FairShare CSA Coalition


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.

We at Vermont Valley Community Farm have been growing produce for our CSA for 20 years. With the exception of our connection with Willy Street Coop 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.

For the 20 weeks of our CSA delivery season, the harvest crews bring in thousands of pounds of produce from the fields. After the produce has been sorted and washed we are left with hundreds of pounds of vegetables with imperfections. We have developed relationships with organizations in the Madison area who gladly accept produce donations.

This is our 6th year working with the Goodman Community Center. Our produce is channeled through several different programs in the center, and this partnership has been the highlight of our donation activity this season. 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. GHC Community Care Manager, Jill Jacklitz, “Our community is so lucky to have a farm like Vermont Valley! As a healthcare organization we work hard to get people eating fresh produce because we know it has such a positive impact on health. Through our partnership in the Farm Fresh Produce Program, GHC and Vermont Valley have brought thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to kids at Madison area community centers. It’s exciting to watch Vermont Valley’s partnership with Goodman Community Center grow to include their support of Goodman’s food pantry and senior meal program.” Through this program, the Goodman Community Center has served over 1300 pounds of Vermont Valley produce to the kids during summer day camps and after school programs. Much of the meal preparation is done by program youth.

Jonnah, Vermont Valley Donations Coordinator, packing collard greens for youth program meals.

Food Procurement Manager, Amy Mach, and her team have processed thousands of pounds of our produce in Goodman’s certified preservation kitchen. “We did a total of 3,267 pounds. This included canned tomatoes, frozen tomatoes, dried tomatoes, frozen green beans, frozen corn, frozen summer squash and frozen peppers.  All this produce will be handed out in the food pantry during the winter months!” Amy was able work with any volume of produce we sent her way –  usually with less than 24 hours of lead time to plan.

Amy Mach with stacks of tomatoes to be processed.

Amy Mach with stacks of tomatoes and sweet corn to be processed.

Prepping tomatoes in the Goodman Community Center Preservation Kitchen.

SlowFood Madison and Goodman Community Center teamed up this year to provide free cooking classes hosted at the center. Vermont Valley has donated produce for the monthly events and will continue to offer our produce in the future.

Slow Food Madison cooking class hosted at Goodman Community Center using Vermont Valley produce

Slow Food Madison cooking class, hosted at Goodman Community Center, using Vermont Valley produce

This year we have donated over 11,000 lbs of produce to Goodman Community Center which is used for various program meals and distributed to the community through the Fritz Food Pantry. Jon Lica, Food Pantry Coordinator, says of the Goodman and Vermont Valley relationship,“Our partnership with Vermont Valley Community Farm has had a very profound impact on the Fritz Food Pantry. Their generosity and similarly minded approach to the local food network has enabled us to expand our harvest season by preserving over 3,000 pounds of produce to distribute during the winter months, offer an abundance of healthy food options for pantry recipients and even offer free cooking classes! We’re so fortunate to be working with such great people!”

Vermont Valley tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant for the Fitz Food Pantry.

Vermont Valley tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant for the Fritz Food Pantry.

Our fresh vegetables in the Fitz Food Pantry.

Shelves of fresh vegetables ready for distribution.

The Goodman Community Center’s Seed to Table Program will be visiting the farm next week to harvest collard greens and pumpkins. Youth in this program earn high school credit while learning valuable job skills. The greens they harvest will be used in program meals and frozen in the preservation kitchen to be served and distributed during the winter months. TEENworks Manager, Keith Pollack says, “Vermont Valley offers the Seed to Table students at the Goodman Community Center the opportunity to glean pumpkins and collards from the farm. This experience allows students from Madison to see a larger farm in a rural area and adds to their experience of growing foods in a community garden in an urban area. It also allows them to see where food that comes to kitchen comes from as well as being able to collect fresh produce to be distributed in the food pantry.”

Over the past 6 years, our partnership with this center has proven to be an amazing outlet for our produce and a source of on-farm experience for Goodman Community Center program participants.

Goodman TEENworks program students picking pumpkins on the farm.

During June, July and August we coordinate a weekly donation of produce to Badger Camp, a camp in Prairie du Chien serving those with developmental disabilities. Badger Camp served over 2200 pounds of Vermont Valley Community Farm produce to its campers this summer.

Stacks of produce waiting to be loaded up for Badger Camp

Stacks of produce waiting to be picked up by Badger Camp.

Badger Camp taking crates of produce for camp meals.

Badger Camp loading crates of produce for camp meals.

When CSA members cannot pick up their share for the week, we deliver the excess produce to low income families or place it in local childcare centers. This effort ensures that no shares are wasted while passing along the extra vegetables to families and children.

Our produce also makes its way to other events and organizations such as Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, FairShare CSA Coalition Bike the Barns, AIDS Network AIDS Ride, Ingleside Manor, First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, and Middleton Outreach Ministry.

Second Harvest truck picking up a donation.

David loading donations onto the Second Harvest truck.

David loading donations onto the Second Harvest truck.

Part of our community mission is to place as much excess produce into the local food system as possible. The total weight of produce distributed into the community between May and October of this year has nearly doubled since 2013! 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

Twenty weeks of harvest come to a close this week; our 19th season nearly complete and our 20th on the horizon.  Typical for Wisconsin, the year began as no other, with winter lasting until the first of May in our valley.  It was a slow start but the season followed with the best weather we’ve ever had.  The vegetables responded by providing a great bounty.  One overall measure we use each week is the weight of the share box, partly to gauge the harvest and partly to give the delivery crew fair warning on how their backs will feel at the end of the day.   The box weighed over 20 pounds per box week after week.   We were pleased with the harvest of 2013 and hope you were as well.

There was one disappointment this year, garlic was missing.  Garlic failures were a multi-state phenomena, one which we hope doesn’t get repeated again.  But, as the snowflakes were falling Wednesday afternoon, we were planting back all of our surviving bulbs, for next year’s harvest.  Garlic marks the last planting of the year as well as the first crop to emerge in the spring.  Fortunate for us, winter comes between fall and spring, giving us time to plan for the coming year, catch up on repairs and that project list, and yes, take a break.

As now seasoned CSA veterans, you will have all this time on your hands without that weekly box of produce to cook; what to do you ask?  Well, you can continue to eat locally for a few more months by getting a Storage Share and you can start up early in the spring with a Spring Share.  Another thing you can do is tell your family, friends and co-workers about the Farm.  We count on you to bring us new members; so, please lend Vermont Valley Community Farm a hand and talk about your CSA whenever the opportunity arises.  A pleasant conversation with a friend about the Farm makes a huge difference for us.

The Bigger Picture

Many of you may not be aware of the coalition of CSA farms that we have been active with for over twenty years.  FairShare CSA Coalition brought the concept of CSA to southern Wisconsin and has been instrumental in developing programs to facilitate the growth of new farms, creating access to CSA shares for low income people, providing training opportunities for current farms, and creating resources like the A to Z Foodbook and Farm, Fresh, and Fast to help you make great use of your CSA vegetables.  Fairshare is known internationally and has made Wisconsin the epicenter of CSA in the US!  FairShare is a non-profit organization that is always looking for interested people to participate in its work.  Like all non-profits, it also needs financial support.  We ask you to consider a contribution to FairShare as way to spread the bounty beyond your share box.  We consider our involvement with FairShare critical to our Farm’s success.   Click here to learn about making a contribution.

Thank you for supporting a family farm.  You, along with every other household in the Madison area who chooses to eat locally, are making a huge difference.

See you next season!

The  Perkins family

David, Barb, Jesse, Eric, Becky, Jonnah, Brian, Paavo and Felix

David, the boss, and Jesse, his sidekick, in the workshop

David, the boss, and Jesse, his sidekick, in the workshop.

Each Monday Barb takes time away from managing the CSA to take care of her two grandsons, Paavo and Felix.  Paavo, 22 months, is Jesse and Jonnah's son and Felix, six months, is Becky and Brian's son.

Each Monday Barb takes time away from managing the CSA to watch of her two grandsons, Paavo and Felix. Paavo, 22 months, is Jesse and Jonnah’s son and Felix, six months, is Becky and Brian’s son.

Jesse, the large equipment maintenance man,  fixing a....

Jesse, large implement manager, greasing the potato harvester.

Jonnah multitasking in the office.

Jonnah, office manager, multitasking in her office – the old milkhouse of the barn.

Eric, packing shed manager, weighing carrots.

Eric, packing shed manager, weighing carrots.

Becky, our farm cook, using fresh vegetables to make our lunch.

Becky, farm cook, using fresh vegetables to make our lunch.

Elisabeth, harvest manager, running the show in the daikon radishes.

Elisabeth, harvest manager, running the show in the daikon radishes.

Chris, our resident jack of all trades, checking out one of the box trucks.

Chris, our resident jack of all trades, checking out one of the box trucks.

Brian getting excited to dump 6243 lbs of carrots into the root tumbler.

Brian getting excited to put 6243 lbs of carrots through the root tumbler.

Clara having fun in the beets.

Clara having fun in the beets.

The farm dogs taking a break from chasing deer out of the fields.  From left, Nasta, Obi, and Shanna.  Nasta is Jesse and Jonnah's dog, Obi is Becky and Brian's dog, and Shanna lives on the farm.

The farm dogs taking a break from chasing deer out of the fields. From left: Nasta, Obi, and Shanna. Nasta is Jesse and Jonnah’s dog, Obi is Becky and Brian’s dog, and Shanna lives on the farm with Barb and David.

To learn more about your Vermont Valley community Farm farmers see the About Us page on our website

Vermont Valley Community Farm vegetables and fruits are produced almost exclusively for our CSA operation.  You will not find our produce on restaurant menus, at farmers markets or in stores, with the exception of our relationship with Willy Street Coop production kitchen and a few other local businesses.  When we have less than perfect produce or more volume than can be worked into our CSA system, we feel it is our responsibility to make our produce available to those who need it most.

For the 20 weeks of our CSA delivery season the Vermont Valley crew brings thousands of pounds of produce in from the fields.  After the produce has been sorted and washed we are left with hundreds of pounds of vegetables that have imperfections.  We have developed relationships with organizations in the Madison area who gladly accept produce donations.

The Goodman Community Center incorporates our produce into its meals each week through the Kid’s Cafe Program, a partnering of Madison community centers and local farms, funded by Group Health Cooperative.  This year, the Goodman Community Center has served over 2000 pounds of Vermont Valley produce to the kids during summer day camps and after school programs.

Students prepping beets for lunch to be served onsite to other program kids.

Students from the Seed to Table program prepping beets for lunch to be served onsite to other program kids.  Seed to Table provides Madison Metropolitan School District students the opportunity to earn both school credit and money while gaining valuable experience.

Cans of sauced tomatoes that were processed by students at Goodman Community Center

Jars of canned tomatoes that were processed by students at Goodman Community Center.

Vermont Valley will be contributing 1000+ lbs of potatoes, winter squash, kale and collard greens to the Goodman Community Center Thanksgiving Baskets Project.  The greens are harvested from our field by Goodman Community Center staff and kids.  Baskets filled with Thanksgiving meal supplies are distributed to families in need.  Goodman Community Center also brings children to visit the farm to pick pumpkins in October.  Over the past 4 years, our partnership with this center has proven to be an amazing outlet for our produce and a source of on-farm experience for Goodman Community Center program participants.

Goodman Community Center kids picking pumpkins last season.

Goodman Community Center kids picking pumpkins last season.

This is our third season working with the Mt. Horeb Area School District.  This year they have received over 2300 pounds of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet corn, summer squash, and melon from Vermont Valley Community Farm.  Food service director, Michelle Denk, organizes a group of local volunteers to help her process the produce to be served throughout the school year.  We are proud that our vegetables are on local school lunch menus!

Mt Horeb van picking up weekly donation

Mt Horeb van picking up a weekly donation.

Trays of vegetables waiting to bagged and frozen for winter meals

Trays of vegetables waiting to bagged and frozen for winter meals.

When CSA members cannot pick up their share for the week, we deliver the excess produce to low income families or place it in local childcare centers.  This effort ensures that no shares are  wasted while passing along the extra vegetables to families and children.

"So here is just one example of how the Vermont Valley family is making a big impact for the Belleville Preschoolers. Last night you sent us those beautiful edamame pods. This morning for morning snack time I boiled some up in salty water and the preschoolers had fun popping out the beans and gobbling them up!  This is Nolan (on left) and Gavin (right) eating the second batch of pods I made because they ate the first batch so fast! Seriously, look at how many empty pods are on Nolan's plate! These are some appreciative bellies! I never tire of hearing the preschoolers say, "Lindsay we ate them all. Can you make another batch?" or at lunch time I hear, "May I have more salad please?" It amazes me that some people say kids don't eat their vegetables. "

“Last night you sent us those beautiful edamame pods. This morning for morning snack time I boiled some up in salty water and the preschoolers had fun popping out the beans and gobbling them up!  This is Nolan (on left) and Gavin (right) eating the second batch of pods I made because they ate the first batch so fast! Seriously, look at how many empty pods are on Nolan’s plate! These are some appreciative bellies!  I never tire of hearing the preschoolers say, “Lindsay we ate them all. Can you make another batch?” or at lunch time I hear, “May I have more salad please?”
It amazes me that some people say kids don’t eat their vegetables. ” – Lindsay Brocket – Belleville Preschool and Childcare

During June, July and August we coordinate a weekly donation of produce to Badger Camp, a camp in Prairie du Chien serving those with developmental disabilities.  Badger Camp served over 1500 pounds of Vermont Valley Community Farm produce to its campers this summer.

Badger Camp staff and campers with Vermont Valley produce

Badger Camp staff and campers with Vermont Valley produce.

Badger Camp staff chopping carrots and cucumber for camp meal.

Badger Camp staff chopping carrots and cucumber for camp meal.

Our produce also makes its way to other events and organizations such as Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, FairShare CSA Coalition Bike the Barns, AIDS Network AIDS Ride, First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, and Middleton Outreach Ministry.

Second Harvest truck backing up to packing shed to load up with produce

Second Harvest truck backing up to packing shed to load up with produce.

Loading up cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, and eggplant for Second Harvest.

Loading cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, lettuce heads and eggplant for Second Harvest.

Riders at the FairSare CSA Coation Bike The Barns event.  Lovely Ember Photography

Riders at the FairSare CSA Coation Bike The Barns event. Lovely Ember Photography

The 2013 growing season has been a bountiful one.  The gross weight of produce distributed into the community between May and September has more than doubled since 2012!  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 high quality food.

Jonnah

‘Tis the season to give! Through Give Local, you can put your gift to work to make fresh food from local farms available to low-income families in our communities.

Your dollars will help families eat healthy, fresh, locally grown food in 2013 through FairShare’s Partner Shares Program, keep Wisconsin farmers on the land, and build a strong, thriving local food movement in our backyard. Your tax-deductible donation will be matched 100 percent by Heartland Credit Union.

Vermont Valley Community Farm has long history of involvement with the Partner Shares Program.  Each season we give our members the opportunity to donate to this fund when they sign up for CSA shares.  We ask you to donate directly through Give Local.

Please join us as we strive to meet Heartland’s pledge to match up to $5,000 in donations from our community; $10,000 would allow 33 families to join farms in 2013 to reap the bounty of a full season’s worth of fresh food, community, and healthy eating.


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