Vermont food basket project

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Travis Marcotte
Intervale Center


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, potatoes
  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), cherries, berries (cranberries), melons, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: ornamentals
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, farm-to-institution, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    As evidenced by quantitative research and reinforced by our daily conversations with farmers, citizens, produce buyers, and peers, the demand for locally grown food far outpaces the supply. Drivers include peak oil and high oil prices, food safety, human health, climate change and environmental protection, the preservation of agricultural landscapes, and a desire to better support local farmers and the local economy. As part of a 2006 Windham Foundation-funded project, the Intervale Center documented both the need and desire for more adequately matching this burgeoning demand by developing shorter marketing channels and investing in Vermont’s food production and storage capacity. In the Burlington area, hundreds of families are on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) waiting lists, farmers’ markets are expanding, and cooperatives and grocery stores showcase increasing varieties of local produce, meats, and dairy products. Our research also demonstrates that current market outlets and efforts to coordinate market opportunities with suppliers are proving inadequate. New, innovative market outlets and technical assistance for farmers are essential to fully leverage the abundant opportunities for growing the local food system.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    With funding from the Windham Foundation (2006), Maverick Lloyd Foundation (2007), Argosy Foundation (2007) and the USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant program (2007-2009), the Intervale Center has launched the Burlington Food Hub project, a three-year project designed to explore the marketing challenges and opportunities available to Vermont farmers, and to identify and implement solutions. In the end, we hope to launch an enhanced brokerage service that will consolidate produce and other food products from various farms to open new markets and facilitate distribution to higher volume accounts (such as the hospital and the university). The Food Hub will improve the bottom line for farmers by providing clear feedback about market needs, supporting product development, expanding sales, and ensuring prices that support viable farms. The Vermont Food Basket Project, for which we seek a SARE Sustainable Community Grant, will constitute a major, interim step toward the establishment of the Food Hub. With SARE support, this project will unite at least six farms in a pilot Community-Supported Agriculture-inspired drop box program that can be replicated by farmers in communities around the state. The drop box program will bring product together from the participating farms, re-package it, and deliver it to Burlington-area drop sites at major employers in order to forge new links between farmers and consumers not currently participating in CSA programs. The Vermont Food Basket Project will serve 100 households in its first year, primarily through these workplace drop-off sites. Preliminary research into drop off sites has revealed that several area businesses are interested in hosting sites as a healthy lifestyle option for employees. At minimum, we will generate $50,000 in gross sales in year one for the combination of farmers who supply the project. We are also interested in adding value by incorporating meat, dairy and processed food options into the baskets and by supplying an “Eat Local Thanksgiving” basket option in late November.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.