USDA grant provides for NEK Food System Plan Update

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Posted: September 16, 2014

On Friday, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, Krysta Harden, visited Vermont. She was hosted by Ted Brady, our State Director of USDA Rural Development, and when we met her, she was at Intervale Community Farm, learning more from Travis and Andy about the Intervale Center and the Burlington area’s passion for farming and local foods.

Dept Secretary Harden had the chance to announce the $2.3 million dollars of grants and loans which are being distributed to Vermont organization in this coming year. From Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Council on Rural Development and St Johnsbury Works, Inc to the Northern Forests Center, these monies will be put to use in the NEK and beyond, for businesses, for communities and for enhancing the rural capacity in our towns.

Almost 5 years ago, the CAE worked with Northeastern Vermont Development Association to create a Regional Food System Plan for the Northeast Kingdom. This plan identified many resources, and also missing assets for our regional as we set about our goals for a healthy, local and viable food system here. In particular, the plan identified small business technical assistance, equipment and storage, as well as education and waste management as areas that the organizations across the NEK could be working on.

This coming year, the CAE and NVDA will be producing our 5 year update to the Regional Plan. So much more than a document, this plan has guided the development of the local food system, as well as ag and food industries for the past years, resulting in tangible results, such as the NEK Tasting Center, the Vt Food Venture Center, the NEK Processing Facility and more. Now the time is right to create a new baseline for our regional and identify where we go from here to take our local foods system to the next level of coordination and healthy growth. Stay tuned, as we move into the winter and 2015, for more information on the NEK Food System Planning process update!

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