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Farm Labor Job Directory!

Farmers – Looking for a place to advertise for farm labor for the coming season?

Vital Communities just launched a farm labor focused job directory as part of a Northeast SARE Partnership grant that is designed to help farms hire and retain farm staff.
The UV Farm Job Directory is FREE and EASY to use.
 
1 Easy Step:
  1. Create a help wanted advertisement in the market section of dailyuv.com
 
How it Works:
We are using daily.uv.com‘s website to host this new virtual job directory. There is a news page on the site that has helpful information for people on what to expect from a farm job, the benefits of working on a farm, and the positions available. It will also include basic information about the farms looking for labor.
Farmers create a free help wanted ad on the daily.uv site for the position(s) you are hiring for (go to dailyuv.com/market and click on “SELL”, you will be asked to set up an account (join now), then create your ad). Once your ad is created, I will add a link to the main job directory page to your specific farm ads, so that someone can click to your ad if they want to learn the details about the position(s) open at your farm and can see the range of farm jobs available.
There are  catchy, paid advertisements throughout the dailyuv site and in the Valley News that points prospective workers to the main job directory page to create traffic to the page.
We are also sharing this new ag job help wanted hub to all of the potential sources of local labor like the vo-techs, VTC, Sterling College, state DOE offices, Facebook, etc.
This is a beta-testing year for this concept of creating a virtual meeting place for farms and potential farm staff in our region. Add your listing to the this new directory and we’d love to hear if this is a useful tool for your farm.
Contact Nancy@VitalCommunities.org with questions, comments, etc.

Flavors of the Valley 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!


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

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

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Free Verse Farm Misha Taylor Herbs

Flavors of the Valley 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 and save up to 25%!
(Earlybird special ends February 15, 2017)

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

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Farm Labor Problem-Solving Session in December

Farmers – Please join us for a conversation about the challenges around finding farm labor in December!

 

Finding and retaining quality farm labor is a challenge many of you face. In conversations and surveys it’s clear that lack of skilled labor is affecting production, sales, and profits for Upper Valley farms.

We heard you, and are now working with funds from NE SARE to address this thorny issue in partnership with you.

Newport, NH, Sullivan County UNH Extension Office, 24 Main Street
Tuesday December 6, 9-11 am

White River Junction, VT, Yankee Farm Credit Conference Room, 52 Farmvu Drive
Thursday December 8, 9-11 am

Please join your fellow farmers (Pooh Sprague, Suzanne Long, Danielle Allen, Norah Lake), Vital Communities, Extension staff, and others at a Farm Labor Problem Solving Session in early December. At the Session the group will:

  • Enjoy coffee and baked goods
  • ​Share what works for finding and retaining good staff
  • Discuss key challenges farms have experienced
  • Suggest possible locally-based solutions
  • Give input into a potential online local farm job listing platform

Vital Communities will facilitate the discussion, compile best practices from it for your use in the 2017 season, and take action on suggestions made by the group. We need farmers to share their successes and their challenges and come willing to work together to move this conversation forward. Your ideas, resources, tools, and solutions will make a blueprint for a local answer to this difficult problem.

This can’t be fixed with duct tape and baling twine, so we hope to see you in December for a great conversation. Email me with any questions and please spread the word.

Nancy LaRowe
Valley Food & Farm Coordinator
802.291.9100 x106
Nancy@VitalCommunities.org

Root 5 Farm Danielle Cabbage

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Visit to Taylor Brothers Farm 6/28/16

If you follow Valley Food and Farm on Instagram, then you may know that this summer we have been taking time to travel around the NH side of the Upper Valley photographing and profiling farms east of the Connecticut. These road trips are made possible through the New Hampshire Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which we were awarded this spring to create more support and awareness of NH specialty crop farms through promotional events and materials. Specialty Crops include varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, nursery trees and shrubs, honey, herbs, and of course, maple. The SCBG Grant itself is designed to provide NH organizations with the funds to conduct projects which benefit NH specialty crop farms under the areas of food safety, pest and disease prevention, research and development, industry promotion and marketing, and technology and innovation. Many of the farms we are traveling too are located in our online Valley Food and Farm Guide

Our goal is to increase support of Upper Valley farms to build healthy communities, markets, and environments for all who live here. This will be done through providing more marketing opportunities, materials, and other such opportunities for NH farms. Taking pictures of these farms is part of that overarching goal. So be sure to keep your eyes out for more pics of NH farms in our website, blog, newsletters, printed materials, Facebook, and Instagram! If you are a NH farm and would like us to come take pictures of your fields or stand please let us know at 802-291-9100 or email kylie@vitalcommunities.org!

One of the first farms I was able to visit was the Taylor Brothers Farm in Meriden, NH. The Taylor Brothers Farm is a four generation family farm started in 1970 by Steve and Gretchen Taylor with sons Jim, Bill, and Rob who now operate the farm. They began by raising cows, sheep, and vegetables. Then in the early 1980’s the farm switched over completely too dairy which today produces 3,000 pounds of milk each day from a herd of 120 Milking Shorthorn and Holstein cows. Up until 2009, all of the milk produced was sent to Cabot and while they still do send some off to be made into Cabot butter, the Taylor Brothers have begun making their own cheese in a creamery located right on the farm. I had the wonderful pleasure to talk with Gary who runs the creamery and makes each of the three varieties Taylor Brothers Farm Offers: Evelyn’s Jack, Cloverfield Colby, and Mill Hollow. These cheeses are aged anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months and are available at the farm store in Meriden, at the online store, and at various food stores throughout the region.

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In addition to cheese, The Taylor Brothers produce maple syrup. This year alone, the Taylor Brothers maintained 6,000 taps and produced 2,400 gallons of syrup! Jim, Bill, and Rob have been sugaring commercially since 1992 though they have been boiling for fun since childhood. Now-a-days, the brothers rely on reverse osmosis to remove most of the water first before boiling it in an evaporator. In addition to syrup, the Taylor Brothers offer maple cream, sugar, and candies for sale.

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The newest addition to the farm has been the incorporation of Garfield’s Smokehouse which is managed by Bill Taylor and his wife Liz (Garfield). Garfield’s Smokehouse is located right across from the creamery and sugar house and offers a variety of NH hardwood and cob smoked meats and cheeses made in their USDA inspected facility right on the premises.

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One of the biggest highlights of this visit was talking with an Upper Valley farmer who is proud to call NH home and to work so closely alongside his brothers throughout all of the decision making as the farm and family have evolved and grown over the past 35 years. Through creating solutions to overcome economic shifts, building facilities to incorporate value-added products, and merging family businesses, it will be fun to see what the Taylor Brothers have to offer the Upper Valley as their family and farm continue to grow and develop over the years. Be sure to check out their farm stand located about 10 mins south of West Lebanon right below KUA in the beautiful hills of Meriden, NH.

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Visit to Robie Farm 7/13/16

A few Wednesdays ago I had the opportunity to get out of the office and onto the road as part of our work with the New Hampshire Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which allows us to bring more support and attention to our Upper Valley NH farms. Over the past several weeks, I have been out of the office 4 times to take pictures of various farms in NH and today my path of travel was north on Rte 10 from Lyme to Piermont. Though I stopped at many farms, it is always hard to find the farmers around the house when it is a beautiful sunny day. Many weren’t home or working out back in pastures and fields where visitors could not find them. At my last stop, I was able to run into farmer Mark Robie at Robie Farm in Piermont, NH coming out of the farm store just as I was walking in. He was happy to talk for a few minutes about his family’s farm.

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Robie Farm is a small family dairy farm spanning back 6 generations since 1870 on 150 acres of forests and fields along the Conecticut River raising a herd of over 50 mixed Holstien, Jersey, and Normande cattle. These cows graze throughout the pastures during the summer months and then on the hay the family work all summer long to put up. The commitment the Robie’s have to this piece of land is clear. By maintaining fertile pastures through grazing, selling products locally, and passing down knowledge and skill from generation to generation, Robie Farm is well aware of their responsibility to their Connecticut River Valley ecosystem, close-knit family, and UV community.

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One of the ways Robie Farm expresses this is by selling raw milk in their farm store and in food stores around the region. Due to the cleanliness of their animals, facilities, and modernization of equipment and technology for extracting and storing the milk, the Robies do not feel the need to alter the natural state of their milk through pasteurization. They are happy to provide a raw, health-giving, and trustworthy product. In addition to milk, the Robies make 5 different kinds of cheeses which are all aged for a minimum of 60 days due to federal regulations around products containing raw milk. In addition to this value-added product, the Robies have experimented with ice cream, yogurt, and whey-fed pigs in order to make the most of this rich resource their cows and land provide.

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As mentioned earlier, Robie Farm supplies some of their raw milk to food stores around the Upper Valley and have partnered with many regional farmers to supply beef and pork to many restaurants and food stores throughout the region including the Upper Valley Food Coop, Stella’s, Simon Pierce, Crossroad Farm, and the Colatina Exit to name a few. It was interesting to hear Mark’s perspective of farm to restaurant transactions. It is an intricate web of relationships between farmer, chef, and customer fueled by reputation, consistency, and quality control. Many meat and veggie producers who sell to restaurants face similar challenges balancing and managing all these relationships and factors. Luckily, Robie Farm has a strong community following and strong family participation to help them manage it all but it is also up to us as consumers to continue our support of family farms, restaurants, and food stores who all work to make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play by supplying and sourcing locally grown food.

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“Love your Farmer” Scavenger Hunt!

Scavenger hunt cover pic“Love your Farmer” Scavenger Hunts at participating farmers’ markets in the Upper Valley, to Celebrate New Hampshire Eat Local Month and Vermont Open Farm week August 15-21.

The “Love Your Farmer” Scavenger Hunt takes kids around the market to find, count, taste, and tell us what they love about farms and farmers at the market. When the child returns from the hunt, every kid gets a small prize for participating and is entered in to a raffle to win a grand prize of a $50 gift certificate to Riverview Farm. It’s simple to participate! Visit one of the participating markets near you (see below) and find the Scavenger Hunt table to begin your fun and tasty hunt around the vendor tents.

Eleven farmers’ markets in the Upper Valley are partnering with Vital Communities to host scavenger hunts the week of August 15-21. In New Hampshire, the Lebanon, New London, Hanover, and Canaan markets will host the scavenger hunt. In Vermont, the Bellows Falls, South Royalton, Hartland, Windsor, Norwich, Chelsea, and Barnard markets will host scavenger hunts.

  • New London Farmers Market (NH) – Wednesday 8/17/16Cobb Hill Open Farm Week, cow credit Molly Drummond (5)
  • Hanover Farmers Market (NH) – Wednesday 8/17/16
  • Lebanon Farmers Market (NH) – Thursday 8/18/16
  • Barnard Farmers Market (VT) –  Thursday 8/18/16
  • South Royalton Farmers Market (VT) – Thursday 8/18/16
  • Chelsea Farmers Market (VT) – Friday 8/19/16
  • Hartland Farmers Market (VT) – Friday 8/19/16
  • Bellows Falls Farmers Market (VT) – Friday 8/19/16
  • Norwich Farmers Market (VT) – Saturday 8/20/16
  • Windsor Farmers Market (VT) – Saturday 8/20/16
  • Canaan Farmers Market (NH) – Sunday 8/21/16

New Hampshire Eat Local Month and Vermont Open Farm Week offer many other special events for your family–visit their websites for a full list. Enjoy our local bounty in August!

This project is supported by the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program.

For more information, Contact Beth Roy at Vital Communities: Beth@VitalCommunities.org

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CRAFT at Cedar Circle Farm

Upper Valley CRAFT farmers and farm-workers met at Cedar Circle Farm last night to discuss regenerative agriculture and tour the farm with owners Will Allen and Kate Duesterberg. We met at the staff lunch tables where a new kid’s garden has been established as part of the summer camp that is taking place on the farm this summer at part of the education initiatives of Cedar Circle.

In addition to summer camps and workshops, Cedar Circle farmers are taking the lead in the region for experimenting with cutting edge regenerative agriculture initiatives such as no-till and intensive cover-cropping to work towards solving the climate change crisis through soil carbon sequestration and provide a farm model focused on social, ecological, and economic resiliency share with farmers and farm workers in the region. In addition to providing organic produce to consumers within the region, Cedar Circle has a strong dedication to increasing awareness and education around issues related to agricultural impacts (both positive and negative) on the environment.

Since the farm began in 2000, Will and Kate have been working with a non-profit organization in MA to support these initiatives to raise awareness. It is lucky we have such a resource here in the Upper Valley to combine the environmental movement with local food production. Most of all, it seems to me, that Cedar Circle Farm is most interested in taking the lead with experimenting with different regenerative practices designed to build ecosystem health which are new to production-based models of organic farms such as Cedar Circle and many others in the Upper Valley region. This is all made possible with the partnership with the MA non-profit, work with the Rodale Institute, and the support with grants from Dr. Mercola and UVM which have allowed them the time and money to invest in new land and equipment to begin exploring how to implement no-till into Upper Valley production systems.

So far, they have been working on crimp rolling a test field of rye and fixing up a drill seeder and transplanter which will hopefully get used within the next week! I look forward to learning more about Cedar Circle’s experiences with no-till farming and the lessons they can share with others in the region who may be interested in incorporating into their own agroecosystems.

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CRAFT at Sweetland Farm

Last Wednesday presented another lovely summer evening for Upper Valley farmers and farm workers to gather at Sweetland Farm for the third CRAFT meeting of the 2016 season. We had wonderful attendance of folks from 7 different farms in the Upper Valley! Everyone brought delicious dishes to share for the post-tour potluck, featuring a taste of  crops coming in around the Upper Valley in late June. These included cucumbers, summer squash, strawberries, and more. But before we could dig in, we had 87 acres of diversified pasture and cropland to tour with Sweetland Farmer Norah Lake.

The tour started down at the large converted dairy barn on the side of Rte 132 in Norwich, VT. Though Sweetland has only been in operation since 2012, it has thoughtful and seasoned land owners, both in the principles and practices of the farm.  Sweetland Farm is a true success story of Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program, doing their best to care for the land and the community for which they belong. it is clear to me how beneficial the program is for would-be farmers of Vermont searching for affordable agricultural land who share the program’s values of  ecological, economic, and social sustainability.

It was wonderful to hear Norah tell of the past, present, and future plans for the farm. From hay fields converted to crop lands using the power of pastured pork, to ponds as water reserves for irrigation, timber-framed staff housing units, and a brand new greenhouse, there are many new and exciting developments for those who work at Sweetland Farm and for those who subscribe to the CSA. With orchards, pastures, cropland, sheds, and ponds dotting the hillside, there was something to interest everyone during the tour. We had wonderful discussions about the pros and cons of receiving a USDA grant, the best sprinkler head systems, how mail-order pigs work, best ways to integrate crops and livestock into the agro-ecosystem, how to grow a prize-winning county fair pumpkin, and what to do with it once the fair is over. If anyone is wondering, the best options seemed to be entering in a punkin chunkin contest or a pumpkin regatta.

Overall, this 2016 CRAFT season is shaping up to be a great way to spend the evening getting to know farmers and farm workers of the Upper Valley. From my point of view, it has been a rewarding opportunity to learn about the vast potentials and possibilities for farming in the region. I know it isn’t easy to find time in the height of the growing season, but I am always grateful for the variety of perspectives and ideas contributed during these gatherings. Life has definitely gotten better upon learning about pumpkin races across Lake Champlain.

​ Sharon Farm and Field Day a Success!

SharonSharon-farm-and-field-day 2​ Farm and Field Day a Success!

On Thursday, May 26th, we enjoyed our annual Farm and Field Day! Children rotated through a variety of stations. Stations included: ducks, sheep, circle art, work songs, planting in the production garden, building container gardens, and two games. It was a busy day, but super fun!

We are now finishing up our planting and looking forward to working the gardens over the summer and harvesting in the fall! – Keenan Haley, Teacher, Sharon Elementary School, Sharon, VT

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