A Sweet Deal: Why Maple Syrup is Big Business

By Mike Dunphy

One thing I’ve always adored about Vermont is how little things change. Having grown up here, but lived much of my adult life abroad, it’s been endlessly gratifying to return for visits and find the Vermont I knew more or less intact. Even if the faces have changed, the uniforms haven’t.

This time, however, there was one very noticeable change in the maple section of the co-ops and organic markets. The usual plastic jugs and maple leaf glass bottles not only feature a new rating system (so long “grade B”) but are being crowded out by altogether swankier packaging not unlike hair tonic bottles in vintage-style Brooklyn barbershops, and perhaps more bizarrely, infusions of everything from makrut leaf and hibiscus to cardamom and elderberry. Still, other bottles claim aging in rum or bourbon barrels.

vermont maple industry

Photo: Vermont Tourism

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As Farmers Face Retirement, Study Examines Effectiveness of Land Access Tools for the Next Generation

As established farmers age and transition out of farm ownership, a vast amount of agricultural land in the United States will change hands in the coming years. As a result, beginning farmers are likely to continue to face numerous obstacles as they try to find and purchase property.

land access tools

Courtesy Photo/Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing

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New UVM Study Reinforces the Value of Food Hubs

Do farmers and other suppliers benefit from sales to food hubs? UVM Associate Professor David Conner and a team of researchers set out to find the answer in a recent study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition.

Food hubs have been credited as a way to expand markets for local and regional food. However, one crucial area that has not received a great deal of attention is how food hubs are impacting suppliers—notably farmers and small-scale manufacturers.

increasing local food sales
Associate Professor David Conner

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A Tribute to UVM Agricultural Economics Professor Bob Parsons

By Terry Bradshaw, PhD

The agriculture, academic, and extension world lost a true friend with a sharp, grounded mind and a sense of humor only developed in farm fields, barns, and milk house driveways when Dr. Bob Parsons passed away Friday after a two-plus year battle with cancer.

Bob’s impact on Vermont agriculture looms large, as he has been key in studying dairy and other farm sector economics; in overseeing the UVM Risk Management Agency; in directing the Vermont Farm Succession Program; and in being a sought-out resource for detailing agricultural economics at all levels and relating them to stakeholders. Despite being quite sick (and sicker than he’d led on to those of us who work with him), recently he was commenting on Vermont Public Radio on the current state of milk prices and helping one of our undergrad students do his taxes. The man was dedicated right to the end.

bob parsons

Bob Parsons (right) and his wife Grace Matiru in action.

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Can Lessons from Vermont Keep Local Agriculture Alive in Montana?

By Erika Fredrickson
Missoula Independent/High Country News

This story is part of The Montana Gap Project, produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network.

On a recent Wednesday morning, a small group of farmers gathered at a table inside a neighborhood restaurant on the outskirts of Missoula. It was a crisp 25 degrees outside, but inside the Trough a fireplace flickered and the smell of bacon wafted through the air. The farmers pulled off wool coats and knit caps and held their travel mugs out to the waitress, who filled them with steaming coffee. The Trough, formerly Dale’s Dairy, is about the only place in at least a mile radius of the Orchard Homes and Target Range neighborhoods where you can grab a bite to eat. Its rustic decor evokes an old farmhouse, but it’s a decidedly modern space—and that combination of traditional and contemporary makes it the perfect rendezvous for rural farmers trying to keep farming alive in an increasingly urban setting.

vermont land access

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