APRIL'S MEMBERS OF THE MONTH: Andrea Scott & Bill Suhr, Champlain Orchards (Shoreham, VT)
We are excited to share NOFA-VT's Member of the Month for April. In this monthly feature, we choose a member to recognize each month as a way to celebrate all the wonderful people that make up the NOFA-VT community. Thank you for being a part of it!
Why are you a NOFA-VT member?
We are members because we strongly support NOFA’s mission- especially your work advocating for small, family farms and promoting access to organic and local food for our communities. We really appreciate the educational materials NOFA offers which helps us to keep a pulse on the local food movement in our state.
What do you value most about NOFA-VT’s work?
The educational opportunities for consumers, educators, and farmers. We always look forward to opportunities to gather together and learn from each other. I am also so proud of the work that NOFA does and your hard working, talented staff and board. I think NOFA is a strong national leader and an inspiration especially with your work in farm to school and supporting small, family farms.
How long have you been a member?
Since about 2003?
Do you identify as a…. (eater, gardener, homesteader, farmer, etc.)?
All of the above I’d say- we certainly do our part as eaters and appreciate the opportunities that our local food co-op gives us to purchase from organic and local food producers. We also have a very large organically managed home vegetable garden (which our 2 children eagerly help with)- and also enjoy helping our Jamaican crew getting their garden started. And, indeed, we are also fruit farmers. We are considered a split farm, with a small amount of organic acreage (raspberries, elderberries, blackberries, peaches, currants, peaches, apples) but mostly EcoApple certified orchard growing a huge diversity of apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries.
How have you been involved with NOFA-VT in the last year?
We are a host site for the NOFA bulk order pick up every year- and we always enjoy seeing this community of growers and thinking about the season ahead. Though we don’t get off the farm as much as we used to, in the past we have really enjoyed the winter conference- and leave feeling inspired by all of the amazing work happening in our state. I was sad to not be able to attend this year, but really appreciated seeing the tribute to Enid you shared on the blog. This past year we enjoyed the pizza oven social at Woods Farm Market in Brandon. Bill also gained a lot from attending the wholesale producer forum.
What's the best garden/farm experiment you did this year?
We are in year 2 of grafting and growing our own nursery trees which is very exciting. The rabbits may be just as excited, but if they leave some for us, we will be planting these in our orchard this spring. We are also really happy with the results from using our own ramial woodchips as a mulch. Every year, our mountains of pruning brush are chipped and then spread under our youngest trees. We feel this really helps with building soil health, retaining moisture, and helping to suppress some weeds.
Why does organic matter to you?
It aligns with our values. I believe that it is the healthiest choice for our bodies, our soils, and our communities. I strongly believe that healthy soils and healthy food produce healthy people and communities. This is what our future needs, and what our children deserve.
What's your number one priority for NOFA-VT this year?
Enid left an inspiring and lasting legacy. We hope that NOFA finds a way to keep this torch burning brightly.