The success of new farms is critical to our region’s working landscape, economy and communities. But many new farmers struggle to enter agriculture because of barriers to accessing land, equipment, capital, and mentorship. The Intervale Center is helping new farmers get their start and overcome some of these common barriers through the Farms Program.
Founded in 1990, the Farms Program is one of the oldest incubator farm programs in the United States. The Intervale Center leases land, equipment, greenhouses, irrigation and storage facilities to small independent farms. Each year, these farms produce fresh produce, herbs and flowers on 135 acres of land and contribute about 60 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs to the Burlington economy.
The Farms Program removes start-up barriers that typically challenge new farmers such as:
- Access to land, infrastructure, business planning assistance, and markets
- Access to a community of knowledgeable growers
Each year, between one and three new farm businesses join the program as incubators, receiving subsidized rental rates, business planning support and mentorship from established growers.
the farmS program today
The Intervale Center currently leases land to six mentor farms. These farms serve as established businesses that provide mentorship to the incubator farms and leadership in the agricultural community. They are vital to the success of the Intervale Center.
The current mentor farms in the Intervale are:
Application to the Farms Program
Interested in applying to be an incubator farmer at the Intervale?
The application process is expected to last three-six months and consists of a staff review and farmer review. We recommend applying in the spring or summer of the year before you want to begin farming. We like to notify applicants of program acceptance by December.
Farmers seeking to enroll in the program must have at least three years of farm experience and be ready to write a business plan.
What to do:
- Check out the available land for the 2019 season and see if it aligns with your farm business plan.
- Read over the application packet, which contains information about cost, land use protocols, etc.
- Please fill out the Farms Program Application packet online or download it above.
- Contact Maggie Donin at 802-660-0440 ext. 116 to arrange a site visit.
We are also happy to share the program’s history and structure, and help you develop your own incubator program. We work with other groups and individuals from around the world who want to learn about and replicate Intervale Center programs.
Interested in any of these programs?
Contact Maggie Donin, Beginning Farmer Specialist, at email@example.com or (802) 660-0440 ext. 116
Farm Business Planning
Farming is a tough business. Farmers are small business owners who must develop a wide range of skills, from financial management and human resources, to production and marketing, in order to thrive. For farming to continue to contribute to Vermont’s economic development and land stewardship, farmers must have the planning, decision-making and management skills they need to grow their businesses and effectively manage the working landscape.
The Intervale Center works to enhance the viability of farming in Vermont. We provide Vermont’s farmers – from aspiring farmers to established business owners – with business development opportunities. If you are a farmer in Vermont interested in accessing business assistance from the Intervale Center, there are a number of ways in which you can work with us, including:
Interested in receiving business planning or coaching services? The first step is to fill out our questionnaire.
Want more information about these programs? Contact Success on Farms at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-660-0440 ext 116
INTERVALE CONSERVATION NURSERY
Phosphorus levels in Lake Champlain are above the allowable standards, and though Vermont has taken important steps toward reducing run off in the last ten years, much more needs to be done. To achieve our target load for the Lake of 570 metric tons per year, Vermont needs to reduce phosphorus run off from 613 metric tons to 415 metric tons, a reduction of 34%. Research has demonstrated that unstable streambank buffers, including those along farm fields, are a significant contributor to water pollution and that planting trees along our rivers and streams is a simple way to reduce pollution.
The Intervale Conservation Nursery was founded in 2002 and is dedicated to growing native, locally sourced trees and shrubs for riparian restoration projects throughout Vermont. Our plants are grown in an ecologically sound manner without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. The Nursery works with landowners, farmers, watershed organizations and government agencies to restore and protect Vermont’s waters.
In addition to growing trees, the Intervale Conservation Nursery provides planting services for riparian buffer zones and storm water management projects. Our crews are skilled in handling bare root trees, reducing the rate of desiccation and ensuring that there is minimal time and handling before they are planted into the ground.
We have partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a monitoring program of riparian restoration projects throughout Vermont.
Learn more about monitoring tree health and bird use of restoration sites.
Please contact Mike Ingalls at email@example.com or 802-660-0440 x 114 to order plants or for more information about planting projects.
Funding for the Intervale Conservation Nursery in 2018 was provided by Gottesman Fund, Lake Champlain Basin Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Patagonia, Dealer.com, Waterwheel Foundation, Keurig Dr Pepper, and generous individual donors.
Stewarding the Intervale
The Intervale represents nine hundred acres of wetlands, forests, farm fields and meadows along the Winooski River just north of downtown Burlington. Stewarding 340 acres of this unique community asset—just one mile from City Hall—the Intervale Center is a crucial part of Burlington’s reputation as a sustainable and livable city. Since 1988, we have worked to restore the land. By supporting agriculture, rebuilding depleted soils and preserving the historical legacy, the Intervale Center’s commitment to this incredible resource continues today. For the 30,000+ people who visit each year—to walk, ski, bike, garden, learn, work, and play—thanks for being a part of this mission!
As home to numerous programs and enterprises, independent farms and community gardens, and miles of nature trails, the Intervale Center works alongside many partners from Burlington and beyond, including local businesses and volunteers, the University of Vermont, USDA, local and regional farmers, AALV, and the City of Burlington. Every day we strive to provide a platform for gardening, agriculture, habitat restoration, recreation and scientific research.
At the Intervale Center we practice ecological and organic management and take a proactive approach to conservation. Whether removing invasive species, planting a cover crop, managing riparian buffers, or beautifying public spaces, we’re always working to create a multifunctional landscape. Productive farms, healthy ecosystems, and resilient communities are all elemental to our approach. We seek to model regenerative land stewardship practices and share our work with others.
As a research station, a recreation area, a haven of sustainable agriculture—whatever the Intervale means to you—this is a place to connect with a long and unmatched history of natural beauty, human habitation and agricultural production. An emerald jewel in the crown of our Queen City, we are proud to be its stewards.
Intervale Food Hub
Food Hubs nationwide are leading the transformation of our food system from one that is anonymous and industrial to one that is familiar, human-scale, and restorative of human and natural communities. As a values-based distributor, our infrastructure and market development initiatives focus on farm viability, land stewardship, and healthy communities. Through them, we are bringing better food to more people, meeting the needs of local producers, respecting the planet, and building food system resilience.
Founded in 2008, the Intervale Food Hub is an enterprise of the Intervale Center. The Intervale Food Hub offers a direct-to-consumer year-round market, with community drop-off locations in the Burlington area, serving individuals and families, including local college students.
In addition, the Intervale Food Hub has recently initiated wholesale services as an approved vendor to Sodexo at the University of Vermont.
Working with nearly 40 Vermont producers using organic, humane and sustainable production methods, the business maintains a commitment to transparency and traceability.
Gleaning & Food Rescue
Freedom from hunger is a basic human right. But poverty and hunger are big problems in the United States; in 2015, hunger is a daily reality for nearly 43 million people. In Vermont, recent surveys show that 13% of all Vermonters and 17% of our children are food insecure. Accessing fresh fruits and vegetables is a struggle for many of these families; barriers include cost, transportation, and the time and knowledge to shop and cook. At the same time, up to 40% of all produce grown in the United States is rejected before it reaches market due to cosmetic imperfections or overproduction. By gleaning and rescuing food, we are providing a way for food insecure people to access fresh food and more fully utilizing the food that is already grown on local farms.
The Intervale Center recognizes that in order to have a vibrant local food system, we must work to engage everyone in our community. We believe that all Vermonters should have access to—and be able to afford and enjoy—fresh, locally-grown food.
The Gleaning & Food Rescue Program gleans and rescues fresh vegetables from Intervale farms and farms in Chittenden County. Our Fair Share Program then distributes this food, every week from July - October, at no cost, to 200 households and 20 social service agencies. We provide community members and organizations access to fresh, local food from farms they know. The Fair Share Program also provides nutrition education, cooking skills, and resources for participants to connect them with nourishing food all year long.
The Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue Program is a proud member of the Vermont Gleaning Collective – a collective of gleaning organizations throughout the state committed to building a dependable food system.
Our Fair Share Program
Income eligible community members and social service agencies sign up each spring for our 16-week Fair Share Program (July-October). For individuals and families, the share averages 6-8 pounds of local vegetables a week and for social service agencies the share averages 20-50 pounds a week (depending on how many individuals are being served). Pickups take place every Monday afternoon at the Intervale Center. Hunger Free Vermont attends each Fair Share pick-up to provide taste tests, culinary demonstrations and engage with participants in food and nutrition education activities.
A Community Driven Program
Intervale Gleaning & Food Rescue would not be possible without the support and engagement of our community – local farmers, organizations and volunteers. Each season many farms open their fields to gleaners. Digger’s Mirth Collective Farm, Intervale Community Farm and Jericho Settler’s Farm host gleaners weekly throughout the season and countless other farms donate extra produce to the program. In addition, the Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue Program collects excess produce from participating vendors every Saturday at the Burlington Farmers’ Market. A committed group of core volunteers help run the program and many more help with gleaning efforts, packing free food shares and educating participants on the food they receive through the season.
Funding for Intervale Gleaning & Food Rescue in 2018 was provided by Gardener’s Supply Company, National Life Group, United Way of Northwest Vermont, Maximus Foundation, Community Bank, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union, Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, Northfield Savings Bank, and generous individual donors.
Total Food Gleaned
Families Fed Through Fair Share
For general interest or questions about eligibility or to sign up, please contact Sarah Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-660-0440 x120.