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.

Connect Your Family with a Farm Near You

Max eating strawberry

We’re raising our family in the Upper Valley for many reasons, and having ‘our farm’ is a big one. We aren’t farming ourselves—our weedy lettuces and 7 freeloading hens prove it—‘our farm’ is our nearby Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Every week as we pick up our veggies, the kids visit baby chicks, choose their favorite carrots, say hi to their adored Farmer C., or sit on the tractor. So far, it’s turned out just the way we wanted (although Farmer C. might have something to say about how much syrup my kids ‘sample’ every March). The kids run free on a working farm, they eat vegetables, they know the life cycles of animals, they see the connection between work and food, they are interested in the success of our neighbor’s business. It’s not a special event, it’s normal.

Farmer resources

CSA is one of many ways to build a relationship with a farm, and if you’re ready to consider joining or rejoining one for the summer of 2016, now is the time to find your farm and sign up. It’s easiest to join a CSA farm when the farm or the delivery is on your routes between home, work, and/or school. We’ve made it easier to find a farm on those routes: we just updated the Valley Food & Farm online guide to show you where farms deliver and sell their products. Visit the Guide, search for ‘local food’ and ‘CSA/Farmshare’ to pull up all the farms near you as well as those delivering to locations nearby. Upper Valley farms have a wide variety of prices, products, and payment plans, including many offering subsidized shares. Explore and see if this might be the year to get your family a farm!

Written by Becka Warren, Valley Food & Farm Manager at Vital Communities




Meet. Eat. Buy! The Flavors 2016 Vendor Line Up Is Here!

Check out the hottest new vendors and returning favorites at Flavors of the Valley 2016!

April 10, 11am – 3pm at Hartford High School

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors!

Mascoma Savings Bank, Co-op Food Stores, The Skinny Pancake

King Arthur Flour, Yankee Farm Credit, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Great Eastern Radio

Upper Valley local foods assessment hot off the press!

Our 2014 local foods market assessment is complete! Download it here and on our website to learn about promising growth areas for our local food system. Valley Food & Farm undertook a local market assessment as a sophisticated analysis of the regional food marketplace.  The assessment provides data that Vital Communities, farms, and other food system businesses and organizations can use to develop the local food marketplace. Farmers can learn where customers shop and what foods they are seeking as well as why they buy what they do buy. Farmers can also learn about the interest independent grocers and retailers have in buying local foods. The report also details how our Upper Valley farmers hope to grow their businesses.
Two downloads are available:

If you have questions or comments about the reports, please contact Becka Warren, Valley Food & Farm Manager at

Six Steps To An Awesome Dinner Salad


July is here and so is Everyday Chef’s new theme: the Dinner Salad. As the weather heats up we’ll be here to help you transform a simple side salad into a complex, satisfying meal that will leave you largely out of the kitchen and with more time to enjoy your summer days. Not to mention, a salad is an ideal opportunity to utilize all of the beautiful, seasonal foods that surround us here in Vermont during the month of July. Your salad misconceptions will end here. As RAFFL’s Executive Director, Tara Kelly, likes to say, “It’s not just rabbit food!” And she’s right. A salad dinner incorporates a variety of greens, vegetables, proteins, fruits, dressings and toppings. The combinations of flavors and textures are endless, but more importantly, a salad can be a fulfilling dinner – even for the hungriest of individuals.

Here’s how, in six steps:


And here are a few of our related posts to get you started on your salad planning.