The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

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Local food and farm economy heats up as farmers purchase former Mintzer Complex

Building on the successful Vermont Farmers' Market model in Rutland that annually generates over a million dollars in sales, the Vermont Farmers Food Center will open on November 3.

The Center will usher in a new food system that will insure that everyone, regardless of economic status, has access to fresh, wholesome, local food year-round. The three-acre complex on 251 West Street will be the permanent home of the Winter Farmers' Market, Vermont Foodbank and the Rutland Community Cupboard.

Multiple activities are planned for the Center which is owned by the Vermont Farmers' Education Center, and is a nonprofit arm of the Vermont Farmers' Market. The Center will meet the needs of farmers and food-related businesses who will be able to refrigerate, store and process locally grown foods in a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. It will also serve as an agricultural events center hosting wine tastings and a variety of food festivals during the summer months.

Education and training will be a hallmark of the Center's activities which will include job training for a range of food-related occupations. Food demonstrations and cooking classes will be featured regularly to enable more consumers to learn to prepare and love healthy foods that are available in the greater Rutland area.

"Vermont spends two billion dollars annually to feed itself but only 5 percent of those dollars stay  here. The rest goes out into the corporate universe when those dollars could stay in Vermont and grow the local economy. New jobs and businesses would result, and our kids could stay in Vermont and earn a living," says Greg Cox, owner of Boardman Hill Farm and a leader in the agricultural community.

Renovations have begun on the former Mintzer property which has a long and rich tradition in Rutland's industrial history, but it has been vacant for years and is now in need of extensive repairs. A committee has formed to raise the funds needed to renovate the structures for November occupancy. Volunteers are welcome to come to the site each Sunday as work crews continue to clear and prepare the property for renovation.

The Vermont Farmers' Market will continue to operate each year in Depot Park during the summer and fall months.

Tagged: rutland, Vermont Farmers Market