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.

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!

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).

Climate Partners Summit Resources

Climate Partners Summit Resources

On February 25, 2021, over 70 interested partners and citizens joined the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) for a virtual Climate Partners Summit, featuring brief presentation from a variety of organizations working to address the effects of climate change in our community.

Click here for a video recording of this 90 minute event, or look for the “video clip” links in the text below to skip directly to a specific presenter.

UVAW co-chair Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College kicked off the afternoon event with an update on the latest climate science (slides | video clip). Another UVAW member, and host of the Summit, Kevin Geiger from Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission, then provided a helpful explanation of what we mean when we talk about “Climate Adaptation” versus “Climate Mitigation” (slides | video clip)

The highlight of the event was a series of presentations from partner organizations, each presenting for roughly four minutes, aided by four slides. Their contact information, along with slides and video clips, are linked below.

Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock (slides | video clip)
Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services (slides | video clip)
Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council (slides | video clip)
Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust (slides | video clip)
Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy (slides | video clip)
Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford (slides | video clip)
Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power (slides | video clip)

Attendees were encouraged to subscribe to the Upper Valley Climate Action discussion list, an email-based service allowing anyone in the Upper Valley to share and discuss opportunities related to local climate action. Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup, the host of the Summit, encouraged organizations in attendance to consider joining the workgroup, which meets monthly to discuss and coordinate climate adaptation activities throughout the Upper Valley.

A follow up event will be held at Noon on March 24, 2021. This virtual Climate Connections lunch will feature casual, small group discussions on what we’re all doing to address climate change in the Upper Valley. Following an “Open Space” facilitation format, participants will propose topics at the start of the hour, then break out into small groups to discuss and make connections. This event is free an open to the public. Click here to register.

Rehab Grants Create 68 Housing Units

Grants to landlords and property owners to help fix up vacant, unused rental properties have resulted in 68 new housing units in Windsor and Windham counties, according to recent figures from the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Downstreet Housing

Property owners could receive up to a $30,000 grant per rental unit from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, which was utilizing CARES Act funding to improve the overall quality, availability, and affordability of rental housing throughout the state. The application deadline was November 1. Read more about the program here.

“A safe place to call home is an essential part of staying healthy, especially during this COVID pandemic,” said Mike Kiess, Vital Communities’ Workforce Housing Coordinator. “This program was a smart investment of public funds. The relatively small grants helped transform vacant properties into quality places to live. No new public infrastructure was required, and the additional residents provide more tax revenue for communities.”

The program added units to the following communities:

South Royalton (4)
BellowsFalls (7)
Bradford (1)
Brattleboro (15)
Hartford (9)
Newbury (1)
Norwich (1)

Springfield (9)
Williamstown (6)
Wilmington (1)
Windsor (14)

Housing Help in New Hampshire!

Housing Stabilization Services (HSS) include shelters, rental assistance for both eviction prevention and rapid re-housing, security deposit loan program, tenant services, supported housing programs and facilities, outreach/coordinated entry, commodity foods distribution, commodity supplemental food program for seniors, workshops, etc. Our newest initiative is the Housing Relief Program!

NOTE: Deadline for completing applications is Dec 18, 2020.

The Housing Relief Program is designed to assist those with a COVID-related financial challenge (loss of income or increase of expenses due to COVID) and program details include:

  1. Help with past due mortgage, up to $2500, from April 1st– forward and/or
  2. Help with past due and/or current rent or utility assistance from April 1st– forward and/or
  3. Assistance with initial move-in costs such as first month’s rent
  4. The HousingRelief Program does NOT assist directly with car repairs, childcare expenses, property taxes, etc. The State has provided us with additional clarification that any funds paid out must be to help sustain housing (back due mortgage, back due and/or current rent, utilities such as electric bill, phone/internet, water bill, etc.). If it can be demonstrated that there was an increase in some of the expenses, due to COVID, that we cannot pay, the household may find themselves eligible for one of the approved forms of assistance above

If someone needs information about the Housing Relief Program, they can reach out to Jenna Tacy, jtacy@scshelps.org; she can also be reached by phone at 719-4294; as stated above, Lori Hathaway can assist as well; if you are working with someone and you know that it is definitely COVID-related, they can be referred directly to our website at: www.scshelps.org

Other questions? Email Mike Kiess at mike@vitalcommunities.org.

Building Bridges in Our Community

At this writing, the outcome of the Presidential election isn’t clear. But what is clear is that the election has strained the social fabric of communities across our country, including our own. Passions are high and people are polarized. 

Despite the divisions, we must move forward. No matter who is in the White House, we face enormous tasks, from the immediate hardships caused by the pandemic to the longer-term challenges threatening the civic, economic, and environmental vitality of the Upper Valley.

What actions will move us forward as a region?  We can lean on principles that we at Vital Communities consider fundamental to our work. 

Commonality: We all share certain needs and concerns, regardless of our political outlook, such as food, housing, employment, a future for our children, and a love of place. These commonalities can inspire conversation and problem-solving.

Communication: We want respectful, open-minded discussion, in which our entire community is represented and feels heard, enabling a vibrant exchange of ideas and a shared sense of ownership in the outcome. 

Community: We achieve impact by working at the grassroots, neighbor to neighbor, town to town. We cherish each other and what our communities grow, produce, and create.

Whatever the nation’s leadership, if we lean on these principles we can make great things happen in our communities and be a beacon of hope for others elsewhere.

Photo: The Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge, by Dan Hertzler.

Community Discussion Lists: A Way Out of Partisanship?

In these contentious times, when civility, useful information, and real communication seems to be frequently missing from the big social media platforms, it is pretty wonderful to have a local resource where we can learn what is happening in our local towns.

The Community Discussion Lists are just that. Hosted by Vital Communities, they allow members of a community to post and respond to email messages about town events, notices about town government, questions for the school board, recycling announcements, items for sale, questions about lost or found pets, etc. They are a great way to keep up with what’s happening, and to see everyone in the community interacting in this local, non-partisan way that exemplifies small-town New England.

During the pandemic, the lists have also been a lifeline – a resource on how to find assistance and support for those in need as a result of health concerns or economic disruption.

In the 12-month period ending on June 30, 2020, there were over 43,000 subscribers to 42 lists in the Upper Valley. Subscribers posted over 115,000 messages over that period.

The intent is to keep the discussions about each town. A post that concerns more than one town should be posted on the Upper Valley Discussion List. The full guidelines are on the Vital Communities website and at the end of every morning’s “Digest,” but the big ones are: keep it local, keep it civil, and don’t post anonymously. 

The key here is that individual subscribers are responsible for their content. Vital Communities doesn’t control the content distributed through the list. Nor do town governments. The lists are moderated after the fact by community volunteers supported by VC. With the exception of one list, posts are not screened before they go to the digest. Accomplishing this across all lists would be an impossible task, given the number of lists, users and postings daily. We can only moderate after the fact, usually by restricting the offenders’ posting privileges or outright banning a particular party.

Of course, that gets messy sometimes. One person recently anonymously posted some inflammatory political views. The moderators took care of it pretty quickly, as they do. When you see posts like that, it’s best to forward it to the moderator, rather than post about it on the list – especially as one objective of “trolls” is to hijack list discussions.

The Community Discussion Lists are our own, volunteer driven, locally managed, nonprofit social media. They can be a terrific antidote to the impersonal partisan bickering that happens elsewhere on the internet. But they need care and tending by all of us to be the community resource we all want them to be.

Vital Communities is grateful for the many people who help defray the expense of administering the Lists by making an annual or monthly gift (you can restrict the gift to Communities Discussion Lists if you wish). People can support the Lists by contributing here [https://vitalcommunities.org/donate/waystogive/].

Rob Schultz, Coordinator, Community Discussion Lists, Vital Communities

 

Hartford Dollars Sell Out in Two Days!

Buyers gobbled up $18,000 worth of Hartford Dollars within just days of the new “currency” going on sale! And organizers hope it’s only the start of more and stronger trends and programs toward keeping dollars local.

Hartford Dollars give the bearer a 50 percent discount at more than 40 participating businesses throughout Hartford. Offered in $30 and $50 values sold for $15 and $25, respectively, they are a  COVID recovery project jointly coordinated by the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, the Town of Hartford, and Hartford Development Corporation and partially funded with federal funds through the State of Vermont. 

A total value of $18,000 Hartford dollars went on sale on Friday, October 16, and by end of Sunday had been purchased by approximately 200 people. Those buyers have until November 30 to use the dollars at any of the participating businesses. The dollars may not be used to purchase tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, lottery tickets, firearms, tax, or tips. No change will be given for Hartford Dollars. 

The program’s organizers hope to find funding to extend the program and perhaps help other communities launch similar programs, said Lori Hirschfield, director of planning and development for the Town of Hartford. “I know there are lots of people in the Upper Valley that want to support local businesses so keep doing that even if you don’t have local currency,” said Hirschfield.

We are thrilled at the response and already hearing lots of great stories about people using their Hartford Dollars,” she said. “We started this as novices, thinking it might take a week or so to get the word out.  The sell-out in less than 48 hours shows us how much this is needed and desired by consumers and businesses.”

At Vital Communities, the project is part of a network of initiatives aimed at encouraging Upper Valley residents to buy from locally owned businesses – a practice that contributes money to the local economy at a rate up to 4 times that of chains and online vendors, according to a recent study commissioned by Vital Communities.

“In addition to shining a light on Hartford businesses, we want to underscore the need for people to keep their dollars – Hartford Dollars and regular currency – in the Upper Valley, to support the businesses that we love and help them make it through the pandemic,” said Nancy LaRowe, manager of Vital Communities’ Vital Economy initiative. “They contribute to our unique downtowns, create stable jobs, give expert service, and give back to the community in many ways,  including generous donations of time, money, and products. And they have adapted in so many ways to help the community during the pandemic. This is a chance to help them hang in there.”

Many Upper Valley small businesses have been devastated by the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Vital Communities, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, and other Hartford partners created the program to increase foot traffic and sales for struggling businesses, using a Restart Vermont Regional Marketing and Stimulus Grant from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. 

Hartford Dollars can be spent at any of these participating businesses: BE Fit Physical Therapy, Cloverleaf Jewelers, Deirdre Donnelly Jewelry Art, Dynamic Natural Athletes, Elixir Restaurant, Fat Hat Clothing Co, Flourish, Beauty Lab, Jake’s Market & Deli, JUEL Modern Apothecary, Little Istanbul. Living the Dream Alpaca Farm, Long River Gallery, Massage Eminence, Northern Stage, Open Door Integrative Wellness, Piecemeal Pies (shown above), Pizza Chef, POST., Public House at Quechee Gorge., Public House Diner Quechee, Raq-On Dance, LLC, Revolution, Scavenger gallery, Scout Hair Design, Small Batch Design Company, LLC, Stern’s Quality Produce, Steven Thomas, Inc., Strafford Saddlery, Sugarbush Farm, Sunrise Farm, The Collection, The Skinny Pancake – Quechee, The Uncommon Home LLC, Thyme, Trail Break taps + tacos, Tuckerbox, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, Upper Valley Yoga, Valley Flower Company, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Wicked Awesome BBQ, and Wolf Tree.

 

50% Off When You Shop in Hartford

Support the Hartford businesses you love and boost our local economy with “Hartford Dollars”—a special “currency” that gives you a 50 percent discount at more than 40 participating businesses throughout Hartford.

Hartford Dollars can be purchased in $30 and $50 values for $15 and $25, respectively. They can be obtained online at the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce website and at select days and times at the Quechee Gorge Visitors Center. If you purchase them online, you simply print out your Hartford Dollars (each with a unique QR code), and pay with your printed out Dollars at participating Hartford businesses.

Many Upper Valley small businesses have been devastated by the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Vital Communities, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, and other Hartford partners created the program to increase foot traffic and sales for struggling businesses, using a Restart Vermont Regional Marketing and Stimulus Grant from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. 

Hartford Dollars can be spent at any of these participating businesses: BE Fit Physical Therapy, Cloverleaf Jewelers, Deirdre Donnelly Jewelry Art, Dynamic Natural Athletes, Elixir Restaurant, Fat Hat Clothing Co, Flourish, Beauty Lab, Jake’s Market & Deli, JUEL Modern Apothecary, Little Istanbul. Living the Dream Alpaca Farm, Long River Gallery, Massage Eminence, Northern Stage, Open Door Integrative Wellness, Piecemeal Pies, Pizza Chef, POST., Public House at Quechee Gorge., Public House Diner Quechee, Raq-On Dance, LLC, Revolution, Scavenger gallery, Scout Hair Design, Small Batch Design Company, LLC, Stern’s Quality Produce, Steven Thomas, Inc., Strafford Saddlery, Sugarbush Farm, Sunrise Farm, The Collection, The Skinny Pancake – Quechee, The Uncommon Home LLC, Thyme, Trail Break taps + tacos, Tuckerbox, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, Upper Valley Yoga, Valley Flower Company, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Wicked Awesome BBQ, and Wolf Tree.

Hartford Dollars need to be spent by November 30 and may not be used to purchase tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, lottery tickets, firearms, tax, or tips. No change will be given for Hartford Dollars. 

Keep your dollars where your heart is and support the more than 40 participating businesses in the many commerce areas of Hartford: Downtown White River Junction, Route 5 and Sykes Mountain Avenue, Quechee, West Hartford, Wilder, White River Junction, and Hartford. Look for the Hartford Dollars decal and posters!

Hartford Dollars is a  COVID recovery project jointly coordinated by the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, the Town of Hartford, and Hartford Development Corporation and partially funded with federal funds through the State of Vermont.

The Broad Benefits of Buying Local

A study commissioned by Vital Communities finds that, for every dollar they earn, local retailers (like CourierWar of Randolph, above) and restaurants return a share to the local community that’s up to four times as big as that of chain businesses.

“This study really spells out just how important it is to support our local businesses that are rooted in and support our communities, said Nancy LaRowe, director of Vital Communities’ Vital Economy initiative. “Many local businesses are struggling to stay afloat right now. We need to be there for them now by buying locally, so they will be here for us in the future to create stable jobs, enhance community character, and invest in our communities.”

Vital Communities will use this data as the basis for “buy local” education and campaigns, and as a baseline measure as we work to increase local control and investment in the Upper Valley with projects to increase community resilience.

This is in addition to ongoing ways Vital Communities supports the local economy, including marketing technical support; community crowdfunding; encouraging business networking, collaboration, and resource sharing; and innovative projects like Upper Valley Everyone Eats.

Read the full report   

The study was conducted by Civic Economics, a renowned consultant group that has done similar “Indie Impact” studies in other regions of northern New England, as well as for Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Grand Rapids, and New Orleans. Civic Economics has offices in Chicago and Tulsa, OK. The study was funded through a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Development Grant.

To aid the study, Vital Communities collected surveys from 20 independent, locally owned retailers and restaurants in Upper Valley communities on both sides of the Connecticut River. Each business was asked to answer detailed questions about its business practices. The survey questions focused on how much of each business’s revenue recirculates in the regional economy through profits paid out to local owners; wages paid to local workers; goods and services used by the business; local goods resold by the business; and charitable giving within the community.  

Collectively, the 20 retailers and restaurants return a total of 55.5% and 68.4% of their revenues, respectively, to the local economy. By comparison, Civic Economics found that four major national retail chain stores (Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Office Depot, and Target) recirculate only an average of 13.6% of all revenue within the local markets that host its stores, while three major national restaurant chains (Brinker International, which owns Chili’s and others; Darden, which owns Olive Garden and others; and McDonald’s) return an average of 30.4% of all revenue to the local economy. Civic Economics derived those percentages by aggregating data made public in annual reports.

This means that local retailers were found to return to the local economy a percentage of their revenue that’s more than four times higher than that of the chain retailers, while local restaurants return a percentage that’s more than two times higher than that of chains.  

With the mammoth online retailer Amazon and its Whole Foods grocery chain, the outcomes are even more dramatic. Civic Economics estimates that the region generated more than $165 million of sales in 2019 for Amazon; as there are no Amazon warehouses or Whole Foods outlets in the region, virtually all  $165 million dollars left the Upper Valley instead of being reinvested in our people, communities, and economy.

The pandemic ratcheted up the “Amazon Effect,” LaRowe said. “Online retail sales increased more than $100 billion due to the pandemic at the expense of our local businesses and our communities. It’s more critical than ever to have data that shows how that trend is truly hurting our local economy. Each time we buy local, we are making a choice to invest in our community, instead of sending our dollars to remote entities.”

A Closer Look

Of the 55.5% of revenues that local retailers recirculate in the local economy, 28.2 percent is in profit and wages, 17.9 percent for local items for resale, 5.3 percent for local goods and services used by the business, and 4.1 percent is charitable giving. Of the 68.4 percent that local restaurants recirculate in the local economy, 40.7 percent is profit and labor, 13.8 percent is for local items for resale, 10.8 percent is for goods and services used by the business, and 3.1 percent is charitable giving.   

Analyzed by the square footage of the businesses footprints, chain employee 12.1 people per square foot while “indys” employ 16.1; and chains keep $199 local per square foot while indys keep $489.

Broken down by state, the study found the Vermont retailers return 56.3% of their revenue to the local economy and New Hampshire retailers return 51.0%; and the Vermont restaurants return 66.5% while those New Hampshire return 69.7%.

Participating Upper Valley Businesses

Claremont Spice & Dry Goods
Co-op Food Stores
CourierWare, Inc
Dan & Whit’s General Store
Enfield House of Pizza
King Arthur Baking Company
Kit ‘N Kaboodle Thrift
Left Bank Books
Long River Gallery
Peyton Place Restaurant at The Historic Mann Tavern
Cloudland Farm, LLC
Piecemeal Pies
Poor Thom’s Tavern
Post Pond Lodge LLC
Prince and the Pauper Restaurant
Revolution
Taverne on the Square, LLC
Time-Out Americana Grill
Trail Break Taps + Tacos
Valley Floors

This project was funded by a USDA Vermont Rural Development Rural Business Development Grant.

 

 

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