Just Cut: Getting Back to Its Roots

The Center for an Agricultural Economy was awarded $125,000 from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation as a 2022 New England Food Vision Prize recipient to expand local produce served in Northeast Kingdom institutions. This funding has allowed Just Cut to increase production to five days per week, increasing capacity for its current scale. Funding has also supported CAE staff capacity in Just Cut and Place-Based Education, equipment purchases and program development for three partners (Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union, Caledonia Central Supervisory Union, and Dartmouth College), and CAE warehouse infrastructure to increase the storage space for Just Cut vegetables.

“Just Cut veggies fit in perfectly, and the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union is excited to offer locally grown and processed carrots and beets to students at Danville, Cabot, Barnet, Walden and Twinfield Schools. Children enjoy maple roasted beets for lunch and carrot raisin muffins at breakfast time, as well as fresh, raw veggies in our daily salad bars.”

-Emily Snodgrass, Procurement Manager, Caledonia Central Supervisory Union
Photograph by Elizabeth Rossano. Carrot harvest at West Farm, Cambridge, VT, a Just Cut grower.

Just Cut is a unique social enterprise, filling a void that allows small and medium-sized farms to participate in institutional markets by purchasing and processing raw vegetables into a line of ready-to-use prepared produce cuts. Just Cut purchases raw produce from farms and washes and prepares it into cuts that are ready for use in institutional kitchens. The result is a program that supports farm viability and increases the amount of local food available in school, hospital, and university cafeterias where many consumers eat daily, in a state where local food is abundant, yet its accessibility can vary widely.

The Kendall Foundation 2022 New England Food Vision Prize is important because it allows Just Cut to get back to its roots, getting local produce into K-12 schools. It also brings Just Cut produce into the local Hardwick community. Notably, CAE is transporting all of the Just Cut produce into the partner institutions that are part of this funding, with our very own Farm Connex program, a farm product and food delivery service that runs trucks six days per week.

“Just Cut minimally processed veggies gives the OSSU schools more opportunities to use a variety of local products on our menus as a lot of the labor has already been done for us. Time is always an issue in school food service as we are on very strict schedules. In the past we did not serve root veggies as often as they require a lot of time and labor; now our schools have standing monthly orders which is a win-win for both CAE and the OSSU school food service programs.”

-Valerie Hussey, Food Service Director, Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union
Photograph by Elizabeth Rossano. Potato harvest at Sparrow Arc Farm, Guildhall, VT, a Just Cut grower.