In agriculture, we talk a lot about sustainability. As a method of growing crops, caring for ecosystems like forests or wetlands, or even the economic sustainability of businesses—we look at this word from all angles. But there’s another component to consider: cultural sustainability.
As a nation of immigrants, we have many rich and complex influences woven into the history of our country. Foods we eat, holidays we celebrate, how we create goods or perform services—these are all things that are shaped by the cultural identities of our families and the communities around us.
For many communities, farmers markets are playing a pivotal role in maintaining and enabling these cultural ties. Read more »
USDA Rural Development’s Business and Loan Guarantee Program supported new construction for an expanded Brattleboro Food Coop in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original plan for two stories was expanded to four thanks to an innovative partnership with the Windsor Housing Trust to develop mixed-income apartments.
“Smart Growth” is a term we hear more and more often. It is the idea that as communities plan for the future, they consider the highest and best use of every resource – land, infrastructure, organizations and people. From housing to transportation to energy to food; community developers and planners are asking how Smart Growth principles can be applied to ensure a sustainable and dynamic future for their communities and their residents. Read more »
Last week, Molly Lambert, State Director of the Vermont Rural Development State Office, (RD) joined me in hosting the state’s first “Intermediary Relending Program and Creative Financing Roundtable.” Meeting participants, including leaders from Vermont’s economic and community development centers, met at the Vermont Economic Development Authority office located in Montpelier, Vermont.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways to promote the distribution of more than $5 million in funds to Vermont’s rural small business entrepreneurs using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). These enthusiastic participants, who have keen insight into the state’s industries and barriers to capital, learned that working collaboratively will benefit all Vermont communities.
During the opening part of the meeting, staff from the Vermont USDA State Office gave the state’s Intermediary Relending providers updates on the administration of IRP loans. The session then moved to a discussion of trends, observations, and economic opportunities for the small businesses in their respective areas. Read more »
Robert McDonald, Housing Program Director and Molly Lambert, State Director USDA Rural Development on front steps of Mountainside House Teen Center in Ludlow VT. USDA staff helped repair the building as part of June Homeownership Month activities.
There are several definitions of home. The one I think best fits the Mountainside House Teen Center in Vermont is “A familiar or usual setting: a congenial environment.” Read more »
Helping small- and medium-sized businesses export their products is a cornerstone of the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The partnership between the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), non-profit U.S. agricultural trade organizations (called cooperators) and state regional trade groups (SRTGs) is essential to achieving that goal. The power of this partnership was clearly highlighted at the SIAL Canada trade show in Montreal, May 9-11, where the majority of the exhibitors at the USA Pavilion were small U.S. companies.
Among the SIAL Canada participants were the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM), and six Vermont food companies that produce products including artisan cheeses, croutons, jams, jellies, dips, sauces, specialty packaged maple syrups and premium spaghetti sauces. Although many of the companies are located less than an hour away from the Canadian border, few had previously considered exporting their products to Canada. Read more »
Value Added Producer Grant recipients in Vermont will use USDA support to increase on-farm production of dairy products. (Photo taken by a USDA employee)
It was a snow day in New England, but up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, in the little town of Hardwick, several people were gathered at the VT Food Venture Center, a local food incubator, to sign USDA Value Added Grant papers for the new businesses they are starting up.
The Michaud family of East Hardwick is launching Kingdom Creamery of Vermont, LLC. out of their newly finished processing facility on their dairy farm. They are producing ice cream, yogurt and a soft serve mix for local retailers. They received a USDA Value Added Producer grant for working capital purposes for marketing, processing and purchasing packaging and production inventory. Read more »