We love Vermont! Our food & farms are a crucial part of our communities, the Vermont experience, our state's culture, and economy. Restaurants (and other culinary establishments) are key partners for our farmers and specialty food & beverage producers. Many are struggling right now and will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic for months with less tourist visits and overall lower revenues to sustain them through the winter. Consider supporting your favorite restaurant, cheesemaker, brewery, or other in one of the following ways:
1) Participate in The Great Vermont Picnic! Support your local restaurants and Vermont food & farms by ordering takeout, pairing a local beverage, and enjoying a picnic with family and friends this August. Don’t forget to tag your social media photos, #vermontpicnic. We want see all the great food and scenery. More info here.
2) Purchase a “donation ticket” on a sliding scale by giving here. We have cancelled our 24th Annual Forum Dinner, a beloved event that also serves as our largest fundraiser. It accounts for a significant portion of our operating budget and enables us to support our members. Tickets are normally $75, but any amount given here is greatly appreciated. We hope to see you next year for our 25th anniversary!
3) Support our members during this challenging time by helping cover their annual membership dues. Since the end of March 2020, we have waived membership fees. Our members have been busy shifting their business models, have laid off employees, many are facing significant revenue losses, or weren’t able to be open at all the last few months; the future is very uncertain. Help them remain active members in the Network and take one thing off their plate. Annual dues range from $50 to $240, but any amount you can give will help support our members and Vermont’s local food economy.
4) Prioritize Vermont Fresh Network chefs when selecting a restaurant. Our members proudly display our logo, which stands for transparency and local food integrity. The summer would normally be a busy time, but this year will be quite different. Vermonters, show your support as businesses start opening up. There is no other network like us in the country, and of course, there is no other state quite like Vermont! Your support of members in the Vermont Fresh Network matters. Please help us all continue to grow an honest, transparent, and delicious food system.
The Vermont Fresh Network is a non-profit founded in 1996; in the spirit of partnership and collaboration, we bring our state’s chefs and farmers together. For 24 years, we have worked across the food system to build strong relationships between farmers, producers, culinary professionals, and consumers who share similar beliefs, values, and a dedication to the health and strength of Vermont’s food and farm community.
We are the primary statewide organization representing this perspective in local food work and our membership is diverse. Our members across the Vermont food system include: restaurants, farmers, cheesemakers, food markets, hotels, universities, cidermakers, maple syrup producers, food trucks, caterers, distillers, delis, distributors, vineyards, inns/bed & breakfasts, farm stays, hospitals, k-12 schools, culinary education programs, orchards, breweries, and so many more.
The recent COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on Vermont’s food & beverage producers and restaurants. This serious time has revealed both the fragility of our interconnected food system and the strength of the people in our food & farm community. We will all make it out to the other side of this “new reality” stronger, but it will take time. We want to be prepared for what comes next.
With our members and partners, we’ve accomplished a lot in the last two decades. Chefs from a wide range of establishments integrate local food into their menus. Consumers are asking more from culinary professionals when it comes to sustainable and local sourcing. These strong partnerships ensure that Vermont's working landscape, agricultural economy, and culinary & agritourism industry continue to thrive.
Our programming and work are diverse and benefit businesses and industries across the state. We verify restaurant & farm partnerships and support standards to keep “local” from becoming just another marketing term. Our members benefit from information-sharing between each other and professional development opportunities. We look for new ways for food producers, artisans, and chefs to share their stories, and we build tools for travelers to find authentic Vermont food & farm experiences on DigInVT.com (our “sister” site). We rely on member dues, sponsorships, donations, and grants to help pay for these initiatives.
Next year, 2021, will be the Vermont Fresh Network’s 25th anniversary. Vermont is building a model for what a community-focused, sustainable food system can look like. We look forward to celebrating with our Vermont community and continuing our important work for years to come.
Thank you for your support!