Community Roundup: Nov. 2

Grants for up to $100,000 for maple producers and processors
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is accepting applications for the new maple agriculture development grants program.

This one-time funding is intended to help develop, grow and sustain maple businesses throughout the state. With over $540,000 in available funds allocated by the state Legislature in the 2024 fiscal budget, the Maple ADG program represents the largest-ever state investment in Vermont maple operations.

Maple operations can apply for $15,000 to $100,000 in funds, with no match requirement. All Vermont-based maple producers and processors are eligible.

To apply, producers should visit the Agency of Agriculture website for more information and to download the request for applications. Applications close Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 11:59 p.m. Questions about maple agriculture development grants should be directed to program coordinator Madison Berry at 802-622-4626 or email

Opportunities for volunteers through Volunteer Connection
United Way’s Volunteer Connection site is set up to help connect agencies and volunteers. Learn more about the opportunities below and others.

  • ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is seeking activity facilitators, age 16 and older, to guide guests through hands-on problem-solving activities by asking questions and encouraging guests to think like engineers. Facilitators help guests explore the engineering design and scientific processes and empower them to solve problems and think like scientists and engineers. It requires a minimum four-month commitment with at least one three-hour shift a week. Volunteers receive free admission to ECHO and a discount at the ECHO gift shop. Email
  • HANDS (Helping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors) is preparing for the holiday season and providing at least 1,500 Chittenden County seniors with things like grocery gift cards and a food resource list. Volunteers are needed to call seniors to confirm mailing addresses during the month of November. Training will be provided. Contact Jess Hyman at 802-598-3139 or email.
  • Feeding Chittenden is looking for volunteers to help stock shelves, fridges and freezers for the grocery distribution program, prepare and serve breakfast and lunch for the hot meal program, help clients sign in to receive groceries, unload and record food donations as they are delivered, and more. Contact Ansley Laev at 802-829-5797 or email.
  • COTS Daystation is looking for volunteers to provide lunch to guests at its North Avenue location. Volunteers may use the Daystation kitchen to heat up or assemble meals or do a cookout on the patio. This is a great family or group activity. Email.

Beyond the Peaks student film festival returns for fifth year
The fifth annual Beyond the Peaks student film festival, intended to nurture creativity and amplify the voices of young filmmakers across the region, has been announced.

Inspired by the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, a special award has been added for the 2023-24 festival — the “Light and Shadow” award. Filmmakers are encouraged to interpret this theme innovatively, whether by documenting the eclipse, experimenting with high-contrast black-and-white visuals or interweaving light and dark elements to enhance plot, characters or settings.

It is free to participate, and the top three winners will receive a cash prize of up to $1,000 and video supplies. Video submissions will be due April 30 and a culminating showcase will take place in June.
More information.

Emerge Vermont announces local candidate training
Emerge Vermont, an organization for recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office, will hold its regional training program for women interested in running for local office.

Emerge Vermont Local is a half-day training that provides skills and tools to enable Democratic women to run successful campaigns for school boards, selectboards, city councils and village trustee boards on Town Meeting Day.

“Fewer than a third of selectboard members in Vermont are women,” said Elaine Haney, executive director of Emerge Vermont. “Our selectboards and school boards are the connection between our communities and the decision-making that affects our daily lives,” Haney said.

The first three locations and dates for the training are 11 a.m-3 p.m. in Woodstock on Nov. 4, 1-5 p.m. in Essex Junction on Nov. 18 and in Manchester on Dec. 16. Registration is open for all three sessions and additional locations and dates will be added soon. The cost of participation is $35 per person. Those interested can learn more.

Emerge Vermont Local is different from the organization’s more comprehensive candidate training program. Emerge Vermont’s deeper focus on local elections is intended to address not just representation of women in local government, but also the issues that are discussed at the table.

“Moms, young women, women of color and LGBTQ+ people are not participating nearly enough in the decisions that affect our communities and our lives,” said Haney. “It’s not just representation. Important issues like our school curriculums, homelessness, addiction, public safety, spending and so much more are topics of discussion for both selectboards and school boards. It’s essential that Democratic women are at the local government table.”