As our team looks back over 2017, we cannot be more grateful for those who have joined us in the adventure that is Salvation Farms.
One of the highlights of the year was embarking on a strategic thinking process, facilitated by Glenn Ravdin of 2Ns. Our fearless facilitator led a group of stakeholders, including longtime friends of the organization, contracted workers, partners, and local volunteers, in understanding how to better communicate Salvation Farms’ impact and philosophy
The sessions were generously supported by Cabot Cooperative Creamery and comes at a vital time in Salvation Farms’ evolution. Nate Formalarie of Cabot explains “The 1,100 farm families who own Cabot Creamery are committed to supporting programs that not only bring more food to those in need, but also increase farm sustainability, while being replicable throughout the region. Salvation Farms has a strong vision; through utilizing resources like Glenn Ravdin to aid in strategic planning, we hope their strong vision becomes a sustainable reality.”
Glenn writes that, “during workshops in September and October, following two courses of research conducted among Salvation Farms constituents, we began a strategic thinking process designed to help the organization build awareness of its work. This included an in-depth look at perceptions of Salvation Farms and an understanding of the forces that drive the organization’s work.
As we move forward with this process, we will be analyzing the strengths of the organization and identifying the threats we face moving forward, from the uncertainty of financial support to the challenges of growing our organization in the face of ongoing need. Central to this process is a close look at the marketing challenges ahead as we work to communicate with our constituents and the general public, and to tell the Salvation Farms story.”
During the research conducted prior to the workshops, we asked our supporters and collaborators to describe Salvation Farms – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The words that were most commonly said are in the wordle below.
The value and appreciation you expressed for our innovative, necessary, and creative work means everything to us. Along with our passion, your belief in our work, programs, and impact are fuel for the fire…it keeps us moving forward.
Salvation Farms does not exist without the support and involvement of many. You help us deliver value to our neighbors every day – harvesting healthy food to sustain people throughout Vermont.
At our core, Salvation Farms reduces food loss on farms and increases the accessibility of local food for all in our state. But more broadly, we are working to bring more resilience and strength to the local level – so all are well fed, well cared for, and well respected.
Chip and Anita, supporters all the way from San Antonio, Texas reflect on the work of Salvation Farms: ““We appreciate the work that you do and wish that we could see more organizations doing the same things. Anything that contributes to feeding people, and reducing waste of perfectly good food, is a worthy cause in our minds.”
While Salvation Farms has evolved and grown over the years, our core principles remain. We believe that food, an essential resource, is a vital tool for social change and greater justice in this world. We believe in the power of bringing people together to experience the richness of farms – and, through that, the richness of our communities.
One of the cornerstones of Salvation Farms is our original program – gleaning in our backyard of the Lamoille Valley. We are thrilled to have successfully re-launched this program during the 2017 season with a full-time staff member and an AmeriCorps VISTA member assisting.
Despite the snowy and chilly weather we are facing, the team here is still thinking warmly about the harvest season and reflecting on the accomplishments from this year!
Lloyd, a loyal volunteer this season, explained that he “found the gleaning commitment to be one of the very best things I did in 2017, as I reflect on the year as it draws to a close. You will most definitely see me back in the orchards or fields next fall.”
During the past few months, we spent 29 days in the fields with 151 hardworking volunteers. This year, Lamoille Valley Gleaning has moved more than 48,000 pounds of surplus fruits and vegetables from 19 Vermont farms to 21 different meal sites and food shelves.
Folks are excited about increased access to fresh veggies in all corners of the Lamoille Valley; from the Greensboro Nursing Home to the Woodbury-Calais Food Shelf and from the NEKCA-Head Start Program in Hardwick to the Teen Challenge Addiction Recovery Center in Johnson.
“The gleaning program has been a blessing to Teen Challenge Vermont, as being a non-profit, our food budget is limited, so the weekly donation helps out tremendously! Not knowing what we are getting each week helps me to try new culinary meals for our residents. We are very blessed to be a part of this program!” – Chuck, Teen Challenge’s kitchen manager
In turn, Teen Challenge staff and residents help Salvation Farms deliver gleaned veggies to other sites in Johnson.
We’re excited to rekindle an enthusiastic network of farmers, gleaners, and fresh-food lovers and will continue to grow community through gleaning in 2018!
We are not the only ones who have been busy in the fields and excited to wrap up this gleaning season – the member organizations of the Vermont Gleaning Collective have been hard at work. Along with getting their hands dirty at local farms, orchards, and farmer’s markets, the Collective has been engaged in critical work of clarifying its structure and combined vision in order to meet the needs of all organizations and to maximize its impact.
Facilitator Claire Wheeler of Re:Work describes the process the Collective has gone through this year: “Through a series of facilitated strategy sessions, the group has successfully shifted into a member-led community of practice with a goal to strengthen individual food rescue efforts across Vermont, thereby enhancing the overall impact of gleaning.”
Claire explains that, “as a community of practice, members will identify needs and create working groups to address those needs by partnering with other leaders and organizations. As a program of Salvation Farms, staff will maintain a support role for the Collective while member organizations will rotate into co-chair positions to lead the work of the Collective.”
We are grateful for Clare’s guidance through this restructure process and are excited for this new iteration of the Collective.
If you are interested in joining us in the fields, please register with the Vermont Gleaning Collective or contact Carly at 802-888-4360 or email@example.com
Although our formal gleaning season has ended, we are still collecting winter storage crops for local distribution and sending tons and tons (literally!) of bulk product to our food hub and training facility in Winooski.
After a reflective summer hiatus – where we identified strengths and challenges and tweaked some processes – the Vermont Commodity Program is in full swing! Our current cohort of trainees is in the final weeks of their training and have cleaned, sorted, packed and processed more than 64,000 pounds of Vermont’s surplus produce for food access sites across the state.
In between pack-room sessions of minimally processing apples (peeling, slicing, and freezing) and bagging raw carrots, trainees have earned ServSafe, OSHA, and 1st Aid/CPR certifications and taken Financial Literacy classes.
The crew has welcomed guest presenters from Community Justice Center, Turtle Fur HR department, UpRoot Colorado, Ben and Jerry’s, and Agency of Natural Resources, and gone on field trips to Pete’s Greens, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Vermont Foodbank, Twincraft, and Sodexo, among others.
We look forward to our next cycle – starting early in the new year – and are thrilled to be running the program in tandem with Vermont Works for Women!
Jen Oldham, Director of Women’s Programs at Vermont Works for Women, explains her excitement for this new pilot: “Our partnership with Salvation Farms is win-win-win. It allows both organizations to advance their missions and increase their impact, at the same time expanding employment opportunities for the women we work with. Vermont Works for Women and Salvation Farms have been talking about this partnership for quite a while and it is exciting to finally have it happen!”
This hybrid will highlight the strengths of both organizations; Salvation Farms will provide an opportunity for experiential, on-the-job learning, while Vermont Works for Women brings a fantastic work-readiness curriculum and will provide wrap-around support services to program participants.
Both organizations believe the joint effort will improve participant enrollment, retention, and successful transitions into steady employment.
Over the course of the fall, we have welcomed many to our organization – whether it be new financial or in-kind donors, new volunteers, and new team members. From the fields of Lamoille Valley farms to the aisles of City Market Co-op, we truly appreciate all the ways the community supports and engages in our work. We cannot do this without you.
If you have already given to our year end appeal, thank you!
If you have not yet given, please support us in getting to our $20,000 challenge match – we are less than $2,000 away!
Please take advantage of this dollar for dollar match and give generously to help us continue our vital work. Consider becoming a sustaining donor by making a monthly, online gift – to sustain our work all year long.
Thank you – and happy New Year!