More than a year-and-a-half after Vermont launched a plan to boost the state's food and farm economy, organizers are celebrating its progress.
The achievements include a mobile farmers' market that reaches low-income housing sites in northern Vermont and an increase in the number of colleges offering local foods in their dining halls.
This spring, Black River Produce, a Springfield company that sells produce, seafood, artisan cheese, meets and dairy to restaurants, institutions and retail stores in northern New England, bought a vacant factory to expand its meat processing. The expansion is expected to make more locally raised meat available, such as ground meats and sausages, and create six jobs soon and 20 by the end of the year.
To get fresh local foods to rural areas that don't have ready access to them, the Green Mountain Farm-to-School Program started a mobile farmers' market - a van with refrigeration and a commercial kitchen - that delivers food from more than a dozen local farms weekly to low-income housing sites and community centers in four so-called food deserts in rural northern Vermont.
The food service company Sodexo, which operates the University of Vermont dining halls and other college cafeterias in Vermont, is working with farmers to get more local products into its dining halls. The company signed contracts with Vermont State Colleges this year.
To promote tourism that focuses on experiencing culture through food, the state came out with a new interactive website. DigInVT.com
helps link tourists and foodies to nearly 400 food experiences around the state and provides information about the farmers, producers and chefs who make them.