Whether it is the seasons and weather or our work and personal lives – change is the only constant. To prepare for tomorrow as though it were to be just like yesterday is foolhardy… this Vermont spring has proven that. Resilience comes out of calm abiding and thoughtful approach as we contemplate and navigate times of change, times of unexpected weather and shifting winds.
The “Produce Barn” at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor, Vermont, has provided a place to work side by side with inmates, sorting and packaging more than 300,000 pounds of produce in the last two years. When we reflect on the positive feedback we’ve received from inmate crewmembers, the tremendous financial support for this project from our network, and our collective ability to provide this much fresh food to our communities across the region, we feel strongly that the Vermont Commodity Program concept has been proven. Partnering with Corrections to move large volumes of gleaned produce complemented by training and programming for inmates who accept the opportunity to be part of the crew, seemed well on its way to a longer-term reality.
You may have heard the good news — we met our funding goal ($156,000) to renovate the building we envisioned housing the Vermont Commodity Program at the SE State Correctional Facility. A month ago, we were poised to start construction – we were ready to move forward with our contract and start to scale up!
However, in recent weeks we’ve had to flex our creative muscles, our patience, and our thoughts around the Vermont Commodity Program – since we learned that the Vermont Legislature may vote to close the facility where we’ve piloted the program and relationship with the Vermont Department of Corrections. The decision is not yet final by any means: the House of Representatives proposed budget would include closing the SESCF in 2017, and the Senate is still working on their proposed budget. A final decision is expected in May. However, the unknowns create an interesting challenge for our small team, and we’re wrapping our minds around what might be next for the Vermont Commodity Program.
While we await the legislature’s final decision, we are actively educating and asking folks in the legislature to preserve our working relationship with the Department of Corrections – whether that means continuing at the SESCF or pursuing the development of the program at a different facility.
You can help us send that message to our legislators.
Visit this site to find out who represents your voice in the State House.
Tell them that Vermont needs the Department of Corrections to work with Salvation Farms to continue developing a program that manages farm surplus foods and provides valuable workforce development opportunities for our incarcerated.
Regardless of the uncertainty about how the Vermont Commodity Program will evolve, we ground ourselves in remembering our organizing principles. Throughout our evolution Salvation Farms always comes back to the sentiment that food, as a common and essential resource, is an extremely effective tool for social change. Our mission speaks to this – a building of resilience – of strength and independence for our region through thoughtful and practical partnership-based work.
From our successes – of which we’ve had many this past year – our small organization projects much growth and many challenges this year. From these challenges we will grow in strength and focus.
In that spirit, we wanted to share with you some of the figures from our Annual Report, which we think illustrate some of our many successes in 2014:
Vermont Gleaning Collective
5 member gleaning programs
120,113 pounds gleaned
65 Farms served
54 Crop types captured
66 Sites served
2,634 Volunteer hours contributed
Gleaning Collective Member Organizations in 2014
A major accomplishment in 2014 that we continue to celebrate is the launch of a website we call The Gleaners Interface. Thanks to the hard work of Tim Clifford and Salvation Farms’ own Marcella Houghton – we created a web-based tool that supports the Vermont Gleaning Collective’s Member Organizations recruit volunteers, announce gleans, and track the data associated with their individual work in a way that can also represent our collective impact – because we are all tracking data in the same way within this web-based database. It is a fabulous tool, one that we are confident will only get better with continued use and refinements.
We encourage you – as part of National Volunteer Week – to register as a volunteer gleaner today. Visit The Gleaners Interface and join the important effort to reduce food waste on our regions farms, feed those in need of its nourishment, and celebrate the value of farms within our communities.
Vermont Commodity Program: Minimal Processing @ the Vermont Food Venture Center
5 Crops processed
26 Volunteers engaged
90 Volunteer hours contributed
1,824 Approximate servings created
8 Sites served
Vermont Commodity Program: Raw Packing @ the Southeast State Correctional Facility (SESCF)
19 Inmates engaged, all received on-the-job training while 10 earned certificates in workplace safety and food-handling safety
8 Farms donated 77,514 pounds of 5 different crops
10 Sites served—including Vermont Commodity Program’s minimal processing work
The VT Foodbank’s network of 200+ agencies statewide received 45,920 pounds
Cedar Circle Farm, Edgewater Farm, Fable Farm, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Tuberville (in partnership with Chappelle’s Vermont Potatoes & Peaslee’s Vermont Potatoes), Vermont Technical College Orchard, Yates’ Family Orchard
Chester/Andover Family Center, Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, Craftsbury Community Care Center, Keene Community Kitchen, Lamoille Community Food Share, Lamoille County Meals on Wheels, Laraway Youth & Family Services, Lamoille Valley Learning Together, Our Place Drop-In Center, Peoples Academy, Springfield Family Center, Sterling College, The Manor, Vermont Foodbank, Willing Hands, Windsor Schools
As Salvation Farms grew our vision for the management of farm surplus foods beyond the grassroots activity of gleaning – we knew that we would need to invite some legal experts to join us at the table.
In early 2013 we approached the Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture & Food Systems, seeking their help in wading through key areas regarding the integration of farm surplus management into our regions food system – many revolving around liability i.e. compensation to the farmer that won’t create food safety liabilities for them or liabilities associated with processing gleaned and donated farm-fresh foods for future use.
We are happy to share that the Vermont Law School was intrigued. They sought three years of Federal funding – which they obtained in late 2014 – to identify the legal obstacles to scaling up gleaning & other farm-fresh food rescue activities in an effort to provide recommendations for overcoming these obstacles. We are excited to have them as a vital partner in this important work.
We thank our community of donors, which includes: 220 individuals, 10 of whom were anonymous, and 62 businesses, 2 of which were anonymous.
Many donations were made in honor or memory of loved ones. We respect all of our donor dollars – not only the request regarding how funds are spent but the intention behind contributions. We are proud to note donations in 2014 were made:
In Honor of: All Volunteers, Ed Krempecke , Emma, Colin & Viv, Joan F. Hall, Mark & Sallie Scott, Sam Russell, Theresa Snow, Zach, Ethan, Lindsay and Aurelia
In Memory of: Alex Lamb, Beryl Gilbert & Charlene Patno, Dorothy & Duane Brown, Katie Almeter, Robert Pralle
We also send thanks to the 12 Foundations (including one who wishes to remain anonymous) who funded our mission and vision in 2014:
2014 General Operations & Program Support
2014 SESCF Renovation Support
The Agnes M. Lindsay Trust, Vermont Community Foundation – Fountain Fund, Vermont Community Foundation – Sustainable Future Fund, Maine Community Foundation – A Component Fund, Pleasants Fund, The Wisdom Connection
As Salvation Farms moves forward, striving to take each day as fresh and full of unanticipated opportunities, we are excited to move into a bigger office in our downtown location and to the addition of new team members.
Michael Forkas will join the team this spring as an AmeriCorps State Member. We are days away from filling a Middlebury College FoodWorks Intern position. And we have launched an active search for a talented and fun individual to fill a Director of Administration & Development position.
Thanks for staying with us on this journey to create greater food independence for Vermont through managing what our farms don’t send to market. We ARE changing the way we choose to feed ourselves.
Theresa, Marcella, & Laurel