Author Archives: Mollie

05/20 Update: Annual Celebration Highlights & May 23 Dairy Class Openings

Openings Still Available for May 23rd
Raw Dairy Class in Randolph
Our Wed 5/23 dairy class, 1-4 pm is at Turkey Hill Farm in Randolph Center.

Margaret Osha will be teaching how to make cottage cheese with cow’s milk, 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 for our dairy class inventory!

Pre-registration required, $20-40 sliding scale

If you’d like to register please contact Shelby or call 223-7222 ASAP.

We had a blast – hope you did too!
Rural Vermont’s 2012 Annual Celebration on May 16th  was a huge success. If you were there, THANK YOU! and we hope you had a great time. If you missed it here are some highlights:

The Wilder Center in Wilder VT was bursting at the

seams with music, laughter, lively discussion, and the kind of potluck spread that can only be found at a gathering of farmers and their friends. An energetic crowd of about 150 Rural
Vermont members and supporters convened to celebrate, catch up with friends, and get inspired by farmer and author Ben Hewitt and his humorous and iconoclastic talk titled “The Future is in the Dirt: Growing a Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters.”
Before the formal program began, guests’ taste buds were tickled by everything from homemade bread and butter to grass-fed meatballs and BBQ spareribs to a rainbow of fermented and pickled veggies. During the feasting, Upper Valley musicians Nancy and Mike Wood played some great tunes on mandolin and guitar, closing with a song written by Nancy specifically in honor of Rural Vermont!
Rural Vermont’s Director Andrea Stander welcomed the crowd and unveiled a huge new banner, handmade of hemp fabric by farmer/member Peter Harvey of East Calais, depicting Rural Vermont’s iconic wood block print cow logo. Suzanne Lupien of Norwich, the farmer and artist who created the logo, came
on stage to sign the banner to enthusiastic applause.
In highlighting Rural Vermont’s accomplishments over the past year, Andrea spoke of the phenomenal public support that was built around the VT Right To Know GMO Food Labeling bill campaign. One of the key individuals behind this effort, Will Allen of Cedar Circle Farm

, was honored for his activism on this issue. Will received the prestigious Jack Starr Award for his dedication and marshaling of resources to support the campaign  “It was really great to see Will Allen receive the recognition he deserves,” said Enid Wonnacatt, director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT.

Rural Vermont’s membership welcomed Rachel Schattman and Randy and Lisa Robar to the Board of Directors. Rachel owns and operates Bella Farm, a vegetable farm in Monkton; and Randy and Lisa own Kiss the Cow Farm in Barnard, where they milk a small herd of Jerseys.

Ben Hewitt was the rock star of the evening with his entertaining and thought provoking presentation “The Future’s in the Dirt: Growing a Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters.”   Ben stirred the pot by presenting some “Big Fat Lies” about the industrial food system and then he invited the audience to offer their thoughts and ideas too – it was a very lively discussion. On her way out, Cat Buxton of Sharon and Education Coordinator at Cedar Circle Farm said, “I am really glad I came; I’m a new fan of Ben Hewitt. I love seeing the faces of change in agriculture all in one room!”

Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Please help us show our appreciation by patronizing them and thanking them for their support for Rural Vermont.

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

Stay tuned for more updates, the winners of the fabulous Farm Fresh Five Raffle and more photos!

Join

THANKS – LET’S KEEP IT GOING!

We made it to 1050 “likes” in honor of our Annual Celebration. Please help us keep building our network of people who care about family farms and Vermonters feeding Vermonters.

If you haven’t already done this,  please

like and share our Facebook page
with your friends and anyone you know
who might be interested in Rural Vermont.

If you don’t use Facebook you can also help
build our strength by joining our full mailing list here .
AND best of all – You can sign up to be a member here.


Rural Vermont Applauds Passage of Industrial Hemp Amendment

In light of the overwhelming passage of legislation favoring Industrial Hemp farming, Rural Vermont is pleased to see that Vermont farmers are now one step closure to growing hemp.  The recent passage of H.747 authorizes the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to begin the process of allowing Vermont farmers the economic opportunity to cultivate Industrial Hemp. Although the legislation is still dependant on the removal of federal prohibitions, Rural Vermont is pleased that a third consecutive Vermont Legislative Biennium overwhelming displayed strong support for Vermont farmers to cultivate industrial hemp as a cash crop.

In celebration of Hemp History Week (June 4- June 11) Rural Vermont will host a special presentation on the economic potential of industrial hemp with Netaka White on Wednesday June 6 at 7:00 pm.  The talk and discussion will be held at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission office on Seminary Street in Middlebury, VT.  The discussion will highlight the uses of industrial hemp and how the crop can fit into Vermont’s agricultural landscape and economy.  A review of current state and federal hemp policy will also be discussed.

Netaka White is the Bioenergy Program Director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, and heads up the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative (VBI). The VBI provides grants and technical assistance to Vermont farms and businesses in order to increase the local production and local use of sustainable bioenergy fuels and feedstocks. Says White, “The Vermont Legislature has once again shown their leadership on the hemp issue. The Sustainable Jobs Fund is optimistic that before long, industrial hemp will be an additional source of local food, oil, energy, livestock feed, and jobs. In my mind, it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ Vermont farmers will have the ability to grow hemp and contribute to our agricultural economy, but when.”

Rural Vermont has been advocating with Vermont farmers to once again allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp.  “Rural Vermont’s hemp campaign has been energized by grassroots activists from Brattleboro to Warren who want the ability to cultivate hemp just as our Canadian neighbors are allowed to,” states Robb Kidd, Rural Vermont Organizer. In 2008, Rural Vermont was the lead advocate in promoting the Vermont Industrial Hemp Bill, Act 212. However, Act 212 only allows Vermont farmers to grow industrial hemp once federal regulations permit it. As an affirmation, in 2009 Rural Vermont urged passage of a joint resolution directing the federal government and the federal delegation to legalize the growing of industrial hemp.

In the summer of 2011, Rural Vermont supporters successfully convinced Congressman Peter Welch to co-sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, H.R.1831 in the U.S. House of Representatives.  “Vermont farmers and businesses are left with an unnecessary competitive disadvantage in developing a valuable and diversified crop, and in order for Vermont farmers to benefit, Vermont’s Congressional leaders will need to work to remove the federal prohibition,” Kidd also stated.


VPR: Former Hinesburg Cheese Plant Houses New Agriculture Businesses

05/19/12
By Melody Bodette
Full Article and Audio

After a fire damaged a cheese plant in Hinesburg four years ago, the Quebec-based company decided not to rebuild. That left 80 people without jobs and a void in the center of town.

But an effort to bring value-added agriculture businesses to the building has paid off, as state and local officials will celebrate the opening of two businesses in the building this weekend.

These are the two bottle fillers, that’s the glass line, and that’s the plastic line, came from a creamery in Missouri,” said Cheryl DeVos as she shows off the equipment that she and her husband JD purchased to get their new milk bottling plant, Green Mountain Organic Creamery, off the ground.

The DeVoses took over the family’s Kimball Brook Farm in North Ferrisbugh more than 20 years ago, and went organic in 2005 to avoid the roller coaster of milk prices that conventional dairies face.

But they long dreamed of bottling their own milk, and started planning in 2008. Falling organic milk prices only made them work harder.

“One of the things we really liked about organic milk was that it seemed to not have the roller coaster so you could actually plan. And that all seemed to change back when the economy crashed in 2009. And we definitely, at that point, it was that the national markets where organic farmers sell their milk to, dropped their price… we had already been thinking about doing our own creamery but at that point, we said, ok, we’re just going to plow through this and do it, DeVos explained.

But opening a bottling plant isn’t cheap.

“I think we have about a million dollars into the plant and we don’t own the building. It’s quite an endeavor,” DeVos said.

DeVos says they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the community, including local investors. Many of them either wanted to see the Hinesburg building re-used or wanted to support local food.

Kimball Brook Farm milk will soon be stocked in local stores in Chittenden and Addison counties, and the creamery will have between five and seven employees.

DeVos says they hope to one day bottle all of the milk from the farm’s 200 cows, and take milk from other farmers. That would create jobs for 25 people in Hinesburg.

In another part of the old Saputo cheese plant, Vermont Smoke and Cure is also hoping to grow at its new headquarters.

Company CEO Chris Bailey says it was time for a move from its former quarters in South Barre.

“All of the parts of the business are growing each year. So we finally just overwhelmed our little facility in South Barre. Everything that could be pushed out of the building was, and we were still coming up against limits. So it was finally time to get a new bigger facility,” Bailey said.

And Bailey says there’s room for growth as the company expands to new markets and increases its locally grown products line.

Hinesburg officials say the two companies fit the plan launched after the 2008 fire to re-develop the site with value-added agriculture businesses. And with these two new companies, they’ve met that goal.


Democracy Now!: “Magic Soap” Maker David Bronner on Labeling Genetically Modified Food, Fair Trade, the War on Hemp

05/15/12
Watch the video or read the transcript here.

Critics of genetically modified foods have won a victory in California by securing enough signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot that could force food manufacturers to label food products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Numerous items are already sold in grocery stores containing genetically modified corn and soy, but companies do not currently have to inform consumers. We speak to David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, about GMOs, fair trade, the U.S. war on hemp, and the company’s support of Palestinian olive oil producers. [includes rush transcript]

Guest:

David Bronner, grandson of Dr. Emanuel Bronner, who founded Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. He has been president of the company since 1998.


05/15 FINAL Annual Celebration UPDATE!

HOPE TO SEE YOU AT:

Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration

>>> LAST MINUTE DETAILS!!

<<<
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 everyone else
MEMBERS:
Bring a non-member friend and be entered in a special drawing for a gift certificate to the Hunger Mt Co-op in Montpelier! Non-members who join (or renew) at the event are also entered.

ENTERTAINMENT
 Music by Michael and Nancy Wood
Bluegrass, folk, and country met classical, blues, and jazz over thirty years ago on an elevator. Vocals, melodic mandolin, finger picking and great guitar chords are blended into a sound that only comes from time and seasoning.”
Featured Speaker:
farmer, author and Rural VT Board member
 “The Future is in the Dirt:
Growing the Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”
Ben will share some “Big Fat Lies”
and engage everyone in an entertaining dialogue
about food and farming.
AWARDS
We’ll be honoring all our dedicated interns and volunteers and this year, we are thrilled to announce that Will Allen of Cedar Circle Farm will be the recipient of the 2012 Jack Starr Award. Will is being honored for his dedication, vision, and energy in support of this year’s
VT Right To Know GMO Food Labeling campaign.
Come and help us celebrate Will!

FABULOUS “FARM FRESH FIVE” RAFFLE!
 Buy a $5 ticket, and be entered to win one of five super sweet food & farm raffle prizes.
 For all the details on the prizes, click here.

********************************************************
CAN’T MAKE IT TO THE CELEBRATION?
SPECIAL LAST MINUTE DEAL
TO GET INTO THE RAFFLE:

Order “Farm Fresh Five Raffle” tickets BY PHONE  Minimum Order: 5 tickets for $20
with MasterCard or VISA ONLY
CALL 802-223-7222: 3:00-5:00PM ON TUESDAY
or 10AM-Noon on WEDNESDAY
*********************************************************
OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS

What To Bring: a finger food potluck item to share, a place setting to help us minimize trash, $$ to buy Raffle Tickets, and all your friends, family, and neighbors!


Directions:
Please try to carpool! From I-91 North or South, take Exit 12 toward Route 5/Wilder. Follow signs to Route 5 North (Hartford Ave.). Turn onto Route 5 North, and travel a little under a mile to the Wilder Center on the right. It is located at the corner of Route 5 and Gillette Street in the Wilder Village Historic District in the town of Hartford, Vermont.
Parking: Park in the Dataman parking lot, located on the left-hand side (coming from the Interstate), just before the Wilder Center. This lot is a very short walk from the Wilder Center. For those who need onsite parking, there is a very limited number of spots available at the Wilder Center. NOTE: Please carpool if you can! And if you need help arranging carpools, email Robb.

All the details about Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration can be found on our website http://www.ruralvermont.org/ SEE YOU THERE!

Join

YOU DID IT!

Within 24 hours of our challenge last week Rural Vermont’s Facebook Page surged past 1000 “likes.” Can we go even higher in honor of our Annual Celebration?

If you haven’t already done this,  please

like and share our page with your friends.

If you don’t use Facebook you can also help
build our strength by joining our full mailing list here.
AND best of all – You can sign up to be a member here.

Huffington Post: The Fox (Monsanto) Buys the Chicken Coop (Beeologics)

05/3/2012
By Richard Schiffman
Full Article

Why would one of the largest purveyors of pesticides, genetically engineered seeds and agrochemicals want to buy a company which has been seeking solutions to the escalating threats to the world bee population?

Monsanto spokeswomen Kelly Powers says it is to give the fledgling company a helping hand. Beeologics has developed a product called Remembee, an anti-viral agent which its boosters claim will help stem the tide of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious plague which has led to the disappearance of the bees in up to a third of the commercial colonies located in the U.S. during the last decade.

The root of the problem, however, may not be the virus targeted by Remembee, a chemical agent which utilizes RNA interference, a mechanism that blocks gene expression, but the herbicides and insecticides that agro-chemical giants like Monsanto, Dow and Bayer have themselves been hawking to farmers around the world.

This is the conclusion of three recent studies which implicate a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or “neonics” for short, which coat a massive 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds in the U.S. alone. They are also a common ingredient in a wide variety of home gardening products. As I detail in an article which was published by Reuters last month, neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that bees encounter on their rounds. Neonics are a nerve poison that disorient their insect victims and appear to damage the homing ability of bees, which may help to account for their mysterious failure to make it back to the hive.

This was the conclusion of research which came out in the prestigious Journal Science during March. In another study conducted by entomologists at Purdue University the scientists found that neonic-containing dust released into the air at planting time had “lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers.” A third study by the Harvard School of Public Health actually re-created colony collapse disorder in several honeybee hives simply by administering small doses of a popular neonic, imidacloprid.

While these studies strongly suggest that herbicides are a culprit, scientists caution that colony collapse disorder is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes, ranging from the loss of wild bee habitats to the weakening of bee immune systems as a result of poor diet (commercial bees are frequently fed pesticide-laced corn syrup instead of their own honey) and also the techniques of modern beekeeping, which include the artificial insemination of queens, and the resulting loss of genetic diversity in the bee population.

Some have also pointed the finger at the pollen from genetically modified Roundup Ready corn which bees ingest, and which contains a powerful insecticide within its genetic structure. Roundup seeds are manufactured by Monsanto, and are currently planted across wide swaths of the American Midwest and elsewhere.

So with Monsanto products themselves amongst the key suspects in Colony Collapse Disorder, one might ask: Why has the multinational bought a company which has been a key player in researching this disorder as well as Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, another scourge of bees?

Let us hope that Monsanto is as good as its word and uses this newly acquired company to boldly get to the bottom of the mystery of the disappearing bees. But if history is any guide, there is little cause for optimism. The health watchdog group “Natural Society” rated Monsanto “the worst in 2011 for its ongoing work to threaten human health and the environment.”

With its acquisition of Beeologic, the multinational has a chance to start improving its record — right? My advice, however, is don’t hold your breath!


Burlington Free Press: Despite GMO-labeling failure this year, advocates ‘hopeful for the prospects’

Joel Banner Baird
May. 11, 2012
Full Article

Burlington Free Press:Any encouraging signs from this latest session?

Lindsay Harris: Our big effort for this last session was the GMO labeling law (H. 722, requiring labeling of food that contains genetically modified organisms). That bill didn’t quite make it through.

One huge victory is that it was voted out of the House Ag committee by a 9-to-1-to-1 vote. It was a tri-partisan vote. The testimony and the debate within the committee was very thoughtful, and it was mixed — it wasn’t just a rubber stamp.

Overall, they heard a lot of significant concerns of consumers and farmers about both the human and environmental health impacts from genetically engineered food and crops.

BFP: So — what happened?

LH: It got a special “pass” for crossover (to the Vermont Senate) but it didn’t get out of the House Judiciary Committee in time — not because they voted down. I had a conversation about the bill with the chair of that committee, Bill Lippert(D-Hinesburg), and he was generally very supportive of it and said they just ran out of time.

BFP: That must have been a disappointment.

LH: We’re hopeful for the prospects for it next year. Even though the bill didn’t make it to the governor’s desk, it was a very successful campaign in a lot of ways. There was a hearing in the Statehouse on a weeknight, and 300 people came out. People are really passionate about this issue. One hundred and twelve people testified, and every single one of them was in favor of the legislation passing.

There was huge public support. UVM Center for Rural Studies took a poll in January and found that 97 percent of the respondents said they wanted GMO food to be labeled.

BFP: Who opposed the bill?

LH: The main opposition to it in the Legislature is that, basically Monsanto (the multinational agricultural-products corporation) is guaranteed to sue the state if it becomes law.

The governor also voiced opposition, based on the threat of a lawsuit — which is unfortunate, because we provided quite a bit of testimony, especially in House Ag, with legal experts in different areas of the field, that there was a very strong case to be made to give Vermont the right to require labeling.

There have been these other high-profile lawsuits in Vermont — around campaign finance and Vermont Yankee — things where we haven’t done so well, so I think people are sort of gun-shy, especially the governor, to get involved in another lawsuit. That’s understandable.

But we think this is totally worth fighting for. People are ready to put money on the table to help fight that battle.

BFP: How are other states managing GMO labeling?

LH: There’s a national movement on this issue. It looks like there’s going to be a ballot initiative in California (in November) to require labeling. That could really change the national landscape, because they’re so big and influential.

Other states, particularly in the Northeast, have been inquiring about our campaign to work on legislative issues: New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine have all expressed interest in doing something similar.

BFP: GMO labeling is already in place in the European Union, right?

LH: And there are way, way more restrictions and many outright bans on GMOs over there that we don’t have in this country. Here, in my opinion, our farm policy is tailor-made to corporate interests, and that’s what rules.

BFP: Why is this an issue for Vermont farmers? Could you give us a little history behind it?

LH: In 2005, the Legislature passed the Farmers Protection Act, which would have kept organic farmers from being held liable for “genetic drift” from GMO DNA in nearby fields. It’s a not only a violation of organic standards, but also — the way the laws are written right now, it’s also patent infringement. It’s crazy, right?

It ended up passing both houses. Then it got to the Governor Douglas’ desk, and he ended up vetoing it. That was a tough battle and a tough defeat.

But public sentiment was very strong then in favor of limiting the influence of GMOs in this state. And it still is.

BFP: Is “genetic drift” a part of this year’s bill?

LH: H.722 isn’t really about farmers so much. This is about consumers. This is about a label on your box of cereal or pack of crackers that says, “This food may contain GMO ingredients.” And that’s all it says. It’s truly a bill about just knowing what you’re eating, what’s in your food.

Of course, it secondarily helps smart farmers, organic farms and local food producers, because we don’t have GMOs in our food — and so we wouldn’t have to label them as such. And if people start to wake up and realize what they’re eating, they might be willing to pay a little bit more to get some food that doesn’t contain that stuff, and is produced locally.

BFP: As a farmer and a consumer, what do you see as the risks presented by GMOs?

LH: The thing that I hear the most: that there isn’t enough science — so the burden of proof isn’t put on the companies. It’s not, “Let’s test if first and make sure it’s safe before we offer it widely for sale.” Instead, the burden of proof, right now, is put on the governments and consumers: “If it’s found to be dangerous, then we’ll deal with it.”

BFP: My understanding of GMOs isn’t profound, but from what I understand, “natural” cross-breeding results in a gradual shift of crop traits — but when you inject animal DNA into a plant, or mix DNA from different species that wouldn’t ordinarily reproduce, the transformation is quick and less manageable, kind of like rapid climate change.

LH: From a farmer’s point of view, one big issue is how large-farm GMO crops are engineered to be resistant to some powerful pesticides and herbicides.

For example, they’ve engineering a gene into their corn that makes the corn resistant to the herbicide Roundup: “Roundup-ready corn.” So you have corn drenched in Roundup, and it grows up without competition from any weeds — it’s a huge mono-crop.

Those practices are extremely destructive to the soil, to biodiversity — to our environment in general — because it encourages farmers to use more and more petroleum-based, highly toxic pesticides and herbicides on their crops.

Soil becomes depleted, and the corn keeps pumping up. It reaches an adult stage, but it doesn’t mean that it’s nutritionally healthy.

BFP: Why would Vermonters want to support farms that don’t use GMOs?

LH: In a more natural system, in a farm that mimics a more diverse system, there are all kinds of pressures in play, and one species isn’t going to take over. You’re able to control with more moderation, with long-term holistic strategies.

Organic farmers have to deal with pests and weeds creatively, by introducing a predator or eliminating weed seeds slowly, over time, from their soils. In ways that are a lot more sustainable, a lot less drastic and a lot healthier for people eating that food.

BFP: For folks who are interested, what’s the next step?

LH: People should contact their legislators. Find out what their positions are on this issue. If people are in favor of knowing what kinds of food they’re eating — to pressure their legislators to take up the issue and vote on the issue in the affirmative.

And call the governor. Pressure the governor directly. He was pretty clear in his opposition to this strategy. Frankly, we expect more from the governor. He talks pretty tough about standing up to the feds on medical marijuana and Vermont exceptionalism — well, this is an area we think where Vermont should be leading the way, without question.

We’re hoping it propels things next year, and this will really be an issue in the elections, that legislatures will feel pressure from the overwhelming majority of food eaters who just want to know what they’re buying.


05/10 Update: Countdown to Annual Celebration and LOTS More News

In this Alert:
Message

Dear Members and Friends:

Before I get into all our news, I just want to wish a very Happy 2nd Birthday today to my little buddy Forrest Kidd (son of Rural Vermont’s Organizer Robb Kidd and mom Sarah Adelman).

Like a lot of people (especially our hard-working citizen legislators), I am very glad the 2011-2012 Legislative Session is now over. I look forward to having control of my schedule again, the opportunity to get out of Montpelier, and visiting with members and supporters. See below for a link to a complete Legislative Wrap-Up and some thoughts about next year.

Below you will also find lots of information about great upcoming events featuring Hemp and Sally Fallon Morell and you can find all the details on our website.

I’m looking forward to meeting 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 fun and hopeful than gathering with old and new friends, enjoying  good food and music, winning prizes and talking about how we’re going to grow a culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters?

See you soon!

Andrea Stander
Rural Vermont Director

  Event

PLEASE JOIN US FOR:

Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration

>>> LAST MINUTE DETAILS!! <<<
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 everyone else
Special drawing for a gift certificate to the Hunger Mt Co-op in Montpelier! Be entered to win if you’re a member who brings a non-member friend OR if you become a member (or renew) at the event!
with featured speaker, farmer, author and Rural VT Board member
BEN HEWITT
“The Future is in the Dirt:
Growing the Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”
In less than a week, we will gather at the Wilder Center for a lively and lovely night to celebrate the work we’ve accomplished in the last year, look ahead to another year of progress, and enjoy the company of friends from near and far. We look forward to sharing good food and drink, great conversation, and a memorable evening with you all.

This year, we are thrilled to announce that Will Allen of Cedar Circle Farm will be the recipient of the Jack Starr award. Will is being honored for his dedication, vision, and energy in support of this year’s GMO labeling bill. Come and help us celebrate Will!

Want to earn yourself some free raffle tickets? Help us sell “FARM FRESH FIVE” raffle tickets before the event, and for every 5 you sell, we’ll give you one! For more info and to get started, email Shelby.
Directions: From I-91 North or South, take Exit 5 toward Route 5/Wilder. Follow signs to Route 5 North (Hartford Ave.). Turn onto Route 5 North, and travel a little under a mile to the Wilder Center on the right. It is located at the corner of Route 5 and Gillette Street in the Wilder Village Historic District in the town of Hartford, Vermont.
Parking: Park in the Dataman parking lot, located on the left-hand side (coming from the Interstate), just before the Wilder Center. This lot is a very short walk from the Wilder Center. For those who need onsite parking, there is a very limited number of spots available at the Wilder Center. NOTE: Please carpool if you can! And if you need help arranging carpools, email Robb.
To bring: a finger food potluck item, place setting, $$, and all your friends, family, and neighbors!

All the details about Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration can be found  here.  See you there!

dairy

Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing
Cottage Cheese & Yogurt Panna Cotta  

with Margaret Osha at Turkey Hill Farm, Randolph Center
Wed, May 23rd, 1-4 pm

$20-$40 sliding scale
portion of proceeds to benefit Rural Vermont

Join Rural Vermont and Margaret Osha for an introductory dairy processing class that will demonstrate how easy and versatile cottage cheese can be, as well as how simple it is to make elegant, luscious yogurt panna cotta .

For more info or to register, click here, email Shelby or call 223-7222.
HempEvent

Celebrate Hemp History Week
Cultivating Economic Prosperity Through Hemp

June 6 at 7pm-9pm

Addison County Regional Planning Commission Office

14 Seminary St., Middlebury, VT

Rural Vermont is hosting a special presentation by Netaka White of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund for Hemp History Week 2012

For more details, click here, contact Robb or call 223-7222
SallyFallon

Sally Fallon Morell is coming to Vermont – June 7-9
Rural Vermont is proud to co-sponsor, with Shelburne Farms and many other great organizations, a 3-day visit by the author of “Nourishing Traditions” and one of the country’s foremost proponents of the benefits of raw milk.

All events are free and open to the public, thanks to the generous support of the The Forrest C. and Frances H. Lattner Foundation.

You can see all the details on our website.
FarmerFilmUPDATE on “You Wanted to Be a Farmer” Film Screenings

“You Wanted to be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale” was viewed in 13 locations around Vermont to a collective audience of 200+.

The film invoked feelings of frustration, empathy, and inspiration, while serving as a springboard for many thoughtful conversations about food sovereignty, appropriately-scaled regulations, food safety, and strategies to support community-based food systems. Ben Hewitt will continue this conversation at Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration on May 16th at the Wilder Center in Wilder VT.

There are several additional community screenings of “You Wanted to be a Farmer” in the works – stay tuned for details. The film is also available to borrow from Rural Vermont’s library – if you’re interested in either organizing your own community screening or borrowing the film, contact Shelby or call 223-7222.
LegWrapEND OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION WRAP UP: 
In the interest of conserving space here, please see the special Legislative Wrap Up Email or visit our website for all the details.
Volunteer

>>> Volunteers Needed

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 serving with Rural Vermont as a volunteer to help spread the word about our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaign!

Current Volunteer Opportunities:   
Annual Meeting Support – May 16th is our Annual Celebration and we need help with many tasks to make this event a success. Help in the office next Mon. & Tues. with event preparation or on the 16th at The Wilder Center. Please contact Robb or give us a call at 223-7222 to sign up.

Visit with Sally Fallon Morell – Rural Vermont is co-sponsoring Sally’s visit June 7-9 in Chittenden County. We need volunteers to help with all the events and particularly with a special REAL Milk workshop on Fri. June 8, 8am-Noon in Shelburne. Contact Shelby or call 223-7222 for more information if you are interested.

Graphic Designer – The 2012 Tour de Farms is in its fifth year, and we are seeking a volunteer with some graphic design and production skills to help us design a 5 year logo.  Contact  Shelby or call 223-7222 for more information if you are interested.

For more information about future Volunteer Opportunities, contact Robb, or call 802-223-7222 to get involved today!!! – THANKS!

JoinHELP US REACH 1000!

We’re soooooo close! Rural Vermont’s Facebook Page is just a few clicks away from reaching 1000 “likes.” Can you put us over the top by liking and sharing our page with your friends?

If you don’t use Facebook you can also help by joining our full mailing list here. AND best of all – You can sign up to be a  member and support Rural Vermont’s work by visiting this page.


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!