Author Archives: Mollie

02/29 Town Eating Day Event in Chester

Wednesday, February 29 (Leap Day), 6-8 pm
Fullerton Inn, downtown CHESTER
Limited to Chester residents

Join Rural Vermont for a special event in advance of Town Meeting Day 2012. Check out the “Food Sovereignty” resolution that will be voted on at Town Meeting, and hear how you can ensure this important declaration of support for “Vermonters feeding Vermonters” passes on Town Meeting Day.

* ALSO Enjoy a “Leap for Local” food tasting, generously provided by a collaboration among the Fullerton Inn staff and area farmers. Get to know the farmers supplying the food for the tasting and the Chester community in a farmer showcase. For planning purposes, please RSVP to or (802) 223-7222.

02/13 Town Eating Day Pizza Party!

Brown’s Market Bistro, Groton
For Groton Residents only

Join Rural Vermont and Groton residents for an info session about the “Food Sovereignty” resolution appearing on Groton’s Town Meeting Day ballot, and find out how to ensure this important declaration of support for Vermonters Feeding Vermonters passes on March 6th.  For Groton residents only. For pizza planning purposes, please RSVP to or (802) 223-7222.

Burlington Free Press: Hinesburg farmers join lawsuit challenging Monsanto

Feb. 1, 2012
By Sally Pollak
Full Article

Rachel Nevitt is an organic farmer in Hinesburg whose work brought her Tuesday from Full Moon Farm to new turf: the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in New York City.Nevitt and her husband, David Zuckerman, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that concerns patent rights and genetically modified organisms (GMO). The issue centers on the legal ramifications that might arise if patented genes are found on farms that don’t use GMOs, cross-pollination that can occur through the drift of seeds or pollen.

The Full Moon Farm farmers are the only Vermont farmers among the 83 plaintiffs, though two Vermont farm advocacy groups — Northeast Organic Farming Association-Vermont and Rural Vermont — are plaintiffs.

“Personally, I joined really because I want to make a difference on this planet, and because I really feel like GMOs are worse than DDT,” Nevitt said. “They’re the worst thing that has happened to our food supply in history, and people have to be made more aware of it. And if I could play some small part in that, I would.”

In all, more than 300,000 people are represented by the 83 plaintiffs, which includes 36 organizations, said their lawyer, Daniel Ravicher. He is executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, a nonprofit based at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City.

The case is called Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association v. Monsanto. The suit was filed in March by the Public Patent Foundation. It is a “pre-emptive suit” that seeks to prevent Monsanto from threatening the plaintiffs with patent infringement in the future, Ravicher said.

“The issue is whether or not Monsanto has the right to sue our clients for patent infringement if or when our clients are contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seeds,” Ravicher said.

Monsanto’s lawyer, former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, is a Washington D.C.-based lawyer. He says, essentially, that no conflict exists — certainly not one that rises to the level of a dispute required by the Constitution for a federal patent lawsuit.

“There isn’t a case or controversy over patent rights between us and them,” Waxman said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “A controversy requires two parties to assert rights against each other. We aren’t asserting our rights. We never heard of any of the plaintiffs before they filed a complaint.”

The courtroom was filled beyond capacity Tuesday morning, with people sitting in the jury box and standing against the walls. Nevitt stood throughout the hearing, she said.

“We live in fear of Monsanto taking the power from small farmers and even large farmers,” Nevitt said. “Monsanto could come after any one of us and wipe us out with legal fees.”

Genetically modified plants are typically produced in two ways, said Jeanne Harris, a professor of plant biology at the University of Vermont. For grasses, including corn and rice, microscopic gold particles coated in a solution of DNA are shot into the leaf of the plant. The process involves modifying two or three genes of the 25,000 to 40,000 genes a plant possesses, she said.

Toward that end, genetically engineered corn is modified for two primary purposes: to be resistant to insects and to resist a herbicide called Round-up, Harris said.

“If you’re an organic farmer and you don’t have the GMO, it’s obviously going to reduce the value of your crop if you do pick up the genetic modification,” Harris said. This would happen in the event the organic farmer’s crop is cross-pollinated with a GMO.

Dave Rogers, a policy adviser for NOFA, attended Tuesday’s hearing. He called the judge “inscrutable” and said the arguments were presented ably by lawyers on both sides.

“The people I spoke to as we left the courtroom felt that it was a good airing of the positions,” Rogers said. “The judge asked some good questions; she challenged the lawyers to explain themselves.”

NOFA-Vermont joined the lawsuit “because the present situation doesn’t protect farmers from Monsanto coming after them,” Rogers said.

Rural Vermont, a farmer advocacy group based in Montpelier, is another Vermont plaintiff. The nonprofit joined the lawsuit because it believes Monsanto should acknowledge farmers can be “victimized” by the spread of genetically engineered seeds, executive director Andrea Stander said.

“The farmers that we’re concerned about and are part of our membership are being put in the position of … economic harm by having their enterprise jeopardized,” Stander said. “And it’s almost double jeopardy because then they’re going to be sued by this large multi-national corporation, as if it were their fault.”

A rally in support of the farmers was held outside the courtroom until about noon, when the police asked the crowd to disperse, Nevitt said.

“They were very nice, very kind to us,” Nevitt said of the police officers. “There was no permit. They said, ‘We’ll give you guys another five minutes.’” She estimated about 200 people attended the rally.

2012 Raw Milk Report

Rural Vermont’s 2012 Raw Milk Report to the Legislature.

Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund: Obama Administration says, “No raw milk for you.”

By John Moody
January 23, 2012
Full Article

Just after New Year’s Day, the Obama administration gave its official response of “No!” to the 6,078 signors of a petition on who requested federal-level legalization of all raw milk sales.

Written by Doug McKalip, Senior Policy Adviser for Rural Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council, the response is full of typical government double speak and sleight of hand with facts and figures.

For instance, the response starts off by saying, “We appreciate consumer concerns on food issues and understand the importance of letting consumers make their own food choices.”

But is there any evidence to support either of these statements? Zero. The Obama administration has continued the Bush administration policy of fast tracking GMOs and other dangerous foods while mercilessly targeting small producers of healthful things like Elderberry Juice.

They continue to oppose consumer choice by blocking GMO labeling, something Obama campaigned for in 2007.

The Obama FDA–with folks like former Monsanto executive Michael Taylor (who also served in both the FDA and USDA under Bush and who has publicly stated he supports the continued multimillion dollar crackdown on Amish farmers and raw milk buying clubs) at the helm of the “food safety division”–had the audacity to state that people have no inherent right to choose the food they eat or what they feed their children [read FDA’s response to lawsuit].

Does this sound like understanding the importance of letting consumers make their own food choices? Of course, you are free to consume tainted cantaloupe, turkey, and ground beef from large, industrial farms in the FDA’s twisted universe. But don’t touch that milk!

The claim that “This administration believes that food safety policy should be based on science… In this case, we support pasteurization to protect the safety of the milk supply because the health risks associated with raw milk are well documented” is also spurious at best.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was recently forced to retract its long standing claim that two people have died from raw milk consumption for the ten-year period between 1998 and 2008 (they, in fact, died from consuming “bath-tub” cheese, queso fresco cheese commonly made at home and sometimes in bath tubs).  Read “The Power of Numbers in the War Over Raw Dairy–How the CDC Came to Admit a Death Wasn’t Categorized Correctly“.

Many of the “raw-milk” outbreaks used by the CDC and FDA involve PMO milk (i.e., milk produced in accordance with the federal Pasteurized Milk Ordinance adopted by most states), that either was improperly pasteurized or taken, as in a recent event in Wisconsin, without permission or the knowledge of the farmer or consumer and given raw.

Such milk isn’t real raw milk, milk produced by farms intending to provide it to the public as safe raw milk, often from small family farms that are grass- or pasture-based and committed to good husbandry and sanitation practices.

PMO milk that merely missed the bulk tank truck or improperly handled raw milk turned into cheese in someone’s bath tub should not be counted among the raw milk outbreak statistics if the government was truly interested in either safety or science.

Dr. Ted Beals and numerous other scientists and individuals have shown that raw milk is far less dangerous than many other foods people consume on a weekly or daily basis, even when adjusted for estimated rates of consumption that are half of what is most likely happening each and every day across the US.

Even more main stream groups and scientists are starting to no longer deny the relative safety of raw milk. In a recent Food Seminars International Webinar, “Raw Milk: Political Football or Food Safety Issue“, distinguished professor and researcher on food safety David Warriner conceded that raw milk is certainly no more dangerous than many other foods people are allowed to consume or activities they are allowed to engage in.


New York Times: City Grazing

Published: January 21, 2012
Full Article

The 60 goats living in the rail yard near Pier 96 at the Port of San Francisco contribute to the city of San Francisco in their own way, clearing brush as fire prevention and offering a green alternative to toxic herbicides. Perched on the edge of Bayview-Hunters Point, an industrial area, these hard workers avoid the busy roads and — incredibly — return home when called.


The goats have voracious appetites, and graze on most vegetation including poison oak, thistle and blackberry. It’s false lore that they will eat boots and tin cans, but a sneaky goat named Oreo did ingest a reporter’s notes.


Five years ago, David Gavrich began City Grazing with a group of 10 goats that had been headed for the gallows. Mr. Gavrich, who has a master’s degree from Harvard in environmental management, worked in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Carter administration and was an environmental manager under Mayor Dianne Feinstein.


When the gates to the pens open each day, the goats run free in search of tasty greenery. For $200 to $400 weekly, including pickup and delivery, people who need some extra cleanup can rent small groups from the herd.


Trevor Rose, who grew up on a family farm in Jamaica, beat out 200 applicants responding to a Craigslist ad for the job of herder. An attractive Alpine goat, Belle, leads the herd. “She marches to her own drummer,” Mr. Rose said, explaining why Belle was at large well after the others were returned to their pen.


Mr. Gavrich, the chief executive of San Francisco Bay Railroad, oversees rail operations at the port. Additionally, he heads the Waste Solutions Group, a company that removes contaminated soil from sites including the Hunters Point shipyard. Of retirement, Mr. Gavrich said, “this is it, for the goats and for me.”

Organic Common Sense: Anonymous Takes Down

Full Article and Video

In a thread of hack events from the Anonymous group, the most recent target has been Anonymous, which briefly knocked the FBI and Justice Department websites offline as well as Music Industry websites in retaliation for the US shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload, is a shadowy group of international hackers.

Anonymous Message To Monsanto: We fight for farmers! – Video Transcript
To the free-thinking citizens of the world: Anonymous stands with the farmers and food organizations denouncing the practices of Monsanto We applaud the bravery of the organizations and citizens who are standing up to Monsanto, and we stand united with you against this oppressive corporate abuse. Monsanto is contaminating the world with chemicals and genetically modified food crops for profit while claiming to feed the hungry and protect the environment. Anonymous is everyone, Anyone who can not stand for injustice and decides to do something about it, We are all over the Earth and here to stay.

To Monsanto, we demand you STOP the following:

  • Contaminating the global food chain with GMO’s.
  • Intimidating small farmers with bullying and lawsuits.
  • Propagating the use of destructive pesticides and herbicides across the globe.
  • Using “Terminator Technology”, which renders plants sterile.
  • Attempting to hijack UN climate change negotiations for your own fiscal benefit.
  • Reducing farmland to desert through monoculture and the use of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Inspiring suicides of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers.
  • Causing birth defects by continuing to produce the pesticide “Round-up”
  • Attempting to bribe foriegn officials
  • Infiltrating anti-GMO groups

Monsanto, these crimes will not go unpunished. Anonymous will not spare you nor anyone in support of your oppressive illegal business practices.

AGRA, a great example:
In 2006, AGRA, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, was established with funding from Bill Gates and The Rockefeller Foundation.

Among the other founding members of, AGRA, we find: Monsanto, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter and Gamble, Merck, Mosaic, Pfizer, Sumitomo Chemical and Yara. The fact that these corporations are either chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturers is no coincidence.

The people of the world see you, Monsanto. Anonymous sees you.

Seeds of Opportunism, Climate change offers these businesses a perfect excuse to prey on the poorest countries by swooping in to “rescue” the farmers and people with their GMO crops and chemical pesticides. These corporations eradicate the traditional ways of the country’s agriculture for the sake of enormous profits.
The introduction of GMOs drastically affects a local farmers income, as the price of chemicals required for GMOs and seeds from Monsanto cripples the farmer’s meager profit margins.

There are even many cases of Monsanto suing small farmers after pollen from their GMO crops accidentally cross with the farmer’s crops. Because Monsanto has a patent on theri brand of seed, they claim the farmer is in violation of patent laws.

These disgusting and inhumane practices will not be tolerated.

Anonymous urges all concerned citizens to stand up for these farmers, stand up for the future of your own food. Protest, organize, spread info to your friends!


We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us

Rutland Herald:Tangletown Farm winners in state’s mobile slaughterhouse auction

By Thatcher Moats
Full Article

MONTPELIER – Central Vermont chickens beware: There’s a new slaughterhouse in town.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced that Tangletown Farm in Middlesex was the big winner in the auction of a mobile poultry processing unit that was owned by the state.

The online auction, which drew a bit of media attention, ended with Lila Bennett and David Robb paying $61,000 for the unit.

The processing unit was designed and built in 2008 with a $93,000 investment from the Vermont Legislature and the Castanea Foundation.

The mobile unit, which hit the road in 2009, is the first of its kind for farmers to process poultry under state inspection right on the farm, the agency said.

Sounds delish.

01/21 Rural Vermont Update & Alert

In this Update
directorMessage from the Slightly Less New Director

Dear Friends:

Does anyone else feel like time is accelerating?  I could swear that I blinked and a whole week went by.  I hope you are all staying snug and safe on this weather roller coaster we’re riding.

I’m grateful to report that the Rural Vermont Staff and Board are continuing to show extraordinary patience, compassion and good humor in helping me learn the ropes.

As always, please make sure to read (or at least scan) this entire update so you don’t miss any of the opportunities and events that are coming up. Today, Sat. 1/21 many of us will be at the Vermont Grass Farmers Association conference in Fairlee and next week we’ll have a table at the Vermont Farm Show in its new home at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex. I hope I’ll get a chance to meet you at one of these events – please don’t be shy about introducing yourself.


The State House has settled into a fast-paced schedule with almost every committee meeting daily and with a full schedule of testimony. Here are some issues and bills we are tracking:

> H. 496 and S. 246 – After last week’s introduction, the Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bills were the subject of a well-attended public hearing before both the Ag Committees as well as some members of the Commerce Committees. Carl Russell from Rural Vermont’s board and I both attended the public hearing and offered testimony. Although almost everyone who testified offered praise for the broad goals of the bills, House Ag Chair Rep. Carolyn Partridge (D-Windham-4) pointedly reminded everyone that one of the key provisions of the bill calls for a $3 million investment by the State in the first year. She encouraged anyone with information about where they might find $3M to contact the Committee. A variety of committees are now hearing testimony on the many details encompassed by this legislation.   You can read H. 496  and S. 246 on the Vermont Legislative website

> In response to the introduction of S. 239, titled: AN ACT RELATING TO ENSURING THE HUMANE TREATMENT AND SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS,  the Senate Agriculture Committee has been taking testimony from both public sector and private sector witnesses. Rural Vermont had the opportunity to offer comments on the general subject of livestock slaughter and processing and we were also invited to suggest additional people to the Committee who could offer testimony. If you are a Rural Vermont member with experience in livestock slaughter and processing and would be interested in testifying (we’ll help you prepare) please contact Andrea or call the office at 223-7222.

> Next week we have been invited to present the 2011-2012 Raw Milk Report to the House Agriculture Committee. We will make this report available on our website as well.

As always I look forward to hearing from you with your ideas, concerns and suggestions. You can reach me by email or by calling our office at 802-223-7222.

Yours truly,

Andrea Stander


*** RURAL VERMONT PRESENTS: “Vermonters Feeding Vermonters: Growing Local Food Sovereignty”    
February 4, 5:30pm

Capitol City Grange Hall, Montpelier
Northfield Street – Route 12 just south of

Montpelier (physical address: 6612 Vt. Rt 12, Berlin)

Free and open to the public, potluck to follow.

Robb Kidd, Organizer for Rural Vermont, will discuss Food Sovereignty and the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign with members of the Capital City Grange.

February 11, at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference

The Davis Center, UVM 

Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd and board member Carl Russell, co-owner of Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel, will host a special Food Sovereignty workshop. For more information or to register, visit this page.

If you are interested in having Rural Vermont facilitate a Food Sovereignty discussion in your community, please contact



If your new year’s resolution is to feed your family better, cook from scratch more, eat closer to home, or invest more in your community, then Rural Vermont’s dairy classes are just what you need! And lucky for you, a new year brings a new schedule of classes. Read on for the details … (and more classes coming soon!)

Butter, Chevre, & Yogurt  

with Tiny Sykkes & cows’ milk

Friday, January 27th from 1 – 4 pm

Windy Corners Farm, CHARLOTTE

Feta, Soft Cheese, Yogurt, & Kefir

with the Metta Earth team & cows’ milk

Sunday, January 29th from 1 – 4 pm

Metta Earth Institute Inc., LINCOLN

Cheddar, Gouda, & Manchego  

with Lea Calderon-Guthe & cows’ milk

Wednesday, February 1st from 1 – 4 pm


Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-style Cheese, & Chevre

with Elizabeth Moulton & goats’ milk

Wednesday, April 25th from 10 am – 1 pm

Popplewood Farm, ANDOVER

All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  To sign up, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email


STILL SEEKING HOSTS & TEACHERS! If you’re a raw milk dairy and would like to host a class OR a raw milk enthusiast eager to share your kitchen skills with others, please contact or call (802) 223-7222.  We’ve got a specific need for teachers in the counties of LAMOILLE and ADDISON/RUTLAND!



Monday, February 20th from 5 – 10 pm 


Each month, the Burlington Hearth hosts a benefit for an organization they heartily support – and for February 2012, they have chosen Rural Vermont! Join us and our friends at Burlington Hearth for a Benefit Bake. On this special evening, $4 of each large flatbread and $2 of every small purchased at the restaurant or through take-out will benefit Rural Vermont’s efforts to
build living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities.
 Spread the word! Thanks Burlington Hearth!!

Winter Events- We need volunteers to help at the Farm Show on January 24-26 at the Champlain Valley Expo, and the NOFA-VT Winter Conference Feb 10-12!

Poster Hangers –

We’re in need of folks to hang Benefit Bake posters all throughout Chittenden County, northern Addison County, and southern Franklin County. The more bodies we get in the door, the more dollars we raise! Get your stack by emailingRobb.

Phone Callers and Activist Leaders – The Vermont Legislature is back in session, which means we may need to rely on your help making phone calls to engage others into action. We will also be looking for activists to testify at hearings and other events. Please contact Robbto learn how you can play a role in ensuring the success of  Rural Vermont’s campaigns and supporting family farmers.

Newspaper Clippings - We need your help gathering paper copies of newspaper and magazine articles from around the state featuring Rural Vermont’s issues. Contact Robb to help us with this important task.

Email Robb, or call (802) 223-7222 to get involved today!!!

**Want to help but not interested in the above activities? Contact us and we’ll see how we can plug you in!**

Addison Independent: Ferrisburgh farmer turns back time to generate power

By Andrea Suozzo
Full Article

FERRISBURGH — From a distance, the vertical green panels revolving in a back field at Boundbrook Farm in Ferrisburgh look more like an art installation than a piece of farm equipment.

But don’t be deceived: Come spring, the unconventional windmill will pump as many as 150 gallons of water a minute into farmer Erik Andrus’s 5-acre rice paddy, day in and day out.

The windmill is the final result of a project that started two years ago, when Andrus and his wife, Erica, noticed a spike in the farm’s energy usage when milling wheat to make flour for Good Companion Bakery bread, one of the many outputs of the diversified farming operation.

“We noticed this big increase in our electric bills,” he said. “I wondered if there was some way to use wind for this.”

A standard commercial windmill costs tens of thousands of dollars and must be installed in a suitably windy location in order to justify the cost. Even then, it takes years to generate enough electricity to offset the cost of even the smallest windmill, and, Andrus noted, if any piece of the windmill breaks, the owner can’t repair it alone.

Then Andrus stumbled across the “Savonius rotor,” a simple machine that’s more like a medieval European wind turbine than today’s commercial windmills.

In the Savonius rotor, the propellers rotate slowly around a vertical shaft, catching the wind with scoop-shaped arms. The design goes against the grain of much of the common wisdom on wind power — it’s low to the ground, heavy, slow moving and not very efficient. While similar machines are widely used across Europe as low-cost, low-profile forms of power generation, Andrus said they are virtually unheard of in the U.S.

“This is the kind of wind-engineering project that no one pays attention to,” said Andrus.

But where some qualities of the Savonius rotor looked like drawbacks, Andrus saw opportunity. The windmill didn’t have to use lightweight materials or expensive energy conversion mechanisms. It could use cheaper materials, and the construction and maintenance would be relatively simple.

“It’s all within the realm of the average individual to be the master of this technology,” said Andrus. “That’s why I like it.”

And the low-cost input and maintenance, Andrus realized, meant that the machine could pay itself off within just a few years.

So Andrus went to the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education organization (NE-SARE), landing a $10,000 grant to research and build a prototype wind turbine suited to use on a farm.

That Andrus had no prior experience working with wind energy didn’t deter him.

“I like to mess around with machines,” he said.

Working with retired engineer Victor Gardy of Charlotte, the two came up with a workable model, and Andrus set out to build a full-sized version.

The project wasn’t without its hitches. Until just a few months ago, the series of prototypes Andrus had created were large, clunky rectangular boxes containing wooden propeller systems. Andrus presented the design at a couple of sustainable energy and agriculture conferences, but still wasn’t satisfied.

So after wrestling with the design, he went to NE-SARE for a grant extension and headed back to the drawing board.

This time, he came up with a lightweight wooden frame, 20 feet high by seven feet wide and anchored to the ground with guy wires, with steel propeller blades made of salvaged 275-gallon fuel tanks. The materials cost less than $1,000.

Andrus estimates that this turbine would produce about 1,750 kilowatt-hours per year in average wind speeds of about 10 miles per hour. Hooked to a generator, that’s the equivalent of about $400.

While 1,750 kWh is less electricity than a commercial wind turbine can make, Andrus said the real value in the turbine lies in the slow-moving mechanical energy it creates, which is most suited for applications that can use the energy directly, without converting it to electricity — things like powering a water pump, pressurizing an air compressor or running a band saw.

While this turbine won’t be milling flour, it will replace two gas pumps that used to supply water for Andrus’s rice project, which he will expand from one acre to five this spring. The turbine will power an “Archimedes screw,” an ancient mechanical device used to move water uphill, to lift the water out of a pond and pipe the water to the end of the rice paddy. To Andrus, this system makes far more sense than fueling and maintaining two gas pumps for the same job.

“There’s no reason I should be using a gas pump when I can pump water essentially for free,” he said.

“I grew up on a farm in Vermont, so I have an interest in on-farm energy,” he said. “I’m interested in the question of whether it would be good for someone handy to go out and build this themselves.”

And Gorton said the prototype is also a good educational tool as well because it is a simple machine that can create the same energy all homes and farms use.

“There’s a lack of energy literacy when it comes to how you actually make it,” he said. “We’re all so plugged into the grid.”

The report will be posted in February on the NE-SARE and UVM Extension websites and at Andrus said he’s done building windmills for a while, but that he hopes this prototype inspires others to try their hand at creating simple, low-cost wind projects.

“This sort of thing can really make a dent in our energy usage, as farmers,” he said. “Power is power, and you can use it in many different ways.”