April Meet-Up Series for Beginning Farmers

We have an exciting project for new farmers in the White River valley portion of our region! The High Meadows Fund is supporting a series of free peer-to-peer gatherings for beginning farmers to build community and learn. We are specifically organizing the series for new farmers in the White River valley, where there is a high density of beginning farmers. The goal of the project is to create a social network of new farmers to connect and share experiences in ways that support the success of their farm businesses. Each meet-up will feature a local expert with a short, casual presentation on an important, relevant topic. Each session also includes free dinner.

Wondering if you qualify? If you are a new or aspiring farmer who meets both criteria below, please come on out! Partners and little ones welcome, too.

  • 0-3 years of production under your belt

AND

  • Live in Randolph, Bethel, Tunbridge, Strafford, Royalton, Sharon, Hartford, and surrounding towns. This series is meant to build community within a particular sub-region. **If you live outside of the White River valley but want to participate in a similar meet-up series, let us know and we’ll see what we can do later this year!**

Find details for each session below. If this is something that interests you or if you know of other new farmers in the White River valley who might like to attend, please email lauren@vitalcommunities.org or call 802-291-9100 x107.

We’ll be meeting upstairs at (the new! the hip!) Babe‘s Bar in Bethel, Vermont for the first 3 meet-ups. The 4th meet-up will be held at the Bethel Arnold Block at 245 Main St in Bethel, VT. The meet-ups are free and dinner (pizza and salad from Cockadoodle) is on us!

Here’s the line-up:

1)  Monday, March 25, 5-7 pm. Theme: Business planning with Vital Communities’ Nancy LaRowe, who owned and operated Hogwash Farm (pastured pork, beef, chicken, and lamb) in Norwich for 15 years. She now supports local farmers with technical assistance and coordinates Vital Communities’ Local First program. Plus, a visit from Steve Mortillo of the White River Junction NRCD office, who’s looking forward to sharing information about the resources, including cost-sharing opportunities and incentives, that our NRCD district has on offer for local farmers. Location: Babe‘s Bar, Bethel.

2)  Monday, April 1, 5-7 pm. Theme: Community Revitalization with Michael Sacca from the Alliance for Vermont Communities, Abbe Meiling and Dee Gish from BALE (Building a Local Economy), Kirk White and Lylee Rauch-Kacenski from the Bethel Revitalization Initiative, and Zac Freeman and Morgan Easton from RASTA (Randolph Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance). Come learn from this panel about the opportunities that exist in the White River valley for community revitalization and what they see for the future. This is less agriculture-focused, and bent more towards supporting the human side of your new(ish) farm operations–happy, engaged farmers in thriving communities are more likely to stay farmers! Location: Babe‘s Bar, Bethel.

3)  Thursday, April 4th, 3-5 pm. Theme: Pasture Management with Kimberly Hagan. Kimberly has owned and operated Osprey Hill Farm (grass fed lamb) for 30 years, and now serves as UVM Extension’s Grazing Specialist at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Pick-up some know-how as Kimberly runs through the ins and outs of pasture management and answers alllll your questions. Location: Babe‘s Bar, Bethel.

Location for final session: The Arnold Block, 245 Main Street, Bethel, VT

4)  Thursday, April 11, 5-7 pm. Theme: Chat with Charlie, a longtime Chelsea farmer, about his experiences over the years and his perspective on the path of local agriculture. Location: Arnold Block, 245 Main St, Bethel Vt.

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We look forward to chatting, learning, and dining on good pizza with you all. Please RSVP to lauren@vitalcommunities.org if you plan to attend.

Zero Waste for the Win!

We had an amazing Flavors of the Valley, our annual local food tasting expo, with a record-breaking 1,200 attendees! From savory to sweet, the flavors were out of this world and all of them oh so local. 50 vendors connected with their neighbors over their delicious offerings, shared samples, and sold some food and farm products, too. We had music, kids’ activities, even a series of bike tire changing demos. We had a blast reveling in the bounty of our community, and of course popping from sample to sample in the event’s characteristic bustle.

We’re excited to announce that with all the food distributed, this year’s Flavors of the Valley was also zero waste! Sampling events can generate a lot of garbage–cups, plates, napkins, utensils–it can really pile up. While we’re generally waste conscious, this year we gave it our all and re-directed the event’s waste stream entirely. We sourced compostable cups, plates, napkins, and utensils for the big day, and of course considered all the food scraps, too. Instead of sending waste to the landfill, we sent bags and bags of compostable material to the new Upper Valley Compost Company (who was also a vendor this year!)

The folks at Upper Valley Compost partner with composting facilities in Vermont and New Hampshire to turn food waste and other compostable materials into rich soil. We are thrilled to report that we had but one wee bag of trash by the end of Flavors of the Valley–the rest of the event waste is on its way to becoming soil, and feeding our local food system yet again!

Check out these comparison shots of last year’s trash pile versus this years:

2017 trash pile                                                 2018 trash pile

…and then there was one!!