“Millions of pounds of food in Vermont rot in the fields every summer because it’s not economical to harvest. Salvation Farms is building a network of gleaners across the state who will fill the empty bellies of thousands of hungry men, women, and children with that healthy produce. There is no cause more worthy than this. Join us in supporting this effort!” – Anonymous Challenge Donor
We have only $2,400 left to raise – to meet the $10,000 match! Instead of using a “giving thermometer” to track our progress, we’ve created the “giving garlic” (see end of post)
This growing season – Help Salvation Farms Grow – grow our team, our programs and our impact! By building a fertile base of support we are able to grow in so many ways…
This VISTA transition means we’ve had to say farewell to Laurel Ferland. After a year of VISTA service, Laurel has begun a new adventure… an exploratory trip west. Salvation Farms is humbled by the dedication and hard work Laurel put forth during her time with us. Her compassionate approach, warm smile, and hearty laughter will be truly missed amidst our team. A few of Laurel’s accomplishments include the coordination and oversight to process more than 3,050 servings of surplus crops into frozen foods with volunteers, the planning for a project with Meals on Wheels (read below) as well as writing and securing a $5,000 grant to support this partnership project.
A few of Laurel’s accomplishments include the coordination and oversight to process more than 3,050 servings of surplus crops into frozen foods with volunteers, the planning for a project with Meals on Wheels as well as writing and securing a $5,000 grant to support this partnership project.
Grow our Programs…
This spring, Salvation Farms supported a series of visits between farms in Northwest Vermont and the newest member of the Vermont Gleaning Collective, Healthy Roots Collaborative. Healthy Roots, based in Franklin County, aims to serve both Franklin & Grand Isle Counties through gleaning. Just one of many local food initiatives that Healthy Roots in working on, their gleaning program is in its infancy: an exciting phase for us to offer all kinds of programmatic development support.
“Salvation Farms has provided expert guidance and mentoring that only comes from years of solid experience…we are lucky to benefit from the Collective’s support as we inventory current and potential gleaning initiatives in the northwest corner,” says Kristen Hughes, Healthy Roots coordinator.
Our 1st quarter meeting for the Vermont Gleaning Collective, held in March at the Vermont Law School, included an invitation for farmers to join and offer their perspective on how the Collective could best serve them. And, as spring struggled with winter, checking in with farmers meant meeting them where they were at — usually in the field or greenhouse! Knowing the needs of the farmer is essential and a first order of business when creating successful gleaning programs.
The Collective’s 2nd quarter meeting held in early June at Capstone included four prospective Members Organizations representing distinct regions in Vermont. At this meeting we discussed what measures might best convey our Collective impact and how we ensure those measures are captured with the tools that Salvation Farms is committed to providing and maintaining for the Collective members.
This season, Salvation Farms is working with Meals on Wheels of Lamoille County to bring more locally-grown food into their prepared meals for seniors. The project, supported by the Vermont Community Foundation and the Green Mountain Fund, will explore ways an agency can process gleaned food for short-term frozen storage. Salvation Farms will coordinate gleans and with Meals on Wheels will lead teams of volunteers to process the farm-fresh crops for future incorporation into the meals prepared for their delivery program.
The goals of this partnership are twofold: 1) make more nutritious, local food available to seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels for sustenance, and 2) build a model and written “tool-kit” to continue this work in the Lamoille Valley and beyond. In order to equip agencies to receive and handle larger quantities of fresh produce, we aim to find the best practices for lightly processing gleaned crops. In other words, we will be testing for each gleaned crop which combination of slicing, dicing, blanching, freezing, package size, etc. is ideal for meal programs to easily “put food by” for future use. Defining optimal short-term storage methods not only increases the use and better management of food produce locally but also reduces our reliance and investment in foods produced and processed far from Vermont.
“We are proud to be working with Salvation Farms and their network of farmers to use gleaned surplus produce that might otherwise go to waste. We know our seniors will be happy to receive local fresh food and to know that our community cares about them and the quality of their meals,” says Brynn Evans, Lamoille County Meals on Wheels Director.
In the past few months we have weathered plenty of unknowns regarding our work with the Vermont Department of Corrections—as some of you may have heard. Following the discussion of possible prison closure during legislative budget debates, the renewal of our contract to work directly with inmates has been delayed. While our work at the Southeast State Correctional Facility is on hold (as are the dollars we raised for renovation of a building at this facility) we are actively working to explore alternatives…other ways to engage people in the cleaning, packing, and processing of large volumes of surplus produce.
This work proved our program concept, benefiting many farmers, workers (inmates), and the food/nutritionally insecure. “The Vermont Foodbank benefits greatly from having a local organization with agricultural expertise that understands the Foodbank’s requirements as well as understanding the important role their organization plays in delivering the highest quality and most nutritious food to hungry Vermonters” John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank says of Salvation Farms in a recent letter to Vermont legislators.
“She [Theresa] does a good thing for people here, and it’s nice for us to know that what we’re doing helps people,” one inmate participant told the Rutland Herald. “We know where our next meal is coming from. A lot of other people don’t.”
Grow Our Impact….
In mid-June, our director Theresa attended the 2015 Food Summit in Boston as one of 20 delegates from Vermont. The New England Food Vision, which was the focus of the summit, “describes a future in which New England produces at least half of the region’s food—and no one goes hungry.” The vision continues stating that “heightened regional food production is just a means to an end: it is useful only if it delivers real social and environmental benefits.”
It is affirming to note that our work closely aligns with this vision for New England…similar to how our work supports Vermont’s Farm to Plate plan. We gain extra motivation as we recognize our important role in region-wide initiatives. As Salvation Farms is founded in sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, systems thinking, and the ideals of providing experiential opportunities for all to engage in redefining our food system—we are an essential part of this incredible vision!
“It is so exciting to see a non-profit that is working to change the priorities of our government and our culture so that one day the management of agricultural waste will become normal practice, and not simply the work of isolated non-profits. Supporting Salvation Farms in their work is so much more than a charitable donation- it is an investment in the future of local food security.” – Maggie Cleary, Community Member
“The system needs an overhaul, and you guys are spearheading that.” -Jon Cohen, Deep Meadow Farm
What does food systems change look like? How does it include both the market place and efforts to manage what doesn’t make it to market? How do we make food—good food—accessible to all while ensuring dignity for all food-system players… farmers, food service workers, eaters?
These are tough questions but ones that Salvation Farms considers every day as it works to build a stronger food system for Vermont. A food system that will feed our most vulnerable and in-need neighbors today while building more food security for us all tomorrow.
“I didn’t notice any difference from what I purchase from Sysco, with the quality of the product.” – Holly Phelps, Meals on Wheels, feedback on diced bell peppers provided through our minimal processing work
“The ultimate goal in this challenging undertaking is not just to make sure that these locally raised products are available within the charitable food system but also to ensure that they are processed and distributed in efficient and appropriate ways for the institutions and individuals that will use them. Not a task for the weak of heart … but Theresa is known for her drive as much as for her knowledge.” – Philip Ackerman-Leist, p. 109 in his book Rebuilding the Foodshed
We release a breath of relief to know we are on the same path as so many others in our region working to build a different world for our communities—one that is rooted in dignity and sustainability for all.
Join us in this very important work!
-The Salvation Farms Team
Garlic, Allium sativum – a totem of strength & resilience; withstanding deep frosts & long winters, the hearty tonic emerges each spring faithfully proving that another year of fruitful growth will occur yet again.