Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

The Awakening | A young Vermonter sees the family business 
in a new light

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Taste of the Landscape

This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Vermont Life magazine. To enjoy more Vermont stories and photographs each quarter, consider subscribing to Vermont Life.

Editor’s Note: Maddie Baughman, an 18-year-old senior at Harwood Union High School, was asked as part of her college application process to write about “an event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.” Though never intended for publication, her essay came to our attention at Vermont Life, and, with Baughman’s permission, we chose to share it with our readers. 

Click play to hear the author read her essay.

By Maddie Baughman

Many 13-year-olds are mortified if their parents so much as get out of the car to pick them up from soccer practice. After all, parents ruin the illusion of independence. When I was 13, my dad would pull up in a 25,000-pound, iguana-green hook truck, filled to the brim with foul smelling, steaming cow manure. As much as I tried to pretend that my parents were mere accessories to my independent life,

Maddie Baughman at her family business, Grow Compost, in Moretown. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Maddie Baughman at her family business, Grow Compost, in Moretown. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

 

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Youth Exodus?

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Way of (Vermont) Life

Young people, we’re told all the time, are leaving the state. It’s a good story, except for one thing.

By Melissa Pasanen and Bill Anderson

Photographed by Daria Bishop

avid parker (left) and sean Hurley (right) at the Burlington office of fast-growing Web business Dealer.com.

When David Parker, the 30-year-old vice president of strategy development for Dealer. com, headed out of state in 2000 from his hometown of Williston, he was looking to spread his wings and explore beyond Vermont.“It’s natural,” he says,“to want to experience new places.”

Since middle school, Parker had shown a knack for computers — he was featured in a National Public Radio segment about how kids were surpassing their teachers in technology — and after graduating from Champlain Valley Union High School, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. By the fall of 2003, he was at a crossroads: take a high- tech job that was being offered in Hartford, Conn., or return to Vermont where he had the opportunity to help develop a nonprofit focused on building the tech sector in the state. Choosing home, he worked with Vermont HITEC, became an adjunct faculty member for the University of Vermont and several colleges, co-founded the Vermont Software Developers Alliance and, eventually, joined Dealer.com.

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At Dealer.com, Parker is part of a fast-growing business that provides digital marketing systems for the automotive industry, and he works in a setting, with about 750 other employees, that has all the toys and perks of Silicon Valley culture: brightly colored warrens of open cubicles, organic café with espresso, on-site gym, rooftop solarium with putting green and a renovated building that, it almost goes without saying, is a model of green design.

In short, Dealer.com is everybody’s idea of what Vermont needs to stop young people from leaving the state.

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Dreaming of Summer and My CSA

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

It’s that time of year when the warm, sunny days start to outnumber the grey, chilly ones … finally.

Spring and then, yes, even summer are coming, or so e-mail communications from my community-supported agriculture (CSA for short) farm assure me, promising my first pick-up in early June.

This is also the time of year when many people decide whether to re-up their CSA membership, look for another one that they think might better meet their needs, or decide that they prefer to get their locally grown produce and other foods through other channels.

We’ve belonged to the same CSA for more than a dozen years, heading down the Intervale in Burlington’s Old North End once a week from June through early October to pick up (and also sometimes, pick) our share of the weekly harvest. In the early years, our two sons came with me, reveling in the sandbox and later the old tire swing before “helping mommy” by grabbing fistfuls of sun-warm cherry tomatoes or hunting for raspberries and eating more than ended up in the basket. Now they’re busy teenagers and I can only occasionally convince them to tag along, but they do still appreciate those cherry tomatoes and raspberries— and even the Brussels sprouts.

The Intervale Community Farm was founded in 1990, making it one of the oldest CSAs in Vermont. It is different from many in that a co-op board governs the farm but it is run by hired farm managers; in other ways it’s pretty traditional. Generally, a CSA signs up paying members before each season to share the farm’s bounty, along with some of the upfront investment and risk. (It also saves the farmers having to market and sell their produce during the height of the busy growing season, although many still attend farmers’ markets and do some retail sales.) Members go to the farm for pick-up and, while there is some choice, generally they are allotted a specific quantity from among a number of options each week.

When everything goes well, members reap the rewards of a bountiful harvest, almost always paying less than they would at regular retail prices for equivalent products. Occasionally things don’t go so well, like in 2011 which, in the case of the Intervale, was waterlogged through late spring and came to a hard stop at the end of August with Tropical Storm Irene flooding. But that is part of the pact you make when you agree to support a particular farmer and it is a fairly rare occurrence.

Over the last 20 years, the number and variety of CSA’s have grown exponentially in Vermont and around the country. There are many who deliver their shares to local workplaces and other centralized locations. There are a number that also include products from different farms and regional food producers. Some provide free choice of produce and others offer discounts for paying ahead that can be applied to purchase whatever customers want in a given week. (Some of these are not technically CSA’s but they are all community-supported agriculture in some form or another.) Many, including ICF, now go almost year-round offering storage crops as well as hardy winter greens and even peak summer produce frozen, dried or canned.

While I’ve dabbled in other forms of CSA during the winter, my summers would just not be the same without my weekly pilgrimage down to the verdant Intervale to catch up with friends (including the farmers) around the piles of broccoli and sweet corn. Even when my desk is piled high with work, I have learned to welcome the forced break of leaving my computer to crouch among the green beans and listen to children giggling as they run through the raspberry patch. It’s a chance each week to connect directly with the source of my food and with a community that truly values local food and farmers.
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E-mail Vermont Life food editor Melissa Pasanen or tell us what you’re thinking via Twitter or on our Facebook page.

If you’re looking for a CSA in Vermont, you can start with the lists at here and here. There is also a new service in development, available for Chittenden County only at this point, that allows you to search based on certain criteria for a CSA.

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