Eat Local VT
Co-operative Insurance Companies is pleased to sponsor Eat Local VT, a map-based site that connects users to farmers and food producers from Shelburne to Pawlet.
Available online, it’s a dynamic version of the Addison County Relocalization Network’s Champlain Valley Guide to Local Food and Farms, cataloging producers, products, services, pick-your-own operations, and farm stays.
ACORN executive director Lindsey Berk said going digital had been in the organization’s sights for a while, but it wasn’t until the 2020 pandemic made the print guide impractical that they were able to take action. Berk found student volunteers from Middlebury College with expertise in computer science, geographic information systems and food studies were available to work on the project. “They wanted real-world experience and something fun to do while they were stuck at home,” Berk said. “I feel like I won a million dollars getting these students to help out.”
Co-op is delighted to be a partner in this endeavor, especially in marketing efforts. “With our connections in the VT farm community, we knew we could get the word out and drive more traffic to the app as well as to our farm policyholders looking to take advantage of this free tool,” said Lee Dowgiewicz, Co-op’s president and CEO. “Certainly this is one of those rare “win-win” business decisions that we strive for at Co-op.”
Berk hopes to expand the site statewide by partnering with local food and agriculture organizations outside the Champlain Valley. “Farmers sell across county lines, and people go across county lines to buy food,” she said. “We’ve seen how important our local food system is, and we’re hoping this helps keep up that community demand.”
If you’re a producer who’s interested in being listed or an organizer who’d like to assist in taking the effort statewide, ACORN wants to hear from you! Contact them via their website.