elected officials put people before profits! Music, skits, speeches by Senator Bernie Sanders and others, chants, kid-friendly activities, and more!

March alongside Rural Vermont and show your support for Vermonters Feeding Vermonters by wearing your farming/gardening garb, and bringing a farm implement and sign (“Power to the Farmers!” ~ “Eating is an Agricultural Act!” ~ “Let Vermonters Feed Vermonters!” You get the idea … get creative!).

Arrive at City Hall at 12 noon and look for the Rural Vermont signs and huddle. For more info or to RSVP for the Rural Vermont contingent, contact Robb , call the office at (802) 223-7222 or click here.

 

  Event

Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration

>>> MARK YOUR CALENDAR <<<
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

6:30 – 9 pm
The Wilder Center, 2087 Hartford Ave. (Route 5)
WILDER
(just north of WRJ, off I91)
FREE for RV members
$5-$10 sliding scale for all else 
(Members! Bring a non-member friend and be entered into a special raffle drawing!)

with featured speaker, farmer, author and RV Board member
BEN HEWITT
“The Future is in the Dirt:
Growing the Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”

There is lots to look forward to at this year’s Annual Celebration – we’ve got Ben Hewitt talking about dirt, live music by local folk duo Nancy & Mike Wood, our first cash bar featuring Vermont beers, a finger food potluck, awards for our most committed supporters – and the return of the popular “FARM FRESH FIVE” RAFFLE, where five winners will take home one of five incredible food/farm prizes.

Buy a $5 ticket, either at the event or in advance, and be entered to win one of the following five prizes:

  • Gardening goodies – a garden’s worth of High Mowing Seeds, 11 gallon tub trug, nitrile gloves, and 20 qt container mix
  • Basket o’ Books – Making Supper Safe by Ben Hewitt, Everything I Want to do is Illegal by Joel Salatin, CAFO by Daniel Imhoff, and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
  • Farm Fresh Fare (option1) – butter, cheese, pickles, bacon, Tbone steak, fermented veggies, chanterelle mushrooms, and more!
  • Farm Fresh Fare (option2) – butter, cheese, jam, ground beef, chicken, fermented veggies, locally-brewed beer, and more!
  • Private raw dairy processing class!  One-on-one lesson making 3-5 products of YOUR choosing in YOUR kitchen with cheesemaid Lea Calderon-Guthe

Rural Vermont extends our sincere appreciation to our raffle donors – High Mowing Seeds, Gardener’s Supply, Shiretown Books, Watershed Media, Rural Vermont board members, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, and Lea Calderon-Guthe.

Winners will be drawn at the Annual Celebration on May 16th. WINNERS NEED NOT BE PRESENT TO WIN. If you can’t make it to the event, but don’t want to miss the chance to win, then purchase your tickets in advance here. Tickets must be received by May 15th to be entered into the Raffle.

 More details about Rural Vermont’s annual celebration can be found  here.  See you there!  

LegislativeUpdateLEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

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

On Friday April 20, the House Agriculture Committee voted to pass H.722 by a vote of 9-1 with one member absent. The Committee did a great deal of good work to strengthen the bill but at the last minute they added a “trigger clause” that said the bill would not become effective until California and two northeastern states passed similar GMO food labeling bills.

Although members of the committee said this provision was added to protect Vermont food producers and ensure the stability of the food supply chain, it would effectively ensure that Vermonters would not get the right to know if their food is genetically engineered for a very long time.

Given this development, it is actually a good thing that the legislative session is almost over so there is no chance the bill will become law this year.

We are now trying to get a commitment from legislative leaders to make a new GMO Food Labeling bill a priority next year.

You can help right now by finding out if your elected representatives would support a GMO Food Labeling bill next year.

THIS CAMPAIGN WILL CONTINUE so if you haven’t yet, please join over 4000 Vermonters by signing the petition in support of the VT Right To Know GMOs campaign so we can stay in touch with you.  You can also get up to the minute news by “liking” the campaign’s Facebook page.   

Volunteer

>>> 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:   

Office Volunteer – Can you travel to Montpelier one day a week or a month and help us with our important campaign work? A few hours a week helps us a lot.    
Annual Meeting Support- May 16 is our an annual meeting and we need help with many tasks. Event set up or breakdown, member and non-member check in, raffle ticket sales, food prep, sign making, etc.  

Poster Hangers – We need folks to hang posters in towns surrounding Wilder, Wheelock, and Randolph for our upcoming Annual Celebration and dairy classes.   (Also in your community) We can send you the posters via mail or email you one to print.
Graphic Designer – The 2012 Tour de Farms is in its fifth year, and we are seeking a volunteer with some graphics skills to help us design a 5 year logo.  

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.

Rural Vermont

Update & Action Alert  

April 27, 2012 

   

Rural Vermont

15 Barre Street

Montpelier,
Vermont 05602
(802)223-7222

On the side:

Issues in the NewsMembership

issues

MembershipSupport Rural Vermont

Please consider joining us today.

In this Alert:
Message

Message From The Director 

Dear Members and Friends:

Last night I came across a quote from Wendell Berry, (if we had a US “farmer laureate” I would nominate him) that gave me so much hope.

“In affection we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind,
and conserving economy…”

On Monday night, Berry delivered the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. As reported by Scott Carlson on Grist, “the lecture was a discussion of affection and its power to bind people to community. It was also a meditation on place and those who “stick” to it – as caretakers and curators.” You can read or watch the entire lecture here.

Back to present reality – it’s been a tough couple weeks as we have fought hard to pass the VT Right To Know GMO Food Labeling bill and lost out to the tick down of the legislative clock and fear of the bio-tech industry’s threatened lawsuit. But the campaign to give Vermonters the right to know what is in their food will continue – see below for details.

We’ll do a complete Legislative Wrap-up after the session ends next week.

It is said that “hope springs eternal.” I kind of like another version: “spring hopes eternal.” And there are reasons for great hope in this spring season.

I hope you will come to Montpelier City Hall next Tues. May 1st at Noon and join the Rural Vermont contingent at the Put People First March and Rally: One Movement for People and the Planet.

We’re joining forces with The Vermont Workers Center and many other social and economic justice organizations to carry a unified message to our elected leaders that it’s essential to make public policy decisions and allocate public resources for the benefit of the people and the planet.

I also hope to see you all at Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration on Wed. May 16th, 6:30-9:00PM at The Wilder Center in Wilder (just north of WRJ). What could be more hopeful than gathering with new and old friends, enjoying  good food and music, winning prizes and talking about how we’re going grow a culture of Vermonters feeding Vermonters?


Scroll down for more details about both events. See you soon!

Andrea Stander

  Action

Put People First! One Movement for People and the Planet 
Tuesday, May 1st
12 Noon
Meet at City Hall, Main Street, MONTPELIER

Join Rural Vermont, along with many other social and economic justice groups and activists, on May 1st as we converge on the Statehouse lawn to demand that our elected officials put people before profits! Music, skits, speeches by Senator Bernie Sanders and others, chants, kid-friendly activities, and more!

March alongside Rural Vermont and show your support for Vermonters Feeding Vermonters by wearing your farming/gardening garb, and bringing a farm implement and sign (“Power to the Farmers!” ~ “Eating is an Agricultural Act!” ~ “Let Vermonters Feed Vermonters!” You get the idea … get creative!).

Arrive at City Hall at 12 noon and look for the Rural Vermont signs and huddle. For more info or to RSVP for the Rural Vermont contingent, contact Robb , call the office at (802) 223-7222 or click here.

 

  Event

Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration

>>> MARK YOUR CALENDAR <<<
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

6:30 – 9 pm
The Wilder Center, 2087 Hartford Ave. (Route 5)
WILDER
(just north of WRJ, off I91)
FREE for RV members
$5-$10 sliding scale for all else 
(Members! Bring a non-member friend and be entered into a special raffle drawing!)

with featured speaker, farmer, author and RV Board member
BEN HEWITT
“The Future is in the Dirt:
Growing the Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”

There is lots to look forward to at this year’s Annual Celebration – we’ve got Ben Hewitt talking about dirt, live music by local folk duo Nancy & Mike Wood, our first cash bar featuring Vermont beers, a finger food potluck, awards for our most committed supporters – and the return of the popular “FARM FRESH FIVE” RAFFLE, where five winners will take home one of five incredible food/farm prizes.

Buy a $5 ticket, either at the event or in advance, and be entered to win one of the following five prizes:

  • Gardening goodies – a garden’s worth of High Mowing Seeds, 11 gallon tub trug, nitrile gloves, and 20 qt container mix
  • Basket o’ Books – Making Supper Safe by Ben Hewitt, Everything I Want to do is Illegal by Joel Salatin, CAFO by Daniel Imhoff, and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
  • Farm Fresh Fare (option1) – butter, cheese, pickles, bacon, Tbone steak, fermented veggies, chanterelle mushrooms, and more!
  • Farm Fresh Fare (option2) – butter, cheese, jam, ground beef, chicken, fermented veggies, locally-brewed beer, and more!
  • Private raw dairy processing class!  One-on-one lesson making 3-5 products of YOUR choosing in YOUR kitchen with cheesemaid Lea Calderon-Guthe

Rural Vermont extends our sincere appreciation to our raffle donors – High Mowing Seeds, Gardener’s Supply, Shiretown Books, Watershed Media, Rural Vermont board members, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, and Lea Calderon-Guthe.

Winners will be drawn at the Annual Celebration on May 16th. WINNERS NEED NOT BE PRESENT TO WIN. If you can’t make it to the event, but don’t want to miss the chance to win, then purchase your tickets in advance here. Tickets must be received by May 15th to be entered into the Raffle.

 More details about Rural Vermont’s annual celebration can be found  here.  See you there!  

LegislativeUpdateLEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

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

On Friday April 20, the House Agriculture Committee voted to pass H.722 by a vote of 9-1 with one member absent. The Committee did a great deal of good work to strengthen the bill but at the last minute they added a “trigger clause” that said the bill would not become effective until California and two northeastern states passed similar GMO food labeling bills.

Although members of the committee said this provision was added to protect Vermont food producers and ensure the stability of the food supply chain, it would effectively ensure that Vermonters would not get the right to know if their food is genetically engineered for a very long time.

Given this development, it is actually a good thing that the legislative session is almost over so there is no chance the bill will become law this year.

We are now trying to get a commitment from legislative leaders to make a new GMO Food Labeling bill a priority next year.

You can help right now by finding out if your elected representatives would support a GMO Food Labeling bill next year.

THIS CAMPAIGN WILL CONTINUE so if you haven’t yet, please join over 4000 Vermonters by signing the petition in support of the VT Right To Know GMOs campaign so we can stay in touch with you.  You can also get up to the minute news by “liking” the campaign’s Facebook page.   

Volunteer

>>> 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:   

Office Volunteer – Can you travel to Montpelier one day a week or a month and help us with our important campaign work? A few hours a week helps us a lot.    
Annual Meeting Support- May 16 is our an annual meeting and we need help with many tasks. Event set up or breakdown, member and non-member check in, raffle ticket sales, food prep, sign making, etc.  

Poster Hangers – We need folks to hang posters in towns surrounding Wilder, Wheelock, and Randolph for our upcoming Annual Celebration and dairy classes.   (Also in your community) We can send you the posters via mail or email you one to print.
Graphic Designer – The 2012 Tour de Farms is in its fifth year, and we are seeking a volunteer with some graphics skills to help us design a 5 year logo.  

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.

04/20 Rural Vermont Alert

>BREAKING NEWS<
TODAY
The Vermont House Committee on Agriculture
PASSED
The Vermont Right to Know GMO Food Labeling Bill

Dear Members & Friends,

This afternoon the House Ag Committee finally voted on H.722, the GMO Food Labeling bill. They passed the bill 9 to 1 with one member absent (Jim McNeil of Rutland.) The one opposing vote came from Norm McAllister from Highgate.

The Committee did a good job of strengthening the bill in terms of its legal footing by adding substantive purpose and findings sections that are based on the extensive testimony they heard from experts and Vermont citizens.

One bad thing is that they also added a “trigger clause” which would delay the effective date of the law until 365 days after California AND 2 other northeast states pass a substantively similar piece of legislation. This would effectively hog tie the bill for the foreseeable future if it were to pass. Fortunately next year we can start with a fresh bill but have the benefit of the work that was done this year and the option to remove the trigger clause.

The bill will now be referred to the House Judiciary Committee where everyone is pretty sure no action will be taken since there is so little time left in the session. Also the legislative leadership has made it clear there will be no floor vote held this year.

Although this is not the result we hoped and worked for, with your help we have have put the concerns about genetically engineered food back in the public eye and with the growing national and global movement we are gaining momentum toward a critical tipping point.

We’ll be in touch soon with information about what Rural Vermont’s next steps will be in this crucial campaign.

Help us spread the word and stay in touch with the

VT Right To Know GMOs Campaign by “LIKING” VT Right To Know GMOs on Facebook

Thanks again for your help and support!
Andrea Stander
Rural Vermont Director

P.S. I hope you will be able to join us at the Rural Vermont Annual Celebration on May 16th. It’s going to be a fun evening with good food, good company and a lively conversation with farmer and writer Ben Hewitt who is the author of ‘The Town that food Saved” and “Making Supper Safe.” You can see all the details here.

I look forward to the chance to meet you there!

Bloomberg: California Heads for Vote on Modified Food Labeling

By Jack Kaskey – May 2, 2012
Full Article

Californians are on course to vote whether genetically modified food must be labeled after a campaign targeting Monsanto Co. (MON) and other biotech-crop companies gathered enough support for a referendum.

A petition was signed by 971,126 people, 75 percent more than the minimum needed for a statewide vote concurrent with the Nov. 6 general election, the Oakland-based California Right to Know campaign said today in a statement. State certification of the signatures followed by approval from 50 percent of voters would make the proposal law.

“The right to know is as American as apple pie,” Gary Ruskin, an Oakland-based manager for the campaign, said in an April 30 interview. “Monsanto and some other chemical and agricultural biotech companies are desperate to keep the public in the dark about what is really in their food.”

The California movement is mobilizing consumer unease over modified ingredients, which are found in about 80 percent of processed foods in the U.S. according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The campaign is the best chance for biotech labeling in the U.S. after the failure of similar bills in 19 states and the rejection of a petition to the Food and Drug Administration last month, Ruskin said.

Monsanto opposes labeling modified ingredients because the move risks “misleading consumers into thinking products are not safe when in fact they are,” Sara E. Miller, a spokeswoman for St. Louis-based Monsanto, said in an e-mail.

‘Back Door’

The initiative is a “back door” way to hurt the $13.3 billion biotech crop industry, according to Richard Lobb, managing director for the Council for Biotechnology Information. The Washington-based council represents Monsanto and five other biotech-seed developers: DuPont Co. (DD), Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), Syngenta AG (SYNN), Bayer AG (BAYN) and BASF SE. (BAS)

“They basically are trying to scare consumers through labeling,” Lobb said in a telephone interview. “The obvious objective is to push biotechnology out of the market altogether.”

Biotech labeling, which has been adopted in more than 40 countries, has never been endorsed by the FDA. The agency says crops engineered to tolerate herbicides or produce insecticide pose no greater health risks than conventional foods.

Modified foods have been in U.S. grocery stores since 1994. Ninety-three percent of Americans say genetically engineered foods should be labeled, according to an October 2010 poll conducted by Thompson Reuters Corp. and National Public Radio. Seventy-nine percent have doubts about the safety of such foods, according to the poll.

Label Exemptions

Should it be approved, the measure would require labels of foods made with biotech ingredients to state that they were “produced with genetic engineering.” Labels would be phased in over 18 months. Exemptions include restaurant food, alcohol and meat from animals fed with modified grains.

‘Alleviating Concerns’

Grocers and biotech crop developers should embrace GMO labeling because it may benefit sales by alleviating concerns among consumers that engineered foods are being forced on them, said David Ropeik, a Concord, Massachusetts-based consultant on risk perception.

“Labeling gives you the feeling of choice,” Ropeik said. “When you give people choice, it makes them less afraid.”


Burlington Free Press: Conference concludes Vermont is celebrating ‘a renaissance in agriculture’

May 5, 2012
By Melissa Pasanen
Full Article

JAY — A practical Vermont farmer will look at a big, old barn and calculate how many animals or hay bales it can shelter.

But there’s an increasing awareness among farmers and other Vermonters that those barns represent a far greater value.

Beyond their practical uses, they are an icon of the working landscape Vermonters treasure and tourists travel to see, a symbol not only of the state’s deep agricultural heritage but also of future opportunities.

At a daylong Northeast Kingdom farm and food summit held last month at Jay Peak Resort, about 190 attendees gathered to celebrate what State Sen. Vince Illuzzi in his opening remarks called “a renaissance in agriculture.”

Illuzzi, who has represented the Essex-Orleans district for more than 30 years, told the audience that the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, which he chairs, historically had not been much involved in agriculture-related issues.

Four or five years ago, Illuzzi continued, that attitude changed, and the business of agriculture earned more focus within the state’s broad economic development efforts.

“We concluded,” he said, “that agriculture is as important to economic development as is IBM in Essex or GE in Rutland, and you can name other big employers in different parts of the state.”

Following Illuzzi to the podium, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross echoed those words and built on them.

“Agriculture is important from an economic standpoint. It’s important, as we know, from a community standpoint,” Ross said. “I believe that agriculture and our friends in the forest-products industry really hold the soul of the state of Vermont.”

Entrepreneurial spirit

Chatting before his official introductory remarks, Ross said, “The activity in this region represents the movement that we’re seeing throughout Vermont, that people are engaging in agriculture and the food system in a very deep way.

“We’re building a food system for the 21st century,” he continued, “and it’s going to need to be diverse and community-based, one that’s grounded in knowing each other, in providing for each other and in sharing our stories and our practices with one another.

“Community-based agriculture is one of the things Vermont does very well,” Ross added. “We’re recognized nationally for the work that’s being done here. Each region of the state has its own success stories, its own strengths, all reflective of the entrepreneurial spirit of Vermonters.”

Over the course of the day, farmers and chefs, policymakers and nonprofit employees, entrepreneurs and marketers, homesteaders and gardeners all learned about solutions, resources and models that support, grow and capitalize on local agriculture.

Some reached statewide and beyond, such as presentations about food-safety regulations and best practices for farmers markets from the University of Vermont Extension, or the new DigInVermont.com tourism marketing tool about to be launched by the Vermont Agriculture and Culinary Tourism Council.

Others narrowed in on the “hyperlocal” — as stated in the title of a workshop on building neighborhood communities through gardening — and highlighted specific needs and opportunities within the Northeast Kingdom.

There were workshops by homesteaders growing food mostly for themselves, by small farmers focused on feeding their neighbors, and by the team at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick explaining how farmers and food producers from various parts of Vermont and even neighboring states can participate in their shared-use kitchen incubator to process products for consumption right in town or across the country.

The range of those using the recently opened 15,000-square-foot food processing facility represents the breadth of food businesses in the region. They include the anchor tenant, established world-class cheesemaker Cellars at Jasper Hill, which needed to expand cheesemaking space beyond its Greensboro headquarters, alongside start-ups including Janice Blair’s Vermont Kale Chips, which were made with a dehydrator in her Johnson kitchen until sales growth justified the move.

Goal of community

As Ross had noted, the theme of community ran through the day.

“We had a few goals when we started farming, and one of them was community,” said farmer Tamara Martin in her workshop on diversified agriculture at Chandler Pond Farm in South Wheelock. “We want people to come to the farm, to know where their food comes from.”

Martin, 30, and her husband, Rob, are in their fifth season of growing vegetables and also have gradually built up to an integrated system of meat and laying chickens, seasonal turkeys, pigs and a slowly growing herd of Devons for meat and raw milk sold from the farm.

Rob grew up on a traditional dairy in Bradford.

“He loved farming, but had seen the struggles. He didn’t want to ship milk,” his wife said.

The Martins offer 40 community-supported-agriculture (CSA) shares and sell at two farmers markets and through their own farm stand. A sugaring operation, pick-your-own strawberries and events such as a harvest festival, community garlic planting and fundraising feast in a field also bring people to the farm.

An audience member asked about genetically modified organisms, and Martin responded that the couple struggle with this issue in the face of skyrocketing organic feed prices. They have compromised by offering both conventional and organic meat birds.

“It’s a really hard decision but I just can’t price out my neighbors,” Tamara said. “We really, really want to sell to our community.”

Over a lunch containing a number of regionally grown ingredients, Anemone Fresh, gardener at Karme Choling, a Shambhala meditation retreat center and community in Barnet, said, “I came because I was inspired to see what others are doing, and I’m realizing what a resource this community is. Connecting with other farmers and growers is really important.”

Community ownership

Later in the day, Jennifer Black and Khristopher Flack shared a city view on community through Fresh Start Community Farm in Newport, a bootstrap downtown gardening project they launched last year with funding from a municipal planning grant.

“The whole point was building a neighborhood. The garden was the tool,” Black said. She and Flack worked to engage neighbors of an empty city lot in the creation of a vibrant community garden where they also offered classes in freezing corn, preparing salsa and strawberry jam and making compost.

“The great stuff going on in Vermont isn’t always trickling down to every little community,” Flack cautioned. “We need to recognize a baseline of food access for every community.”

Their project had its nay-sayers, but Black and Flack forged on, buoyed by the support of the neighborhood.

“You can’t pull the dreams out of your head if you don’t let them in,” Flack said.

This year, the pair will be managing the original garden plus an existing park site and breaking ground on a third garden on the front lawn of a new business in town, Numia Medical, in exchange for offering a work-based CSA to their employees.

They are working hard to raise money for ongoing support of the project within the city rather than looking for outside funding. “We’re working to feed Newport. The goal is to raise the money in Newport,” Flack said. “Each garden belongs to the community it is in.”

Community-based solutions

Another Newport-based effort was one of several marketing and tourism projects represented on the workshop agenda.

Patricia Sears, executive director of the nonprofit Newport City Renaissance Corporation — flanked by Steve Breault, co-owner of Newport Natural Food Market and Cafe, and Chris Venegas of Green Mountain Farm Direct —explained the Newport Fresh by Nature program developed to help local restaurants connect with regional food producers and then publicize those efforts.

Although the goals of the program sound similar to those of the statewide Vermont Fresh Network organization, Sears noted, “We are working with them, plugging into them, but we’re much more community-based. We’re filling the gaps at a community level.”

Venegas, a regionally focused food distributor, and Breault of the Newport Natural Market both noted the extra challenges of Newport’s far northern location for restaurants trying to connect with local growers who are a good match in terms of scale. “These statewide initiatives really need these on-the-ground regional projects,” an audience member agreed.

Feeding neighbors

The challenges facing small food producers also were addressed in a number of workshops, most of which raised issues shared across the state.

In a workshop about how food hubs can help more efficiently aggregate and distribute locally produced food, participants role-played. One group represented a farmer trying to sell products to a local school, while the other group represented the school. Issues of food safety and the ability of the school to store, process and afford local ingredients were raised.

A spirited discussion about opportunities and challenges for Vermont meat farmers took place around a wide circle of chairs filled with producers, distributors, representatives from the Agency of Agriculture and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and others. The conversation included points about processing bottlenecks, on-farm slaughter and the need to educate consumers about the differences between grain- and grass-fed meat.

Mark Brouillette, 45, of Breezy Acres Farm in Montgomery participated in both of these workshops. He and his wife, Wendy, who was also at the summit, sold their registered Jersey in 2007, giving up the dairy that had been in the family since Mark’s great-grandfather’s day.

Since then, Mark has been working full-time as a wastewater operator, but he thinks it’s time to get back into farming raising vegetables and beef.

“Once a farmer, always a farmer,” Wendy said, smiling.

The couple saw the summit listed on the NOFA-VT website. “This is helping us make the connections locally,” Mark said. “I feel like we’re almost ready to take the plunge.”

It’s good timing, the Brouillettes agreed.

“Everybody wants to know where their food is coming from,” Wendy said.

“It’s nice to feed your neighbors,” Mark added.