Saturday, January 07, 2012

Vermont Specialty Food Production

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A slow-to-get-started morning here on the mountain. 23°, on and off 2-3 mph winds, and gray clouds mixed with very little brightness as if a storm is lurking somewhere this morning. I have missed the weather report for two days now so am just winging it when I predict snow showers and slightly warmer weather today. If Karl the Wonder Dog were the weatherman, the morning would read something like fair to mostly sleepy. I took him out at 5:30 and he didn't not want to come back to the house but now he is asleep on the rug in front of the wood stove, sleeping and dog dreaming with occasional dog dream outbursts that are meaningless to me.

Yesterday was the grand opening at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick. Gail and I had the event on our schedule for some time and despite pre-planning we were too late getting there to get inside the warehouse to hear any of the festivities. The crowd was enormous and the enthusiasm spilled into the production area of the building. Senator Patrick Leahy was in hand for the ribbon cutting and his experience and pride in Vermont shined as bright as his forever smile.

The specialty food industry is critical to Vermont. It fits so well in the puzzle of Vermont's current economic needs because the dairy industry has declined since its peak just after World War II. Specialty foods can still borrow from our agricultural foundation while providing jobs and income for employers, employees and government program needs.

Gail and I really wanted to experience the guided tour but as the clock headed for 3 PM the tours were not quite organized and we decided we'd return on a different day when there were fewer people. We did have an opportunity to chat with some producers and sample some of the products that were on display. I'll try to put pictures up on my George Africa and also Vermont Flower Farms and Gardens Facebook pages in the next few days.

The cheese display up top here was provided by The Cellars at Jasper Hill, a Greensboro Vermont business. The cheese on the right is an example of the Cabot Cloth Bound Cheese that is aged at the Cellars. Some of the other cheeses are from other producers who use the aging caves and the expertise this fine business lends to our state's cheese industry. If you enjoy cheese, you would have enjoyed the samples from this beautiful display.

As much as I get around and keep an eye out for Vermont products, I only found an empty bag of the Castleton Crackers shown just below here. The Rutland Rye flavor was obviously as popular as the cheeses. When I got home I looked up the site and made a note of stores
that carry the crackers. We are cracker lovers in our family and this company sounds too good to miss.

The open house was a great success. I'll continue to share observations and describe other producers in coming days. The Vermont Kale Company has a excellent snack product and sampling switzel brought me back to days in my youth when I drank switzel in the hayfields on super hot days. Switzel is made from sugar, water, vinegar and ground ginger and it quenches ones thirst on a hot day like you wouldn't believe. More later.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where birds flock to the feeders this morning suggesting that the day's weather really is changing.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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