Montpelier Area Food Security Coalition -

SMC's COVID Response

Food Security is fundamental to Montpelier’s Local Sustainability

It is time we face the combined crises to begin building local resilience in our food systems. With predictions of the COVID-19 crisis extending through next year and climate change becoming an increasing challenge, we are not “going back to normal.” Access to food production is limited. People who are food insecure do not always have a say in how their food is grown, nor do they usually have the opportunity or support to grow their own food. And to top it off, the conventional, large-scale farming supplying our food shelves and food is unsustainable. 100 years ago we grew almost 80% of our food locally, while today we are almost totally dependent on food coming from out of state. We must shift from the current pattern of pure consumption to one of local production. SMC’s vision of a viable local economy requires us to develop a comprehensive viable local food system that will be key to our local health and security.

Meet the Montpelier Area Food Security Coalition! In Fall 2019, SMC had organized initial Food Security Roundtables. This group was reconvened in May when more members of the local food network joined, and the Food Security Coalition was created. The Coalition is energized to make Montpelier a City of Gardens, harking back to 1917 when gardens popped up everywhere in response to the need for increased local food security. We are asking the important questions about our food security. The mission of this group is evolving as we learn more about the food system and the current needs of our community.

Food Security Coalition Working Groups

Education

The committee is conducting an ongoing inventory of established and new food gardens in Montpelier. The inventory project will expand into area farms, storage, food processing and more. The goal is to share examples of diverse styles of food gardens to inspire new gardeners and illustrate the existing food system. If you are interested in being added to this inventory, please contact: info@sustainablemontpelier.org We would love to speak with you about your garden and take pictures, with your permission, to share with the community.

To see the inventory, please follow us on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Lawns to Gardens & Garden Mentors

As demonstrated by the wartime Victory Gardens, small efforts undertaken by communities can have a great cumulative impact. The Lawns to Gardens & Garden Mentors programs are being trialed this season to learn what is possible, to create a template for future years, to document the work and to share the experience to inspire others.

Two Rivers Farm

Two Rivers is a seventeen-acre plot of land at the confluence of the Stevens Branch and the Winooski River. It is at the end of the bike path and on the bus route, so it is easily accessible for many. Two Rivers could make an ideal location for a local food hub and/or farm incubator, educational center (i.e. Intervale). This opportunity is currently being explored.

Repurposing School Gardens

While schools are closed due to COVID-19. This committee is exploring how to use the established school gardens in the Greater Montpelier area.

Market Analysis

A complete food network inventory of the Greater Montpelier area will be performed as a first step to understanding what exists, identify the gaps, and be a foundation for creating a local food network plan.

Visioning

This committee is listening to the vision of each member of the Coalition in order to synthesize a common vision. The shared Vision will guide future endeavors.

Food Security Coalition Members include:

Whitney Shields (Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School – Clinical Teaching Fellow), Allison Levin (Community Harvest - Executive Director), Sarah Danly (Farm to Plate - Network Manager), Catherine Lowther (Goddard College – Undergraduate Sustainability Director), Scott Hess (Hunger Mountain Coop - Council President), Joseph Kiefer (Just Basics, Board/ Vermont Community Garden Network, Board), Jay Ericson (Montpelier City Council), Jacqueline Huettenmoser (Montpelier Community Services – Parks Department), Alan LePage (Montpelier Farmer’s Market – Board VP), Tom Sabo (Montpelier High School – Sustainability Coordinator), Randy George (Red Hen – Co-Owner), Paul Hill, Jr. (Vermont Community Loan Fund – Director of Housing and Community Facilities Programs), Pat Hinkley (SMC’s Board Member, Author), Peter Burmeister (Psychotherapist, Farmers Market Vendor), SMC Staff - Dan Jones (ED), Elizabeth Parker (Public Engagement), Laura Brooke (Research, CAN Coordinator)