In this monthly feature, we recognize one of our members (in this case, two!) as a way to celebrate all the incredible people who make the NOFA-VT community what it is. This month we connected with Beth Whiting and Bruce Hennessey of Maple Wind Farm in Richmond and Huntington, to talk grass farming, the importance of being in community and building resilience. To all Vermont farmers out there, thanks for keeping us fed!
Why are you NOFA-VT members?
For us it's about being part of a community with shared values for the health of our soil, animals and plants. The work NOFA-VT does is inclusive, focusing on food security and the regeneration of our vital resources.
What do you value most about NOFA-VT’s work?
Working collaboratively to offer technical assistance, healthy food access for all, resource regeneration and innovation. The conferences are an amazing place to share resources and network - it's such a bright spot in the winter to reconnect!
How long have you been a member?
We have been farming using organic methods since 1999. We became NOFA-VT members in 2005.
How do you identify - an eater, gardener, homesteader, farmer, a hybrid, etc?
Grass Farmers! Educators and community builders. Business owners.
How have you been involved with NOFA-VT in the last year?
We had the amazing opportunity to be the starting location of the first Farm Hop this past fall. We welcomed about sixty-five walkers to our hilltop Huntington (Enid's hometown) farm, gave a tour and sent folks off down the hill with song and a great communal feeling of gratitude and hope. We also offered a number of workshops at the winter conference, partnered with Jen Miller of NOFA-VT Farmer Services to offer and participate in a Lean Farming collaboration with four other farms, and participated in an initiative to foster greater resiliency in the local food system. In addition we have been one of the speakers at the NOFA-VT Farm Business course and Farm Scale Decision-Making Workshops.
Why does organic matter to you?
We wish to steward our land for future generations with our primary focus on regenerating soil and water resources. The impact that organic farmers have is beyond positive and we need to prioritize this not only in Vermont but all over the country.
What's your number one priority for NOFA-VT this year?
Keep supporting the farms that have been experiencing troubles during the Covid crisis - more than ever we need to hold up our organic dairy farms, and those farms that were focused more toward restaurant sales. Offering technical support to the farms that have needed to pivot and restructure their businesses is also a priority. It's the small farms that will keep our communities fed!
What three characteristics make up a resilient community?
Strength, collaboration and flexibility.
Favorites spring food?
First pasture raised chicken of the season on the grill!
What's the activity you're looking forward to most post-COVID?
Potlucks with friends.
Learn more about Maple Wind, including their online store and home delivery service, on their website.