Vermont farm to plate movement feeds supply and demand

Graphic from Vermont Sustainable Job Fund report.

Graphic from Vermont Sustainable Job Fund report.

Yesterday I talked with Amy Ivy  (of Coop. Extension) about a neat event in Plattsburgh Saturday afternoon that’ll bring people who want to eat local food together with people who produce food, local food, even in this dead part of this long, cold winter.

It’s called “Food from the Farm,” and you can find the info at that link or on the NCPR Community Calendar, date March 1. Basically, Amy said, it’s a way to educate consumers, to get the word out about the fresh produce that IS being grown in winter, the root and other  crops that are available from the fall harvest, as well as food that’s been through a more lengthy process. Like wine, or cheese, or beer. So you can go there, buy some veggies or cheese, and meet the farmers. You can also eat…there’ll be a chef on hand making (and giving away) samples.

The idea is to boost demand. And in the way newswires often produce a certain serendipity, a story out of Vermont also crossed my desk today, along the “if you build it, they will come” lines. The Associated Press reported this:

HINESBURG, Vt. (AP) — Recent statistics show Vermont food entrepreneurs have added at least 2,162 new jobs and 199 new businesses since 2009. The numbers are from the 2013 annual report of Farm to Plate, an initiative to boost the Vermont's food and farm economy. Officials say they expect the latest agriculture census figures released this week to translate into even more food-related jobs. The figures show that the number of Vermont farms has increased by 5 percent between 2007 and 2012.

Here’s a fuller version of the story about the state’s 2013 Farm to Plate report, setting the scene at Vermont Smoke and Cure, which has grown by leaps and bounds, quadrupling its workforce. In fact, the Hinesburg Company is a poster child for growth in the food manufacturing slice of Vermont’s agriculture economy.  People are pretty pleased:

The state needed just 4 ½ years to surpass the project's 10-year goal of 1,700 jobs, said Ellen Kahler, executive director of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, which tracks the progress of the Farm to Plate goals.

"It validates what we're seeing in the marketplace, which is that consumer demand for locally sourced food is increasing," she said.

They built, and people came.

And those numbers mentioned in the last line of the AP brief? Vermont lost 33 dairy farms last year, down to 939. But The Republic reports the total number of farms is up 5 percent in Vermont since 2007, to 7,338. That’s a lot of farms that are not “dairy” farms, but the Sustainable Jobs people are, again, pretty pleased:

Officials won't know what type of farms have been added until more detailed figures are released. …

"I think the numbers are definitely trending in the right direction, Kahler said. "We're very happy about the total number of new farms — and even though we've lost a number of dairy farms over that 5-year time period, the fact that the net grew as much as it did indicates that there are shifts going on within the farm economy."

Supply or demand? Or just a rising tide of diversity?

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One Comment

  1. I think we ought to cut New York state off just north of Syracuse, and allow the North Country to become a part of Vermont. That way when the Governor uses the term "upstate" we'll know for sure he's not talking about us. Vermont seems to do quite well without New York City, and we could too.