Sunday, June 30, 2013

Farmer's Market Season is in Full Swing!

Greetings from Pond Hill Farm in Michigan! Its been awhile, but as promised I am back to update you on farm life and my adventures so far.

It is safe to say that farmer's market season is in full swing and with that I have been able to help run one of the four different farmer's markets that Pond Hill attends. I have been assigned to work at the Petoskey Farmer's Market which designates a block within their downtown district every Friday for the market.

Our stand at the Petoskey Farmer's Market 
Having typically been a customer at farmer's markets and not a weekly vendor this new opportunity has given me insight into the business perspective of running the farm and selling produce. I work with Jimmy, co-owner of Pond Hill Farm at the market and this past Friday he shared some words of wisdom on how to be successful at farmer's markets. Here are some of them:

  • Show em' what you got! Jimmy has noticed that when you display more of your product customers are more likely to be drawn to your table and buy more of whatever it is your are selling. 
  • Give em' a taste of what you got! Who doesn't love samples? It's free food after all! We started selling kohlrabi at farmer's markets and many customers had no idea what it was or what it tasted like. Samples convinced them to buy it and experiment with it themselves.  
  • Know how to use what you've got! Knowing different receipes that utilize a variety of your products will help customers visualize what they can
  • Build your customer base. Take the time to interact with your pays off in the end and doesn't cost you a dime. 

As of last month the Michigan Senate unanimously passed two bills that would allow tastings and sales of wine from small Michigan vintners at farmer's markets. This is great news for Pond Hill Farm since we produce a variety of wines that we normally sell in our tasting room on-site at the farm. This will be a  great addition to the farmer's market since it will not only boost sales but also bring a new customer base to the market as well. 

Time is flying here and I cannot believe it will be July as of tomorrow. July is our busiest month here so there will definitely be more exciting updates to come!



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Quick Hello from CT NOFA's New Program and Event Manager

Good morning CT NOFA enthusiasts!

My name is Stephanie Berluti and I recently joined the CT NOFA team as the new Program and Events Manager, so naturally I would like to take a few moments to introduce myself. 
"I'm so excited to be working with CT NOFA"

I am a CT native, born and raised in Orange, but I left this great state to continue my education in Rhode Island at Providence College. My initial career plan was to become a tax accountant, but an impromptu school excursion to a local farm in Saundsertown, RI radically transformed my professional agenda. I don't know what it was specifically about digging up potatoes on a cold, dreary, November morning that made me think "Yeah, I want to be a part of this!" but shortly there after I began my studies in sustainable and local agriculture. In 2010 I became more directly involved in the RI local food scene through an internship at Farm Fresh Rhode Island and interviewing many key players of the local food movement in the state; those of which culminated in a (rough)documentary on the local food culture of Rhode Island entitled "Why RI? A Small State with a Big Garden" (check it out!).  I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Global Studies minoring in Public and Community Service.

Since graduating I have gained professional experience working various temporary jobs, but I tried to remain true to my passion for sustainable and organic food by working nights as a server and bartender. After realizing the corporate life was not for me I moved back home to Connecticut to pursue a career advocating for a more sustainable agricultural system, starting by volunteering at one of CitySeed's New Haven Farmers Markets. 

I am so thrilled to begin my work at CT NOFA and look forward to meeting all the NOFA fans at our upcoming events!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GMO Labeling in Connecticut

By now, if you're following the Genetically Modified Labeling Movement, you probably know that Connecticut's House of Representatives passed a law that mandates that food containing GM ingredients will be labeled. Yes, there is a trigger clause which requires that four other states must pass similar legislation and that the states represent a population of 20 million people or more.  Yes, the bill is slightly watered down and a stricter law would be more effective - but it would not have passed.  However, this legislation is a thrilling step in the right direction.  With the number of states around the country that have GMO-labeling movements and have already drafted GMO labeling bills (though they have all failed), it is clear that the momentum has shifted toward consumer rights and honest labeling. 

The Connecticut bill is also exciting, because it is purely the work of one very dedicated coalition of activists, GMO Free CT and their mobilization of supporters and partner organizations.  Tara Cook-Littman, the head of GMO Free CT has been the movement's fearless leader and tireless advocate.  If you follow us on Facebook, you also probably noticed our facebook was just re-postings of GMO Free CT's posts for much of the week.  We are so appreciative of Tara and GMO Free CT's leadership, strength and focus.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy said this law passed because  This bill strikes an important balance by ensuring the consumers’ right to know what is in their food while shielding our small businesses from liability that could leave them at a competitive disadvantage, he said in a statement.  

The bill is also inspiring because:
1. It is possible to beat the biotech industry and food industry in the legislative process

2. When constituents ask for something relentlessly, no matter where the campaign funds are coming from, your representative will listen to you!

In a year when most levels of our government have seemed ineffective, and following years of nearly unregulated biotechnology integration into our food system - this is a wonderful victory for consumers, farmers and environmentalists.