Whole Farm Planning Group

Starting or running a farm business can be all-consuming, with tyranny of the urgent monopolizing your days, leaving little time to think about the big picture, review goals, or plan successful management strategies. Every farm is unique. With holistic management techniques, you can manage that uniqueness effectively to improve the health of your farm, your community, and the land.

I have been farming for almost 20 years. My experience includes starting and run a farm for 10 years, selling that business, and starting a new farm on newly purchased and conserved land.  This past year I have been practicing and utilizing the tools of holistic management, and it has  made such a difference in how I think about my new farm and how it integrates into my life. By having a values-based decision-making framework that considers social, economic, and environmental impacts, I can manage toward my goals and the farm and life I want.

I want to share this framework for success with prospective, new, or established farmers, which is why I am coordinating a Whole Farm Planning Group. The Group will be a cohort of five farms interested in learning and applying the tools of holistic management to their lives. We will meet four times a year (not during the growing season) to develop goals, share lessons and challenges, with most of the work being self-directed. I will share holistic management tools and support you as you develop your whole farm plan. You will work independently on developing a holistic goal, resource inventory, vision, land plan, and financial plan throughout the year. This project is free thanks to funding from the High Meadows Food & Farm Fund.

This “class” is great for beginning farmers as these management strategies will help you succeed. This work is also valuable if you already have a farm business and would like to learn new skills or strategies for improving your business. The sessions will begin this winter and continue into next winter. The five farms will be chosen with an application process. Applications are due by December 1.

Whole Farm Planning Group short application here.

2018 Farmer Celebration Mixer

Join us to celebrate the work we did together in 2018!

Do your chores early, leave the spreadsheets behind, and come share some beer, crepes, and farm chat with fellow farmers as we celebrate the successful 2018 season.

Monday, November 12
5-7 pm
Skinny Pancake, Hanover, NH
Free snacks and beer

In 2018, working together, we moved toward an Upper Valley food hub, we collaborated to strengthen farmers’ markets, we rocked the best Flavors of the Valley ever, and much more. Join in an end of season  celebration!!

Come learn about the shared farm/food facility progress we made with a SARE Partnership grant that is concluding, the wholesale aggregation and distribution pilot launching with Food Connects in 2019, and the Upper Valley Farmers’ Market Collaborative projects that we will be continuing in 2019. Come hear all about it and share your farms’ successes and challenges.

RSVP here!

Share the Facebook event with your farmer friends!

Questions? Nancy@VitalCommunities.org

 

Thanks to Northeast SARE and Skinny Pancake for supporting this event!

sare-northeast cropped    UVcreperieBanner-page-001

Farmers’ Market Roundtable

Join Vital Communities and NOFA VT for a

Farmers’ Market Roundtable

November 7, 2018 from 4-7 pm
at the Wilder Club & Library in Hartford, Vermont

The roundtable is an opportunity to network, share market successes and challenges, gain skills at break-out workshops, and build relationships with other markets in your area.

The Upper Valley Farmers’ Market Collaborative will convene to talk about POP Clubs, Friend of the Market card program, the cooking demo pilot projects, and plan for future projects.

September Market-Fresh Cooking Demos

Love to shop at the farmers’ market, and want to learn a new tip or recipe for cooking with all the great produce that is available this month?

Join local chef Holly Pierce for weekly cooking demos at the Hanover and Greater Falls Farmers’ Markets during the month of September!

Shop with Holly as she visits the market vendors to select ingredients from the bounty of local food available this time of year.  Then watch her create a dish that you get to sample. She’ll share the recipe as she goes and have other recipes to share that highlight enjoying the abundance of the Upper Valley late summer harvest!

Wednesdays at the Hanover Area Farmers’ Market from 3-6 pm
September 5, 12, 19, 26

Fridays in Bellows Falls at the Greater Falls Farmers’ Market from 3-7 pm
September 7, 14, 21, 28

  

Strengthening Farmers’ Markets

An exciting project for the  Upper Valley Farmers’ Market Collaborative is helping markets identify areas to improve or strengthen. A market might decide to improve sales, customer traffic, vendor recruitment, governance structure, or other priorities,  developing a plan to address the issue or reach the goal. One tool we are using to help markets prioritize their goals is market assessments. Market assessments can come in many forms depending on what you want to measure/track, and this summer we are working with the Royalton, Newport, and Claremont markets to measure customer visitation and the markets’ impact on the local economy.

On July 20 I spent the afternoon at the Newport Farmers’ Market working with Richard Scheuer, the market manager, and six volunteers to perform just this type of assessment. The day was perfect (sunny and 80 degrees) and the volunteers were eager to help the market. Counting customers sounds like and easy task, but many markets are in open locations with many entrances making counting everyone a challenge. Survey tape to block off all but a couple entrances, signage, and notifying vendors and customers what is going solved this problem. With clickers in hand, four volunteers counted every adult entering the market- there were 386!

Polling or surveying customers as they finished shopping was the other part of the Newport assessment. The eight-question poll asked about market shopping habits, amount spent at the market, and zip code, along with a few other qualitative questions.

newport-farmers-market-logo

I’m still compiling the results, and when I do, a report will be shared with the  Newport Farmers’ Market. This data will inform the decisions/actions the market makes – which is the goal of assessments. This data will also provide a baseline. Strengthening markets means knowing where they’re at now (baseline), where they want to go (goal), and measuring to see if they are moving toward their goals.  So, we’ll be back at Newport next year and beyond performing a similar market assessment to track the progress as they work to improve the overall market and sales for the vendors.

We’ll be at the Claremont Farmers’ Market Saturday September 8 from 9am – 1 pm counting customers and asking them about their market experience – hope to see you there!

August is NH Eat Local Month!

Enjoy the Local Bounty during NH Eat Local Month

Visit the Farmers’ Market, Join a Virtual Scavenger Hunt, and Eat Local this August

Get your appetite ready—August is New Hampshire Eat Local Month, a month-long celebration of local food and New Hampshire farmers and producers!

Visit your farmers’ market, enjoy the local bounty and share your love of local farms and food—and get a chance to win prizes—by joining the NH Eat Local Virtual Scavenger Hunt, a month long Instagram contest. Weekly themed hunts, including ‘who is your farmer,’ ‘where do you shop,’ ‘what’s on your plate’ and ‘what’s in your community,’ challenge you to post where you engage with local food in your community. Prizes include $100 gift certificates to a farmers’ market, and a food co-op, and a $25 gift certificate to NH Made. A grand prize winner will enjoy an overnight for two at the Colby Hill Inn in Henniker and $50 credit at their farm-to-table restaurant, the Grazing Room!

“New Hampshire residents and visitors, alike, are showing unprecedented interest in local food, and this month-long celebration offers a great opportunity to feature New Hampshire grown foods and farms,” said Gail McWilliam Jellie from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

Throughout the month of August 70 partners throughout the state will highlighting  New Hampshire’s bounty of local foods. This month, visit a New Hampshire farmers’ market and see what the buzz is all about! Find events happening around you on the NH Eat Local events page. Farmers’ markets are still the truly local shopping center, filled with farmers selling the freshest products, plus community activities including children’s programs, adult education, music and arts, and food trucks and restaurants selling ready-to-eat meals. Many markets accept SNAP EBT benefits and double them with Granite State Market Match, making fresh produce cheaper for families on a limited income. New Hampshire Eat Local Month also coincides with National Farmers’ Market Week from August 5-11, honoring farmers’ markets all across America.

Hartland berry picking credit Molly d (2)  Woodstock Market 2015 credit Molly Drummond (2)  IMG_1127

“Farmers’ Markets were vital to the rebirth of local small farms 20 years ago, and now that local food labels are everywhere, they are still the place to find real, local food and talk to the farmers about how it was grown,” said Beth Roy, Valley Food & Farm program manager. “Markets are for everyone, and we encourage people from all walks of life to enjoy these community events.” A complete schedule of the Upper Valley’s 20 farmers’ markets, along with a guide to finding local food, is available at VitalCommunities.org.

Promotion of this year’s NH Eat Local Month is in collaboration with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Monadnock Buy Local, Seacoast Eat Local, NH Made and NH Food Alliance.

Learn more at www.nheatlocal.org.

photos: Molly Drummond

Farmers’ Markets are Truly Local

Download the printable area Farmers’ Market Calendar! Farmers’ markets are truly local, and that’s as true today as it was 20 years ago. You don’t have to worry about reading labels or reading between the lines, because you can talk to the farmer. Get the real story behind your food, learn how it was made and why. These things matter to you, and hearing directly from the producer is best.With over 20 area markets you can meet hundreds of local producers and find the foods that make you smile.

So download the printable area Farmers’ Market Calendar. It’s handy for work, home, car, church, school… share your love of local with your communities.

Visit our farmers’ market page to learn more about the more than 20 Upper Valley markets!

Woodstock Market 2015 credit Molly Drummond (2)

Beautiful market photos by Molly Drummond!

Be a Friend, Get Sweet Deals

The food is fresh, the market is fun, and the deal is sweet! 

 

Support Your Farmers’ Market with the
NEW Friend of the Market Card! 

Buy a Friend of the Market card ($20) at your participating farmers’ market and take advantage of weekly vendor specials just for Friends.
Lebanon FOM
Visit the market manager booth at your farmers’ market to buy your card. Each week select vendors will offer Friend of the Market specials. Show your card and get a special deal.

Use your Friend on the Market card at any of these markets:

Hanover Area Farmers’ Market
Hartland Farmers’ Market
Greater (Bellows) Falls Farmers’ Market
Lebanon Farmers’ Market
Newport Farmers’ Market
Norwich Farmers’ Market
Royalton Farmers’ Market
Woodstock Market on the Green
 Card valid May-October 2018 

 

Woodstock Market 2015 credit Molly Drummond (2)

Photo credit Molly Drummond

 

 

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!!

the Flavors Sextet

Yes, we sing about Flavors

Confession: we sing a little tune about Flavors of the Valley, around the office, in meetings, while photocopying…. Click here and watch with sound if you dare- the big reveal is at the end. Treat your ears today and your tastebuds on Sunday, April 8 from 11 am- 3 pm at Hartford High School.  All the details, discounts, specials, information about 45 local food vendors and their samples, and more are on our Flavors of the Valley page. Thank you CATV 8/10 for our CATV debut.

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