Vermont Everyone Eats Serves Its One-Millionth Meal!

On Thursday, April 29, Vermont Everyone Eats, an innovative COVID-19 response program, is celebrating 1 million restaurant meals served to Vermonters experiencing food insecurity. The program was launched in August 2020 with an allocation of $5 million of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund contracted by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action Agency. The program would have expired in December, but widespread community support and advocacy empowered program and state partners to secure additional funding through FEMA and the program has been extended through the state of emergency.

Of that 1 million meals, about 90,400 will have been served by Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE), the Upper Valley hub for the program, coordinated by Vital Communities in partnership with numerous social service agencies. More recently, Vital Communities and partners obtained funding to create a pilot program modeled on UVEE in Claremont, NH, called Claremont Everyone Eats.

“Everyone Eats is an example of what we as a society can do when we think outside the box and use our resources in innovative ways,” said Vital Communities Executive Director Sarah Jackson. “It has helped restaurants survive by paying them to do make delicious, healthful food for those who need it most, and has strengthened relationships among social service agencies and the food community. It’s been a privilege for Vital Communities to coordinate Upper Valley Everyone Eats.”

This week, UVEE welcomes three new restaurants into its fold, according to UVEE Coordinator Lauren Griswold: The Newbury Village Store & Thistle Cafe (Newbury), The Little Grille (Bradford), and Tacocat (Randolph). It says farewell and thanks to Simon Pearce (Quechee) and Piecemeal Pies (WRJ). Other participating businesses are Maple Street Catering (Hartford), Global Village Food (Windsor), Lake Morey Resort (Fairlee), Moon and Stars (Vershire), and the Windsor Diner (Windsor).

Vermont Everyone Eats program design draws on many of Vermont’s strengths. It puts Vermont’s independent restaurants and robust local food system at the center of feeding their communities. Over 200 Vermont restaurants have contributed to the one million meals, which have contained nearly $1 million of Vermont ingredients.

UVEE is “beyond phenomenal,” said Mel Hall, co-owner of Global Village Foods “I was shocked at how fast it came together, how comprehensive it was, and how it brought in a steady revenue stream for those of us in production.”

The program was created and has developed through powerful, cross-sector, public-private partnerships. Fourteen community “hubs” execute the programming on the ground in all 14 Vermont counties. These hubs represent hundreds of community organizations who are working together to contract meals from participating restaurants, manage delivery logistics, promote the program, and ensure the meals are delivered safely to meal recipients. Jean Hamilton, Vermont Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator acknowledges the important role of the community hubs, “Vermont is well-known for its community organizations and thank goodness for them. In less than 9 months, our program was launched from a concept to this moment, 1 million local meals delivered to neighbors all across our state. We were able to do this because of the community organizations that stepped up and got right to work. They are the backbone of our community resilience.”

Hamilton sees this moment to celebrate the collective action of the program: “It is the people behind VEE that we are really celebrating today. Starting with the individuals who were courageous enough to step forward and ask for help, the meal recipients and the restauranteurs, to the farmers and food producers, the lawmakers and agency staff, the members of our statewide taskforce, and especially the hub organizers and volunteers – Vermont Everyone Eats is a model of how our communities can rise up together holding our shared vulnerability as an inspiration for progress. Who is your Everyone Eats hero? Please join us in celebrating them today.”

Flavors of the Valley 2021: The Fun Goes Digital!

Flavors of the  Valley, the Upper Valley’s favorite local food tasting expo, will not be stopped this year! We’re moving it to May, with a month-long digital celebration of spring, our local farms, local food, and our local place. Local food stories, images, information, prizes, events, and FUN. All throughout the month of May! Dip in at your own pace and convenience, to join the community celebration of spring.

The Flavors of the Valley headquarters is here.

Sign up for the Vital Communities Food & Farm emails (monthly through May, then irregular and awesome), like us on Facebook, and/or Instagram (@vitalcommunities, #flavorsofthevalley) to enjoy, contribute, and remember the joy that our farms bring!

“Light River Junction” Kicks Off May 7 with “Toons and Tones”

The celebratory summer series Light River Junction First Fridays with WRIF kicks off May 7 with a fantastic line-up called “Toons and Tones.” Throughout downtown White River, there will FREE outdoor arts to inspire and amuse, with an emphasis on young local artists: a filmmaking workshop, live music, selected footage from the creative minds of CATV, projected short films (such as Formation of a River, above), and even an audio-visual beat set to get us moving after a long pandemic year of isolation.

In the words of the organizers, “We are celebrating the bright, colorful days ahead with a vibrant showcase of music and movies by local artists. Downtown White River Junction is set to become a canvas for light and sound! Throughout the night, on every corner in WRJ, there will be space for discovery. Local musicians, including Jakob Breitbach and Rob Oxford, will be playing acoustic sidewalk sets. Projections and movie screens of every size will be showing myriad images from CATV’s extensive local archives, curated by Chico Eastridge. In shop windows, on walls, you can revel in the little delights of curated short films, hand-picked to color the sonic canvas of the night. Swap the digital for the physical and get hands-on in a “cameraless filmmaking” workshop with local analog filmmaker Quinn Thomashow. After handling the real substance of film we’ll watch a program of shorts made on 16mm and Super 8 film, with live accompaniment. Plainfield’s Rah Zen will perform a swirling beat set while Lana Real transforms the historic Bell Building into a fantasy of ‘Electric Dreams.’ It will be a journey in sound and color from start to finish.”

As always, be sure to follow the latest COVID-19 protocols!

Light River Junction First Fridays with WRIF aims to revitalize White River Junction’s “First Friday” celebrations, disrupted by COVID, by attracting people of all ages back to the village through film and media arts. On White River Junction First Fridays (May 7, June 4, July 2, and August 6), WRIF will transform downtown parking lots into an attractive forum for safe dining and cinema viewing. Film, including work by local filmmakers, will be projected in novel ways in spaces enhanced by local visual artists. The project is expected to revive social interaction and economic activity through the arts in reimagined and ongoing ways that can offer inspiration to other Vermont communities. The project is made possible by an $18,000 grant from The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), and the Better Places partners.

The grant was obtained by a partnership centered on White River Indie Films (WRIF) and including the Town of Hartford, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, CATV (Community Access Television), the Briggs Opera House, the Center for Cartoon Studies, and local businesses and film and media artists.

Time Location Activity Descriptions
5-7 pm Behind Revolution 16mm Cameraless Filmmaking Workshop With Quinn Thomashow
5-6 Out on the sidewalks Music Performances Acoustic street performances by local musicians including Jakob Breitbach and Rob Oxford
8-11 pm Town Crier CATV Playlist 8 hours of Local Archives curated by Chico Eastridge
5-9 pm Revolution & Scavenger Window Movies Selected visual music films, Here in the Valley highlights
8-9 pm Lamphouse Micro-cinema Short films Curated short films
8-9 pm Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Short film program

Visual Music Short Films 

Scream Tone – (Joe Dery)

Glistening Thrills  (Jodie Mack)

Films by Rich Fedorchak 

With live accompaniment 

by Amy Garapic et al…

Brief Glimpses on the Way to Joy, Part 1 (Rich Fedorchak, 19 mins, color, sound)

8-9 pm Bell Building Projections

Aged in Wood (Bruce Posner)

Strafford/Tunbridge One Planet Cameraless Film

Formation of a River (JE Crawford)

Vacationland (Matt McWilliams)

9-10 Bell Building Projections Electric Dreams – A projection mapping performance by Lana Real
9-10 Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Performance Audio-visual beat set by Rah Zen


Putting Your Money to Work Locally

More Free “Local Investment” Events starting April 8!

“Market forces” got you down? Does it seem like Big Finance keeps putting resources toward things that create more environmental damage and human inequality?

Maybe it’s time you took the reins of your own financial resources and made them work for positive change where you can see it: right here in your community. Why fund Wall Street when you can direct your money toward Main Street?

Vital Communities and its partners (including The Local Crowd Monadnock) have added four more free events in our series entitled “Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”: Reclaiming Our Local Economy“:
  • Investing for Home Creation, Thursday, April 8, 5:30 pm: Your savings can help create more lower cost homes. Learn how even small amounts can bring financial, social, and environmental rewards.

  • Put Your Money to Work Locally: Investment Clubs 101, Thursday, April 15, 5:30 pm: Interested in investing locally but don’t want to do it alone? Investment clubs pool money to collectively invest in local businesses and bring a social aspect to the process – they make investment fun! Join Matt Cropp from the Vermont Solidarity Investment Club to learn the ins and outs of starting your own investment club, as well as some ideas about what to look for if you want to join an established club and increase your power to do good by investing as a group.

  • Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce (2021), viewable on demand April 22-24: a documentary on how consumers can help save the world “one purchase at a time” and “triple bottom line” businesses that consider the social, environmental and financial impacts of their companies and address some of today’s most challenging issues. This award-winning documentary empowers viewers to be part of the solution by voting with their dollars and supporting the brands and products that align with their environmentally conscious values.
    Part of the Monadnock Region Earth Day Film Festival.
  • Put Your Money to Work Locally: Community Loan Funds 101, Tuesday, April 27, 5:30 pm: Community loan funds are a home grown solution for investing in our communities, energy independence, and working lands. Join us for a deep dive into impact investing with Vermont and New Hampshire community loan funds.

Sign up here to receive lively weekly email companion pieces to these events, starting March 30!

These events and material are educational in nature and should not be construed as specific legal, accounting, or investment recommendations.

Check out resources on our new “Invest Local page!

Don’t miss these great opportunities to increase your financial IQ!

Our Vital Economy

The series is part of Vital Communities’ ongoing “Vital Economy” program—initiatives that teach people the importance of buying and investing locally and offer how-tos and incentives. One step was sponsoring the Upper Valley Indie Impact Study (2020), which found that businesses rooted in the Upper Valley keep up to 4 times more money circulating in the region’s economy than do national chain stores, and that remote online retailers suck hundreds of millions of dollars from our economy each year.

Local businesses create stable jobs, enhance community character, and support our communities with donations of time and money, and have proven to be especially critical during the pandemic. Now, after a year of COVID shutdowns, bankruptcies, deaths, and economic despair, it’s all the more important to channel our resources to the local businesses and organizations that sustain us. In fact, it’s an opportunity to relocalize our economy—catalyzing innovation and shifting capital to where we live to fuel the entrepreneurs, businesses, and projects our communities need to be more sustainable, vibrant, and resilient in the face of future disruptions and challenges.

Stoneledge Stables

Our 2021 Farm-To-School Mini-Grant Recipients!

Ten Upper Valley schools and day care facilities have been awarded $500 mini-grants to support farm-to-school projects this year!  These grants are designed to help schools, afterschool programs, or school-related wellness programs  with projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school. Applications were accepted through March 12.

Look at the great plans these educators shared with us in their applications! 

Tammie’s Day Care, Thetford Center, VT – Where does our food come from? 

Tammie Hazlett: For the purchase of a CSA share to use in my early childhood home program. Nutrition and cooking have been a major part of my program. Unfortunately, with COVID, cooking in my program is no longer a group activity and I expect that will be the case for most of the coming year. In lieu of cooking my plan is to allow my children to pick something out of each week’s produce box. We will then learn about the growing process, harvesting, determine what food group it belongs to and learn all the different ways we can process the food. We will figure out how we want to prepare that item to eat and it will become part of our meal. I am hoping that with the size of this share that I will be able to make things like jams, dilly beans, stewed tomatoes, and pickles from zucchini or cucumbers to send home with the recipes to my families as well.


Stoneledge Stables Norwich, VT – Three Sisters Garden Expansion

Sandy Bailey: During the spring of 2021, we are looking to expand our Three Sisters Garden curriculum by finishing the plant life cycle that students participate in during the fall of 2020.  During that time frame, students in our three day farm school harvested corn and squash(beans were harvested early in the season without students due to COVID). We also used the corn stalks for building and nature based art on the farm. We were excited to donate over 20lbs of squash to Willing Hands. Our goal as a classroom community is to triple our donation of food harvested by the fall of 2021. We are in need of expanding our garden footprint, buying curriculum supplies and soil.  Stoneledge Stables strives to foster caring communities by laying a foundation within our youngest citizens necessary to work as both individuals and members of a greater circle. We are in need of community support in this endeavor. 


Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, Lyme, NH – Multi Tiered Raised Bed Installation

Blythe Keane: For years now Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School has been fostering a love of farm and food in our classrooms. We include within our curriculum lessons on the importance of different types of foods and how incredibly vital our farmers are to our communities. Further, we strive to teach our students the joy, pride and science of growing their own food. In the spring we start seeds in the classroom and then transplant them out into our small garden. We have found our garden space to be a barrier to this process and wish to both expand this learning and switch it up a bit.  We are looking for funding to purchase a multi-tiered raised bed structure.

There are a couple of motivations for this particular system. First off we have a wide range of heights within our student population and the tier structure will allow us to designate space to age groups. Secondly, we have seen first hand that little ones have a tough time not stepping on freshly planted rows and therefore raised beds offer a really effective method of planting for this age group. Thirdly, while we are all about natural materials we also see the value in this composite board system in that it will last much longer than rough sawn boards…we really want our/your investment to last as long as possible. Lastly, we are looking into moving to Vermont!  Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School is likely moving to a new location. 


Child Care Center in Norwich, Norwich, VT – KidsGarden Creation

Lisa Sjostrom: We plan to install a brand new “KidsGarden” consisting of six raised garden beds, surrounding fencing and a garden gate. Each classroom in our playschool community will have its own garden bed. Classroom teachers, children and their families will design, mulch, plant, tend and harvest the beds, giving children the chance to reap countless benefits. 

Benefits:  Gardening engages all five senses; enhances fine motor development; encourages healthy eating; requires responsibility (e.g., watering, weeding); regulates moods; connects children to farmers; promotes stewardship of the earth; creates a beautiful environment for learning and playing.

Rather than purchase pre-made raised beds, we plan to hire a local carpenter to tailor-design the beds for our sloped property.

Note: KidsGarden is part of a larger “green” initiative at our Center. For instance, we are hiring a part-time “chef” to prepare healthy snacks with foods from our farm share/CSA with a local farm and to do basic cooking with our children, age 2 and up.  “


Samuel Morey Elementary School, Fairlee, VT –  Planning for Refurbished Raised beds and developing a school compost program

Steven Lindemann: I am in my second year as Principal of Samuel Morey School, and I want to use the mini-grant to pay for consultation from Cat Buxton to help us assess the best use of the land  for raised beds, gardens, and a school compost program. My goal is to have our school have a vibrant garden and compost program like the one she helped set up at Thetford Elementary School. Jamie Bourn, our Director of Facilities and Operations, is on board to help me make our long term plan a reality. We need the expertise of Cat Buxton (and others) to help us get started efficiently and to help us create a sustainable system for maintaining gardens and composting.


Woodstock Union High School, Woodstock, VT – Farm to Table at Woodstock Union High School 

Kat Robbins: Woodstock Union High School focuses on developing our farm to table program and educating teachers and students on how to live a healthy sustainable lifestyle. This year we have been specifically focusing on production and growth of our outdoor garden. Students have been making plans and developing new strategies to increase the food production in our high school and middle school. Throughout the years students have grown and harvested vegetables and herbs from our garden to be used in the cafeteria for breakfasts and lunches. We would like to draw more attention to the garden. This mini grant will allow us to buy more supplies and increase the use of our gardens. We specifically would like to purchase more top soil and compost materials, new hoses to expand our irrigation system, shovels, row cover, and broad forks. Our main goal is to purchase a broad fork. We would like to start to utilize cover cropping as we move toward a no-till system. With this new broad fork we can incorporate nitrogen and carbon back into the soil, and help with weed and pest control. The rest of this grant will then be evenly distributed to purchase the other supplies and equipment needed to expand our garden. This money will be greatly appreciated and really help us advance our agriculture program, specifically our school gardens and their production of foods for the cafeteria.


The Hooper Institute, Walpole, NH – From A(asparagus) to Z (zinnias) in the Walpole Area School Gardens

Helen Dalbeck: In Walpole, NH we have three schools and in each schoolyard, the Hooper Institute educators have raised beds (34 total) growing vegetables, soft fruit, flowers, and herbs for the school kitchen and for the lessons we teach weekly in each grade Pre K – Sixth.  The Hooper Institute is an education institute devoted to teaching the youth of Walpole in five subject areas; agriculture, forestry, soils, botany and environmental science. The students and teachers work side by side with the Hooper to plan the gardens, spread compost and repair the beds, sow seeds, weed, mulch, and water. Our produce is organically grown with the no-till method and delivered fresh to the school kitchen and to local families in need via a summer school lunch program and the Fall Mt. Food Shelf. On the middle school site we have a high tunnel, currently growing spinach and winter greens. We will use those beds to plant seeds for our seedlings and for extra cut flowers. The zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers and marigolds were a much loved addition to the gardens last year, especially by the teachers and school staff. With your help, I would be thrilled to have more varieties, colors, cultivars and meet the goal of getting back to the basics with the alphabet challenge, from A to Z. 

P.S. Here is our alphabet challenge: asparagus, beans/basil, cabbage/corn, dill, ENERGY, fennel, garlic chives, HIGH TUNNEL, INTENTION, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, lettuce, marigolds, needs (turnips), onions, pumpkins/potatoes, QUESTIONS, radish, sage, tomato, UNDERSTANDING, VEGETABLES, winter squash, X marks the spot, yarrow and zinnias.


Upper Valley Waldorf School, Quechee, VT – School Garden Bed Preparation + Plant Protection

Peter Gile: A mini-grant would provide needed upgrades to prepare four garden beds (each 4 x 8 ft) at UVWS for student planting, observation, and production over the 2021 growing season. The beds are a place of engagement for all of our 125 students, from Early Childhood – Grade 8, who come from dozens of towns in the Upper Valley. Through academic instruction as well as summer camp programming, the garden is a natural learning space. Subjects such as botany, horticulture, art, cooking, and the pleasures of eating, to name a few, can be explored and deepened there. In the past, we have facilitated annual farm trips for our grades students. However, due to Covid safety guidelines, we are not able to do so this year. Growing a garden onsite would help us bring at least some of the experience to our doorstep. The garden beds are already established, and we have identified donors who are willing to provide seeds and plant starts, but are hoping for the following to help fertilize and protect the plants once established. Hardware cloth, Fertilizer, posts for trellising, fence wire, miscellaneous items as needed such as student harvesting knives, plant labels, etc. 


Hanover Street School, Lebanon, NH – Hanover Street School Garden Raised Bed Expansion

Maggie MacArthur-McKay: Hanover Street Elementary School has had an active school garden for the past 5 five years, involving students in grades K-4 in lessons ranging from plant life cycles, vegetable production, to the importance of pollinator friendly habitat creation and maintenance. For the 2020 season,  with the help of primarily 4th graders, the garden, comprised of 8 raised beds, produced 60 lbs of potatoes, 25 lbs of carrots and an abundance of kale, basil, cherry tomatoes  and lettuce. Due to the pandemic shutting down school in March, the root crops were donated to Listen Food Pantry. In prior years, our cafeteria has integrated school garden produce into lunch menus. 

This year, Hanover Street School garden team would like to add several raised beds to our garden area, with the intent of increasing root crop yield to be donated to Listen Food Pantry and used in our summer food delivery program. These partnerships will help keep our students fed over the summer, during a time when many families are experiencing new or worsening food insecurity. Additionally, two of the beds would be used to relocate and expand our sensory garden, which, in its first year last year, was a big hit among our intensive and special needs population in particular.  

Students will be involved in gardening activities during recess (4th grade), science class (3rd grade), and SEL time (1st grade). Currently, 5 teachers have expressed interest in student involvement with the garden this year: one 1st grade teacher, two 3rd grade teachers, one 4th grade teacher and one 2nd grade teacher. Our ELL and Intensive Needs teachers have also expressed interest in engaging their students in garden projects, and have been involved over the past several years. One member of the Garden Team will be available to run garden lessons and activities, and will have support from one of our reading teachers. 

Our Garden Coordinator, plans to share with family and staff a Summer Garden Care sign-up, and will be available 1-2 afternoons/week throughout the summer to work with community members in the school garden.


Sharon Elementary School, Sharon, VT – Raising More Veggies with Raised Beds

Keenan Haley: Sharon Elementary School was one of the pilot schools in 2005 for the farm-to-school program FEED (Food Education Every Day). It has been part of our curriculum since. Each class (grades K-6) currently has a raised bed, and the entire school has a large garden – planted and tended by students and their families. Our food service manager incorporates the garden harvest into our breakfast and lunch menus. We would like to create raised beds for the school garden as productivity is superior. The budget would include raised bed building material, soil and compost to fill them, cold frame building material to extend the season, seeds to plant, and new garden tools (clippers, rakes, watering cans).

Crowdfunding Available for NH Projects

New Hampshire businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community initiatives: Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen? Want to grow your organization, our community, and the local economy, but don’t have access to capital?

The Local Crowd Upper Valley is a rewards-based local crowdfunding platform that helps communities invest in local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and initiatives that are mission-driven social enterprises. If your organization contributes to the community and could use a lift, apply to be part of a Route 11 Corridor cohort of campaigns.
Vital Communities is partnering with TLC Monadnock to bring local investment and capital access to the Route 11 Corridor of New Hampshire thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development.

Selected Route 11 Corridor proposals will receive a $500 stipend to produce a crowdfunding campaign video. Studies show that crowdfunding campaigns with videos raise four times more funds than campaigns without videos.

All crowdfunding campaign teams receive hands-on technical assistance to help them launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Campaign teams also receive a free crowdfunding assessment to ensure that they receive the coaching and training that best fits each team’s needs.

Submit a proposal for 2021 crowdfunding campaigns if:

  • Your organization is based in Claremont, Newport, Kearsarge Region
  • Your project is budgeted for under $10,000 .
  • Your project is simple, achievable, and will generate excitement in your community (and, if part of a bigger project, has stand-alone value.)
  • Your project will create an economic and/or social benefit to your business and the community
  • You are able to invest time to build a successful fundraising campaign

Sample project ideas: Farm infrastructure, renewable energy installation, community garden or art project, vehicle to expand nonprofit service, capital to launch a new rural enterprise, food business equipment

Submit your project proposal by May 7, 2021

The Local Crowd Upper Valley will select up to eight projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Selected proposals will launch their campaigns in 2021, with support and guidance from The Local Crowd Advisors.
The Local Crowd Upper Valley FAQ here.

The Local Crowd details:
You (project/campaign creator) will need to:

  • Form a Campaign Team to actively promote your fundraising project
  • Work closely with the The Local Crowd team to leverage training, marketing, and community outreach tools
  • Adhere to the keys of success promoted by The Local Crowd platform:  YOU share with your personal network. YOU make it happen.

You will receive:

  • Support from The Local Crowd team to run a successful funding campaign
  • Access to business development support from project partners including NH SBDC and SBA
  • Marketing and outreach support to spread the word about your project
  • Free Crowdfunding Readiness Assessment ($85 value)
  • Funds raised via the crowdfunding campaign for the designated project (less platform and credit card fees)
  • Opportunity to reduce platform fees if you meet campaign milestones

Questions? Contact

Community. Connection. Capital.