A National Farm Incubator Model- believe or not, in Vermont!
35 people, representing dozens of organizations dedicated to helping new farmers, gathered for the last day of the first annual N.I.F.T.I. (New Incubator Farmer Training Initiative) at the Intervale.
The Intervale, located in Burlington, VT, is a 350 acre center, with about half of that acreage dedicated to their new farmer programs. It is a national model, and is one of the oldest and most established farmer training programs in the country. Brickyard Educational Farm has a lot in common with them, hence why we are beginning a similar program. They too are located in a an urban fringe environment. They also have great soil to work with because they are located on top of fertile river-valley soils.
The Intervale along with the city of Burlington, VA has developed an incredible philosophy. Here is why; The national state average for the amount of local food sold is only 3%. Vermont, however is exceeding this national average with a goal of 10%! Even given Vermont’s relatively high rate of locally produced food, the Intervale believes that it is not enough. They believe the market will only be sustainable when 100% of a states’ food is being sourced locally.
This philosophy is helpful because once you start thinking this way, communities start forming and working together toward a larger, collective goal. Instead of being competitive against each other, farmers realize the shared value of collaborating. The Intervale is a case in point, and is one of the reasons why these farmer incubator programs are successful.
I am so excited to bring the valuable lessons I learned while getting to know the Intervale, back to our community.