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Local First Business of the Month

Introducing a new way to celebrate our wonderful, community-building, locally owned businesses:

Local First Alliance Business of the Month (BOM)!

Throughout the year we will be highlighting specific Local First Alliance members by celebrating with in-store promotions and engagement opportunities.

Our friends and neighbors are the people behind the amazing locally owned business and the BOM program is a way to learn about all the ways they support our communities (job creation, charitable giving, civic engagement, economic impact) and to thank them for all they do to make the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play.

Visit the BOM during the promotion and learn about the often overlooked value that locally owned  businesses contribute to our communities while taking advantage of the personal attention,  expert service, and unique products they provide.

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Join the Celebration September 18-30 – Free Stuff!

Visit King Arthur Flour Bakery + Cafe from September 18-30 to thank them for being such valuable community members and pick up a free baguette! Learn about Local First Alliance , snag a Love Local bumper stickers and a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase from King Arthur.

Keep your dollars circulating through our economy and support our locally owned businesses!

Future BOMs:

October – Hubert’s Family Clothing & Skinny Pancake

November – West Lebanon Feed & Supply

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Upper Valley Food Hub Meeting

Does the Upper Valley Need a Shared
Farm & Food Facility?

Join us on September 26

to share your ideas at an

Upper Valley Food Hub Meeting

King Arthur Flour Bakery + Cafe
Route 5 South, Norwich
4:30-6 pm

Would a shared facility push the Upper Valley’s food & farm businesses to the next level? Or is the existing system working? The question regularly comes up and we want YOUR opinion and experience at the table as we discuss the possibilities.

Join Vital Communities, Willing Hands, and farm partners from Luna Bleu, Root 5, Hurricane Flats, Savage Hart, Shire Beef, and Sunset Rock Farm to seriously consider the viability of a cooperative venture. Share your business needs, prioritize facility uses, and eat snacks.

Nancy@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x106
RSVP here
https://bit.ly/2wldRsc

Follow & share the event on Facebook!

Can’t make it to the meeting or want to be involved in this project? Reach out to Nancy@VitalCommunities.org (802.291.9100 x106)  or answer these survey questions.

‘Modern grange’ Farmer Partnership Project Background:

For several years now a consistent topic of conversation among our regions farmers and other food system partcipants is the need for and feasibility of a food hub-type thing in the Upper Valley. The desired functions vary: storage, aggregation, distribution, value-added processing, year-round retail sales venue, commercial kitchen, community space, and the list goes on.

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Vital Communities has funding from a SARE Partnership grant to work with farmers and others stakeholders to pursue this idea. We have dubbed this project a modern grange. With our vibrant and expanding agricultural community and specialty food businesses, loyal and increasing consumer base, and our ideal location at the junction of two major interstates, the Upper Valley is a logical location.

One farmer offered the working title “modern grange” based on familiarity with SHED, a project with that descriptor in Healdsburg, CA (http://healdsburgshed.com/). Though owned by a single farm family, SHED combines retail, private/public events, consumer education, eateries, and a range of local produce and crafts. From this came our concept of a flexible model that could be adapted to our region’s needs.

Project Summary/Overview and Notes

Vital Communities will work with farmers to address a continuing challenge to farm growth in the Upper Connecticut River Valley (Upper Valley) region of New Hampshire and Vermont. According to our 2014 Local Foods Market Assessment, 56% of 116 farmers surveyed seek increased direct-to-consumer sales, yet established channels are no longer ensuring consistent income growth. One recommendation from the assessment was to “explore creative solutions to capital and infrastructure limitations.” In response, farmers have begun to envision a unique year-round direct-sales outlet with a strong community engagement focus, what we have begun calling a modern grange.

Farmers have asked Vital Communities to support creation of this new model by facilitating conversations among interested farmers while providing educational workshops to determine mission, organizational structure, and business model. Farmers are excited about a hybrid co-op/grange/farmers market that could eventually include aggregation and gleaning hubs, a commercial kitchen for value-added processing, shared winter crop storage, and more. SARE funding will leverage Vital Communities’ strength as a neutral convener and trusted farm service provider to support farmers in their desire to develop a collaborative space that would increase sales and strengthen connections to the wider community.

Our goals for the coming year are to facilitate conversations within the community with determine need, function, viability, and required resources,  form a steering committee of people interested in working on this project, conduct a SWOT analysis, and produce a mission and work plan for moving the modern grange concept from casual conversation at farmers markets to a blueprint for a unique farmer-owned and operated community market and operations facility.

Your opinion is needed! Would your farm-based business, or the Upper Valley, benefit from a shared facility? What type of shared facility would help your business grow? Would you support a year-round farmers’ market? Would you use aggregation and distribution facilities? Are you interested in a farmer cooperative?  Please share your ideas, needs, suggestions, etc. via phone (802.291.9100 x106) or email Nancy@VitalCommunities.org. Or, share your thoughts via farmer and food system partner survey or consumer and community survey.

This is a farmer driven project, and we are looking for more farmers to take an active role in moving this idea forward. Farmers already signed on to be part of a working group on this project are: Danielle Allen-Root 5 Farm, Geo Honigford-Hurricane Flats, Peg Allen-Savage Hart Farm, Suzanne Long-Luna Bleu Farm, Niko Horster-Northshire Beef, and Andrea Rhodes-Sunset Rock Farm. The bulk of this work will be happening in the late fall and winter, so let me know if you want to join the Modern Grange Working Group.

Community support is critical to the success of a venture like this, so we will also be holding community listening events in the coming months. These sessions will be open to farmers, food system partners, and the wider the Upper Valley community. Stay tuned for dates and locations.

Thank you King Arthur Flour for your support with this project!

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Locally Owned Businesses Drive Our Local Economy

The following opinion article appeared in the Valley News last week after the closing of Everything But Anchovies, a local Hanover restaurant that had been feeding Dartmouth and our larger community for 38 years. You can also read the May 17 Valley News article about the restaurant’s closing.

Local First Alliance supports independent locally owned businesses by promoting shopping local in the Upper Valley. Scroll down to learn the benefits to our community when you keep it local!

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We’re Losing More Than EBA’s Pizza

Thursday, June 8, 2017 — The closing of Hanover’s Everything But Anchovies has left us with more than just hunger pangs. The shuttering of a local business — be it a restaurant like EBAs or any other enterprise — weakens our regional economy in ways not easily corrected.

Hardest hit are the workers. Even a short disruption in cash flow makes it hard to retain housing or buy necessities. These neighbors deserve our empathy and encouragement as they hustle to replace lost income. When we choose to do business with locally owned businesses, our patronage lowers the risk of layoffs and creates more jobs.

Chain restaurants, stores and franchises do have considerable impact on local employment. These firms employ our neighbors, who offer friendly service and work hard to earn our business and trust. National and international chains have deep pockets, but their owners and shareholders live outside our region, so more of their profits flow out of the Upper Valley.

Locally owned businesses “play a key role in forming the foundation of community life,” notes Judy Wicks in her book, Good Morning, Beautiful Business. 

Owners of local businesses make extraordinary contributions to social programs, the arts and charitable organizations. While some businesses based far away make generous contributions to local needs, some have policies that restrict giving.

Small businesses are the “best contributors to economic development,” adds Wicks, an entrepreneur and founding member of the localism movement. According to a 2010 Michigan State University Study, $73 of every $100 spent at local businesses stays in local economies. By contrast, only $43 of $100 spent at non-local businesses stays close to home. Local businesses and local patronage power local economies.

If we all did at least 10 percent of our shopping at locally owned businesses, we’d give a substantial financial boost to them. The negative effect on big chains would be slight. But — as the closing of Everything But Anchovies demonstrates — if customers shift 10 percent of their dollars away from locally owned businesses, the impact can be disastrous.

Spending locally may ask us for an added measure of faithfulness. Our loyalty may mean driving a little farther, or spending a bit more on goods and services. But shopping locally supports a vibrant business landscape. Only local spending can ensure us access to local goods and services, from the service station that keeps your car running to banks committed to local investment.

As we lament the loss of Everything But Anchovies, let’s use its closing as motivation to increase our patronage of local businesses. At our Co-op, we know that businesses, farms, food producers and service providers nourish community by cultivating cooperation. It takes work and commitment from all involved, but we all share in the long-lasting benefits of homegrown prosperity.

Bill Craig, President,

Ed Fox, General Manager

Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society 

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A Strong Economy and Vibrant Community

When you patronize a local business instead of a chain store or shop online, you are helping to keep our community economically strong and diverse. Here are just some of the benefits:

BUILD COMMUNITY! The casual encounters you enjoy at neighborhood–scale businesses and the public spaces around them build relationships and community cohesiveness.  They’re the ultimate social networking sites!

STRENGTHEN YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY! Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns 3 times more money to your local economy than one spent at a chain (almost 50 times more than buying from an online mega-retailer) — a benefit we all can bank on.

SHAPE OUR CHARACTER! Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality and character.

YOU CAN BUY IT WHERE YOU TRY IT! Local stores enable you to try on and try out items before you buy — and get real expertise — saving your time and money.

CREATE A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT! Independent, community-serving businesses are people-sized. They typically consume less land, carry more locally-made products, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution.

GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY! Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events, and teams compared to big businesses.

LOWER TAXES! More efficient land use and more central locations mean local businesses put less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services. They also generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. The bottom line: a greater percentage of local independent businesses keeps your taxes lower.

ENHANCE CHOICES! A wide variety of independent businesses, each serving their customers’ tastes, creates greater overall choice for all of us.

CREATE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES! Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also are the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys, etc., expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

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Keep it local and look for the logo!

Find a Local First Alliance business

 

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The Hop and Vital Communities Celebrate Rural Traditions


Doggie Hamlet, Thursday, June 29, 4:30 & 7 pm, Dartmouth Green, FREE
 See the world premiere of a groundbreaking work celebrating rural traditions! This wordless spectacle weaves together dance, theater and sheep dog trials—in which finely trained dogs, executing trainers’ commands, cause sheep to move en masse, often in beautiful ways. Created by award-winning choreographer Ann Carlson and inspired by literature (David Wroblewski’s 2008 best-seller The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Kipling’s The Jungle Book), the show involves a human and animal cast including border collies and (supplied by Stephen Wetmore of Strafford, Vt.) a flock of Border Cheviot sheep. When not watching the show,  visit the nearby Sheep Station co-sponsored by Vital Communities and the Dartmouth Office of Sustainability, offering “sheep to shawl” activities for all ages. For more information on Doggie Hamlet or other related events (including a dance classbook discussion and film), go to hop.dartmouth.edu/Online/doggie-hamlet or call 603.646.2422.
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Taste the Freshness! Flavors of the Valley 2017 Vendors are Here!

Check out the hottest new vendors and returning favorites at Flavors of the Valley 2017! Samples are listed if the vendor has provided sampling information. Vendors will also have many delicious items for sale!

April 9, 11am – 3pm at Hartford High School

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors!

Mascoma Savings Bank, Co-op Food Stores, The Skinny Pancake

King Arthur Flour, Yankee Farm Credit, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Great Eastern Radio
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Flavors of the Valley Vendor Registration is Open!

Registration is open for the 16th annual Flavors of the Valley, the Upper Valley’s premier local food tasting expo. With 50+ vendors and more than 800 attendees, Flavors is a valuable marketing opportunity for farms and food businesses looking to expand their sales base.

Flavors attendees come to the event because they want to support local farms and food businesses. Be part of a fun marketing event and connect to new customers and the community.

Register today!

Learn more about being a vendor at Flavors of the Valley here.

Registration deadline is March 17. We cannot guarantee table choice or inclusion in promotional outreach materials after this date.

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Congratulations to our Open House Prize Winners!

Vital Communities welcomed more than 150 visitors to our annual Open House on Friday, December 2. The evening included refreshments, mingling, and a celebration of the Vital Communities Volunteer of the Year, Molly Drummond.

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We’d like to congratulate the lucky door prize winners:

  • Joann Ference – five passes to Upper Valley Yoga
  • Ian MacKenzie – four tickets to Opera North’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors
  • Phil Vermeer – Piecemeal Pie gift certificate
  • Sylvie Desautels – Red Kite Candy gift basket
  • Abby McCrillis – hand turned oak bowl crafted by David Harris.  Bowl winner, Abby writes: “Thank you, Vital Communities! Your open house was a success and I was thrilled to hear I won a door prize. I am a proud owner of a beautiful, locally handmade wooden bowl. Thank you for all you do!”

Thanks to the many generous Vital Communities supporters for contributing food, beverages, prizes, and gifts for this event: Upper Valley Food Co-op, Norwich Wines & Spirits, Harpoon Brewery, Skinny Pankcake, Hogwash Farm, Piecemeal Pies, Upper Valley Yoga, Opera North, Red Kite Candy, and Timber Turning-Doug Harris.

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Whole Hog Butchering Class

Vital Communities is excited to partner with The Co-Op Food Stores to bring you a delicious evening of pork, beer, and cooking – a tasty trifecta!

Trim the fat from your diet—literally!—with a hog butchering demonstration from professional butcher Jeff Withington on September 29 at the Co-op’s Culinary Learning Center in Lebanon.

Observe and learn about pig butchering while sampling various yummy dishes highlighting the different parts of the pig. Find out why a pork butt is really from the shoulder and the leg is called the ham. You’ll also get a chance to sample a local cider and two local beers, too!

Tickets are limited and cost $20. Call the Co-op service desk at 603.643.2667 to reserve your tickets for this tasty event before they sell out!

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Another Great Flavors of the Valley

The 45+ Upper Valley farms, food businesses, and non profits shared tasty treats, seedlings, and information with more than 1000 people Sunday (April 10, 2016) at the 15th annual Flavors of the Valley. The crowd enjoyed maple candies, artisan cheeses, crepes, farm fresh meat, fermented veggies, and so much more. Flavors celebrates our vibrant local food economy and is a great place to connect with farms and local food.

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Root 5 Danielle Ben Powerkraut

Field Acres Farm

Sweetland Farm Norah Flavors crowd attendees Thistel Hill cheese Putnam

Complete list of 2016 vendors.

 

Thank you to our event sponsors!

The Co-op Food Stores, Mascoma Savings Bank, Skinny Pancake, Yankee Farm Credit, King Arthur Flour, and New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food.

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Meet. Eat. Buy! The Flavors 2016 Vendor Line Up Is Here!

Flavors of the Valley is our region’s largest tasting and buying expo for locally grown and produced food! Enjoy savory crepes, artisan cheese, fresh bread, and spicy sausage. With over 45 vendors in attendance, there is something for everyone including a smoothie-making bike for the kids!

April 10, 11am – 3pm at Hartford High School

Check out the hottest new vendors and returning favorites at Flavors of the Valley 2016!

Bring your own plate to help us reduce waste. $10 at the door, $30 family max, kids 6 and under FREE.

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors!

Mascoma Savings Bank, Co-op Food Stores, The Skinny Pancake

King Arthur Flour, Yankee Farm Credit, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Great Eastern Radio