Make Your Pitch to The Local Crowd UV!

We’re accepting proposals for the next round of The Local Crowd Upper Valley crowdfunding campaigns!


Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen
—one that would strengthen your business, our community, and the local economy—if only you had the funds to make it happen?

Is your organization a “social enterprise” that addresses social and/or environmental issues and has a mission beyond the bottom line?

Will your project support community goals while keeping to a budget of $10,000 or less?

If you said yes to these questions… THANK YOU!  You are part of the emerging Fourth Sector economy—a sector that uses the power of business to do good things for people and the planet.

Vital Communities believes in people like you. That’s why we’re participating in The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley, a new research project in conjunction with the National Science Foundation and The Local Crowd designed to uncover the best ways to support social enterprises. We are pleased to invite you to participate in this project.

Proposals are due Friday, February 14, 2020, at 5 p.m. Get the details and apply today.

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.

Watershed Quest Challenge

This summer we launched our 2017 Watershed Quest Challenge, designed to encourage YOU to get outside and explore your favorite Upper Valley pond, stream, river, or swimming hole—and write a Valley Quest! Watershed Quest submissions will have the chance to be featured in the 2018 Super Quest, and the author of the winning Quest will receive a grand prize.

For many, the idea of writing a Valley Quest can be daunting, but fear not—anybody can write a Quest! We encourage you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about the history of the special places in your backyard.

For those of you interested in the Watershed Quest Challenge but unsure where to start, we have a ton of resources online, as well as a short video series! Check out the first video below:


Many thanks to our Watershed Quest Challenge sponsors:

Vermont Conservation department logoFarm-Way Logo

“Love your Farmer” Scavenger Hunts!

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 at their markets 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

Soups and Salads at Newbury

Newbury salad bar

Newbury Elementary is enjoying the fruits of our summer and fall labors this winter. Our 5/6 team is planning to make bread and a variety of soups for the March Town Meeting Day- mostly from fare that was grown in our raised beds and gardens near the school. The money they raise from the lunches will go toward a wonderful end-of-the-year science field trip to Cape Cod. Our terrific Chef Paul continues to provide superb, healthy lunches for our students and staff and offers a full salad bar every day. He’s eager for spring to come so he can continue to purchase locally grown produce to supplement our salad bar and lunches. Here’s to the coming of the spring season! – Kim Goody, Farm to School Coordinator, Newbury Elementary School, Newbury, VT

Chili, Farmers’ Market, and Hockey Oh My!

Feb 16 Hockey

Sharon Elementary just hosted our annual Chili Cook-Off that coincided with a Farmer’s Market and Hockey Tournament. The proceeds from the event went towards the Sharon Sprouts, our Farm to School committee, and the outdoor rink. 16 chili’s were entered and in the end, Mama’s Chili was awarded the winner! It was a wonderful community event that highlighted good food and physical activity! The hockey tournament was won by Sharon Elementary’s Third Grade teacher, Keenan Haley’s, team! – Keenan Haley, Teacher, Sharon Elementary, Sharon, VT

From the Farm to the Taco in Woodstock

Feb 16 3

Woodstock Union Middle and High School Farm to School students got up close and personal with some beef cows at Eastman Farm in Barnard this month. Students held a pie raffle earlier this fall to raise funds to purchase local beef for two local Taco Tuesdays in the school cafeteria. They toured the farm, talked to the farmers, and gained a new appreciation and answer to the question ‘where’s the beef?’- Kat Robbins, Place-based Education Coordinator, Woodstock Union Middle and High School, Woodstock, VT