Upper Valley Students Compete in Communications Competition

This spring we launched our first-ever Upper Valley Student Communications Competition,inviting aspiring graphic artists and communications professionals at the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center to help design new public service announcements (PSAs) for Local First Alliance. The PSAs answer the question: Why is it cool to shop at locally owned businesses?

This competition engaged a younger demographic in our mission to strengthen the Upper Valley economy. The contest provided us with powerful marketing resources for our program while giving students valuable experience collaborating with industry professionals from King Arthur Flour, Co-op Food Stores, and WPTZ. And it offered students an opportunity to showcase their art to the community. The PSAs also served as the students’ senior projects and will no doubt strengthen their portfolios as they pursue college and jobs after graduation. The Local First Alliance Steering Committee evaluated print, television, and radio submissions from 13 students from Mascoma Valley Regional,  Lebanon, Woodstock, Union, Hartford, and Windsor high schools. Awards were presented to Forrest Mattern (print), Ashely Fogg (television), and Nate Guarino (radio), all of Hartford. Each won cash and other prizes donated by Ledyard National Bank, Lake Sunapee Bank, Mascoma Savings Bank, and Systems Plus Computers. Look and listen for the winning PSAs this fall. The print PSA will be published in the Valley News and on the ide of a Chippers truck. The winning radio PSA will run on Great Eastern Radio stations, andthe winning television PSA will run on WPTZ.

Solarize Install

120 New Solar Homes!

Solarize Upper Valley Proves Effectiveness of Residential Solar Campaign in Rural New England

The results are in, and they’re pretty exciting: 120 homeowners across the rural Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire are going solar this season thanks to Solarize Upper Valley, an initiative led by Vital Communities to increase the rate of residential solar adoption in the Upper Valley. These results help prove the effectiveness of the Solarize model, which has been successfully deployed in Massachusetts and Connecticut in recent years.

Homeowners in Thetford and Strafford, Vt., and Cornish, Plainfield, and Lyme, N.H., are adding 638 new kilowatts of renewable energy capacity to the region – resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 116 cars off the road. These five towns may be small, with only 9,406 residents combined, but together they convinced 11 percent of households to get a solar site visit and three percent of households to go solar in just 15 weeks.

“The exciting results from Vital Communities’ Solarize campaign continue to prove that the ‘Solarize’ community model is perhaps the most effective approach for expanding residential solar,” said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower, a leading organization in the broader effort to expand and share the Solarize model in New England and beyond. “This model works – whether in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or anywhere across the nation.”

With generous funding support from the John Merck Fund and an individual donor to Vital Communities, Solarize Upper Valley teams up community volunteers with competitively selected solar photovoltaic (PV) installers for 15 weeks of outreach around small-scale solar energy, offering competitive prices, accessible resources, and a simplified process for solar PV installations. “I know solar would have remained a ‘someday’ for us without all the work provided by [Solarize Upper Valley],” said one Solarize Cornish-Plainfield customer. “You made it possible for our someday to be today.”

“The results of the first round of Solarize Upper Valley surpassed our expectations – not only in the number of households going solar, but also in the commitment of the community volunteers who made the program a success,” said Vital Communities Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds. “We’re now recruiting communities to participate in new Solarize campaigns for the fall and are excited to help them achieve similar results.”

Upper Valley Farm to School joins Vital Communities!

We joyously welcome the Upper Valley Farm to School Network to Vital Communities. UVFTS has joined our Valley Food & Farm program, bringing a big boost of community, cafeteria, and classroom to our farm work. We are excited to work with all the wonderful farm to school projects across the Upper Valley!

The Network is all the schools, parents, staff, community members and farmers working together to connect our children to our farms, healthy foods, and amazing educational opportunities.  Led by founder Peter Allison since 2008, the Network has been a regional and national model for community-based Farm to School initiatives. Many thanks and congratulations to Peter, who has created a wonderful, collaborative and effective program for our region. Peter will advise us through the transition and beyond, while he focuses on his work coordinating Farm to Institution New England.

Now housed in Vital Communities’ Valley Food & Farm program, the Network will continue to serve farm to school programs around our Valley. Valley Food & Farm staff will lead the project, including our new Farm to School Coordinator, Beth Roy. Beth has spent the last 15 years working in the environmental and place-based education fields in various positions around New England including the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and most recently as the Director of Education at The Nature Museum in Grafton, Vermont.  Beth is also a certified classroom teacher.  Beth’s heart lies in education, but her roots are planted firmly in the homesteading skills and ethics that she learned from her family while growing up in New Hampshire.  Ms. Roy is very excited to be joining the Vital Communities family and start on this new Farm to School adventure with us.

Stay tuned for a merger celebration at the start of the school year and until then, keep in touch and enjoy summer! You can reach us at uvfts@vitalcommunities.org, or visit our website to sign up for the Farm To School newsletter!