Monday Intensives

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Monday Intensives are February 17th, 2020 and devote a full day to explore a single topic, with plenty of room for discussion, Q&A, and networking with peers interested in similar fields.

Michael Philips, Orcharding Intensive (2017)

Registration fee of $70 for NOFA Vermont Members and $85 for Non-Members includes a full day of learning and a delicious lunch, catered by Love Local Catering (Skinny Pancake). 

Please note: Monday Intensives are held in the Waterman Building on the UVM campus at 85 S Prospect St, Burlington, VT.

Demystifying the Wholesale Market for Farmers (9 am-3:30 pm)

Presenters: Rose Wilson, Rose Wilson Consulting; Spencer Blackwell, Elmer Farm; Joe Bossen, Vermont Bean Crafters; Ben Notterman, Snug Valley Farm

The global food industry, including the local food category, is dynamic and rapidly changing. Over the past 20 years the local food category has evolved from an emerging to a maturing market, with wholesale becoming an increasingly dominant sales channel. This workshop will provide an in-depth look at major trends in the shifting retail and institutional wholesale channels for local food, highlighting general practices and expectations farmers need to know: common industry buzzwords and what they mean, expectations for margins, and the hidden costs of doing business you need to prepare for including “allowances” such as trade, shrink, and payment terms. We will present a new suite of tools designed to help you with your financial planning to make sure you can afford, and succeed in, serving this market.** Finally, you will hear from farmers selling their products wholesale about what “gotchas” they would have appreciated knowing about before they jumped in, how they adapted, and their tips for maintaining long term relationships. 

This intensive is geared towards advanced/intermediate producers of fresh produce, dairy, meat, and value added products. 

**Bring your computer so you can start plugging in your numbers as the tools are introduced! 

Workshop Objectives:

  • Understand the behind the scenes costs and expectations of doing business in wholesale markets
  • Learn the acronyms and terms commonly used in wholesale and what they mean
  • Learn what “gotchas” other farms have experienced and how they adapted
  • Learn what it takes to maintain a long term wholesale account
  • Take home new financial analysis tools to help you operate profitably within wholesale market channels

Rose Wilson is a leading business planner in the farm and food sector. Since founding her company in 2004, Rose has worked with over 350 farms and food producers, helping with business launch, expansion, and exit; enterprise analysis; and market development. In addition to serving individual clients Rose immerses herself in improving the overall farm and food economy through conducting regional research projects on the feasibility of new crops, services or sales channels. Rose's most recent collaborative project is the Local Food Wholesale Market Assessment & Industry Update which was published by NOFA VT in November. Rose is a member of the NOFA VT Revolving Loan Fund Advisory Board, the Vermont Farm Fund Advisory Board, and the Vermont First Advisory Board.

Commercial Herbs from Seed to Sale: A Grower’s Intensive (9 am-3 pm)

Presenters: Benjamin Uris & McLane Ritzel, Foster Farm Botanicals; Taylor Katz & Misha Johnson, Free Verse Farm 

The sale and use of herbal products in the US have been experiencing incredible growth for years yet most of the herbs used in the production of these products are imported from overseas. Why is it that an agricultural economy like ours isn’t supplying its own raw materials for such a burgeoning industry? Taylor Katz and Misha Johnson from Free Verse Farm and Benjamin Uris and McLean Ritzel from Foster Farm Botanicals will work to answer this question and more as they delve deeply into small to mid-scale commercial organic medicinal herb production and marketing. Participants will learn the step-by-step process of producing high quality botanicals from selection and propagation through field management, post-harvest handling, drying, storage, marketing and value-added medicinal products. We will also discuss how to configure the layout and design of your farm’s infrastructure, choose equipment, prepare beds and fields, and manage fertility, weeds, pests and disease. These talented farmers will also delve into the business of herbs and the herbal marketplace by discussing which herbs are in demand, producing value-added products, pricing considerations, regulatory challenges and how to negotiate with buyers.

This intensive is geared towards either beginning herb farmers or existing growers looking to expand their knowledge base.

Foster Farm Botanicals produces approximately 40 acres of certified organic botanicals on our 250-acre family farm in East Calais, VT. We sell our dried and fresh herbs nationwide through a growing mix of distributor, wholesale, and retail accounts. Founded in 2015, the farm operation continues to expand quickly in order to keep up with increasing demand for high quality, certified organic, single-origin domestic botanicals. In 2019, we produced approximately 30 tons of dried herbs with ten employees (six of which are seasonal). Benjamin started the farm with owners, Peter Backman and Annie Christopher, and currently oversees all of the production. McLane manages our wholesale and retail sales, and also works in product development.

Free Verse Farm is a co-creation of Taylor Katz and Misha Johnson, two artist/farmers with a passion for growing, eating, and sharing delicious and nourishing food and herbs. We're a small herb farm and apothecary in Chelsea, Vermont specializing in naturally-grown tisanes (herbal teas), culinary herbs, medicinals, and herbal remedies. Our farm is situated high in the hills of the White River watershed in the Upper Valley region of eastern Vermont. Our herbs and remedies are available at local farmers markets, stores, online, and through our Farmshare Community. Our herbs are harvested by hand and freshly dried right on our farm. We dry herbs in traditional hanging bunches, as well as in our farm-made herb dryer, taking the utmost care to preserve the essential constituents that give each herb its flavor, potency, and magic. We handcraft our preparations in small batches in our farmhouse apothecary, sourcing as many herbal ingredients as possible directly from our farm. 

Change the Narrative, Change the Outcome: Tools for More Successful Food System Communications (9 am-3 pm)

Presenters: Lisa Fernandes, Food Solutions New England at the UNH Sustainability Institute; Shane Rogers, Rooted in Vermont at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Who are the audiences or groups of people that you would like to better connect with in order to meet the goals of your food business? The way you talk about your work, farm, food business or organization is central to successfully engaging your customers and supporters. The way people respond to your messaging may vary greatly, and gaining a detailed understanding of this will help you to craft a narrative that effectively reaches your target audience. The Food Solutions New England network has invested in learning what kinds of narrative, and messaging works toward collectively creating the food system we all need, while avoiding communications pitfalls that work against our shared goals. In this intensive, facilitators will share their combined years of experience in the field to help you hone a message, write copy, and build your skills in direct communication. With inspiring stories and techniques to get your ideas flowing, you will learn about utilizing in-person, online, and print communications in a way that engages your specific audiences and aligns with food communication across our region. 

In this intensive you will build an outline of your 2020 communications strategy that speaks to your mission, and successfully engages your customer and client base across multiple platforms. Come ready to be inspired by stories shared, mistakes made, and opportunities to build a new narrative that works both for you and contributes to building a food system that works for all of us.  

Lisa Fernandes is the Director of Communications for Food Solutions New England & Founder of the Resilience Hub in Portland, ME. She is an experienced strategist, facilitator, speaker, network weaver and educator who believes that resilience-building, community connectivity and participatory design are among the best approaches we have for creating vibrant futures and for navigating the challenges we face. A graduate of Boston College and The Evergreen State College, Lisa and her family enjoy growing, foraging, preserving and cooking as much as possible and have been actively converting their ⅓ acre home site into a model of comfortable “post-fossil fuel” living.

Shane Rogers works for the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund as the project manager of Rooted in Vermont —a core project of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network to increase consumer demand for local food. He previously handled communication and development for Green Mountain Farm-to-School, a nonprofit in Newport, Vermont. He has also worked as a journalist in Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. and as a grassroots organizer.

Indigenous Foodways (9 am-3 pm)

Presenter: Mariah Gladstone, Indigikitchen

Join Mariah Gladstone, advocate for the Native Food movement and creator of Indigikitchen, to gain a better understanding of the history of the food and food systems of North America’s native peoples. The presentation will cover the traditional relationship with the land and food, the relocation and reservation period, the importance of cooking with and honoring regional Native foods, and current food sovereignty work happening within the indigenous community. During the in-depth, hands-on workshop, Mariah will discuss indigenous corn varieties and the stories and methods that accompany them. Participants will learn the process of nixtamalization to transform dried corn into a delicious dish. In addition to making corn flour, everyone will help prepare an elderberry BBQ sauce to create a shredded wild game roast and make corn cakes from the finished flour. 

Mariah Gladstone, Cherokee and Blackfeet, grew up in Northwest Montana on and near the Blackfeet Reservation. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and returned home where she began her work on food advocacy. She developed Indigikitchen, an online cooking platform, to revitalize and re-imagine Native foods. She has been named a "25 Under 25 Leader in Indian Country" and a "Champion for Change" by the Center for Native American Youth. She is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader and is pursuing her Master's at SUNY - Environmental Science and Forestry.​

Questions? Please call NOFA-VT at (802) 434-4122 or email Livy Bulger if you have questions about these intensive workshops.

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