Champlain Isle

Strengthening Farmers’ Markets

An exciting project for the  Upper Valley Farmers’ Market Collaborative is helping markets identify areas to improve or strengthen. A market might decide to improve sales, customer traffic, vendor recruitment, governance structure, or other priorities,  developing a plan to address the issue or reach the goal. One tool we are using to help markets prioritize their goals is market assessments. Market assessments can come in many forms depending on what you want to measure/track, and this summer we are working with the Royalton, Newport, and Claremont markets to measure customer visitation and the markets’ impact on the local economy.

On July 20 I spent the afternoon at the Newport Farmers’ Market working with Richard Scheuer, the market manager, and six volunteers to perform just this type of assessment. The day was perfect (sunny and 80 degrees) and the volunteers were eager to help the market. Counting customers sounds like and easy task, but many markets are in open locations with many entrances making counting everyone a challenge. Survey tape to block off all but a couple entrances, signage, and notifying vendors and customers what is going solved this problem. With clickers in hand, four volunteers counted every adult entering the market- there were 386!

Polling or surveying customers as they finished shopping was the other part of the Newport assessment. The eight-question poll asked about market shopping habits, amount spent at the market, and zip code, along with a few other qualitative questions.

newport-farmers-market-logo

I’m still compiling the results, and when I do, a report will be shared with the  Newport Farmers’ Market. This data will inform the decisions/actions the market makes – which is the goal of assessments. This data will also provide a baseline. Strengthening markets means knowing where they’re at now (baseline), where they want to go (goal), and measuring to see if they are moving toward their goals.  So, we’ll be back at Newport next year and beyond performing a similar market assessment to track the progress as they work to improve the overall market and sales for the vendors.

If you haven’t visited the Newport Farmers’ Market, take the time this summer. It’s a vibrant, family market in a beautiful downtown. Fridays, 3-6 pm.

the Flavors Sextet

Yes, we sing about Flavors

Confession: we sing a little tune about Flavors of the Valley, around the office, in meetings, while photocopying…. Click here and watch with sound if you dare- the big reveal is at the end. Treat your ears today and your tastebuds on Sunday, April 8 from 11 am- 3 pm at Hartford High School.  All the details, discounts, specials, information about 45 local food vendors and their samples, and more are on our Flavors of the Valley page. Thank you CATV 8/10 for our CATV debut.

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

Farm to School Forum: King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids Program

Join Upper Valley Farm to School Network as we learn how to make the dough!

 

 

KAFBFG

King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids Program

  • Kids LEARN to make bread from scratch. Math + science + reading + baking know-how = something delicious!
  • Kids BAKE. They practice their new skills and use ingredients we provide to bake bread or rolls.
  • Kids SHARE within the community, and give part of their baked goods to those in need. (They keep some to enjoy!)

How does BFGK Self-Directed Group Baking work? 

  • 5-50 kids, grades 4-12
  • Kids watch BFGK video with you
  • KAF provides flour, yeast, recipe booklets, dough scrapers, video lesson, and more
  • Kids work in teams, bake together with you, and donate rolls

Learn how easy (and fun!) it is to bring our very popular free BFGK Self-Directed Program to YOUR students. We’ll show you how it works, how to access helpful information, and practice some roll shaping skills! Take home BFGK Program materials and enjoy some homemade pizza!

Instructor: Paula Gray, is the Manager of the Bake for Good Kids Program. She has been an educator/presenter for over 30 years, and is an employee owner of the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, VT

When: Monday October 30, 2017, 5:30-7:00PM

Where: Culinary Learning Center, COOP Food Store, 12 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH 03766

Fee: FREE!

Register: Contact Beth Roy at Beth@VitalCommunities.org or (802)291-9100 x105 or register on-line

Farm to School Professional Development Course Offered in Partnership with Vermont FEED

Pic for webJoin Upper Valley Farm to School and Vermont FEED for a Level I Professional Learning Course: Cultivating Farm to School. This learning opportunity is designed for school educators, staff, administrators, and community members to explore and expand their personal and professional knowledge and experience related to Farm to School education while building and strengthening school community connections. Participants will be encouraged to build and develop shared learning experiences for their students while building and developing the vital relationships necessary to make Farm to School education a real and lasting part of their community, classroom and cafeteria.

Interactive class sessions will include a balance of hands-on cooking, individual work time, networking, guest presentations, dialogue, small group activities and practical experiences that will serve to deepen participant understanding of the various elements and promising practices of farm-to-school programs.

The class will take place at Mascoma Regional High School 4:00-7:00pm

3/21/17
4/4/17
4/25/17
5/9/17
5/23/17
6/6/17

We are very fortunate to be able to provide free tuition to all New Hampshire participants. New Hampshire participants will also be eligible to apply for a mini-grant to support a farm to school project in their school. Funding for this opportunity is from the Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

To learn more about the course and to register please visit http://bit.ly/2kQvAyY or contact Beth Roy, Farm to School Coordinator at 802.291.9100 or Beth@VitalCommunities.org

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

Enjoying the Fruits of their Labors in Newbury

Newbury Elementary School: “The Newbury Elementary School has beboy in garden dec 16en enjoying the fruits of many labors with the success of our first “Grow-a-Row” program. Throughout the summer, green-thumbed and generous community members tended an extra row or two in their gardens and then sent along the harvest to Chef Paul, our energetic food service director. Instead of piling up produce in the kitchen and walking away, these same folks and others met on certain days to help Paul process and freeze the offerings so that they could be used throughout the school year in our lunch program. It’s such a win-win and the program continues to gain interest and develop. We enjoy wonderful community support here.
We’ve added two new components to our program that helps support the Grow-a-Row program and our commitment to eating more locally: we Newbury Elementarypurchased a large, walk-in freezer and a small greenhouse. The freezer has already been pressed into action holding the processed vegetables we acquired over the summer. The beautiful new greenhouse will be utilized by the students and teachers as we continue to learn together about gardening and botany.
We held our first of the year staff meeting about our Farm to School program. Staff members learned about our plan for the next five years, the resources available to them, and in the process, made a really delicious “massaged kale salad” to enjoy during the meeting. The Farm to School team did a great job informing the rest of the staff about easy ways to build in farm to school lessons and values into the curriculum through project based learning. Students helped “put Newbury Elementarythe gardens to bed”… all except one: our 5/6 team planted a bed of garlic to be used in the kitchen next year. It is now sleeping under this first snow of the year!
We wish all of our Farm to School friends happy holidays and a great start to the new year. The attached photos show our 5/6 grade “Falcons” and “Otters” working in the permaculture garden and harvesting squash in one of the raised beds this fall. The top photo shows Chef Paul addressing our Grow-a-Row community group.” Kim Goody, Farm to School Coordinator

Sharon’s Learning Fair to Focus on Farm to School

Sharon june

Sharon Elementary School: “Our gardens are put to bed, but the cooking and learning continue here at Sharon. The first and second grade classrooms made two school wide snack taste test. The school enjoyed applesauce and roasted butternut squash. The apples came from a local orchard and the butternut squash came from our garden! As a school, the staff met to discuss the future of our farm to school program. We’ve decided to focus our annual learning fair this year on farm to school! Classes will be busy developing what they want to share with the community!” Keenan Haley, Third Grade Teacher

Grilled Flat Iron steak1 credit Julia A Reed

Across the Grain: Grilled Flat Iron Steak

As an eater and a former restaurant worker, I know there’s often some tension around balancing the price and ease of mass-produced meat with the benefits of local meat to farmers, the environment, and society’s health. Put more bluntly, locally raised meat often comes in cuts we don’t know how to cook and is usually more expensive than meat from the supermarket.

Here are some suggestions—and a recipe—to make it work when you buy the local stuff:

  • Spend the same amount on meat from the local farmer as you do at the supermarket but stretch the smaller quantity by making stew, stir-fry, or more veggie side dishes. We know we’re supposed to be eating less meat and more veggies anyway, right? More veggies + meat that is actually good for you = happy stomachs.
  • Or get a cheaper cut and learn how to cook it to optimize flavor and tenderness. Since farmers do raise entire animals, and a whole beef is more than just 750 pounds of rib-eye, your local farmers’ market vendors sell a variety of cuts. It’s not hard to learn how to cook these other cuts so that they’re delicious and amazing! See below.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

Ingredients:

Flat iron steak or similar (like skirt steak)
Olive oil
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Herbs of your choice

Directions:

  1. Remove any clear silvery membrane that may remain on the steak. This so-called “silverskin” is really tough to chew.
  2. Marinate steak with olive oil and a little Worcestershire sauce, plus salt, pepper, and any herbs of your choice, for 20 minutes or more.
  3. Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking it.
  4. Grill meat at medium high heat until grill marks show on the surface. The browning indicates the meat’s sugars and proteins are raw steak with tongs credit Julia A Reedcaramelizing to offer a wonderful flavor.
  5. Turn steak, repeat browning, and insert a meat thermometer.
  6. Turn the heat down or move the meat off to the side and finish cooking to 135º F for medium-rare.
  7. Let steak rest for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed, resulting in more juicy steak.
  8. Cut meat ACROSS THE GRAIN. See details below.

Cutting is one of the most important things to get right when cooking tougher cuts like flat iron. Cut across the grain to optimize tenderness.

Let me explain. If you look at a flat iron steak, you can see the thin strips of muscle all going more or less in one direction. In the photo to the right, the grain is going up and down. If you cut the steaks into strips FOLLOWING that grain, you’ll end up with those long (and tough) muscle fibers intact because your knife is just separating them from each other. But if you cut ACROSS that grain, you’re slicing each muscle fiber into short pieces, leaving your teeth with less to do. See the finished slices in the opening photo. Note that if you choose a skirt steak instead of a flat iron, the grain goes from side to side, so you should cut the steak the long way.

Some cuts have really obvious grain patterns. Others—like short ribs—can be more subtle and may even change direction in a single piece of meat. What to do? Slice a small corner and take a look – does your slice have stripes (bad) or little circles (good)? If you need to start again from another side, do that. If you’re cutting away and the grain changes direction part way through, just rotate the meat until you’re cutting in the right direction again. Be the boss of your steak.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

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