Vital Communities began with a vision: what if people in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire could access fresh food from their communities, knowing where the food came from and who grew it? And what if farmers had access to a multitude of markets... Folks also realized that farming and farmland plays a crucial role in providing the region with its open space and rural character, as well as with food. Out of their work came the Valley Food & Farm program.
Valley Food & Farm carries out its mission to "foster the relationships that make agriculture a vital part of daily community life" in concrete and practical ways. In 2002 VF&F held its first local agricultural fair, Flavors of the Valley. Flavors has since become an annual event which is considered the greater Upper Valley's premier tasting, informational, and buying event for locally grown foods.
Valley Food & Farm also publishes a Guide to local agriculture each year in early spring, and there is a year-round searchable version on our website. We work diligently to keep the Guide updated so that folks can find accurate information about where to get locally grown and raised food at farms and at other locations such as farmers markets, restaurants, stores.
Our agricultural email bulletin Tidbits, available at no charge, includes information about seasonal farm products and services, and news and events relating to local agriculture. While continuing these fundamental services, VF&F has taken on several exciting projects in the larger community. In 2005 Valley Food & Farm launched a Farm to Dartmouth project to help Dartmouth Colleges food service staff purchase locally grown food; three years later Farm to Dartmouth concluded with contracts between the College and ten local growers to supply its dining halls with fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs an increase of $30,000 in its local food purchases.
VF&F joined with other Upper Valley non-profits for an 18-month Robert Wood Johnson grant-funded Healthy Eating by Design project. We worked with families learning about choosing, growing and preparing healthful foods. A youth garden, community meals, trips to pick-your-own farms and a table at the local farmers markets youth day were among the activities that came out of the Healthy Eating project.
In 2008 VF&F launched a new workplace benefit called Fresh Connections, linking local business owners and their employees with local farms and food. Fresh Connections addresses many concerns, including employee wellness, supporting the local economy and keeping local agriculture viable. Employers and farmers are encouraged to get in touch with us to learn more.
Valley Food & Farm continues to play a leadership role in the Upper Valley. We also participate in statewide and region-wide organizations addressing the needs of local farms and food systems. The increased interest in local and seasonal eating, as indicated by the growing number of both summer and winter farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, is gratifying. We look forward to continuing our work in conjunction with other partners in the Upper Valley, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Valley Food & Farm is a program of Vital Communities, a non-profit organization serving the greater Upper Connecticut River Valley of NH & VT. Valley Food & Farm fosters relationships that make agriculture a vibrant part of community life.
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