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A program of the Center for an Agricultural Economy

Food Access Program

With our partners at the Hardwick Area Food Pantry and NEK Kids on the Move, we run the Grow Your Own project.

Its mission is: "increase food independence, better health and well-being through shared knowledge and experience." The project includes a wonderful steering committee of dedicated volunteers, and is designed to provide gathering spaces and workshops that focus on gardening, cooking, food preservation and food processing. These g

atherings have happened for the past few years, and we've seen wonderful growth in the interest and volunteerism, particularly from our Gathering Leaders!

Are you interested in joining a gathering, or leading one? All gatherings are free and open to the public, and children are welcome. RSVP is mandatory by the Wednesday before the gathering. To RSVP, contact Hardwick Area Food Pantry Executive Director Ruby Dale-Brown at 802-472-5940 or e-mail her at For more information, contact Ms. Dale-Brown or CAE Community Projects Coordinator Bethany M. Dunbar at

In 2016 we are planning the following gatherings:

  • February 6: Cutting up a whole chicken into useful parts
  • March 5: Seed Starting
  • April 2: Container Gardening
  • May 7: Composting
  • June 4: Pickles and Jam
  • July 9: Harvest, local foods, cooking from your garden: fresh ideas for old veggies
  • August 6: Barbecue block party at Atkins Field
  • September 3: Canning basics
  • October: Wild Edible walk (including medicinals)

In November we work on Pies for People, run in partnership with Sterling College , the Hardwick Area Food Pantry, Green Mountain Farm to School, and local businesses which brings together volunteers, gleaned local produce from farms, schools and churches in the spirit of sharing the bounty of the harvest! Each fall we make more than 100 pies from gleaned squash and pumpkins picked by elementary school students and made into pies for Thanksgiving by volunteers. The pies go to our neighbors at the pantry, schools, and nursing homes in time for the holiday.

  • 2016 Pies for People Events will be hosted on our Facebook site, and will be in the fall! Stay tuned!


Charitable Food System Research: In 2014, Emerson National Hunger Fellow Nora Leccese conducted five months of reserach into the possibilities for the infrastructure of the local food system to support the work of the charitable food system. She specifically focused on recommendations to support a food processing partnership between the Vermont Foodbank and the CAE that would expand access to local food for low income Vermonters.

Over the course of five months, she interviewed food processing program coordinators at food banks around the country and synthesized information from those case studies to determine the best practices for minimal processing in Vermont. Though her research, she determined that we can successfully process gleaned local produce for the chairtable food system with careful planning and by fostering new partnerships with workforce development organizations. Her final report and recommendations can be found here, and although she is completing her fellowship in Washinton DC, she is availble to answer questions at 

As part of her reserach, Nora compiled an inventory of charitable food organizations, cold storage and processing facilities, and the Vermont Foodbank trucking routes that connect them. The Inventory is housed in an interactive map which can be found here.


     We appreciate donations specifically for Food Access Programming: