Announcing a New Production Manager for the JustCut Farm to Institution Program
We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new JustCut Production Manager, Thomas Neel! Thomas has years of experience in local food system work, most recently spending the past decade as a brewer in craft breweries. We sat down with Thomas to learn more about his background, his favorite foods to cook and what excites him about his work with CAE.
A Q&A with Thomas Neel, JustCut Production Manager
Q: What is your background in food system and local food work?
A: In addition to spending the past decade brewing, I also have experience cooking and bartending, and love to forage and ferment foods. I care about real food and where it comes from, and appreciate that the craft brewing and local food movements support local businesses, small makers and producers, and hand-crafted food.
Q: What Are your favorite foods to cook?
A: Southern Indian inspired dishes, Vietnamese cuisine, and anything fermented and aged.
Q: How did you decide to take the positon at CAE.
My partner and I had been looking to relocate to Northern Vermont for 18 months. We lived in Southern Vermont, and New Hampshire, but wanted to live more rurally. We have family ties to the area, and spent every weekend up here. We were initially looking to settle in Caledonia county, but found a place in Johnson. We bought the house here, then started looking for jobs. I knew I wanted to transition away from working in breweries, but wanted to still work within the food system that I care about so deeply. I saw the posting for the job at CAE and it fit well with my desire to live more deliberately and intentionally, and to work in a field I care about. Food has always played a larger role in my life– from making cheese, baking bread, and fermenting anything I can get my hands on – to volunteering at food shelves and supporting Community Supported Agriculture.
Q: What are you excited about in your role at CAE?
A: I look forward to being a part of helping JustCut grow. I’m excited about the connections with farmers, the community, and local makers and producers. Hardwick feels like the center of the (local foods) universe. I look forward to being connected to people who have successfully grown an idea and have it work and have people support it, to the collaborative community and environment of this region.
Q: What is your hope for Vermont agriculture?
A: There seems to be a lot of solidarity in Vermont. People care here. People who care about food and farms either are from here and this is their legacy or they moved here to be a part of the farm and food economy. My hope is that Vermont continues to attract and keep young people who care about supporting local agriculture and knowing where food comes from. I want to continue to see thriving farms and farmstands who are making a profit and are able to keep their doors open.