The Intervale Center

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intervale spotlight

“The BVTMB team is thrilled to do a monthly series on local non-profit organizations in our community. Each month our team we will highlight a different non-profit with the hopes to educate and support all of the fabulous things they do. We encourage you to read, comment, and share what non-profit organizations are close to your hearts and families.”

The Intervale Center’s mission is to strengthen community food systems. They also steward over 350 acres of the Intervale in Burlington.

intervale farm, the intervale

Not only is the Intervale Center supporting farmers, they also are constantly finding new ways to engage the community in the local food system. The Intervale Center’s work and the wonderful farmers down at the Intervale are world renowned for their innovations in supporting sustainable agriculture and creating a vibrant and flourishing urban food system for the greater Burlington area.

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We all may recognize the “Intervale” as the farm down by the Winooski River. You may not know that this “farm” is actually made up of several small farm businesses including:

Farms Program

The Intervale Center supports beginning farmers through three projects; Farm Incubation, Beginning Farmer Support, and Consulting. There are many barriers to starting a farm, and the Farms Program is designed to remove some of these barriers, so that farmers can focus on farming and not the immense start up costs and labor that can go into beginning to farm. The Farm Incubation Project leases “land, equipment, greenhouses, irrigation and storage facilities” to small farms that grow food on 135 acres of the Intervale. These incubation farmers are also provided the resource of experienced farmer mentors, to grow their knowledge of farming and running a small business. Also, through Beginning Farmers Support, they help farmers create and expand their business plans. The Intervale Center also consults with other non-profit centers on how to successfully create a farm incubation program like this one at the Intervale.

Success on Farms

The Intervale Center’s Success on Farms program supports new farm business in 0-3 years of operation by helping to improve their farm business viability by offering “business planning assistance to help farmers expand their markets, increase revenues and achieve other quality of life goals”. They also focus on increasing the social and environmental sustainability of theses farm businesses while helping increase profits for farmers.

Intervale Food Hub

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The Intervale Food Hub, a non-profit, online, local foods market operates under the Intervale Center and provides year round delivery of local farm products to consumers in the Burlington area. The Intervale Food Hub’s goal is to “strengthen the relationship between agricultural producers and the community.” This quote from their website describes their mission perfectly:

“We believe in “community supported agriculture” where farmers and the community know, support and nourish one another.”

Intervale Conservation Nursery 

My first ever interaction with the Intervale Center was as an Environmental Science student at the University of Vermont. We were working on a stream restoration project for a local dairy farmer and used the Intervale’s Conservation Nursery to acquire native trees to replant damaged stream banks along a farmer’s field. And this is what the Intervale Conservation Nursery is committed to doing- “growing native, locally sourced trees and shrubs for riparian restoration projects throughout Vermont”.

Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue

Recognizing that in order to have a inclusive agricultural community, the Intervale Center is driven to provide access to local, fresh food for all Vermonters, of all income levels. Through primarily through the labor of volunteers, this program gleans and rescues fresh food grown at the Intervale and other local farms that would otherwise be wasted. They provide free weekly food shares for income eligible individuals, families and social service agencies, allowing the community and community organizations to access locally grown foods.

Here’s how you can get involved with the Intervale Center

In addition to monetary donations or by purchasing a share from the Food Hub, you can get involved with the Intervale Center by becoming part of the agricultural community.

Visit

intervale 4The Intervale is open to the public 365 days a year. There is an information kiosk at the Intervale Center’s Building that will give you the information you need to hike, bike, and ski around the Intervale.  There are also guided public tours at 10 a.m. on the 4th Friday of the month April-October.

Abenaki Heritage Garden

A tribute to the traditional Abenaki agriculture, a “three sisters garden” is maintained next to the Intervale Center’s building and is open for self guided tours during the daylight hours of the growing season.

Summervale

Summervale is the Intervale Center’s way to celebrate farmers and community supported agriculture. Every Thursday evening in July and August, the community comes together for kids activities, Slow Food tastings, music, local food and more. Admission is free (although donations are always greatly appreciated and accepted).

Summervale 1

Ski Trail and Wintervale

intervale 5Volunteers groom over three miles of trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing so we can enjoy the Intervale even in the winter time. Also, the Intervale Center hosts “Wintervale”, a celebration that mimics Summervale. This event is weather dependent and more information can be found on the Intervale Center’s Website.

Volunteer

The Intervale Center depends on the help of volunteers for many of their programs to be successful. If you are interested in learning more about their volunteer opportunities, visit the Volunteer page of the Intervale Center’s Website.

The Intervale Center is near and dear to my heart. When Craig and I were first business planning before the purchase of our homestead, the Intervale Center was there to help support me in making smart, sustainable choices for our future farm business. Although I have taken a break from business planning to focus on growing our homestead and to care for my daughter, Stella, the Intervale Center will always be there to use as a resource during the challenging task of starting up a farm business.

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I am originally from New Hampshire, but after attending the University of Vermont and Vermont Law School I decided to make Vermont my permanent home. After school, I fell into dairy farming full time and I have never looked back! I met my husband, Craig while living in Burlington and now we live on our 10 acre homestead in Bakersfield with our one year old, Stella and three cows, eleven chickens and two dogs. I am a FAHM (farm at home mom) where I milk our cows, care for our chickens and other livestock and keep a large garden. I also relief milk for bigger dairy farms to earn a little extra for the family. I am happy to be sharing our homesteading life, my passion about local, organic foods and products, and how we are raising our daughter on the homestead- connected deeply to this beautiful Vermont land and a yesteryear way of living.

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