KAF 9.1.17

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.

NE SARE 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. 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 familiar with the SHED, a project with that descriptor in Healdsburg, CA (http://healdsburgshed.com/) thought the Upper Valley might be ready for a similar space. 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.

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/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 this 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. 

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 check back for updates or let Nancy@VitalCommunities.org know if you want to be added to a mailing list.

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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Watershed Quest Challenge

This summer we launched our 2017 Watershed Quest Challenge, designed to encourage YOU to get outside and explore your favorite Upper Valley pond, stream, river, or swimming hole—and write a Valley Quest! Watershed Quest submissions will have the chance to be featured in the 2018 Super Quest, and the author of the winning Quest will receive a grand prize.

For many, the idea of writing a Valley Quest can be daunting, but fear not—anybody can write a Quest! We encourage you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about the history of the special places in your backyard.

For those of you interested in the Watershed Quest Challenge but unsure where to start, we have a ton of resources online, as well as a short video series! Check out the first video below:


Many thanks to our Watershed Quest Challenge sponsors:

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Beyond Energy: 10th Annual Energy Roundtable

Come ready to be refreshed and inspired by our annual gathering of town energy committee members and others interested in local energy action!

The 10th Annual Upper Valley Energy Committee Roundtable is coming right up on Wednesday, May 17, from 5-8 pm at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Porter Community Room. Learn more and register.

This year’s agenda:

5:00 – Dinner and Conversation

5:30 – Welcome and Introductions

5:40 – Roundtable Updates – Our longstanding tradition of two-minute updates from each energy committee, along with updates from Vital Communities and other groups who provide support for energy committees year-round.

7:00 – “Beyond Energy” Panel and Discussion – Together we’ll explore how energy committees are making an impact in broad community sustainability and resilience. Energy committees aren’t just about energy use anymore! Guest speakers include Leigh Cameron, New England Grassroots Environment Fund and Sally Miller, Sustainable Woodstock.

8:00 – Clean up and go home

This event is FREE thanks to our sponsors:

 

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Peachtree BElogoCMYKee_logo_vert ReVision Logo HI-RES
       IntegrityEnergy SunCommonLogo VFI Catamount logo 480410 cmyk
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EverydayBicyclingWindsor

Spring Into Bike Riding Season…

…with practical skills training to get you riding more!

What is Everyday Bicycling?

It’s using your bike for those everyday trips that we all make — grocery shopping, getting to work, or even picking up the kids from school. It’s about making the choice to leave your car behind when you can, in favor of getting outside, exercising, and saving gas!

How can I get involved?

Vital Communities offers a range of bike skills trainings for groups of adults (and mature teens). We can hold one workshop or a whole series at your workplace, community center, or town park.

What kinds of workshops are offered?Pumping tire

Basic Everyday Bicycling (practical tips on everyday bicycling) 60 minutes long (indoors)
On-Street Bike Skills (build your street riding skills) 60-90 minutes long (outside, with your bike!)
Basic Maintenance (tire change, basic adjustments and troubleshooting) 60-90 minutes long (inside or outside, with your bike!)

What does a workshop provide?

• Practical tips from experienced Everyday Bicyclists on incorporating bike travel into any lifestyle
• Expert advice and guidance
• Low-cost gear: bells, lights, helmets, reflective vests, and more!
• Free informational resources

tom-bikeWhat is the time investment?

• We strive to make hosting a workshop very easy for you.
• We offer highly flexible scheduling.
• We provide all of the marketing and promotional materials that you need.

How much does it cost?

• FREE for Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA) members. (If you’re not a UVTMA member, give us a call!)

• FREE for Vermont communities and workplaces, thanks to support from Local Motion and Go! Vermont.

How do I get started?

Contact Bethany Fleishman at 802.291.9100 x111 or Bethany@VitalCommunities.Org

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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

Why Weatherize?

Many thanks to our friends at CATV and Emily Gardner for helping our Hartford Weatherize volunteer team film this hilarious video explaining why YOU should participate in Weatherize Upper Valley.

- Randolph Team PictureSince Weatherize Upper Valley kicked off in early January, we’ve seen a surge of interest from residents across all fourteen participating towns. Over 130 people attended our kick off events across the region, and we now have over 280 residents signed up to get involved.

Most of those 280+ participants are now in the process of filling out a Home Energy Profile, which will then be sent to the participating contractor(s) of their choice, who will then provide a free at-home consult and proposed scope of work… FREE OF CHARGE.

It’s not too late to sign up! Learn More at VitalCommunities.org/Weatherize.

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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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Seasons Dinner is Around the Corner!

February 9 will be here before you know it! We’re delighted to share that Peter Allison of Farm to Institution New England (FINE) will be speaking at our 11th annual Seasons Dinner. Peter has worked with FINE since 2011, joining the Leadership Team, staff, and partners to promote a robust farm to institution network in New England. Peter brings more than 30 years of project and program management experience in a wide array of nonprofit, government, and business settings. The founder of the Upper Valley Farm to School Network (now a program of Vital Communities), Peter sits on the Network Leadership team of Food Solutions New England and advisory committees of both the Vermont Farm to School Network and the New Hampshire Farm to School Program.

We are looking forward to announcing our exciting local menu soon! If you have not already registered, you can do so online at VitalCommunities.org/Seasons.

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Local First Alliance Member Mixer November 10!

Join us for a fun evening of mixing and networking with fellow Local First Alliance members November 10 from 5-7 pm at the Co-op Culinary Learning Center at 12 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH. Enjoy wine samples and delicious appetizers from the Co-Op Kitchen. You’ll have a chance to meet fellow business people and hear how Local First Alliance is promoting Upper Valley owned and operated businesses.

This evening will be a great opportunity to learn more about Local First, so we welcome all Upper Valley business owners to come and mingle and learn more about the value of an LFA membership.

RSVPs are appreciated.

photo credit: Molly Drummond

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