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.

 

 

2CLA Graduate Spotlight: Climate Change Hike at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP

 

The Climate Change Leadership Academy Class (2CLA) of 2020 graduated in May amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to highlight the inspiring climate leaders who attended the leadership academy meetings. In addition, we want to share the projects that leaders designed and plan to launch in order to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Upper Valley. Read the first profile, of Tunbridge, VT, artist Cecily Anderson and her Climate Farmer Project.

The next 2CLA graduate we would like to spotlight is Leah Marshall. When asked about her favorite part of 2CLA, Leah mentioned how much she appreciated the first session where participants learned about ways climate change is impacting the Upper Valley, as well as ways to communicate climate science clearly.

For her climate action project, Leah recognized the opportunity to integrate her project with her position working as the Natural Resource Intern at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP practices adaptive management using ecologically-minded forestry techniques, it is the only National Historical Park that is actively forested. She wanted to tie in the audience at the Park, which includes local Upper Valley residents and visitors or tourists who come to explore Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP. Park visitors are an ideal audience so Leah decided to create a guided hike that explores climate change at the Park. Another goal of Leah’s was to encourage visitors to adventure out on the beautiful carriage roads and trails in Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP.

Leah researched and wrote about how climate change is projected to impact forest diversity and resilience. She believes it is important to highlight forest vulnerability because sometimes the impacts of climate change are not so evident. Indeed, there are no glaciers in the Upper Valley melting. Leah said, “People don’t necessarily think about the whole ecosystem impacts of climate change.” She set out to share specific examples of how climate change has impacted forest health, specifically in Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP forests. For example, the range of the white oaks may shift because changing conditions are less favorable as well as sugar maple which then impact animal habitat, food sources, and local economies.

In addition to her research about forest health, Leah interviewed the superintendent of the Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP to gain more information. The booklet she designed is similar to a junior ranger booklet that includes a hiking map and readings for each of the stops. There are 10 stops along the route. Leah planned the Climate Change Hike to be a self-guided experience, so her project was not dramatically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The hike is designed for a junior ranger education level and can be done while socially distancing, but all are welcome to take part in the self-guided climate change hike. Booklets are available in the map boxes in the front of the Carriage Barn Visitor Center.

Leah is now pursuing a graduate degree at Northern Arizona University studying environmental science and conducting paleoclimate research.

 

 

2CLA Graduate Spotlight: Digging in on the Climate Crisis

The Climate Change Leadership Academy Class (2CLA) of 2020 graduated in May amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to highlight the inspiring climate leaders who attended the leadership academy meetings. In addition, we want to share the projects that leaders designed and plan to launch in order to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Upper Valley.

The first 2CLA graduate in the spotlight is Cecily Anderson. During her 2CLA experience, Cecily appreciated the smart and articulate facilitators who presented at the meetings. Cecily, who is an illustrator and artist, is passionate about sustainable agriculture and aware of the potential for farming practices to mitigate climate change. She decided to pursue an art-centered, self-driven project she calls The Climate Farmer Project, to celebrate farmers who are leading the way in land-based climate change techniques in the Upper Valley. The main goals of the Climate Farmer Project are to support farmers who are fighting climate change; help local consumers understand the connection between local food choices and climate; and encourage people to implement practices themselves.

Cecily sees value in promoting farmers who are investing in practices such as improving soil fertility and water retention, rotational grazing, cutting farm emissions, and sequestering carbon. In the Upper Valley, many farmers are using their land to draw down carbon. Cecily has a handful of farmers in mind and wants to highlight a diversity of growers from across the board. Her plan is to interview farmers and create portraits that include a description of their farms and how they are working to combat the climate crisis. These portraits would be displayed in public spaces like schools, libraries, co-ops, and farmers markets.

Another goal of the project is to emphasize the growing value that climate-conscious food has for consumers. This may incentivize food retailers to create a system in which farmers are rewarded, through the marketplace, for their climate mitigation and adaptation techniques.

One aspect of The Climate Farmer Project that aligns well with 2CLA’s mission is to inspire home growers and farmers to adopt practices that combat climate change, however big or small. As climate leaders, it is important to call attention to how our food choices support climate action and educate others on how they can take action through land management.

Giving recognition to farmers who are installing mitigation and adaptation practices in the local Upper Valley foodshed is valuable work. COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works, prompting Cecily to pause her project. Moving forward, Cecily hopes to find a funding source and set aside time to launch the thoughtful project she designed.

Re-Housing Recovery Grants

Could you use $30,000 to rehab a rental unit?

Landlords and property owners that have vacant, unused rental properties may be eligible to receive up to a $30,000 grant per rental unit to fix up and renovate rental units and get them ready for use again. Grants are available from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development utilizing CARES Act funding to improve the overall quality, availability, and affordability of rental housing throughout the state. The program is now accepting applications!

The funds will be available only to the end of the year. You can learn more about eligibility here.

Landlords and property owners should contact their local NeighborWorks Alliance of Vermont Home Ownership Center to determine eligibility (certain affordable housing conditions apply) and to enroll in the program (act fast, as funding deadlines apply):

 

The COVID Challenge: Making Our Food Go the Distance

Reprinted from the Summer 2020 Sustainable Hanover newsletter, this article addresses how to reduce food waste and its considerable climate impact. Author Nancy Serrell is a graduate of Vital Communities’ 2019-20 Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA).

By Nancy Serrell

Food is always on my mind. And now that we’re in throes of the coronavirus pandemic, I have plenty of company. Most of us these days are thinking about food – how to get it, how to prepare it, and how to avoid becoming ill with COVID-19 while we’re trying to feed ourselves. 

The virus also has changed our behaviors around food. We’re at home more, cooking most of our meals at home, trying to space out trips to the grocery store, and too many of us are struggling to accommodate household budgets decimated by furloughs and layoffs. While those inclined toward culinary pursuits are baking sourdough bread and re-growing scallions, the rest of us just wish it were easier, faster, and less expensive to put all those meals on the table.

The good news: by making small changes in the way we plan, shop, store and prepare food we can stretch our food budget, save time, and extend the life of the food we buy. A step-by-step strategy for making those changes, along with tips and tools, has been developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a campaign designed to cut down on the amount of food we bring home from the market but never eat. When food scraps go to the landfill, they create methane, a potent greenhouse gas. That wasted food is a vastly overlooked driver of climate change, contributing an estimated 8 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. We throw out more edible food than you think: each year, one third of the food purchased by U.S consumers is tossed out. But food waste is about more than what goes into the trash. Getting food from farm to fork takes an enormous amount of resources—energy, land, and water — and conserving those resources for future generations will require collective action. But right now, during lockdown, there are things each of us can do.

The EPA’s Food Too Good to Waste campaign presents a “wasted food challenge” along with steps we can take to better manage the food in our kitchens. The program has been implemented in dozens of states, and people who have participated have been able to cut the amount of food they toss as much as 50 percent. They also reported saving both money and time, and most found the steps rather easy.

The strategies for the challenge lend themselves well to managing food during COVID, and you may already be doing some of them (or know you should). First: to cut down on how often you shop, make a shopping list with weekly meals in mind. Even more important: do a household inventory before you head to the store. Research has shown that you can save money and reduce food waste by taking stock of what is in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, then planning meals around what you have on hand. This is the way our grandmothers cooked, and the food cultures of the world have always featured well-loved dishes use repurposed foods — leftover rice became fried rice; hard, stale bread became pappa al pomodoro

As we try to shop less often, we are bringing home more food than we’re used to. To make our food will last until the next shopping trip, it helps to pick up a few tips about food storage, and the EPA campaign has plenty to offer. For example, the fridge door is warmer than interior shelves, so milk shouldn’t go there. Apples and bananas naturally emit the fruit-ripening hormone ethylene, so don’t store them together unless you want them to ripen rapidly. Nor should apples or bananas be stored near ethylene-sensitive veggies or fruits like avocados, grapes, lemons, or limes. Another storage tip: Befriend your freezer. Parsley stems, the ends of the onion you’re slicing, peels and trimmings from carrots can be tossed into a freezer container to be used for soup stock. There are cooking tips too: Chopping half an onion for a recipe? Chop the whole thing, and store the prepped remainder in the fridge or freezer, ready for a stir fry or sauce. 

More tips, tools, and strategies to help you toss less, eat well, and save money are available in a simple online toolkit, the 10-Minute Fridge Reality Check, produced by StopFoodWaste.org.  It includes a downloadable Shopping List with Meals in Mind, a Fruit and Veggie Storage Guide, and an Eat This First sign to designate an area in your fridge for food that is likely to spoil first. 

When it comes to food, the pandemic has in many ways created this generation’s Depression moment. A recent survey found that 56 percent of consumers say they are avoiding food waste and saving leftovers for future use. One of the drivers of this food planning strategy is COVID-19 unemployment. But the specter of dairy farmers dumping milk and plowing crops back into the soil, eggs being destroyed, and chickens being euthanized as the loss of retail markets forced producers to discard tons of food worldwide has made us reassess the value of food. Like our grandparents, we may well come out of COVID with a new culture of responsibility around food. It’s some comfort to know there’s a lot we can do from our own kitchens.

 

 

Fresh Food Sources: An Update

For an increasing number of families, the cost of putting food on the table is becoming more and more of a burden. If you or someone you know could use a hand, know there are many local resources here to help. They change frequently, which is why we put together this update.

  • Check out Upper Valley Strong’s town-by-town list of food resources and UNH Cooperative Extension’s interactive New Hampshire Food Access map to find your nearest food pantry, nutrition assistance, and more.
  • The websites vt211.org and 211nh.org offer up to date info on food and other resources, listed by town.
  • Find your nearest summer meal site, either in this Vermont spreadsheet from Hunger Free Vermont, or this New Hampshire map from UNH Cooperative Extension.
  • The USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is distributing free family-sized boxes of fresh (often local) produce, meat, and dairy to those in need. Slots are filling up fast — don’t put off registering here for this month’s distribution events in Bethel, Bradford, Hartford, and Springfield.
  • Veggie VanGo is distributing fresh food to multiple Upper Valley locations.
  • There is always ample funding for SNAP benefits (called 3Squares in Vermont) for those who could use the financial assistance — never worry that participation would pull funding from families who “need it more” — and some guidelines have been relaxed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Vermont families may also be eligible for WIC’s Farm to Family coupons towards fresh produce at farmers’ markets and farm stands.
  • We always love to promote Vermont’s Crop Cash and New Hampshire’s Granite State Market Match programs — both double SNAP EBT benefits towards produce at farmers’ markets and farm stands. Anyone with SNAP benefits can utilize these incentives at their nearest participating farmers’ market or farm stand.

LISTEN community dinners go take-out

Before the pandemic, the doors of LISTEN’s Community Dinner Hall opened six days a week to welcome anyone in need of a warm dinner. Inside the handsome facility by the bridge linking White River Junction and West Lebanon, each guest was treated to a three-course meal, served on real plates and cutlery and with cloth napkins. “It’s wonderful to see the different friendships and conversations that come about from having those nightly meals,” said LISTEN executive director Kyle Fisher. “Some folks need that food because of a disability or an inability for whatever reason to cook for themselves. Some people are homeless, and that’s their only way of getting a warm cooked meal. And, you know, other folks come just for the conversation.” 

COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works, initially. It became no longer safe for the cooking to be done by alternating teams of volunteers, many of whom were seniors. Funding became a challenge when LISTEN’s thrift stores, which account for 80% of their revenue, had to temporarily close. The need for the dinners, however, was greater than ever. 

Overcoming these challenges has taken some ingenuity, as well as support from the community that LISTEN has always been the first to help. First, a grant from Upper Valley Strong allowed LISTEN to redeploy four warehouse and trucking employees as paid kitchen staff. One employee, who had worked previously as a cook at Jessie’s Restaurant in Hanover, has taken charge. “He’s now got his staff all trained up to be his sous-chefs,” joked Kyle.

That team is currently producing 200 to-go meals a day, up from an average of 100 meals served before the crisis. Some of those are picked up by the Upper Valley Response Team, a grassroots mutual aid network dedicated to working with COVID-19 relief initiatives. They are then brought to White River Junction, where folks experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity are currently being housed in hotels using state vouchers. 

The effort speaks to the possibilities when different service organizations work together. “The Upper Valley is just so different than anywhere else that I’ve seen,” said Kyle. “It’s an extremely tight-knit community where folks communicate and ensure that all the resources that are available get to the people who really need them.” 

Moving forward, LISTEN’s services, including their community dining service, will remain essential. If you are able, make a donation to help bridge the financial gap until the thrift stores can fully reopen and ensure that LISTEN is able to keep providing support to those who need it.

By Henry Allison. Pictured: from left, LISTEN employees Robert Broadwell, James Hutchins, and Jason Stauffer-Laurie prepare take out dinners. Meals can be picked up to-go Monday through Saturday from 5-5:30 at the LISTEN Community Dinner Hall, located at 42 Maple Street in White River Junction, Vermont. More information, along with the menu for June, can be found here

 

Favorite Upper Valley Bicycle Rides

For Get Out & Bike” Week we asked the Vital Communities network to submit their favorite hometown bike rides, ideally 10 miles and under. Here are some of the submissions!

ENFIELD: Around Mascoma Lake (7 miles)

Start in downtown Enfield, ride south on Main Street and take a left on Route 4A. Follow Route 4A along the shore of Mascoma Lake, then take a left on Shaker Boulevard. Shaker Boulevard winds around the north shore of Mascoma Lake until it hits Livingstone Lodge Road, which will take you back to Main Street. If you are concerned about traffic on Route 4A, riding out-and-back on Shaker Boulevard is a nice alternative to doing the full loop. With either option you’ll be treated to many views of the lake.

– Submitted by Alex Belensz

 

CORNISH TO PLAINFIELD: Wide shoulder, fairly flat, some rolling hills and picturesque Connecticut River Valley (up to 10 miles)

Start in Cornish NH on Route 12A just north of the Windsor/Cornish cover bridge. There is a place to pull over and park. If you prefer, you can park at the boat landing further up the road on the opposite (river) side.

Head North to Plainfield, passing turn off for Saint-Gaudens and Blow-Me-Down Grange. When you get to the town line of Plainfield you will be at 5 miles, and return for 10 miles. You may shorten the route by turning around at any point in the ride. Almost any time of day is good with the wide shoulders, lunch time is a good time during the week, the speed limit zones range from 35 to 50 MPH. Beautiful views of the Connecticut River and Mount Ascutney.

– Submitted by Alex Coombs

 

PLAINFIELD TO CORNISH: Cornish Loop or Cornish Out-and-Back (9.5 miles)

Here’s a great ride that’s under 10 miles, has two options, and works for both experienced and newer riders alike.

Unless you live in Meriden or Plainfield, you’ll need to drive your bikes to the start. There is easy parking at the start. Just come to the Plainfield School on Bonner Road in Meriden. (Bonus tip: There’s a great mountain bike trail that starts from here, too.)

Take a right out of the school back onto Bonner Road. At the stop sign, take a right onto Route 120 South. You’ll only be on Rt. 120 for about 100 feet, as your next turn is another right onto Stage Road. As of May 2020, Stage road received new coat of asphalt, so it is super smooth.  There is some traffic on this road, but visibility for drivers and riders is generally good.

Ride 1.7 miles, then take a left onto Penniman Road (at municipal town sheds). Penniman Road is quieter and winds along past meadows, bogs, and farm fields.

As you ride along, you will cross over the Cornish town line, and Penniman Road becomes Cornish’s Stage Road.  Along the latter half of Penniman and onto Cornish’s Stage Road, you’ll be biking up a few hills that rise gently (for the most part). At the top of the rise in Cornish, you’ll be rewarded with a nice view overlooking farmland and the distant ridge of Corbin Park (aka Blue Mountain Game Reserve). Continuing southward on Stage Road, a swift downhill leads to a long coast into the village of Cornish Flat, and meets up again with Route 120. Riders experienced at riding with fast moving traffic (some sections of Route 120 posted at 50 mph) can head north on Route 120 and back to Bonner Road and the Plainfield School. The pavement and “shoulder” along this section of Route 120 is about as good as it gets…for Rt. 120.

For those wanting a more relaxed ride, just turn around and return the way you came; new views await heading in reverse. No matter if you ride the loop or go out-and-back, the ride is about 9.5 miles. After leaving the Plainfield School, there are only three turns between there and Cornish Flat.

– Submitted by Allan Reetz

HANOVER: Trail riding on Trescott Water Supply Lands 

My favorite local mountain biking destination; it has only been open for recreation the last couple of years, and is becoming ever more popular. I like the Dogford Road entrance; starting from there, take the right fork onto the porcupine trail, which will eventually bring you to a major intersection with Knapp road. From here I like to head north on Knapp and do the Paige Hill loop, bringing you back to the same intersection, but this time head across and let it go for a grassy and scenic downhill, which will eventually bring you to the Stone Hill loop. Right now only the southern trail is open, due to extensive recent logging, but no complaints, it is a delightful woods single track that pops out into an open slope with a sinuous dirt track. At the bottom, take a left on the 1772 trail to Mason’s four corners and follow that to the Mason trail and Poor Farm back to parking. Its is very important to observe the rules here, i.e. no unleashed dog, in order to maintain recreational access. I particularly like that every time I go here, I see a hunter, hikers, birdwatchers, runners, and mountain bikers in roughly equally proportions. Also, great views to Mount Ascutney and beyond.

– Submitted by Gretchen Stokes

 

HANOVER: BONUS LONG RIDE to Hanover Center (15 miles)

Starting anywhere in Hanover, the route starts at the turn off 120 onto Greensboro Road (note this light does not change for cyclists, unlike the ones in town). Head out to Hanover Center Road, and from there to the first left on Dogford Road, which you follow in a clockwise direction to make a loop back to Hanover Center and then to the start. Most of the 15 mile ride is a gentle undulating uphill, meaning you don’t realize how much elevation is sneaking in. Lovely views here and there, nice gardens and flowers, a couple farms, as well as the Hanover Center parade grounds and “downtown” Etna. Very popular with bikers, and although there can be a moderate amount of car traffic, it tends to share the road quite politely if you return the favor.

– Submitted by Gretchen Stokes

 

HARTLAND TO WINDSOR: Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge (8.2 miles or 10.4 miles)

Start from Hartland Three Corners (Damon Hall) down Route 5, across I-91, past the brewery and Artisans Park, down into Windsor. Turn left in front of the Armory and cross the amazingly long covered bridge to New Hampshire, then return. The ride is only 8.2 miles if you start from the Hartland park and ride at Exit 9 on I-91.

– Vital Communities Staff

 

HARTLAND: BONUS LONG RIDE Clay Hill Loop (15 miles)

Start in downtown Hartland, go up the Hartland Quechee Road to Clay Hill Road, then turn right and follow Clay Hill to Route 5. Turn right on Route 5 S and bike back to downtown. There are rolling hills, the cars are driving fast on parts of it, so this is a great ride for experienced road cyclists, first thing in the morning on a weekend, when there are no commuters or dump runs.

– Vital Communities Staff

 

LEBANON: Mascoma River Greenway and the Northern Rail Trail 

The Mascoma River Greenway is a paved multi-use path from downtown Lebanon extending along the old railroad bed toward West Lebanon. It crosses the Mascoma River several times and goes through open and forested areas. It’s often busy, especially on nice days, so please follow appropriate physical distancing measures. You can access the trail at several locations:

  • near the intersection of Mascoma and High Streets
  • across from Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital
  • at a gravel pull-off on Glen Road

The Northern Rail Trail spans 57.6 miles from Lebanon to Boscawen. It’s a wide gravel multi-use path, and like the Mascoma River Greenway, it can be busy especially on nice days, so please follow appropriate physical distancing measures. You can access the trail from near the CCBA in Lebanon and by Mascoma Lake in Enfield.

– Vital Communities Staff

LEBANON: Sunset Rock (8 miles)

From downtown Lebanon, head east on the Northern Rail to Bank Street Extension. Turn left on Bank Street Extension, follow road uphill. Cross under interstate and keep climbing Hardy Hill all the way to Sunset Rock Road. Turn right on Sunset Rock and follow it all the way down to its end at Route 4. Turn right on Route 4 (wide shoulder here), then right at Mill Road where you can hop on the rail trail and head west back into town.

It’s a great loop with a good hill climb and wonderful views. Includes gravel / hard pack road descent and flat trail. Be cautious on the uphill section, very narrow shoulder, best during lighter traffic times of day.

– Submitted by Marie McCormick

 

PLAINFIELD: River Road (up to 14 miles)

River Road is a quiet and scenic local road that runs along the Connecticut River. The road is mostly flat with a few short hills. The road can be ridden as an out-and-back (up to 6 miles one way) or as part of 14-mile loop using NH Route 12A. Route 12A is popular with more experienced cyclists, while families will likely want to stick to River Road. There are no formal parking areas on River Road, but there are some informal pull-offs. Please respect local traffic regulations and landowners when parking.

– Submitted by Alex Belensz

 

STRAFFORD: Strafford Loop (10 miles)

This route combines paved and unpaved roads, but the steep stretches are mostly paved, which helps a lot! Start at the Strafford Green (and admire the Town House, one of Vermont’s most photographed buildings!). Take the Brook Road, which climbs steeply at first and then levels out. Take a left onto the Cross Road and ride until its junction with 132. Go left and climb a bit then ride a long descent into South Strafford. At the T, go left on Justin Morrill Highway (or go right if you want to get a snack from Coburns’ General Store), and ride back to the Strafford Green. On really warm days, you might want to take a footpath along the river to this bridge over a swimming hole. The water stays cool all summer.

– Submitted by Becky Bailey

Isolate and Create: Local restaurant recipes, right from your kitchen

Ever wanted to cook a meal from a local restaurant in your own kitchen? Now you can! Released last Friday, the “Isolate and Create” digital cookbook features delicious recipes from 15 Vermont restaurants. All profits go to the Vermont component of the Restaurant Strong Fund, a national effort to provide grants to restaurant workers who have lost income due to the pandemic.

Creator Jenna Rice (above, left), who runs her own business as a freelance photographer, web designer and graphic designer, was inspired after seeing a friend in Boston start a similar project. She reached out to restaurants she knew for recipes and was connected to more by her friend Zea Luce and the Vermont Fresh Network

For help on the culinary side, she enlisted her sister, Nora Rice (above, right). Nora, who graduated last year from Ashburton Chefs Academy in the United Kingdom, had been working at the Herb Farm, a renowned restaurant in Woodinville, WA. Back in Hartland, Vermont to stay home and safe, the two teamed up to cook and photograph each dish.  

The digital cookbook has been an immediate success, with over $2,000 earned already. “I was surprised just by how willing everyone was to contribute a recipe and how many people have purchased it so far,” Jenna said. “I think it shows that we live in a pretty special and giving, supportive, community.” 

~~~

The Isolate and Create digital cookbook can be purchased for $20 and includes delicious recipes from Putney Mountain Spirits in Putney, Mad River Distillers in Waitsfield, Kate Wise Cocktails and Spruce Peak in Stowe, Skunk Hollow Tavern and The Hartland Diner in Hartland, Public House Pub and Chef Brad’s Crazy Side in Quechee, Odyssey Events in Bridgewater, Michael’s On The Hill Restaurant in Waterbury Center, Bistro de Margot in Burlington, Piecemeal Pies in White River Junction, Richmond Community Kitchen in Richmond, Artisan Eats in Windsor, and Let’s Pretend Catering in South Hero.

All profits go to the Vermont component of the Restaurant Strong Fund, a national effort to provide grants to restaurant workers who have lost income due to the pandemic. 

UV Strong: what is it, what’s it doing, and how can we help?

In the wake of 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene, Upper Valley organizations and volunteers scrambled to identify and support emergency needs in their communities. To better coordinate and serve, a coalition of over 45 human service agencies and faith-based organizations formed Upper Valley Strong. UV Strong is active only in times of crisis, and this spring the coalition came back together to respond to the pandemic. UV Strong works to determine the needs of the community, to increase coordination between those trying to help, and to gather and distribute funds to aid their efforts.

A simple, powerful example of the coordination efforts is the Childcare and Family Resources page on the UV Strong website. Well-organized resources for locating childcare for essential workers, financial assistance for families needing childcare, baby supplies, COVID-specific parental education, and child abuse and domestic violence support are collected together. By facilitating a dialogue between the organizations who work to support families, UV Strong helps ensure that needs are effectively met while avoiding the duplication of services. Even more importantly, having everything in one place makes it easier for parents to find and utilize the resources.

UV Strong also collects and distributes funds. Over $60,000 dollars, donated by community members and organizations such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, have already gone out to support local efforts. These funds have helped the Upper Valley Haven set up a new outdoor food tent and Willing Hands to put an additional truck on the road, bringing food to the people and organizations that need it. Another grant has allowed LISTEN to add a paid kitchen staff in order to meet a 125% increase in demand for its community dining program.

Barbara Farnsworth, manager of community health improvement at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and co-chair of UV Strong, says we all can be part of UV Strong by checking in with our neighbors. “See how people are doing and if they need help. Many folks can’t get out right now to get their groceries or medications. Or maybe they’re at an age where they are high-risk, so they’re not comfortable getting out. Neighbors helping neighbors is one of the really essential ways for us to get through this.” She recommends using the UV Strong website to familiarize ourselves with the broad range of services available in our communities, and then reaching out to neighbors.

As the first peak of the pandemic recedes but its impact persists, UV Strong’s work remains vital. By giving time and/or money if we are able, we can ensure that support services reach the people who need them.

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