i could stretch this into two more posts – but frankly i’m tired of writing about burlington, and its been almost a month since i got back, and plenty more is happening and i’d like to get writing about other things. this is the rest of burlington, a little about the conference and lots of pictures from the market.
the reality is that very few conferences have much content that makes them blog worthy, or anything visually interesting to make them photo worthy. this conference did have the advantage of including a parade from the opening session to lunch led by bread and puppet performers. you know bread and puppet? long running radical puppet theater. i’ve been fortunate enough to see a couple of their performances over the years, and some of their artwork hangs around the house. good stuff.
much of the conference was what you expect – networking and open space time for learning from others. many of the workshops while useful, were not especially inspiring. one that was; a workshop on whole measures for community food systems put on the folks from one of my favorite projects in the country holyoke’s nuestras raices. it was everything i would like a workshop to be, included a silly activity, was youth lead, and participatory. i’d been wondering about using whole measures for a number of years. i got a copy of the book on using whole measures, but it just wasn’t clear how to use them. while this workshop didn’t necessarily explain it in detail – it did get me thinking the main idea was to have fun and be creative. as the young lady leading the workshop explained – they used the photographs on the ground to have students in one of the high schools to document the process of food moving from farm to table, and improvements they wanted to see in that process. they then used roll play to evaluate who had the most control over the schools food, and who they could put pressure on to make changes. i seem to have forgotten the actual results – i was too captivated by the process.
i was able to gather a number of resources for farm to school which you may or may not find useful – but i list them here for your perusal. any of these helpful?
saturday evening was spent at the amazing shelburne farms. to call this a farm in the way most of us think of a farm doesn’t do it justice and just confuses most folks. this is an over 1000 acre vanderbilt estate that was designed by olmsted. its unlike any farm i’ve ever been to before.
the visit started at “the barn”to call this a barn is like calling windsor castle a house. it’s not like any barn i’ve ever been to. the barn had a bakery and creamery in it as well as a visitor center and petting zoo type thing. a huge tent was set up for a local foods diner, roving around the tent picking up little odds and ends and munching on them while mingling. sorry for the poor quality of this image, the light was fading quick. i know that mingling and networking was the focus here, but i’d done plenty of that, and over a thousand acres of historic farm land was calling my name. i headed out the back and went rambling. up the hill past bored donkeys and sheep and into the woods, where a maze of piping was strung from tree to tree for maple syrup production. not woods i would want to off-road after dark. i had two main goals in mind; reaching lake champlain, and seeing the market garden. seeing cows would be a bonus. the market garden was the first goal i came to.
hoop houses and fields filed with bounty. sometimes i feel like all i take photos of are hoop houses and vegetables – but i’m pretty obsessed with both. i’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in the way that folks organize their wash and pack area. as we process more and more produce at work it becomes more and more apparent that our current washing and packing methods don’t work. i liked how well-organized this weigh station is and how everything was carefully labeled. like so many other places, they also use old bathtubs for wash tubs. note the plumbing set up so each tub has a place to fill from. i poked around the gardens some more, but the sun was dropping on the horizon quickly, i headed for lake champlain, but not before visiting with one of my sub goals – cows!
these are brown swiss (turns out the plural of swiss is swiss), and i had sampled the cheese made from them in the dairy earlier – i can attest to the quality of their milk, very good cheese! they were in for feeding, and very focused on feeding. down the road from the milking barn the vista opened up and i found a spot on the beach,and dipped my feet in the water.i collected some rocks to take home, and then headed back to the barn where the bus was to take me back to where i was staying. i rambled back, exploring one of the fields,and the coach house. this monster of a building used to contain the horse, carriages, and sleighs for the estate. now it is mostly used for special events.
the next day a quick trip to the farmers market. i had heard it was good, but nothing prepared me for how good it would be – easily the best farmers market i’ve been to in a city of burlington’s size. full of fruit and vegetables vendors, plenty of exciting prepared food items, and a smattering of tasteful crafts. for those wanting an example of good visual merchandizing should look no further than the table display from half pint farms. to see photos from the farm check out this earlier post on the intervale.
in addition to the produce there were plenty of baked goods. pastries and breads. i didn’t know it at the time, but i actually knew one of the farmers from bread and butter farm, my friend corie used to teach at the student organic farm in e. lansing, but had moved to vermont to start this farm several years ago. wish i had known sooner so i could have made arrangements for a visit. always next time.
burlington really upped the ante on prepared food, with cotton candy made with maple syrup (i didn’t have any), and locally made root beer floats (i didn’t have any) and black currant flavored snow cones – you better belive i had that.
i picked up a few odds and ends for my trip home the next day (what was supposed to be a 4 hour plane trip turned into a epic 12 hour trip made only slightly better by being bumped up to first class) and headed back to the conference.
burlington was pretty great on so many levels, and i look forward to returning.