Case Study: Farm to Institution New England Reviews Vermont Tech’s Market Garden

Remember our post from way back in June (how is it August 31st already?) about Vermont Tech’s Market Garden?  Our friends at Farm to Institution New England have recently highlighted the Market Garden, too – check it out here!

Note: In addition to selling to Vermont Tech, the Market Garden also sells to other Vermont campuses – St. Michael’s College, Champlain College, and Norwich University.

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(Word)Press Re-Release: UVM Proctor Maple Research Center to Provide Pure Maple Syrup to UVM Dining

It is incredibly rare that we can speak in terms of percentages like “100%”.  Living in Vermont, it is commonplace to feel that the only enduring, consistent term we know is that the weather can change on a dime 100% of the time.
In the vein of local food purchasing, there are only a few products that are well-adapted to this rugged climate, have the infrastructure and resources to support all aspects of production, and are available for a majority of the year.

This news, therefore, is big:
100% of the syrup offered on the UVM campus will now be Vermont Maple Syrup.
The Press Release is (Word)Press Re-Released below.

_______________________________________________________________________________

August 17, 2015    

ContactsPMRC logo
Tom Vogelmann, Dean of UVM College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
tvogelma@uvm.edu, 802-656-0321

uvm dining logo
Melissa Zelazny, Resident District Manager, UVM Dining
mzelazny@uvm.edu, 802-656-4664
UVM Dining will be offering maple syrup from the University of Vermont’s own Proctor Maple Research Center (PMRC), starting this fall. PMRC’s Grade A Dark maple syrup with robust taste will be the standard across the campus’ nine dining locations.

The conversation started with an undergraduate class project in a class called ‘Barriers to Local Food Sourcing’, where UVM Dining was the community partner. Students researched potential maple syrup vendors who could accommodate UVM Dining’s volume and sizing needs.

“When UVM Dining called, I was instantly interested,” said Tom Vogelman, Dean of UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “Students are an active part of the PMRC, now they’ll get to enjoy the maple syrup that they help make on their pancakes!”

For the past 12 years, PMRC has been selling their maple in bulk, once a year, to Butternut Maple Farms of Morrisville, Vermont. PMRC used to sell to the UVM Bookstore in small amounts, which was too small scale to be efficient. PMRC expects to sell over 1,000 gallons to UVM Dining over the school year.

PMRC is the oldest maple research center in the country and tapped over 3,700 trees during the 2015 season, which yielded nearly 2,000 gallons of locally-PRMC Facility exteriorproduced, certified-organic maple syrup.  As a research entity at The University, PMRC is a non-profit and therefore is seeking to only cover their production and handling costs. This was essential in UVM Dining’s ability to afford the adequately nicknamed ‘liquid gold’.  “We’re thrilled to have students, faculty, and staff enjoy UVM produced maple syrup” says Tim Perkins, Director of PMRC.

“Maple syrup is a quintessential Vermont product. We want to showcase the foods that Vermont is known for in our dining halls,” said Melissa Zelazny, Resident District Manager of UVM Dining.

This partnership supports UVM’s Real Food Commitment goals and Sodexo’s Vermont First pledge.

“I have seen students bring their own maple syrup into the dining halls for their pancakes in the past because that is what they prefer,” said Alyssa Johnson, student chair of UVM’s Real Food Challenge Working Group, “I know students are going to be excited about this!”

PMRC’s first delivery to campus will be August 26th.

Spreading Big News from Intervale Food Hub and UVM

This news has been years in the making.  Intervale Food Hub, just over a mile away from UVM campus, and UVM Dining have worked closely over the years to identify how to best collaborate to bring lintervale signocal food to UVM students.  This summer, we are happy to announce that Intervale Food Hub is now an approved vendor of Sodexo.
To learn more about the details of how Intervale Food Hub and UVM Dining will work together this coming school year, check out the UVM Dining Blog’s post from earlier this month.

For the purposes of Vermont First, this is an important example to highlight.  As we consider different, indeed creative ways to increase our local business, there are many take-aways to consider.  Conveniently, for those of you who enjoy alliterations, we will call these the “3 T’s”:

  • chef jacket intervale
    Visiting Intervale Community Farm’s greenhouses.

    TIME – None of this progress was achieved in haste.  We took the time to do needed research, identifying the best track for both parties.

  • TESTING – The evolution of the strong partnership between IFH and UVM Dining has come as a result of open-minded experimenting with many different models.  From creating a meal plan option with Intervale products to  setting up a CSA for UVM students with drop-spots on campus, the relationship has grown as a result of problem-solving together.
  • TRUST – An essential by-product of years of thinking creatively together.

We look forward to the new learning moments as we forge ahead!

Farm Tours Part II: Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Shiny Mixers

Like many things in the world, it turns out that even when it comes to organizing farm tours, there is a certain order to things.  Order things the wrong way, and you’ll find yourself promptly zipped into a hazmat suit on the hottest day of the summer.  Like so:

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On Wednesday morning, I met up with the Norwich University crew on SouIMG_4781th Hill in Williamstown at Chappelle’s Potatoes.  Bob and Barb Chappelle are known for their 50-acres of potato production, but what many don’t know is that the Chappelle’s are also one of the (if not “the”) largest seed potato suppliers in Vermont.  Walking around the potato warehouse, you can see signs of Bob’s past career as an engineer.  Everything is efficient and calculated, perhaps also as a result of the benefits of specializing in growing one crop – a rarity in a state like Vermont where many vegetable producers are highly diversified.

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From Chappelle’s, we drove southeast to Long Wind Farm in Thetford.  We were met at the farmstand door by owner Dave Chapman, holding an armful of white plastic bags.

“You just came from a potato farm, and you’re at a tomato farm.  You’re going to have to put these on,” he said has he passed out full body, white plastic suits to our team. As much as we giggled negotiating skirts and limbs into one-size-fits-all suits, the reason for this safety measure was quite serious.  Dave apparently had just recently heard about a case of blight at another farm in Vermont, a plant disease that can destroy entire crops. With a disease like blight that affects crops like potatoes and tomatoes, one case of blight can easily become hundreds…in other words: Hazmat suit on.  Duly noted for next year – we will not visit the potato producer and tomato producer in the same day.

I’vIMG_4811e heard tales about Long Wind Farm’s 2-acres of greenhouses that produce tomatoes almost year-round, but this was my first time actually seeing it.  Row after row, the tomato vines are encouraged to grow taller and taller, using a vine-wrapping system that winds throughout the rows.  Looking at one tomato plant, Dave estimated IMG_4821that from the base of the stem to the top of the plant strung up it was 35 feet tall.

The heat pipes that run along the base of the plant also double as tracks for their harvesting shuttles to run on.  Long Wind has plants producing from March through December, giving the soil and plants a rest for a few of the winter months.

The final leg of our tour brought us to Randolph to visit Freedom Foods. freedom foods Freedom Foods is a food processing facility for specialty food producers, just south of the village of Randolph.  Owner Kathy Bacon touted that with little to no marketing, they receive over five inquiries a day from food producers across the country looking for kitchen space to rent.  Our group of chefs didn’t know what to expect as we wandered from kitchen to kitchen, each full of new-fangled mixers and bottle fillers and dish washers and baggers.  Each piece of equipment was introduced as a calculation of time – “this filler can fill in 5 minutes what it used to take us to fill in an hour.”  I could see the mental wish list of each chef growing as we rounded every corner.

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As I got back on I-89 north headed home, it dawned on me how each of our hosts that day illustrated models of specialization and scale: Bob, Barb, and Dave immersed in the high efficiency, yet high risk of producing a single crop; Kathy being 18 months into operating a new facility that more than quadrupled the size of her previous production space.  Quite a group of fascinating innovators to spend a day with!