Our mission is to strengthen community food systems. Founded in 1988, the Intervale Center manages a 360-acre campus of farmland, trails and open space along the Winooski River in Burlington, VT. Our influence radiates out from this beloved place as we work across Vermont to enhance farm viability and land sustainability, and more broadly as we serve as a model for food and farming organizations throughout the world.
For 30 years, we’ve led a community food revolution. We’ve pioneered game-changing initiatives like community-supported agriculture (CSA), large-scale composting, food hubs and farm incubators. We continue to innovate so that more good food is available for anyone who wants it.
At the Intervale Center, we believe in the power of good food. We envision food systems that support joyful, vibrant communities. Farms and food businesses thrive, natural resources are healthy and protected, and people are nourished and happy. The Intervale Center – our people, programs and place – is the living embodiment of this vision. Our work is guided by three high-level organizational goals:
To enhance the viability of farming
To promote the sustainable use and stewardship of agricultural lands
To ensure community engagement in the food system
In 1986, Will Raap, founder of Gardener’s Supply Company, spearheaded an Intervale clean-up effort to restore the Intervale – 700 acres of bottomland within the city limits of Burlington, Vermont – to its agricultural roots and feed Burlington.
Thanks to more than 20 years of extraordinary work by the Intervale Center (initially named the Intervale Foundation) and those who farm here, the Intervale has been transformed into a nationally recognized center for sustainable agriculture.
In the 1980s, the Intervale was a dangerous and unwelcoming place for visitors. Agricultural fields had been abandoned, and people were using the Intervale as an informal dumping ground for tires, furniture and other garbage. Will Raap and many other dedicated community members removed garbage and debris, rebuilt depleted soils through composting and started gardening and farming, and through their actions, began to transform the Intervale from an informal dump to a beautiful agricultural and recreational resource for Burlington.
Today, visitors find in the Intervale a unique and innovative community built around growing, eating and celebrating locally grown food. At the Intervale Center, they find a mature nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening community food systems by enhancing farm viability, promoting the sustainable use of agricultural lands and engaging people in the food system.
The Intervale itself has a long history of agricultural productivity. Native Americans farmed here a millennium ago. Since the 1700s, Vermonters have operated dairies and grown flowers and food here. The Intervale Center and the farmers who steward the Intervale today recognize that we are a part of this rich and diverse history of Intervale stewards, and we work to sustainably care for this place with this history – and these people – in our hearts.
A timeline history of the intervale
3000 Bc: small bands of Native Americans harvest game and seasonal forage crops
1500 AD: Larger native settlements thrive as agriculture provides a more reliable food source
1609: Samuel de Champlain documents extensive cornfields at the mouths of the major rivers on the lake's east side – almost certainly including the Winooski
1772: Ethan, Ira, Herman, and Zimri Allen form the Onion River Land Company to sell Intervale land
1787: Ethan Allen builds a homestead
1861: Central Vermont Railroad lays track in the Intervale
1900: Calkins, Arns and LaCasse families operate dairy farms
1927: Intervale experiences epic flooding
1944: Municipal dump opens; operates through the 1970s
1950: McKenzie family operates a pig farm
1977: First segment of Vermont 127 is built through the Intervale
1983: Will Raap founds Gardener's Supply Company
1987: Burlington rezones the Intervale to exclude industrial and residential growth
1988: Intervale Center (then known as Intervale Foundation) is established.
The Intervale Center has a dedicated, all volunteer Board of Directors. They work closely with our Executive Director on policy and governance issues. They are also our organization’s most important advocates and champions.
Peter Asch Owner, Twincraft Skincare Secretary
Cynthia Belliveau Dean of UVM Distance and Continuing Education
Kathy Beyer Housing Vermont Treasurer
Allison Gibson Honey Road Restaurant
Leslie Halperin Partner, Resilient Philanthropy
Margaret Leddy American Flatbread & Zero Gravity
Noelle MacKay Director of Community & Economic Development Office, City of Burlington
R.W. “Eli” Moulton III, Esq. Moulton Law Group
Joe Perrotto, New Vitality
Thomas G. Walsh Judge Chair
Leslie McCrorey Wells, Pizzeria Verità, Trattoria Delia and Sotto Enoteca
Allison Hope City Market Vice Chair
Since 1988, the Intervale Center has reclaimed over 350 acres of historic agricultural land for vegetable, flower, herb and other food production. The Center leases land to nine small to medium-sized local organic farms that operate independently of the non-profit. This amazing community of farmers, made up of both mentor farms and incubator farms, provides Burlington area residents with around $1.4 million worth of local products every year.