Donations


Bikers gathering around to each lunch at Vermont Valley during a previous bike tour.

Some would say that September is the best month for local vegetables in Wisconsin. And it’s undeniable that September is the the best month for being outside enjoying the cooler temperatures and high likelihood of dry, sunny weather. This time of year we are still getting mountains of tomatoes and other summer vegetables and are welcoming in the fall crops that warm our bellies like winter squash and leafy greens.

This month we are donating our vegetables to two great events that will tie together local food with outdoor recreation in a community adventure setting. FairShare CSA Coalition’s 11th Annual Bike the Barns event and Ice Age Trail Alliance Hike and Farm-to-Table Dinner are coming up on back-to-back weekends. Both events feature locally produced food prepared by top Madison Chefs in a beautiful natural settings.

Bike the Barns – September 17
Registration/Tickets and Information
All ages welcome
This is an opportunity to tour several Dane County Farms (not Vermont Valley this year) on your bike while sampling the best that the season has to offer. The best part is that the proceeds go to the Partner Shares Program, which subsidizes CSA shares for lower-income families. In addition to the bike tour, FairShare has also organized a bus tour. So you can participate in the entire experience without committing to the miles on the bike.

Bike Tour:

  • Short Route: ~28 miles; Short route riders start at 11 AM
  • Medium Route: ~58 miles; Medium route riders start at 10 AM
  • Long Route: ~78 miles; Long route riders start at 9 AM
  • Bus Option: Depart Lake Farm Park at 10 AM & return ~ 4 PM

Bus Tour:
Join us for this unique, first-time event! Registration for this interactive bus tour includes all meals, farm tours and activities at three farms, and bus transportation. Tour Itinerary (*exact farm times subject to change, but start and end times are finalized)

  • 9:30 am: Meet at Lake Farm Park in Madison
  • 10 am: Depart for bus tour!
  • 10:30 am: Winterfell Acres – Local snack, farm tour & demo
  • 12 pm: Raleigh’s Hillside Farm – Farm to table lunch, interactive activities & tour
  • 2:15 pm: Vitruvian Farms – Local snack, tour & foodie activities
  • 3:30 pm: Enjoy the After Party at Lake Farm Park

Both bike and bus tours include fun food & farm-related workshops and activities.

  • A crash course in making farm-fresh cocktails with J. Henry & Sons Bourbon
  • Cider press demonstration, courtesy of Brix Cider, at Winterfell Acres
  • Smoothie-making with a bike blender
  • Veggie-themed mural painting at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm
  • Taste of organic presentation by Purple Cow Organics
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of several community supported agriculture (CSA) farms

Beautiful wooded trails and wide open prairie will be the backdrop for a lovely September farm-to-table dinner

Ice Age Trail Alliance Hike and Farm-to-Table Dinner – September 23
Women and girls of all ages welcome
Ice Age Trail Alliance teamed up with REI to present a series for events throughout the year focused on empowering women on the trail through the REI Force of Nature campaign. The kick-off dinner, on September 23rd, will be a great time to learn about the Ice Age Trail and meet other women who are passionate about outdoor recreation. The group of women and girls will hike a 2 mile section of the Ice Age Trail Table Bluff Segment in Cross Plains to get to the beautiful event location. Executive sous chef, Jamie Hoang of Sujeo, will be preparing a post-hike dinner with produce from Vermont Valley and meat sourced from StoneHaus Farm.
  • 3:00 p.m. Arrive & Check-in
  • 3:30 p.m. Hike beautiful Table Bluff Segment (guided hike)
  • 5:00 p.m. Welcome and introduction of Chef and farm-to-table partners
  • 5:30 p.m. Dinner
  • 6:00 p.m. A brief introduction to the Ice Age Trail & upcoming Trailtessa events
  • 7:30 p.m. Evening wraps up
We hope you come out to celebrate these wonderful events alongside the local producers and national partners that make them possible. September is a time for soaking in all that season has to offer before the growing season tapers off while experiencing our farms and natural areas in one of the best times of the year.
Jonnah

We have been growing vegetables exclusively for our CSA program for over two decades. With the exception of our seed potato business, our connection with the Willy Street Co-op production kitchen and a few other local businesses, you will not find Vermont Valley produce on restaurant menus, at farmers markets or in stores. We choose to deliver all of our produce to our CSA members, putting all of our time and effort into being the best CSA possible. When we have less than perfect produce or more volume than can be worked into our CSA, we make our produce available to those who need it most.

We bring in thousands of pounds of produce in from the field each week of our growing season. After the vegetables have been washed and sorted, we end up with hundreds of pounds of imperfect produce. We have formed relationships with organizations that will gladly accept our less than perfect vegetables.

This is our 8th year working with the Goodman Community Center. Our produce is channeled through several different programs within the center, and this partnership has been the highlight of our donation activity for the past few years. Through our connection with the center, over 12,000 lbs of our produce has been served and distributed this year to date. Vermont Valley vegetables are incorporated into program meals each week through the Kid’s Cafe Program which connects Madison community centers and local farms, funded by Group Health Cooperative. Jon Lica, Goodman Community Center Fritz Food Pantry Coordinator/Corporate & Events Associate acknowledges our important relationship, Vermont Valley Community Farm has greatly improved our food programs at the Goodman Community Center over the past few years. Youth program participants now receive locally sourced, organic vegetables in their meals during the summer and after school. Even though our Food Pantry is small, it’s very popular because of the terrific assortment or fresh produce clients have to choose from each week. We’re also able to preserve over 3,000 pounds of fresh produce each summer that eventually gets distributed through the food pantry in the winter months. We’re so grateful for this partnership that enables us to provide healthy food options for thousands of children and families in our community.”

Food Procurement Manager, Amy Mach, and her team have processed thousands of pounds of our produce in Goodman’s certified preservation kitchen. We have been known to give the center less than 24 hours to make a plan to prepare, process, and distribute large quantities of vegetables. The staff is incredibly agile and creative with the variety and volume of produce we deliver.

The Goodman Community Center’s Seed to Table Program will be visiting the farm next week to harvest vegetables to bring back to the center. Youth in this program earn high school credit while learning valuable job skills. Over the past 8 years, our partnership with the center has proven to be an amazing outlet for our produce and a source of on-farm experience for Goodman Community Center program participants.

This year our produce also made its way to other events and organizations such as Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, FairShare CSA Coalition Bike the Barns, and AIDS Network AIDS Ride. 19 schools and organizations featured donated Vermont Valley CSA shares in their fundraising silent auction and raffle events.

In addition to in kind donations, we also make arrangements for CSA shares to be used to the fullest. When CSA members cannot pick up their share for the week, we deliver the excess produce to low income families or place it with local childcare centers. This effort ensures that no shares are wasted while passing along the extra vegetables to families and children.

Part of our community mission is to place as much excess produce into the local food system as possible. So far this year we have put over 24,000 lbs of produce into the greater Madison community. Our relationships with community centers, schools and food pantries continue to strengthen, stretching the reach of Vermont Valley produce further. We are fortunate to have developed partnerships with organizations that share our dedication to improving the local food system by making locally grown, organic produce available to those who otherwise may not have access to this food.

Thanks to all our CSA members who make our efforts possible.

Jonnah

Seed to Table students preparing peppers to make salsa at Goodman Community Center

Seed to Table students preparing peppers to make salsa at Goodman Community Center.

The Second Harvest Food Bank truck getting loaded up with potatoes. So far this year we have donated 12,300 pounds of potatoes to Second Harvest!

The Second Harvest Food Bank truck getting loaded up with potatoes. So far this year we have donated 12,300 pounds of potatoes to Second Harvest!

Stack of vegetable donations ready to be loaded on the delivery truck.

Stack of vegetable donations ready to be loaded on the delivery truck.

End of season gleaning. Jonnah (Vermont Valley Donations Coordinator), Amy Mach (Goodman Food Procurement/Processing Manager), and Keith Pollack (Goodman TEEN Works Manager) out in the field on a trip to the farm to harvest vegetables.

End of season gleaning. Jonnah (Vermont Valley Donations Coordinator), Amy Mach (Goodman Food Procurement/Processing Manager), and Keith Pollack (Goodman TEEN Works Manager) out in the field on a trip to the farm to harvest vegetables.

This is the most beautiful fall I can remember. We haven’t had a frost yet, which is quite unusual. We typically see our first frost around September 25th in our cold valley. This fall we head right into the fields at 7:30 in the morning to begin harvest; most years we have to wait for the vegetables to thaw (literally). The vegetables we are delivering speak of fall, warm soups and hearty dishes. Fall crops are patient. We harvest them when it fits our schedule. Summer crops demand daily harvests or they over ripen. Fall crops wait in and on the ground. Squashes, beets, radishes, celeriac, kale, carrots, even lettuce. We gather all of our workers together for these large harvests. During the summer we usually have several harvest crews out at once, finishing one harvest and on to the next. This time of year we use large bins to carry the vegetables. They get stacked high in a large cooler and wait for us to come clean them. David and Jesse are busy tilling the ground and planting cover crops on gardens that only a few weeks ago were bursting with food. We are thankful for the great weather and plentiful crops we had this season. The frost will eventually come, it always does; but this warm weather is certainly out of character.

Barb

Last Sunday’s Pumpkin Pick was enjoyed by many. Thanks for coming out!

Last Sunday’s Pumpkin Pick was enjoyed by many. Thanks for coming out!

A teen group from Goodman Community Center came out on Monday to gather pumpkins. They will make lots of low income kids happy!

A teen group from Goodman Community Center came out on Monday to gather pumpkins. They will make lots of low income kids happy!

Harvesting Carnival squash last Friday. We clip the stems, put them into crates, carry the crates to the bulk bin and count them into the bin.

Harvesting Carnival squash last Friday. We clip the stems, put them into crates, carry the crates to the bulk bin and count them into the bin.

Red lettuce harvest. Eric J-Mo and Becca cut the lettuce heads while everyone else removes any bad leaves and carefully puts 6 in each crate.

Red lettuce harvest. Eric J-Mo and Becca cut the lettuce heads while everyone else removes any bad leaves and carefully puts 6 in each crate.

A lush crop of kale.

A lush crop of kale.

Our Farm has been helping the Mt Horeb Area School District serve fresh, local, organic food to its students since 2010. It began with spinach in the spring of that year. Michelle, the food service director, was highlighting spinach on the menu that May and wanted to source it from a local farm. We were able to help. This began the relationship and conversations with Michelle about what other food we could supply. Their budget was tight so we got creative. We bring in a lot of food that, after washing, is not the quality or size we want to deliver to our CSA. Still perfectly good food, just not scoring high in beauty. Mt Horeb schools were excited to be the recipients of that food. For the next several summers we supplied them with tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant and peppers on a regular basis. We would get them other vegetables when they could use them. Michelle pulled together a group of volunteers and students to work with the kitchen staff to process and freeze the vegetables so they could be served to the students during the school year. What a great community effort. Once school began, we also supplied produce for their fresh salad bar.

Two of the students who helped chop hundreds of pounds of vegetables to be frozen for school lunches.

Two of the students who helped chop hundreds of pounds of vegetables to be frozen for school lunches.

Stacks of tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash for Mt Horeb Area School District.

Stacks of tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash for Mt Horeb Area School District.

This summer Michelle and Barb were interviewed as part of the Chop! Chop! Culinary Skills Videos which are designed to help Wisconsin schools incorporate more Wisconsin-grown vegetables in school meal programs. We realized what we are doing is unique. It’s such a win-win. We have a great outlet for surplus, the kids eat better and they learn where their food comes from. Hopefully this relationship can be an inspiration for other school districts and farms.