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Farms and Agriculture

Friday, May 3, 2019

Vandana Shiva Talks Poison Cartel, Farmers' Rights and Ecofeminism

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2019 at 1:50 PM

Vandana Shiva - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Vandana Shiva
Dr. Vandana Shiva, the high-profile organic agriculture and environmental activist and author from Delhi, India, will be in Vermont this weekend for two events at Sterling College in Craftsbury. She will deliver the college’s commencement address on Saturday and lead a sold-out workshop on social and environmental justice activism on Sunday.

On Monday, May 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Shiva will speak in front of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier to kick off a series of regional events in support of an international pledge for “Poison-Free Food & Farming by 2030.”

Shiva, 66, has received many awards and accolades over decades of advocacy work spanning organic agriculture, biodiversity, climate change and social justice. Among other honors, she has earned the Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the "alternative Nobel Prize," and the Sydney Peace Prize; and has been named an Environmental Hero by Time magazine. Her uncompromising zeal has also prompted criticism, as detailed in a 2014 profile in the New Yorker.

Reached in India before her trip to the U.S., Shiva talked with Seven Days about bio-imperialism, the power of women, and bad curry.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

USDA Again Suspends Slaughter Operation at Vermont Packinghouse

Posted By on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 6:45 PM

Kacey Knight working at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield - FILE: MELISSA PASANEN
  • File: Melissa Pasanen
  • Kacey Knight working at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield
Federal regulators temporarily shut down the animal slaughter operation at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield on Monday, according to a statement from the facility.

An on-site U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector flagged the facility for the "mis-stun" of a sheep. Animals are stunned before they are slaughtered.

"This caused the animal to suffer momentarily before another stun could be properly administered," said the statement from Arion Thiboumery, general manager of Vermont Packinghouse. During the one-day suspension, other aspects of the business — including meat packing and processing — remained in operation, according to Thiboumery.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vermont's Top Cow Is a Flatlander

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 3:49 PM

Blexy, Supreme Champion of the World Dairy Expo - COURTESY OF SHARYN ABBOTT
  • COURTESY OF SHARYN ABBOTT
  • Blexy, Supreme Champion of the World Dairy Expo
Beer and cheese made in Vermont have earned best-in-the-world accolades. Now another product with Vermont ties — mightier (or at least heavier) than a bottle of beer or a wedge of cheese —  has won top honors.

Blexy, an 1,800-pound Holstein,  was named Supreme Champion at the
World Dairy Expo on October 7 in Madison, Wisc.  She bested about 2,300 animals to win the prize.

Blexy's co-owners, Sharyn and Tim Abbott, live in Enosburg and operate a dairy farm and cattle breeding business in Richford, Borderview Genetics.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

The Big Feed at Shelburne Farms: Vermont Fresh Network Dinner

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:01 PM

Vermont Fresh Network fundraiser at Shelburne Farms - SOPHIE X. POLLAK
  • Sophie X. Pollak
  • Vermont Fresh Network fundraiser at Shelburne Farms
The Vermont Fresh Network held its annual gala last Sunday evening at Shelburne Farms.  The occasion is billed as a "forum," but it's perhaps better described as a mass feeding.

About 400 people attended the sold-out fundraiser for the VFN — a statewide nonprofit that connects food producers and restaurateurs, and works to strengthen partnership between the groups. The network's membership includes 113 chefs and 140 farmers/food producers.

Sunday night at the Coach Barn, farmer-chef connections were on display in a delicious and creative array of mini-meals, from  complex (smoked beef with pickled blueberries and radishes, garlic-chili aioli, basil and mint) to simple (ham and butter on baguette).

To honor the event, we recognize seven contributions:

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Land O'Lakes Buys Vermont Creamery: 10 Questions for Allison Hooper

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 9:06 PM

Cultured butter from Vermont Creamery - COURTESY OF VERMONT CREAMERY
  • Courtesy of Vermont Creamery
  • Cultured butter from Vermont Creamery
On Wednesday afternoon, March 29, news circulated through the Vermont fooderati that Vermont Creamery had been sold to Minnesota cheese-and-butter giant Land O'Lakes for an undisclosed sum (yes, we asked how much, to no avail).

Allison Hooper and Bob Reese cofounded Vermont Butter & Cheese Company from a barn in Brookfield in 1984. Thirty-three years later the business, which changed its name to Vermont Creamery in 2013, brings in tens of millions of dollars annually and employs about 100 Vermonters full time.

While representatives from the creamery and from Land O'Lakes have been forthcoming since news of the sale broke yesterday, many Vermonters were left wondering what it would all mean. Would the company stay in Vermont? What would happen to current employees, and to the farmers from whom the creamery buys milk? Would the chèvre, cultured butter and soft-ripened cheeses be different now?

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Location, Same Great Vibe at the Burlington Winter Farmers Market

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 3:58 PM

Burllington Farmers Market purchases - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Burllington Farmers Market purchases
When I learned that the Burlington Winter Farmers Market would be moving from the condemned Memorial Auditorium in downtown Burlington to the University of Vermont's Dudley H. Davis Center, I was skeptical that the new location would have the right vibe. My first visit to the market in its new location proved me wrong.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Reinhart Foodservice to Purchase Black River Produce

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Black River Produce founders Steve Birge and Mark Curran with President Sean Buchanan - COURTESY OF OLIVER PARINI
  • Courtesy of Oliver Parini
  • Black River Produce founders Steve Birge and Mark Curran with President Sean Buchanan
 In the words of company president Sean Buchanan, Springfield's Black River Produce "started with a handful of cash and a dream." The food distributor was founded  38 years ago by Steve Birge and Mark Curran, who described themselves as "ski bums." 

Since then, BRP has operated as an independent entity — until now. On October 24, the company will be purchased by Illinois- and Wisconsin-based Reinhart Foodservice, the fourth largest food-service distributor in the country. Staff was informed of the change on Friday. 

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

New Americans Join in Shelburne Grape Harvest

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Duk Luitel harvesting grapes - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Duk Luitel harvesting grapes
"I love summer jobs," Duk Luitel told me as she paused from clipping clusters of grapes on the vines surrounding Shelburne Vineyard. It feels good to be working outdoors, she explained. After all, the 41-year-old Winooski resident was a farmer in her native Bhutan.

Luitel is among a group of about 30 people, most of them from the Bhutanese community, who have been picking grapes at the vineyard since the harvest season started earlier this month. A smaller number of Congolese are also pitching in at the vineyard on Route 7.

For the past three years, co-owner Kenneth Albert has depended on his personal connection with a Bhutanese individual to recruit grape pickers from that community. "They are more reliable," he said. "Local residents [are] doing it as more of a recreation."

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Chef, Farmer, Eater: More Talk With Food Writer Ruth Reichl

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Ruth Reichl co-teaching at Sterling College - COURTESY OF BEANA BERN
  • Courtesy of Beana Bern
  • Ruth Reichl co-teaching at Sterling College

This week’s issue of Seven Days features an interview with renowned food writer Ruth Reichl. Last week, I met Reichl at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, where she spent three days co-teaching a summer course called “Food Writing From the Farm” at the college’s School of the New American Farmstead.

There wasn’t enough space to run the entire interview in print. Here are extended questions and answers from our front-porch conversation on the Sterling College campus:

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alice Eats: Farm Cart at Shelburne Farms

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, 985-8686

My dining companion
  • My dining companion

Sometimes, you feel like brunch at Shelburne Farms. But that craving can't be satisfied last-minute — reservations are necessary well in advance. And not all of us want to pay $14 for a veggie hash, anyway.

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Luckily, there's a lower-cost but equally ultra-local option. In front of the Farm Barn, a food-truck-style set-up known as the Farm Cart offers a menu of sandwiches, salads and soup. And since seating is at gnarled wood picnic tables in an open field, you may be joined for lunch by a chicken or two, as I was. 

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