Innovation demands vision, commitment, flexibility, and grit. These facts were ever present for Salvation Farms in 2017. We witnessed growth and transition within our staff and board. Through this, our leadership continues to be impressed by the contributions of those who commit to making Salvation Farms’ vision a reality.
Our work in 2017 was diverse, from relaunching our original gleaning program – our roots – to participating in national projects that seek to reduce on-farm food loss and maximize the use of farm raised foods. Salvation Farms coordinated Vermont’s first surplus crop forum, engaging key stakeholders and farmers to discuss the fact that Vermont could feed itself with more locally produced foods if additional supply chain supports existed.
Our staff created systems and consistency in our programs while also refining administrative procedures. Many responsibilities have been spread across our team, building more stability in our operations. The Board participated in Board development activities, evaluating its performance and increasing its understanding of its fiduciary responsibility.
2017 brought Salvation Farms aid from consultants who began guiding us through strategic planning, business planning, and leadership development – this work continues into 2018. As we look ahead, we are excited to maintain and build off of the strength our programs gained in 2017, we are driven to advance farm surplus conversations within Vermont and nationally, and we are eager to continue strengthening our team and organizational relationships.
Jay Eury, from The Gleaning Project of South Central PA, complemented our work by stating ““I look to you and the work you’re accomplishing with everyone on your team as a role model and powerful example of what’s possible in food and community work.”
Salvation Farms sincerely appreciates our partners and supporters for making our work possible, yet again, and is excited to celebrate our accomplishments in 2017:
- Partnered with 23 farms
- Moved 197,912 pounds of 46 fruits and vegetables which had an economic value of $294,020
- Distributed to 38 sites, including the Vermont Foodbank’s 215 agency network
- Engaged 240 volunteers who contributed 1,079 hours
We welcomed new Board members and grew our Board to seven members, and with deep appreciation acknowledge Chip Conquest, whose Board service concluded in 2017.
Salvation Farms also saw departure of Marcella Houghton, who moved on from Salvation Farms in 2017 to pursue living in New York City. Marcella was a critical part of Salvation Farms’ team for 4 years – both as AmeriCorps VISTA and staff. She witnessed the organization grow and evolve – and we are grateful for her dedication to our mission.
2017 also saw a great deal of increased development activities – including two new sources of grant funds that entered our base of support during 2017: The Canaday Family Charitable Trust and federal funding via the Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. These funds further our Vermont Commodity Program work: training the underemployed and exploring alternative markets for Vermont’s surplus crops.
During 2017, we relaunched our regional gleaning program – the work that Salvation Farms was born from in 2004.
Gleaning is reaping after the harvest. Through this program – our Lamoille Valley Gleaning Program – we engage and feed the community by collecting and distributing what farmers can’t sell. This program heavily depends on volunteers: this year we welcomed 151 volunteers who gave 517 hours – 14% joined us more than once! Rachelle, a volunteer, stated “I am more aware of and more respectful of the farms that provided the produce I worked with.”
In 2017, Lamoille Valley Gleaning program handled 48,159 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. The largest one-day harvest was 6,083 pounds of apples. The smallest amount we collected? 3 pounds of peas.
We distributed 48,861 servings of locally grown produce to 20 sites in the Lamoille Valley. Additional gleanings were sent to our Winooski food hub, the Vermont Commodity Program, for statewide distribution.
At our Winooski food hub we clean, assess quality, process, and package large volumes of surplus farm crops for distribution to sites serving the nutritionally insecure.
Vermont Commodity crops are packed whole/raw (like a 10 lb. bag of potatoes) and minimally processed (like peeled, cut, blanched, and frozen carrots).
In 2017 we handled 9 crops from 7 farms and distributed 501,825 servings to 15 sites. 31% was sent to the Champlain Valley region.
Salvation Farms hosted 75 volunteers who contributed a combined 287 hours at the food hub. We invested $7,355 in Black River Produce, who trucked incoming produce from farms and outgoing produce to sites around the state and region.
Vermont Commodity operations are made possible through a job-training program. Underemployed community members gain transferable skills, certifications, and exposure to employers during our 16-week training cycles.
7 trainees participated in our post-harvest handling and manufacturing training during 2 cycles in 2017.
“Work has been good. Doing well. It’s very fast paced and labor intensive but I am picking it right up. Good thing I worked with Salvation Farms. It made my transition to the new job easier.” – Update from a former Vermont Commodity Program trainee
The Vermont Gleaning Collective experienced a lot of transition and growth in 2017. Salvation Farms provided facilitation and leadership while the Collective renewed and clarified its vision. We provided a facilitator to help the group define a new structure: a member-led community of practice with working groups to dive into specific topics.
Salvation Farms remains as backbone, participating in working groups and providing general oversight.
The Vermont Gleaning Collective was honored to welcome Governor Phil Scott to our first quarter meeting of 2017. He shared: “This is such an exciting and enterprising way for all of us to give back. Volunteerism is so important in Vermont – it’s part of our tradition and culture – as well as agriculture. So, bringing this together – marrying the two – just seems like it fits so well.”
Along with all our accomplishments, we want to take a moment to gratefully acknowledge Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), who closed in 2017. RAFFL was our first Vermont Gleaning Collective partner. We offered years of technical assistance to their team and coordinated our first minimal processing pilot with RAFFL and Green Mountain College.
RAFFL made significant contributions to building farm and food initiatives. We hope their legacy will carry on in the region.
As we reflect back on our work in 2017 – we invite you to read and share our annual report and thank you for all that you do to make Salvation Farms mission and vision a reality.