Upper Valley Farm to School 2018 Mini-Grants!

I am so excited to announce the 2018 mini-grant program at Upper Valley Farm to School! We have funding focused on both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects – we want to support you!

 

Application deadline – Wednesday March 28, 2018HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects have received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

 NEW FOR 2018: The maximum mini-grant award is now $500. Both New Hampshire and Vermont schools are eligible to apply for funds. Recipients in both states are required to present their project at Trek to Taste on June 2, 2018 (in addition to other grant requirements, below). We encourage schools to include costs related to project presentations and attending Trek to Taste in their grant budget.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please go to our on-line application form, download a form or, contact me.

The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkBeth Roy
Farm to School Coordinator
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Beth@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x105

Upper Valley Farm to School 2017 Mini-Grants!

I am so excited to announce the 2017 mini-grant program at Upper Valley Farm to School! We have funding focused on both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects – we want to support you!

 

Application deadline – Friday, March 24, 2017HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects has received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please go to our on-line application form, download a form or, contact me.

The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkBeth Roy
Farm to School Coordinator
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Beth@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x105

Taylor Brothers Farm 6.28.16 027

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.

Taylor Brothers Farm 6.28.16 045

 

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.

Taylor Brothers Farm 6.28.16 021

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.

Taylor Brothers Farm 6.28.16 004

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.

Robie Farm 7.13.16 010

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.

Robie Farm 7.13.16 023

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.

Robie Farm 7.13.16 001

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.

Robie Farm 7.13.16 007

Planning for the Future in Newbury

Planning for the Future in Newbury

We ended the school year with various classes “adopting” raised “laboratory” beds, perennial, and permaculture gardens around the school.  Within these we have a team of students that planted a garden committed to serving our salad bar and lunch programs, another few classes creating food for storage for cooking/baking projects,  a class that planted a butterfly garden- with an off-site milkweed patch to promote monarch habitat, and yet another team of classes planted a “stone soup” garden.  We received funding for a staff member to tend the gardens over the summer months- always a hiccup in the process of gardening at school.  Over time, our school has become increasingly committed to using farm to school curricula to support student learning and engagement.  We also purchased a beautiful new greenhouse kit and will put together a group of staff and community members to erect it so it can begin to be used once school is back in session.

Finally, we’re really excited that we’re sending a team consisting of administrator, parent, chef, and teachers to the three-day Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms!  After completing two farm to school grants, our team is poised to create a plan that will allow our program to continue to grow and become sustainable.  We feel very fortunate!

  • Kim Goody, Farm to School Coordinator

Tunbridge Students Try Taste Tests

Tunbridge Students Try Taste Tests

Tunbridge Central School students spent time in May and June exploring foods through snack-time taste tests, thanks to a mini-grant from Vital Communities. Three different classrooms prepared recipes to share with the rest of the school, with hopes that popular recipes will be included in next fall’s hot lunch menu. Two of the recipes included featured Harvest of the Month ingredients – carrots and herbs.

Mrs. Hook’s first and second grade students prepared an apple-carrot salad with raisins, Greek yogurt dressing and cinnamon. In three stations, students peeled and diced apples, chopped carrots and celery, and measured and mixed the dressing. Finally, they shared their creation with TCS students during morning snack. More than 60% of students “liked” the salad, less than 20% “disliked” it, and nearly 20% didn’t participate in the taste test (including students who were absent or who didn’t try the salad).

The next taste test was by far the most popular!  Outside on a hot spring day, most students LOVED the strawberry-rhubarb popsicles made for them by the “Physical Geeks” – a TCS middle school teacher advisory (TA). Using fresh local rhubarb, stewed with sugar, and mixed with diced strawberries, strawberry yogurt, orange juice and applesauce, the “PG’s” created a culinary delight that many students were still talking about on the last day of school. More than 80% of TCS students enjoyed the popsicles!

Finally, just a few days before the end of school, the TCS fourth grade prepared a cucumber-mint salad for trying at both TCS and at Trek to Taste in Woodstock. While not as popular as the first two recipes with TCS students (approximately half of students who tried it liked it), it was enjoyed by most who tried it at Trek to Taste, with comments such as, “the spices all blend together well – delish!”

  • Jennifer Thygesen, Farm to School Coordinator

 

Dacres field tirp

Upper Valley Farm to School 2016 Mini-Grants!

I am so excited to announce the 2016 mini-grant program at Upper Valley Farm to School! We have funding focused on both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects – we want to support you!

 

Application deadline – Friday, February 19, 2016HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects has received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please download an application or contact me.

The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkBeth Roy
Farm to School Coordinator
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Beth@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x105