What is so exciting about this Partnership is that we get to watch the changes, transformations, and unfolding that takes place when a new food system is being created and expanded.
For many years there was a real separation between the sustainable farming movement and families that were looking for trustworthy and healthy food. The early Organic Farmers were committed to a life of self sufficiency, and commitment to the land and environment, and most of their food was consumed on a very local level, or by their own families.
Now that we are in the process of truly rebuilding a trustworthy and sustainable local food system, we get to marvel at how easily some of the farmers and systems adapt, and how complex and slow other areas are to meet the awakened demand and consciousness.
Here is an update from the Farms that exemplifies both the ease and struggle of rebuilding this system:
Vegetables – we have had a very tough vegetable year up here in Vermont. With the flooding from Irene, and the intense rain that followed, storage crops such as squash, onions, carrots and potatoes have experienced shorter storage life and poorer quality. While Families may not experience it directly – it results in more loss for the farmers, and less overall supply. Our Partner Farmers have given us real priority as they see what we are trying to accomplish, and thus far we have had the “pick of the crop”. Commitment and partnership really do pay off for all involved!
Greenhouse greens – when Jared and Heather of Vermont Herb and Salad decided to move their business out to Colorado – we really thought it would be more than a year before another farm could develop the knowledge and skill to supply these critical greens for the winter months. But we were wrong. Pete’s Greens jumped in with both feet and has kept us in greens all winter, and he tells us that in just a few more weeks we will see those beloved mesclun and brazing greens once again to complement the shoots.
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables – just one year ago – these were not available, but through our encouragement, as well as a number of other local buyers – a few farms have started producing and freezing vegetable and fruit to extend the season. Corn, squash, peppers, beans, and peas are all in the future offerings. We love root crops, but it sure is nice to have some frozen vegetables for the sake of variety.
Grains – many of you have requested a greater selection of grains and cereals. Well just today we made contact with the Gaudreau family of Compton Quebec who have specialized in growing and processing grains. Oats, spelt, barley, kamut, rye and wheat. He and his family grow them all Organically, and Compton is only 70 miles from us here in Calais. We hope to have these wonderful items available in the next few weeks.
Meat Sausage and Cured meats – There are a growing number of really outstanding farmers raising pasture based Cattle, Pigs, Lamb and Poultry. These people treat their animals with care and consciousness so that they have the best feed, housing, and have the freedom to do what they were destined to do. Vermont is so well suited to pasture raised meat animals and dairy because of it soils, climate, and land base. In a word – Vermont grows some of the best grass on the planet, and grass produces the healthiest milk and meat. What inhibits us from expanding and being more consistent is the access to processing facilities. They are few and far between and it is a real challenge for them to stay in business and comply with all the USDA rules that are designed for much larger facilities. As a result we are currently out of stock on beef and have yet to source lamb that is reasonably priced. The good news is that there are two new processors coming on line that intend to offer high quality butchering and curing services that will provide us with much better sausages as well as cured meats such as Prosciutto and Capreses on a consistent basis. Have faith and patience because this category takes the longest time to build and create – it can take years to build up a herd of the quality of a Tom Cope at Woodbourne Farm – our beef supplier.
We will also be expanding our farmer information so that you can learn more about each of these remarkable families that grow and produce your families food.
Thank you as always for your partnership – it is the essential ingredient to making this trustworthy and sustainable local food system a reality.