ACORN’s Winter Workshop Series Announced

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Feb. 20*: Hemp Growers’ Workshop (SOLD OUT)

When: 3:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Where: UVM Extension, 23 Pond Lane, Middlebury

Who: Facilitated by Heather Darby of UVM Extension and Rye Matthews & Pat Fifield from NE Hemp Commodities

What: This workshop will cover what every hemp grower should be aware of before getting started, effective practices from irrigation to understanding the basics of the plants, understanding CBD is an expanding market, a Who's who of Addison County hemp growers and processor and more.

Please email Annie@acornvt.org if you’d like to be placed on a waiting list or are interested in a future hemp workshop.

*This was the previously scheduled Feb. 13 workshop which has been rescheduled due to weather.

Feb. 22: Meet & expand into new markets successfully

When: 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Where: UVM Extension, 23 Pond Lane, Middlebury

Who: Facilitated by Seth Walker of Healthy Living Market and Dan Reilly of Equinox Food Brokers, a Vermont company that specializes in helping growing businesses understand the processes & expectations of distribution. Seth will present information on selling direct to stores & share information on their new purchasing protocol. Between the two facilitators, this is an opportunity to help meet & expand into new markets successfully.  

Sponsored by Addison County Economic Development Corp and ACORNthis meet up with include plenty of time for businesses to engage with each other and share successes, challenges & failures. This is designed for small and emerging businesses. Space is limited to encourage chat time.  Ideal for specialty food producers & farmers with value-added producers and a great follow-up from our November 7th Producer Buyer Forum.

Info & Register here.

Lite fare provided. 8:30 registration & coffee talk. Prompt start time at 9:00.

Non-refundable, all payments are a donation to ACORN. If canceled due to severe weather we will do our best to reschedule via email. 

Feb. 26: Hemp Happy Hour

When: 4:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Where: Tandem, 26 Main Street, Bristol

What: This hemp round robin is a follow-up to previous hemp meetings and workshops hosted by ACORN. Established growers Rye Matthews and Pat Fifield will be there.

This is super small, casual shop-talk hang out so sign up early! Dig deeper into soils, irrigation, equipment, CBD clones, cultivars, and MORE!

Our partner, Tandem, opens their meeting space on Main Street for this meet-up. Registration fee covers the cost of one signature cocktail or two beers along with lite fare & beverages. Cash bar for more bevvies.

At 7:00 head across the street to ACORN supporter Hatch 31 for super pub fare and crazy fun, local tunes with the Welterweights.

Register here.

Feb. 27: Work-Life-Farm Balance Meet Up for Women Farmers

When: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Where: UVM Extension, 23 Pond Lane, Middlebury

Who: Facilitated by Bay Hammond of Doolittle Farm- farmer, grandmother, educator in sustainability & Taylor Hutchison, of Footprint Farm, young farmer extraordinaire, will share insights creating home, work and life balance. 

Bay and Taylor represent a continuum of experiences across decades of farming and lifestyle changes. This is going to be a fun group of people. Join the conversation and share your experiences. A lite lunch will be served allowing for casual chat time and general conviviality.

VT Young Farmers & ACORN sponsor a meet up with women farmers learning first hand what it takes to move towards the elusive "work/life balance.”

Space is limited, click here to save your spot now!

March 13: Grower to Grower: Meeting Market Demand for Organic Corn

When: 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Where: UVM Extension, 23 Pond Lane, Middlebury

Who: Organic corn is a much sought after ingredient for VT Tortilla Company. Join the conversation on sourcing for future demand for organic corn in this grower to grower conversation about fertility and crop rotations to meet market demands. Suitable for producers seeking learn more about crops to meet expanding demand for locally sourced ingredient. Azur Moulaert of Vermont Tortilla and farmers growing corn to meet their needs will lead the conversation.

More infoRegister Here

Registration is required, checks must be received prior to Feb 27th. Registration fees are a donation to ACORN and are non-refundable. In the event of severe weather we will do our best to reschedule


Photos from 2019’s Winter Workshops


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3rd Annual Producer, Buyer and Distributor Forum was Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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This event connects buyers, producers across all food categories, distributors and food system thinkers. The 2018 Forum was held Wednesday, November 7 at Kirk Alumni Hall, Middlebury College. This event connected buyers, producers across all food categories, distributors and food system thinkers. There was a panel, a Keynote by April Moulaert of Vermont Tortilla Company and networking and strong alliance building to promote stronger business to business partnerships.

Panelists included Netaka White, hemp consultant, Marikje Shemendine of It's Arthur's Fault! Sauces and Marinades, Rosalie Schleinig of Red Tomato Produce, Thomas Wentworth, Farm to Plate Consultant, Joshua Pfiel of Vermont Pepperworks and Eli Lesser Goldsmith of Healthy Living, among other notable speakers.

We have been receiving fabulous feedback on this unique format which guarantees time to delve into deep conversations and work together to meet Vermont's Farm to Plate goals.


2018 Grower Workshop Series

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All Addison County growers are invited to join us for our series of 2018 ACORN sponsored workshops and gatherings.

January 25: Farm to Farmstand Retailing for Farmers with Annie Harlow, VT Farm to Plate Retail Services
4:30-6:30, UVM Extension Office, 23 Pond Lane; corner of Exchange St & Mainelli Roads, Middlebury

Feb 13: How to Work with Distributors to Open Up New Market Opportunities with Vermont Roots & Upper Valley Produce, 9:00am - 12pm noon, UVM Extension Office, 23 Pond Lane; corner of Exchange St & Mainelli Roads, Middlebury

Feb 22 Meeting New Demand for Hemp: A Grower’s Perspective with VT Hemp Company, 5:00-7:00pm Happy Hour, Stonecutter Spirits, 1197 Exchange St, Middlebury

Feb 28 Ag-Tourism: Engaging Visitors with Farm-Based Education Network, Vermont Fresh Network, UVM Extension & local farms, 9:00am - 12:00pm, Goldenwell Farm and Apiaries, 1089 River Rd, New Haven

March 21: Help reclaim the original meaning of organic. An hour and half of information & conversation around soil-based and animal welfare organic standards with David Miskell at Lincoln Peak Vineyard, 5:00-6:30pm, 142 River Road, New Haven

Pre-registration is required, space is limited. Click on the highlighted title of the workshop you'd like to register for to pay via EventBrite. Light snacks will be provided. All payments are a donation to ACORN's mission and tickets are non-refundable.


Planned Farmer Round Table Series for 2018

ACORN will continue to partner with LOCAL FARMERS to organize round-table discussions about a variety of topics:

  • Improved soil and clean water

  • Sustainable incomes

  • Transitions to the next generation


Grower Meetings in 2016

ACORN Growers meeting, tandem, bristol, january 2016

ACORN Growers meeting, tandem, bristol, january 2016

ACORN hosted a series of grower meetings around Addison County in early 2016. In these intimate meetings, we were able to glean information from growers across food categories and farm sizes.

We learned what obstacles growers were facing, and as well as opportunities for growth and sustainability.

Specifically, growers were interested in:

  • Networking, collaborating and connecting with other growers regarding:

    • Grant writing

    • Delivery

    • Developing an honor system for produce/ surplus at a destination to replace previous Bristol farmers' market

    • Bringing food to a NYC or Boston market (and finding a marketer on the other end)

    • Filling larger institutional buys

    • Selling humane meat collectively with other producers

    • Space to make sausage/ process meat

    • A business model where growers are willing to sell their produce for less if it goes into a food processing kitchen for foodshelves, summer meals, and schools

  • Increasing sales in Addison County and out of state

  • Promoting products to city dwellers who don’t grow their own food

  • An online platform for selling

  • Opportunities to sell or donate surplus produce, especially when season is erratic: a simplified market for seasonal fluctuations

  • A solution for food waste (sell to value added producers?)

  • A method of getting local food to lower-income communities

  • Bartering

  • Agritourism

  • Converting to organic

  • Growing more in winter and less in summer

  • An education campaign:

    • To engage people to buy more local and healthier food

    • People are cooking less, so we need more education on how to cook with fresh ingredients and DIY

    • Educating the community about values and priorities (perception that local organic food is too expensive, but $6.50 is spent on a latte)

    • Pay more for quality food

    • Eat only what’s in season and available

Obstacles growers identified:

  • Unpredictable weather

  • Labor

  • Specific pests and weeds

  • Smokehouses' lack of availability and the public's demand of only bacon or other specific cuts of meat

  • Hard to get slaughtering dates

  • Farmers markets' failing:

    • Home growers and CSAs are negatively affecting farmers' markets

    • Markets are not time efficient with relation to money earned

    • Markets aren’t financially viable

    • Actual sales dates are contracting: there are less market dates every year

    • There is high competition for the same products

    • Markets are now more about prepared foods

  • Costs:

    • Lack of financial capacity in Addison County for locals to buy local food

    • Organic food costs more in Vermont than other places (Seattle, Montreal)

    • Vermont rental space is expensive for value added producers

    • The cost of delivery to Burlington: it takes time and is expensive – should farmers form a collective for delivery? How do they fund this? (Costs $100 per stop for Black River Produce to pick up and deliver)

    • Farmers haven’t gotten paid by some wholesale buyers in the past

    • Wholesale prices are too low, and farmers can’t price above Black River, but the costs of production for wholesale are high

    • It is tough for organic prices to compete with conventional prices

  • Chittenden County is saturated with non-profits and food companies (ie: Intervale is competition with their huge variety of products)

  • Regulations for regional markets:

    • GAP is expensive

    • Paperwork is prohibitive for a farmer; they would have to hire someone, which would drive up prices and/or put farmer out of business

  • Challenges in selling to local schools:

    • They’re not open in the summer so are limited to only purchasing fall produce

    • Farmers have to deliver produce themselves

    • Schools' budget is 40% of the Co-op’s wholesale price

  • Chefs and local retail buyers go through management quickly so farmers are constantly re-introducing themselves to get products in store

  • Local hunger is an issue, how do we connect farmers with those hungry people? There’s a missing link for those who are hungry

    • How do farms get funding like the food shelf's funding?

    • The food shelf has too much food and won’t accept more

    • Farmers want to sell more to local people, in the community, and not to the wealthier people out of the community, but can’t afford to do that due to the costs of production, regulation and delivery


1st Annual ACORN Producer and Buyer Forum in 2016

ACORN Producer and buyer forum, march 2016

ACORN Producer and buyer forum, march 2016

ACORN hosted the aforementioned series of grower meetings in early 2016 to assess the needs and desires for future workshops and gatherings. These meetings resulted in the first annual ACORN Producer and Buyer Forum at Middlebury College in March 2016. This successful event had over 80 attendees and connected regional and local buyers with farmers and food producers who were looking to scale up and expand sales.

Two panels of buyers spoke from various perspectives: institutions, non-profits, food hubs and retail operations. There was also a "cocktail party" period of time for networking where buyers and farmers were able to connect on a personal level, resulting in new local and regional sourcing contracts!

Charlie mitchell, cao of middlebury foods, discusses sourcing from local, regional and statewide markets

Charlie mitchell, cao of middlebury foods, discusses sourcing from local, regional and statewide markets

ACORN plans to organize more grower workshops and host the Forum event annually, with a dynamic theme based on growers' current needs and industry trends.


Grower Workshops

fsma, raps and gaps workshop, uvm extension, middlebury, march 2016

fsma, raps and gaps workshop, uvm extension, middlebury, march 2016

ACORN also hosts regional workshops based on grower-requested topics, such as:

  • Food Regulation (FSMA, GAPs and RAPs)

  • Marketing & Social Media

  • Business Efficiencies and Infrastructure Audits

  • Nutrient Management/ Soil Fertility

  • Labeling

  • Understanding Costs of Production

If you'd like to request or host a workshop with ACORN, please contact us at info@acornvt.org.


Feedback from attendees

Today was a great event - chapeau!! Really well organized, informative, and inspiring.
— Food Producer & Business Owner, Bristol
Thanks for all your good work!
— Diversified Vegetable, Flower and Pork Farmer, Sudbury
Thank you! Great having ACORN as a catalyst in the community.
— Program Manager, Local Non-Profit Educational Farm, Bristol
Great workshop, thanks!
— Farmer and NOFA representative, Vergennes
Thank you for the meeting. I enjoy the diversity of the people/producers, the energy of the people.
— Pork and Beef Producer, West Addison
Glad you are holding these get- togethers. It’s great to get out and exchange ideas, find out what other people are thinking, etc.
— Winter Greens and Flowers Grower, Charlotte
Thank you for a great overview of markets in the area.
— Beef and Hay Farmer, Brandon