Two local farmers spoke about small farming life at the Central Vermont Food Systems Council’s quarterly meeting over an “Extending the Harvest” demo dinner provided by NECI students on November 16th. Lila Bennett from Tangletown Farm in Middlesex and her husband raise chickens, turkeys, rabbits, lamb, and beef cattle to sell at local schools and the Burlington and Montpelier Farmer’s Markets. She talked about the challenges, “It is hard to compete with factory produced prices, we make very little on what we sell after the costs of feed, leasing land and harvesting are considered. We don’t have money but we are staying in farming.” and the joys of small scale farming. “We provide clean, ethically grown meat for the community and our three kids get an education they would never get anywhere else. We love to have people come to visit us. “
Joey Klein from Littlewood Farm in Plainfield has been a craftsman farmer for over thirty years growing berries and vegetables for his pick your own farmstand. “The economics of farming are hard, but the growing isn’t.” Joey views farming as both an education and hands on enterprise, “ swimming in science” and has hosted many interns over the years as they learn about the ins and outs of seed to sale. He is currently exploring “How do I get out of farming?” farm stewardship when your children aren’t interested in inheriting the farm. He values how local farms ensure open space and allow a sense of community and opportunity to see how the foods we eat and drink are produced.
Rob Kidd from Rural Vermont concluded the meeting with updates and examples from the Food Sovereignty movement, policy and issues regarding economic justice for farmers, and efforts to strengthen local food systems, asking, “What is going to happen when the trucks stop?”