How will it work? Our regional food system plan…

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Posted: March 24, 2016

Making a Regional Food System Plan Work

Saturday’s Northeast Kingdom Food System Plan Summit is quickly approaching! We hope you’ve signed up to join us to strategize ideas for keeping the NEK’s food system diverse, thriving, and growing into the future. The NEK Food System Plan isn’t a document that just sits on a shelf; it is being implemented every day in all three of the Northeast Kingdom counties: Essex, Caledonia, and Orleans.

But we need to make sure the plan stays implemented and to do that, we need you. We need your knowledge, your expertise, and your input to make this plan actionable AND realizable. It must represent all pieces of the food system and all sectors – vegetables, meat, beverages, dairy, growing, manufacturing, distributing, storing, cooking, selling, and eating.Food System Mural

While the NEK’s plan is focused on these three counties, it is part of a larger effort to protect and enhance our food economy. Across the State of Vermont, we’re seeing the food system evolving and gaining greater resiliency against unforeseen factors, like weather or global economic collapse. The Vermont Farm-to-Plate Network set the strategic action plan for strengthening Vermont’s food system. As that network addresses a variety of topics affecting members across the state, such as Farmland Access, Production and Processing, and Aggregation and Distribution, and cross-cutting issues like Food Access, Soil and Water, Financing, and Labor, it also builds a statewide community.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is the backbone organization of the Farm-to-Plate Network. Its Executive Director, Ellen Kahler, will give the keynote address at Saturday’s Summit. There are lessons to be learned from the statewide strategic plan but also value to gain from a localized strategic action plan. Here’s a preview of what Ellen will share, connecting the NEK to the broader work of the Farm-to-Plate Network:

  • The NEK is the only region in the state that has developed a food system plan, which is strategically aligned with Vermont’s statewide Farm-to-Plate Strategic Plan. There is much to celebrate in the Northeast Kingdom, from homesteaders who are largely self-sufficient to medium and large-scale dairy and diversified vegetable operations who feed hundreds of families each year, to award winning cheesemakers, brewers, and distillers. In many ways, the NEK is ahead of other parts of the state in creating a thriving, diversified local food system.

Registration for Saturday’s Summit will continue the rest of the week. Find registration info, a full schedule of events, and fact sheets about each of the plan’s 12 draft goals at


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