News Release — Salvation Farms
Oct. 12, 2015
(802) 522-3148 (c)
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Farm Surplus Management in Practice in Vt
Morrisville, VT, October 12, 2015
Salvation Farms, a non-profit dedicated to managing Vermont’s farm surplus, will conclude a run of gleans at one orchard this Saturday with help from community volunteers and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Since the start of the 2015 apple gleaning season, Salvation Farms has engaged more than fifty volunteers and collected an excess of 25,000 pounds of apples. We anticipate gleaning another 5,000 pounds this weekend.
In past seasons the gleaned apples from Yates Orchard were sent to the Southeast State Correctional Facility where Salvation Farms piloted its Vermont Commodity Program concept – an initiative to process and move large volumes of surplus crops into the food system.
This pilot program engaged inmates in cleaning, quality assessing and case-packing surplus crops within the correctional facility. During that time, fifty inmates contributed 2,765 hours to clean and package 274,460 pounds of quality, case-packed crops from fourteen farms. The produce was then distributed to eleven food access sites, including 215,800 pounds to the 225 agency network served by the Vermont Foodbank.
However, threats by the Vermont state legislature earlier this year to close the facility along with budget constraints has led to the Department of Corrections delaying exploration of integrating the Vermont Commodity Program work into their Correctional Industry and Vocational offerings. The contractual relationship with Salvation Farms has been brought to a halt.
Salvation Farms’ founder and Executive Director Theresa Snow says, “While we feel it is unfortunate to stop the exploration of this work within a correctional setting, our success at SE State demonstrates that with the right resources, infrastructure and workforce, we could easily process hundreds of thousands of pounds of quality local food – food that would otherwise be lost to our communities – ensuring our most vulnerable neighbors have access to quality and nutritious produce. We are receiving demand for this service from farmers and food access sites and are evaluating processing facility sites, while also searching for a workforce development partner to enable us to continue this work in a community-based setting.”
As an alternative, Salvation Farms is partnering with organizations like the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) to assess the viability of community-based packing this fall. Apples from this last glean at Yates Family Orchard will be quality-assessed and case packed with VYCC for distribution in their Health Care Share Program.
Salvation Farms is a 501 (c) (3) whose mission is to build increased resilience in Vermont’s food system through agricultural surplus management. Salvation Farms is dedicated to the efficient rescue and integration of Vermont’s farm surplus foods into the regional food system and preserving Vermont’s rich farming heritage and future.