Thankfully, the weather held off for the CRAFT kickoff gathering of the 2016 season at Root 5 Farm in Fairlee, VT. Upper Valley CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) is an educational and social gathering of 30 farmers and farm workers from 12 different farms in the Upper Valley region. Together, we meet twice a month at one another’s farms to encounter various agriculture systems of the region and discuss an assortment of topics ranging from draft-power to managing farm finances. Thanks to everyone who came out despite the darkening skies and a huge thanks to Root 5 Farm for starting off the CRAFT season right.

The topic of the tour this week was post-harvest washing and storage from farmers Ben Dana and Danielle Allen who, along with their crew members, walked us through seas of remay cloth, tomato starts, and asparagus beds on their 28-acre organic vegetable farm. At the start of 2016, Root 5 Farm was awarded a grant from the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative to build a commercial kitchen, pack house, and storage facility for their value-added products and storage crops. Root 5 was one of 12 other recipients of the grant designed to build the economy of Vermont through support of businesses reliant upon the working landscape of Vermont. Root 5 Farm is in the early stages of implementing the grant. They have already poured concrete floors and footers in the current packing area of the barn and in the new expansion. For more information on the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, and other recipients throughout the state visit:  http://workinglands.vermont.gov/.