Report from the Field: from Dwarf Goats to Nannyberries at Capsand Creamery

We hosted our fall farm tour at Capsand Creamery in South Hero this fall. Capsand Creamy is a micro-farm, with a herd of about 15 Nigerian dwarf goats that owner and farmer Christine Macmillan breeds, names, raises and milks. In addition to feeding her family milk and cheese, she makes goat milk caramels and fudge, goat milk soap, and creamy goat milk lotion. She sells these products at the Champlain Islands Farmers' Market, and also by pre-order from the farm.  She and her family also grow a large garden, care for fruit trees and shrubs, and even make acorn flour from wild harvested acorns! 

We enjoyed the chance to check out Christine's homestead, visit with the goats, and taste some nannyberries- a scrumptios treat made of goat milk caramel dipped in chocolate with various nuts and other additions- yum! 

Christine blogs HERE, and can be reached about ordering  at capsandcreamery@gmail.com

In Good Taste a Feast of Flavors from Northwest Vermont

LCIAN and our partners from the Healthy Roots Collaborative hosted the first In Good Taste event to happen in the Champlain Islands on Sunday. It was a beautiful day to enjoy at Knight Point State Park in North Hero- swimming, playing, and tasting the fresh, delicious products of our farmers and food producers in Northwest Vermont! 

We are so excited to have brought together our two counties, Franklin and Grand Isle, for this fun event. We in the Northwest corner have much in common, and much to learn from each other. Farmers and producers from the two counties met and learned about  each other's great businesses. Consumers from the region, as well as further afield, were able to try new products and learn more about where our food comes from: who grows it, processes it, cooks it, and sells it... and those farmers, bakers, pasta makers, beer brewers, vintners, and other folks are quite amazing people! We loved hearing the stories of each of them, knowing the creativity, hard work, and care that they bring to producing our food. 

With samples of spicy jalapeño pasta, sweet crunch pickles, pulled pork and beef, maple sweetened puffed corn, black current sorbet, apple crisp, goat milk caramels, fresh creamy mozzarella,  brown ale and breakfast stout, wine and ice cider, fresh flavored sparkling water, and more... it was a celebration of old and new favorites from the Northwest corner!

Many thanks to the wonderful vendors, volunteers, and sponsors who helped make In Good Taste: Savor the Islands a huge success this year!

In Good Taste: Savor the Islands was sponsored by Carol Tremble, CPA, Champlain Island Economic Development Corporation, Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation, Franklin-Grand Isle Workforce Investment Board, Grand Isle County Farm Bureau, Island Excavating, Lake Champlain Islands Agriculture Network, Keeler Bay Health Center, North Country Credit Union, Northwest Regional Planning Commission, Northwest Vermont Healthy Roots Collaborative, and Yankee Farm Credit.

Report from the Field: Great Farm Tour at Darby Farm

The Lake Champlain Islands Agriculture Network hosted a spring gathering and farm tour at Darby Farm in late April. Ron Hermann and Heather Darby own and operate this organic vegetable farm in Alburgh, and gave us a great tour of their greenhouse, fields, and barn. They were starting many varieties of peppers and tomatoes in the greenhouse, along with other vegetables and herbs. They will be selling tomato plants at their farmstand later in the spring.  

We walked through the fields, where Ron and Heather are getting ready for the upcoming growing season. They are experimenting with cover crops and no-till planting, and showed us a plot of oats, peas, and tillage radish that was planted in the fall. This cover crop mix helps fix nitrogen in the soil and aerates the soil, all while reducing nutrient loss by keeping the soil covered through the winter. We looked at the hoop houses that Ron and Heather move every year to new soil, and use to grow heat loving crops like peppers and tomatoes. We also looked at some of the equipment they use, from a planter that also irrigates, to machine that helps put drip irrigation tape down while laying black plastic on raised beds. It was great to see the different projects that they are trying out, we learned a lot during our walk.

Heather also works for UVM extension as an agronomist. It is clear that her research skills and innovative ideas paired with Ron's daily work in the fields and commitment to growing high quality produce make them a great farming team. They sell their vegetables and honey from their bees at their seasonal farm stand, located right on the farm, as well as at the Champlain Islands Farmers' Market. You can visit their farmstand daily between May and October, 10 am  to 7 pm- they are located at 54 North Main Street in Alburgh. 

Thanks for the great tour Ron, Heather, and Flint! 

Annual Winter Gathering this Sunday!

Join us on Sunday, February 8th, for our Winter Gathering! We will be gathering at Snow Farm Winery in South Hero for some local food, updates from the membership, networking, and brainstorming! This is a great chance for Islands farmers, processors, and other food entrepreneurs to get out on a cold winter's day and share stories and ideas. 1-3 pm. Free. Food provided by LCIAN. Please RSVP by emailing emily@shlt.org.

Wrapping up an Amazing Growing Season in the Champlain Islands

As we come to the close of the year, we are reflecting on the challenges and success of the last growing season. It was a wonderful year in the Champlain Islands- with the bustling Champlain Islands Farmers' Markets; farm stands overloaded with fresh vegetables and fruits, locally raised meat, raw milk, local yarns and more; farm dinners and tasting events; pick-your-own apples, raspberries, and blueberries; bike tours; open studios and galleries; musical events; and great food being served by our local restaurants. We are grateful for the partnerships that have been created and fostered through the work of the Lake Champlain Islands Agriculture Network, and are excited to look forward to 2015 together. Thank you to our community, our amazing partners, our hard-working farmers, our innovative food entrepreneurs, our volunteers, our teachers, and the amazing land we all live on here in the Islands. Cheers to a great year!