Sept. 30, 2010By Stephanie Choate Observer staff
Next Thursday, Williston diners can go to two local eateries while raising money for low-income Vermont families.
Three Tomatoes Trattoria and Natural Provisions Market are participating in the 16th annual Share The Harvest fund-raising event, set for Oct. 7.
“It’s such an easy way to support those less fortunate than us and at the same time support local agriculture and small farms and a sense of community,” said Becca Weiss, program coordinator at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, or NOFA-VT, which runs the event.
More than 80 restaurants, markets and cooperatives have partnered with NOFA-VT for the event, donating a part of their sales that day to NOFA-VT’s Farm Share program. Businesses normally give between 5 percent and 15 percent of their sales, or a flat donation. The money raised will help low-income families buy a share in local Community Supported Agriculture farms, giving them 22 weeks of fresh produce.
This is the third year Natural Provisions Market has participated. It has joined every year it has been in Williston, and its St. Johnsbury location has been involved for longer.
“It’s such a terrific cause,” General Manager Peter Lafferty said. “I think that it embodies so many things that we, on some scale, try to promote and believe in and really are working towards in our own store.”
Lafferty was not sure how much Natural Provisions would donate, since the owners normally determine the rate. Three Tomatoes owners could not be reached before press deadline.
The event is the main fund-raising source for the Farm Share program. NOFA-VT subsidizes half of the cost for the CSA share, and the farm pitches in a quarter or more of the cost.
“It’s a really tiny fee to be included in a CSA,” Weiss said.
The program helps everyone involved, Weiss said. It gives low-income Vermonters access to fresh farm produce, rather than forcing them to rely on government subsidies. It also helps CSAs, since NOFA-VT gives them the money for the shares in the winter, a slow time for the farms. Sales at participating outlets are often boosted on that day, as well.
“It’s really a win-win-win program,” Weiss said.
Both locations have already participated in the event.
Last year, they raised approximately $12,000 through participating businesses and individual donations, and helped more than 130 families, Weiss said. There was a waiting list, however, and they were not able to help approximately 20 applicants.
“I have continued to be really impressed, given the recession and the economy, that restaurant owners and food store owners are willing to support this,” Weiss said.
For a full list of participating restaurants, visit www.nofavt.org.
FOOD PRODUCTION TALK SET FOR MONDAY
Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is hosting a talk about the state of the country’s food production next week.
Vermont Public Radio commentator, author and farmer Ron Krupp will lead the discussion, called “Lifting The Yoke: Local Solutions to America’s Farm and Food Crisis.” Krupp will talk about current food production methods, what can be done about it, and potential solutions in Vermont and the Williston area.
Librarian Marti Fiske has also invited local farmers, farm agencies, food shelf officials and school food directors.
The event is set for Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the library.
— Stephanie Choate, Observer staff