One of our goals early in the pandemic was to adapt the Hardwick Community Supper, previously a weekly in-person dinner at the Hardwick United Church, to a safe curbside model. We recruited restaurants to prepare meals for $10 each, and volunteers to help manage reservations. In the second half of the year this grew into the statewide Vermont Everyone Eats program, with 14 community hubs organizing meal sites across Vermont.
Renee and Chet Baker bought their Hillside Homestead dairy farm in Albany on December 4, 2019. It was a dream come true for the couple who had each grown up with agriculture and had operated rented farms for the past five years. They have 55 milkers and are working on plans for a farm stand to sell theirs and some neighbors’ products. The Route 14 location makes it ideal not only for the farm stand, but to be sure their milk will always be easily accessible for pick up by their cooperative.
CAE works with key partners in every area of our work. For our food access and place-based programs, this means working closely with a number of partners to connect local and regional resources. Over the years, our work with the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union (OSSU) has evolved from direct farm to school support into a deep partnership working for the long-term transformation of our rural education system.
These are the questions members of Northeast Kingdom Organizing (NEKO) answer every day through their vision, commitment, and hard work. Through NEKO, the CAE joins organizations across the region to improve the quality of life for the people and places of the Northeast Kingdom. By sharing our stories and building relationships across perceived differences, NEKO marshals the resources for collective action to meet local challenges. In November, representatives of all 10 of NEKO's member groups convened in Orleans and voted unanimously to approve three campaigns.
Occasionally, CAE will work with a client in one capacity, and realize there are many other ways that they can plug into the resources and opportunities available. Andy Shelter, of Shetler Family Farm, is one of those clients who we are fortunate to work with in many ways.
Nicolas and Oliver like to ride their bikes on the pump track at Atkins Field because they can make new friends that way. New friends are one of the best reasons to spend time at Atkins Field where our community gardeners, farmers market vendors, students, volunteers, and everyone else can gather to use the trails and learn about the history of the Woodbury Granite Company. Our goal is that Atkins will be a launching pad to trails including the Granite Junction History Trail on the property itself; the Hardwick Trails; and in the future to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
In 2016 and 2017, the Town of Hardwick partnered with CAE and Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) to work jointly on an assesment of infrastructure needs for business growth in Hardwick. This feasibility study includes:
-economic cluster analysis
-in-depth interviews and competitive industry research
Download the study to learn more about the next phase of business development for Hardwick.
The minimal processing program at the Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC) was launched to better support local farmers. Staff at the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) realized farmers weren’t taking advantage of the shared kitchens to carry out value-added processing themselves. At the same time, staff knew that the facility could be used to address one of the factors preventing greater use of local food in area institutions: namely that many had neither adequate storage space nor sufficient staff time to work with local produce in its whole, raw form.
The Farm to Institution program developed from there!
“The Food Venture Center has played a vital role in the growth of our business. To have a state of the art commercial facility accessible to us with a staff that is always there to help has been a game changer."
Butterfly Bakery of Vermont is a small bakery and food processor started making maple sweetened baked goods in 2003. In 2011, owner Claire Fitts Georges started talking with farmers and tried making a few hot sauces using excess hot peppers from local farmers. The hot sauces kept selling out, and production has increased year over year.
Julie Nichols is a community gardener. But more than that, she’s a community builder. Whether it’s pitching in to help with teaching how to start seeds, working with school children to build a greenhouse, or cooking at a potluck, Julie is one of those special people who gives of her time and energy.