Rural Vermont’s mission is to lead the resurgence of community-scale agriculture through education, advocacy, and organizing in support of Vermonters living in deep connection to one another and to the land that nourishes us all.

 

Real Food. Real Farms. Real Change.

logo!

Unveiling Rural Vermont’s new logo, by Ben Hewitt

I joined the board of Rural Vermont in 2011 because I knew it to be the only statewide organization with the vision and straight-up gumption to fight for the deep-rooted change our state’s agricultural and food systems sector so desperately needs.

Over the four years I served on the board, I only became more convinced of how urgent this work is, and the extent to which it can bring renewed vitality to the health of our citizens, our farmers and their livestock and crops, and to our ultimate health care provider: The land. There is not a single organism – human or non-human- in our beloved state that does not benefit from truly restorative, grass-based agricultural practices. The tragedy, of course, is that our current agricultural and food regulatory system discourages many of these practices, not to mention the deeply nutritive food products that are a natural outgrowth of these practices. In my view, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in an era of food oppression.

Ben Hewitt

Ben Hewitt

By its very nature, Rural Vermont’s work is nuanced and multi-faceted: Education, advocacy, outreach, facilitation, and so much more. We have long understood that in order to realize our full potential, we needed a clear, concise way to express what it is we actually do. This understanding led to months of internal debate, as we wrangled over language and imagery and even, at times, what they stood for. As you might imagine, this was not a simple process. It was by turns frustrating and gratifying, dispiriting and joyful. Which is to say, it was a whole lot like farming itself.

I’m pleased to present you with the fruition of this work. A beautiful and delightfully feisty new logo, designed by board member Ryan Hayes, along with a new tagline that we believe sums up our work quite nicely: Real Food. Real Farms. Real Change. It’s simple, really, just six words. But we think it says a lot.

Perhaps even more important than Rural Vermont’s new look is the simple fact that we are stronger and more viable than any time in recent history. Our membership is growing fast, our capacity is increasing, and more Vermonters than ever are aware of our work and how critical it is. None of this would be true without your support. Thank you.

Rural Vermont envisions a state that is nourished by grass-based, restorative farming practices. We believe in a local food economy that is about more than money, and encompasses the health and well-being of all its participants, including those that walk on four cloven feet, along with the teeming populations of living organisms that constitute the soil beneath those feet. Furthermore, we believe that every Vermonter deserves the right to feed their family as they wish.

Real Food. Real Farms. Real Change. It’s happening, right now, all around us, and we’re incredibly excited to be part of it. We hope you are, too.

Our Vision

Our Vision is for a Vermont local food system which is self-reliant and based on reverence for the earth. It builds living soils which nurture animals and people with wholesome, natural products supporting healthy, thriving farms and communities. These communities in turn work to encourage and support current and future farmers, continuing our Vermont heritage. This abundant and generous way of life celebrates our diversity and interdependence.

Who We Are

We are Vermont’s community of family farmers, neighbors and citizens committed to supporting and cultivating a vital and healthy rural economy and community. We believe family farms and the local food that they provide are at the heart of thriving communities and environmental sustainability. Economic justice for family farmers is the foundation of a healthy rural economy. Towards this end we strive for fair prices for farmers and we work to counter corporate consolidation of agriculture and the food supply.

What We Do

ACTIVATE our Farm Policy Network, which is a group of Vermonters actively engaged in the democratic process and committed to preserving our rural heritage and promoting local food systems.

EDUCATE by providing information and resources to farmers and the public about issues impacting our rural communities.

ADVOCATE through collaborative efforts locally, statewide, and nationally to ensure that policies made will strengthen family farms, sustain rural communities, and promote local food sovereignty.

 

Vermonters Feeding Vermonters

Over the years, Rural Vermont’s advocacy work has strengthened rural communities by helping farmers increase their profits while providing farm fresh foods to local folks. We’re making progress, but there is still much to do! Farmers across Vermont are producing value-added food with dignity that consumers want to buy and farmers want to sell, but in many cases, these farm fresh products become illegal when the farmer puts a price tag on them because they were made under conditions that don’t satisfy the prohibitively expensive, time-consuming regulations designed for industry. We believe that farmers and consumers should have the right to engage in informed and honest transactions!
Rural Vermont seeks to:

  • Educate consumers about barriers that farmers face when trying to sell direct, and educate farmers about legalities of selling direct to consumers.
  • Remove unfair and costly regulatory barriers that keep wholesome, high quality, local food from being sold to those who want it.
  • Advocate for legislation that creates tiered regulations for the direct sale of farm products, leveling the playing field for farms large and small.

About Rural Vermont’s Vision for Vermont Agriculture

The Vision for Vermont Agriculture project began because our members expressed frustration with Rural Vermont’s history of working “against” what we didn’t like, and asked us to determine what we wanted to work “for” instead. As a result of that feedback, the staff and board discussed our tradition of developing our goals and workplan by talking to our membership, and we determined that we needed to revisit that tradition. Thus Rural Vermont organized four Vision for Vermont Agriculture planning meetings and invited members and the community to participate in designing Rural Vermont’s Vision. The four meetings were held in Springfield, Hardwick, St. Albans and Middlebury. From the dialogue with our membership we developed our vision statement.

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

Our members agree that sustainable agriculture should be the foundation of our communities and that all people have the right to healthy, locally produced food. For thirty years Rural Vermont has been at the forefront of fighting corporate control of agriculture, representing family farmers and amplifying their voices in the struggle to achieve food sovereignty. As we head into our next decade, we want to look forward to our vision for the future, and work toward achieving that vision, even in the face of increased pressure from corporate agribusiness and government policies that do not support family farmers.