Canaan Keeps FarmRaisers Alive

Kale. Carrots. Beets. Potatoes. Powerkraut®!

These are just a few of the delightful local foods I’ve received from Root 5 Farm over the past few months as part of my fall FarmRaiser—a community-supported agriculture (CSA) fundraiser run by the Canaan Elementary School PTA that supports the school, the farm, and the idea of healthy, local eating in our community.

Vital Communities launched the FarmRaiser program in 2012 and coordinated it for several years before moving on to other projects. Canaan Elementary was among the first to adopt the program—and, according to Becka Warren at Vital Communities, who helped establish FarmRaisers in our region, it’s the very last school in the Upper Valley to keep the program going.

So why does Canaan bother?

It’s not a big fundraiser for the PTA—the school earned $600 for the 25 shares community members purchased this fall—but money isn’t the goal anyway, says PTA Secretary Hillary Gillies.

“The PTA loves it because it promotes local farms and foods and healthy eating,” says Canaan parent Kristen DeLeault, who for the past four years has coordinated the program. Kristen has worked hard to find partner farms—past partners Blue Ox Farm in Enfield and Autumn Harvest Farm in Grafton unfortunately went out of business. This year she coordinated a plan with Fairlee-based Root 5 Farm to personally pick up the FarmRaiser shares at their normal CSA pickup location in Lebanon and deliver them to Canaan Elementary. Her persistence and commitment have made the program possible.

“There aren’t many big farms nearby in New Hampshire that can sustain what we were hoping for,” Kristen says. “It’s not as local as we’d like, but it’s still in the Upper Valley.”

For Root 5 Farm, co-owner Danielle Allen says, the program just broke even financially. But it still made good business sense. “It was a great way to move product, especially in the fall when we have big harvests,” she said. “And we got exposure to a whole new set of customers without the farm having to do a lot of legwork.”

“It’s a lovely collaboration. It brings an awareness of farms and healthy food in our communities,” Danielle says. “It has all the good feels.”

“Canaan Elementary School continues to inspire us with its creative thinking about fundraising that is delicious, healthy, and local,” says Becka. “We love seeing the FarmRaiser continue all these years, and we hope other area schools consider whether it might work for their communities. It shows that eating local can take root at the earliest age (pun intended)!”

As a parent and FarmRaiser participant, I love that I can support my PTA and a local farm business all while getting something healthy and delicious for my family in exchange. My kids always look forward to FarmRaiser pickup day—and while they enjoy their fresh, local Kale Chips, I get to indulge in some delicious and simple Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup!

Want to start a FarmRaiser in your school? Get started with our online resources.

Celebrating our Volunteer of the Year

Ed. note: Vital Communities Executive Director Tom Roberts made the following remarks to honor 2019 Volunteer of the Year Bill Geraghty at our Open House on December 6.

We are delighted to celebrate Bill Geraghty as our Volunteer of the Year.

It is fitting that we honor Bill as we are celebrating our 25th.  As with many of the previous volunteers we’ve honored, their service to Vital Communities and the Upper Valley spans many years.

Bill has served on our board of directors for 11 of the last 13 years, coming back to serve again after his carefully laid out leadership succession plan fell apart due to a job change out across the country.

Bill has served twice as chair of the board, running prompt, efficient meetings and ably standing as our volunteer leader in the Upper Valley.

Jenny Levy, our outgoing board chair and VP of People, Community and the Environment at Hypertherm, said of Bill:

Bill’s calm, insightful, witty and wise character is a bedrock for the Vital Communities board. Like any real bedrock, it sticks around and allows others to grow around it – that’s Bill. He knows the history, knows the trials and errors and the successes, yet is eager for new ideas and to work with everyone. Like bedrock, you can always trust and count on Bill. He always does what he says he’s going to do, and signs up for way more than his fair share of work on behalf of our community.

Bill first got involved with Vital Communities 18 years ago when he was serving as the Vice President of Human Resources at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and joined our Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (TMA) as D-H’s representative. He was active in looking at alternatives to building more parking garages by improving transportation and housing options for D-H employees.

Over the years, Bill has served on nearly every committee we have here – with substantial service on our finance and nominating committees.

Because of his HR expertise, he was a key part of the search committee that hired both me and my predecessor, Mary Margaret Sloan; he was called upon for invaluable HR advice by both of us and has presented a set of trainings for the staff on HR matters.

Mary Margaret had this to say about Bill:

Bill was a lifeline for me. Often executive directors are isolated, but Bill wasn’t just the board chair, he was a true partner. If I needed advice — he was there. If I needed someone to share worries with — he was there. He is brilliant and kind, but my favorite thing about Bill is his sense of humor. We’d talk about something serious, and then he’d get a twinkle, and make me laugh. … Vital Communities… has been extraordinarily lucky to enjoy his leadership.

And Bill was on and chaired the Leadership Upper Valley Board of Governors and a key member of the Heroes & Leaders dinner planning committee, including serving as master of ceremonies for the event. Stacey Glazer, who ran LUV for many years used these words to describe Bill: “direct, super-helpful, wise, honest, caring, civic-minded, supportive and steady presence.” She summed it up well: “Bill was always there for Vital Communities when we needed him.”

And Bill did all this for Vital Communities while also serving as a member of the Hanover Selectboard, as well as being on other nonprofit boards.

I can echo Jenny’s, Mary Margaret’s, and Stacey’s sentiments and express my personal deep appreciation for Bill’s thoughtful, caring, and patient approach.

I am delighted to present Bill Geraghty our Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019.

Support TLC Campaigns Now!

Invest in your community and contribute to campaigns today!

Visit the TLC Upper Valley campaign page

The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley is a community-based crowdfunding platform that empowers individuals to support the businesses, organizations, and initiatives that build community and economy. Learn about and contribute to one or more of the  exciting project below! Campaigns will be running through December 20.

     

Whaleback Base Lodge Energy Efficiency Updates, Enfield

You might not know this, but Whaleback is run by The Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation (UVSSF), a nonprofit entity, with the mission to support and enhance an affordable, healthy, and sustainable snow sports experience in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. UVSSF members first came together in the spring of 2013 on the heels of Whaleback Mountain LLC shuttering operations. Like our fellow residents, we recognize the importance of Whaleback as a community asset.

Whaleback needs to perform repairs on the base lodge and want to invest in energy conservation practices. Our energy efficiency goals will help us become more environmentally friendly, improve comfort within the lodge, and to save money!

Support Whaleback Here!

 

Closing the Food Waste Loop with Willow Tree Community Compost, White River Junction

Our mission is to build community while creating compost. Similar to how a willow branch, when stuck in the ground, will grow into a tree, I’m hoping that each Willow Tree Community Compost member will become more strongly rooted in the community and share in a more sustainable lifestyle. The positive environmental impact of diverting waste from the landfill, reducing CO2 emissions and creating a nutrient-rich soil amendment for gardens, will go hand in hand with creating connections in the community. I envision gatherings and events that will bring members together and building business partnerships that benefit all parties. As we grow, we will also be creating local, green jobs.

To expand our operation and be able to serve more of our community, we need to grow! We need buckets, infrastructure, and a trailer to deliver the food waste to Sunrise Farm!

Support Willow Tree Here!

Close the Loop with Compost at Sunrise Farm, White River Junction

Sunrise Farm in White River Junction is creating an on-farm compost system that will take in food waste from the community and transform it into compost that will be incorporated into the farm’s soil to grow more vegetables that further nourish the community. Sunrise is working to build the physical infrastructure needed to compost food scraps from the community to build healthy soil on the farm, divert food waste from the landfill, and strengthen the connections between the farm and community.

Support Sunrise Farm Here!

Food for Thought: The Growing Peace Project, Topsham

We are a peacemaking, social justice, and youth activism educational nonprofit in Topsham, Vermont. Our youth collaborate in cross school teams to develop and implement action plans that address community issues they care about including food insecurity. We have a free food teaching garden that has been serving our food insecure neighbors for the past nine years.

We’re raising funds to support our Food For Thought free food teaching garden and youth activism programs. Funds raised will allow us to purchase equipment, hire help, add more workshops, and partner with local farms.

Support The Growing Peace Project Here!

Mascoma Friends Feeding Friends Expansion, Canaan

The Friends of Mascoma Foundation is committed to combatting food insecurity in the Mascoma Valley Regional School District (MVRSD) through the Friends Feeding Friends program. The program operates two food pantries in Canaan and in Enfield, plus is the primary source of food and personal hygiene items for the pantry located inside Mascoma Valley Regional High School. Pantry shoppers can come once a week for a three-day supply of food. We have refrigeration, so we focus on fresh produce, meats and dairy products as well as non-perishables. We also supply food for snacks, backpacks, family food boxes as needed and other pantry items to the elementary and middle schools. 

For the past several years a generous private donor has allowed us to use their vehicles, including a van and trailer, for food distribution. Use of these vehicles is essential to our Friends Feeding Friends program and it’s time for us to get our own wheels!

Support Friends Feeding Foodie Here!

 

Puppy Junction, White River Junction


The Student Rescue Project, Inc. is a Vermont 501(c)(3) that focuses on providing hands-on experiences in dog rescue for students. We believe that, if we’re able to nurture the empathy that young people have for animals, we can to develop a life-long dedication to animal welfare. At this time, we’re in the process of creating an adoption, volunteer and education center in White River Junction called Puppy Junction. This will serve as a new home-base for our organization and be a community space for dog-lovers. 

This funding campaign will be launching soon—please check back!

 

Join Us: Open House December 6!

Our annual Open House is one of our favorite events of the year—a chance to catch up with old friends of Vital Communities, make welcome new connections, and celebrate positive change in the Upper Valley over the past year. It’s also part of the biggest First Friday in White River Junction, so there’s lots to see and do all evening! Join us:

Vital Communities Open House
Friday, December 6, 2019
5:30-7:30 pm
The Engine Room
188 South Main St., White River Junction

Followed by a dance party with livemixkings’ DjSean at 7:30
—FREE if you’ve attended Open House, or $5 at the door!

We’ll have remarks at 6 pm, our Volunteer of the Year and Super Quest Grand Prize awards, and wine, beer, and abundant refreshments from great local businesses.

Plus, come for the open house and stay for the music! livemixkings’ DjSean will spin dance tunes from 7:30–11 pm, so bring your dancing shoes! The show is free to Open House attendees or $5 at the door if you come at 7:30 or after.

PRE-REGISTER TODAY to save time at the door!

We hope to see you there!

Nov. 19 Green Real Estate Crash Course

Vital Communities is offering its popular Green Real Estate Crash Course again on Tuesday, November 19, at Service Credit Union, just off I-89 in Lebanon, NH. Earn 3 elective credits in VT and NH.

Register online at vitalcommunities.org/greenrealestate

This is NOT your average CE course.
Designed with input from Upper Valley Realtors®, Vital Communities, and Efficiency Vermont, this course is fun, practical, and hands-on. The Green Real Estate Crash Course and its accompanying resources expertly boil down the topic of energy efficiency to give you exactly what you NEED to know to help your clients, and no more!

What’s Covered:

 Why “Green” matters in real estate |  Home energy efficiency 101
 Working with green buyers |  Listing green homes |  MLS green fields
 Appraisal Institute Green Addendum |  Hands-on examples

Instructors: 

Lynne LaBombard, Green Designated Realtor® and licensed instructor

Sarah Brock, Energy Program Manager at Vital Communities

Learn more and explore free online resources at vitalcommunities.org/greenrealestate

November Course Details

WHEN: Tuesday, November 19, 9 am-12:15 pm

  • 8:30-8:55 am | Registration and Light Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00 am-12:15 pm | Green Real Estate Crash Course (with one 15min break at ~10:30)
    **You MUST be in your seat at 9:00 am to receive credit**

WHERE: Service Credit Union, 225 Mechanic Street, Lebanon, NH

FEE: Pre-registration: $50 (register online by Friday, November 15). Otherwise $60 at the door.

Thanks to our generous host and sponsor, Service Credit Union, your entire course fee goes toward Vital Communities’ Green Real Estate Program, which provides free resources and direct support for you and your clients year-round.

Questions? Contact Sarah Brock at sarah@vitalcommunities.org or 802-291-9100 x109

Oct. 26 Guided Valley Quest: Trees of Dartmouth

 

Join Vital Communities’ Valley Quest Coordinator Beth Roy on a guided treasure hunt of the trees of Dartmouth. Celebrate fall as we discover many exotic trees around the Dartmouth College Campus and learn about their natural history along with some of the College’s history. This is a great opportunity to complete one of the Quests for the 2019 Super Quest and finish the Questing season with an adventure! This guided Quest is appropriate for families and adults, all are welcome.

Date: Saturday, October 26

Time: 10 am – 12 pm

Location: Meet at the information booth in Hanover on the Dartmouth College Green on College Street

Please register. The event is free but space is limited.

http://bit.ly/2ourQKI

Chime In: 9/18 Hartford Hearing on Affordable Housing in Vermont

Concerned about the need for more affordable housing in both Windsor County and Vermont?

Join a discussion with local business leaders, affordable housing advocates, and community members on the challenges facing Vermont and the possible local and statewide solutions.

Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee Hearing on Affordable Housing
September 18, 10:30-12:30 Room 2, Hartford Town Hall

For more information contact Peter Sterling at psterling@leg.state.vt.us or 802-279-6840

Peter Sterling, Chief of Staff
Office of Senate President Tim Ashe

Housing: Regional Challenge—Local Solutions

Housing: Regional Challenge—Local Solutions

We live, work, shop, and play across state and town lines, so it makes sense to work together to meet our shared housing challenge.

Here is what some towns are doing, and how you can be part of the change.

Tunbridge, Strafford, Sharon, and Royalton have launched a task group to work on creating more homes together. Contact Ken Wright to get involved.
Mt. Ascutney Hospital is sponsoring a work group to reduce barriers to housing in their service area—Barnard, Pomfret, Hartford, Killington, Bridgewater, Woodstock, Hartland, Plainfield, Plymouth, Reading, West Windsor, Windsor, Cornish, and Weathersfield. Contact Faye Grearson or Mike Kiess to be part of this effort.
The Lebanon Planning Board is hearing about ideas for hundreds of apartments near the DHMC campus and welcomes your participation to learn more and share your ideas. Find out about meeting dates and agendas, and let Jim Wasser or Billy Cioffredi know if you want updates.
The Woodstock Community Trust put a house into the market at a price targeting a resident working family. Bennington‘s Healthy Homes project is refurbishing abandoned houses for purchase at moderate prices. Contact Jill Davies or Kevin Dailey to see if these ideas could be adapted to your town.

Celebrate Our Independents!

July is a time to celebrate not only our independence as a nation but the entrepreneurial spirit and freedom that is embodied by our local and independent businesses. Independents Week is an annual opportunity to recognize the many valuable contributions our Upper Valley local businesses make to our communities including creating good jobs, supporting area nonprofits, and keeping our communities unique and interesting.

With the arrival of July, independence is top of mind – but are independents? The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) will celebrate Independents Weekduring July 1 through July 7, in order to make America’s independents known. Small and locally owned businesses, Main Street organizations and consumers can participate by declaring their independence and supporting their independents.

Think Local First this week and choose the many locally owned businesses (our friends & neighbors) that count on us to keep our economy and communities strong! Browse Local First businesses by category here or look for the logo when you are shopping for all your July 4 holiday supplies!

 

Cover photo: Molly Drummond

 

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