Linda Hamilton, Contributor

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and the Charlotte Grange are like two sides of the same valuable coin. The mission and vision of both are closely aligned and we share core values. Our programs reinforce and build on each other, with Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont uniquely able to also offer technical services and specific advice related to organic agriculture.

Not familiar with Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont? Let me introduce you.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is part of the Northeast Organic Farming Association network which coalesced in the region in 1970-80 after rising disillusionment with industrialized agriculture among those concerned with its environmental, social and health impacts. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is one of the oldest organic farming associations in the U.S., founded in 1971 by a group of Vermont farmers who believed that commercial farming could be done in a much healthier way. Its mission is to promote organic practices to build an economically viable, ecologically sound and socially just Vermont agricultural system that benefits all life. Its vision is for thriving organic farms and agriculturally based communities that nourish people and enhance the environment.

Basic values which both organizations believe in and support:

  • Food Security and Equity. All people, regardless of circumstance, should have access to nourishing local, organic and affordable, fairly-traded food.
  • Farm Viability. Government and local community policies should support farmers’ ability to make a living on the land and support themselves, their families and their employees. Policies should also support the ability of farms and farm enterprises to pass those enterprises on to subsequent generations of farmers. Both organizations advocate at all government levels for laws and regulations which support farm and rural community viability and just practices.
  • Ecological and Human Health. Organic practices are promoted because they enhance soil, plant, animal and human health by producing nourishing food and protecting ecological systems and biodiversity for current and future generations. Organic certification obtained through Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s rigorous process verifies these practices, ensuring that organic products are produced with integrity and transparency. The Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) label and certification process is a high-integrity application of the USDA National Organic Program regulations, making it a credible and valuable tool for both producers and consumers.
  • Community. Both organizations recognize that resiliency in the face of today’s rapidly changing environmental and social conditions is critically important for both food producers and communities. Both believe that engaged communities are more resilient communities. A vibrant local food system provides opportunities to create genuine connections among people, to nurture those relationships and to honor the work of those who feed others.
  • Education. We both emphasize the sharing of trustworthy information because that benefits everyone. Education at all levels is a basic element of a culture of sharing, which in turn builds community through mutual aid, civic engagement and leadership development. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont also provides production, business planning and technical assistance; access to relevant information; funding opportunities; and help with farms’ major transitions.
  • Fellowship is Food for the Soul. The Grange has a long tradition of gathering people together regularly to share good food and conversation, celebrate artistic and other talents, play and have fun together, engage in dialog around issues of community concern and do community service. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont also understands that this kind of fellowship is food for the soul and serves up regular opportunities to both learn and laugh together through public on-farm events (which often include their mobile pizza oven), interactive technical workshops, inspirational educational conferences open to all, with plenty of time and space for social interaction and networking, including the famous (free) ice cream social.

Membership in both the Grange and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is open to everyone supporting these values, whether you come from a farming or homesteading background or not, and whether you wish to engage in the programs or just support them through financial contributions. We all have a stake in the success of the programs of these organizations because we all eat, and we all want our communities to be resilient and food secure. To learn more, please visit our websites: nofavt.org and charlottegrange.org.

And hey … No farms, no food. So don’t let a week go by without thanking a Vermont farmer either in person, or better yet, by buying what they produce in a market or directly from them.

(Linda Hamilton is a homesteader in East Charlotte and member of both the Charlotte Grange and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont.)