Arts, Dining & Entertainment

Vermont Farmers Food Center’s 6th annual harvest festival celebrates local farms and community

Sunday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.—RUTLAND—Vermont Farmers Food Center, Rutland County’s food hub, is celebrating its 6th annual Harvest Festival Dinner with a locally sourced, take out meal on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the VFFC, 251 West St. in Rutland. Chefs Abbie Sweeney and “Sugar Bob” Hausslein will source the meal from local farms, while Stafford Technical Center culinary students will prepare the dessert. All proceeds from the fundraiser support the VFFC’s mission to relocalize the food system through education, food access, and infrastructure. Tickets for meals and merchandise are available at vermontfarmersfoodcenter.org/harvest_fest_2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit many non-profits hard this year, and VFFC is no exception according to VFFC Operations Director Heidi Lynch. “Although we lost some of our traditional annual funding sources, VFFC was able to pivot and access new sources of funds to continue existing programs, and initiate new programs and services to address emerging community needs.” Lynch points to the newly established “Everyone Eats” program that is feeding community members in need, three days a week until December. The program aligns with VFFC’s mission to provide greater food access by sourcing meals from local restaurants that have also faced economic challenges this year.

Harvest Fest has been the largest community fundraising effort for VFFC in previous years, supporting programs like the food-as-medicine “Farmacy” program, now in its sixth year. This year’s ticket purchases will provide a pay-it-forward meal for Farmacy members who are referred by their healthcare provider to receive a “prescription” of fresh vegetables throughout the year. Members of the program also provide volunteer support for important food access programs including Vermont’s 3squaresVT and Crop Cash.

Pigs for Harvest Fest have been generously donated by Spring Lake Ranch in Shrewsbury, and like Farmacy members and the ranch, “Sugar Bob” understands the importance of stepping up to support our local food system.

“The VFFC has always been there for us since we’ve grown our business. We believe in local agriculture and resilient economies, and we make the best damn sauce in the southern part of the state, and that’s what you’re going to get on the pig, clean ingredients, big bold flavor, you can’t go wrong.”

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