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2016 Regional Food System Plan for the Northeast Kingdom

The 2016 NEK PLAN -- Vermont's only comprehensive regional food system plan -- is based on a "soil-to-soil" food system model that engages with all individuals and organizations with a stake in the wellbeing of the food system, from the cultivation and production of food, through consumption and waste. The soil-to-soil loop is "closed" between waste management and production inputs, because the waste becomes compost. The 2016 NEK Plan was developed through a partnership between NVDA and the Center for an Agricultural Economy. USDA Rural Development provided grant funding. Find out more by subscribing to our newsletter, or by contacting Alison Low at NVDA.


Food System Updates

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Hardwick Business Accelerator Planning Gets Underway

The Town of Hardwick has selected Kitchen Table Consultants to lead a feasibility study for a next-level multi-tenant facility for ag-related businesses in Hardwick. The project -- funded by a Municipal Planning Grant -- will assess industry needs and available sites, resulting in a high-level operating plan and budget. Producer space is in high demand in Hardwick, and successful graduates of the Vermont Food Venture Center cannot always stay in the community once they have grown beyond the incubator phase. The Town of Hardwick, the Center for an Agricultural Economy, NVDA, and members of the business community have been working on securing production space that allows successful start-ups to stay in Hardwick and continue to contribute to the thriving agriculture and food-related business sector.


Hardwick business planning efforts also received a boost from a $250,000 Northern Border Regional Commission (NRBC) Grant, which will be used to help secure future use of the iconic Greensboro Garage "Yellow Barn" for potential agricultural-related enterprises. The Northern Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that provides resources to spur economic and community development. For more information, contact Sarah Waring at the Center for an Agricultural Economy.

 NEK Food Cycle Coalition Gets to Work

Anywhere from 25% to 40% of the food that is produced, processed, and transported in this country will never be consumed. Food waste is more than an economic loss. It harms our environment by producing greenhouse gasses. The NEK Food Cycle Coalition is working to implement Act 148 by keeping food from the waste stream and redirecting it to those who can use it. Our goal is to establish an agile distribution system that moves healthy, fresh, and local food through the charitable food system with minimal loss. Our group meets monthly at NVDA. Read more about our work here. All are welcome to get involved! For more information, contact Alison Low at NVDA. 


Storage and Distribution Report for Local Food in the Northeast Kingdom (May 2016)

Because storage and distribution remains such a critical challenge, the CAE and NVDA commissioned a study among producers, growers and distributors. These initial findings are a supplement to the 2016 NEK Food System Plan. The report identifies a range of potential solutions and opportunities -- and identifies best practices among distributors, shippers, and producers for sustaining successful collaborative efforts.

Northeast Kingdom Agricultural Transportation Feasibility Study (October 2016)

This study expands on the Storage and distribution Study by exploring the feasibility of a collaborative, shared use, refrigerated delivery vehicle. But there are additional findings! For example:

  • The avg. cost of transportation for food fleets in VT is ~$1.30/mile, compared to a nationwide cost of ~$0.76/mi.
  • Producers or shippers with trucks should consider leasing vs owning, if their expenses average higher than $1.30/mi, or if they drive 15,000 miles or more per year.
  • The study also contains a cost matrix for shippers, showing the value of product that must be on the truck to achieve selected profit margins.