- Miscellaneous: syrup
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
- Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, values-based supply chains
The Vermont Maple In Every School Project will build relationships and easy-to-use purchasing infrastructure between maple syrup producers and schools within their communities, expanding the use of maple syrup in school meals over the course of 16 months.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) will coordinate and organize this project with the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association (VMSMA), which will serve to expand the market for Vermont maple producers by developing relationships, creating a purchasing process that meets state regulatory requirements, and building awareness of Vermont maple syrup among students through interactive experiences involving maple syrup production.
To achieve these goals, NOFA-VT, as a partner in Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) with Shelburne Farms, will connect maple producers with their local school nutrition personnel and help them to establish relationships with their local schools. We will do this by providing technical assistance in the procurement process, which is currently difficult to navigate for those who are unfamiliar with the requirements.
Through VMSMA, we will also connect these personnel with local sugar makers, and help them build relationships with producers in their community. This project will motivate the relationships that will allow producers to speak in classrooms, deliver their products to school nutrition personnel, and conduct field trips to sugar bushes and sugar houses. Facilitating effective field trip or classroom visits requires that sugar makers have training, which we will conduct with activity outlines, and workshops at the VMSMA’s conferences.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1 : Expand the maple syrup market and increase sales for Vermont producers in schools in Lamoille, Bennington, and Orleans counties. We will do this by connecting sugar makers with their local school nutrition personnel and helping them to establish relationships with their local schools. This will ultimately expand the economic market for maple producers in Vermont. Due to the grant timeline we are limiting initial outreach to three counties.
Objective 2: Develop a purchasing process which makes it easier for Vermont sugar makers to sell their products to school nutrition personnel. We will provide technical assistance to sugar makers and to school nutrition staff to assist in the procurement process. If the procurement process is easier for school nutrition staff to navigate, sugar makers will benefit by having a new market for their syrup.
Objective 3: Determine a baseline of maple syrup sales to schools around the state of Vermont. This will allow us to know how much maple syrup is currently being sold to schools and also to understand the extent to which the maple market exists in schools. We will achieve this baseline by surveying sugar makers and school nutrition professionals.