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08.09.2015 admin
Farmers in Vermont incorporate food rescue and composting to benefit their community and farm viability.
Vermont is taking recycling and waste reduction to a whole new level with the Universal Recycling Law, passed unanimously by the legislature in 2012. VT’s Universal Recycling Law is moving organic matter out of landfills and back into the food and nutrient cycle. Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law is being implemented by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and aligns with the state’s Farm to Plate nutrient management goal to divert food scraps away from landfills and back into the food system.
Produce is gleaned from VT farms, processed locally, and distributed back into Vermont’s food shed. Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford, Vermont is in their second season working with Salvation Farms and provides product to the Vermont Commodity Program work at the Southeast State Correctional Facility.
Food insecurity in Vermont is on the rise with 13% of households being food insecure (compared to 9.1% in 2000).
The Vermont Foodbank distributes 400,000 pounds of donated and gleaned food to 270 food shelves, meal sites and senior centers across Vermont annually.

From antiquity to present day, gleaning has been a method of providing food to vulnerable populations by collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after the harvest.
Rachel Carter is the communications director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, a non-profit organization created by the State of Vermont to help develop Vermont’s sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and forest product businesses. The Cornell Small Farms Program is a part of Cornell Cooperative Extension and is based at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The Farm to Plate Food Cycle Coalition is a diverse group of stakeholders including the Composting Association of Vermont, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, solid waste districts, food rescue groups, and composting companies who are working to increase organics diversion in response to Farm to Plate and Universal Recycling. Another Vermont Farm to Plate goal is to increase the percentage of Vermonters who will have access to fresh, nutritionally balanced food they can afford.
Simultaneously, solid waste haulers and facilities are required to provide collection services as materials are banned from landfill disposals. The Coalition is working to divert food and organic materials that would otherwise be wasted and redirect them to support Vermont’s local food system through a hierarchy that places source reduction in the top tier followed by food rescue, and then onto animal feed utilization, composting and anaerobic digestion, and energy recovery.
When a farm makes excess crops available to its community the benefits not only provide food, but unique educational opportunities for community members to engage with the farm and learn about the local food system.

From the outside these were perfectly normal looking tubers, but on the inside they were hollow! The produce might have small blemishes or an irregular shape, but otherwise is of good quality. Farmers can provide for more of the community while still retaining a large amount of organic matter for animals and soil,” shares Theresa Snow, director of Salvation Farms, a non-profit that coordinates agricultural surplus management or “gleaning” with Vermont farmers.
One regrettable side of this business is the market demand for unblemished produce, which can sometimes create a glut of perfectly edible yet unsaleable product.
Food rescue allows the Vermont Foodbank to provide healthy food to Vermonters who might not otherwise have access to local produce.

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