Startups Connect Vermont's Farmers To Urban Markets

Sep 21, 2015

Farmers in Vermont have about 600,000 state residents – plus visitors – to sell their products to. That's not a big market.

One company trying to help expand the reach of Vermont farms outside the state's borders is Farmers to You, based in Berlin, Vt.

Flickr user "btckeychain."

When you buy or sell a home, at some point in the process, you’ve got to check the property against a central database, usually at the town clerk’s office. And when you buy or sell something with the digital currency bitcoin, that bitcoin has to be registered somewhere so it can’t be spent twice. That registry, which functions kind of like a digital town clerk’s office, is called the block chain. Right now the state of Vermont is paving the way for entrepreneurs and governments to use the block chain for other purposes.

Delaywaves via Creative Commons

While Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned in the North Country Monday, down in Claremont, his home-state governor was stumping for his one of his opponents. 

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is one of a handful of Democratic Governors to supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

“She’s practical, she’s innovative, she’s progressive, and she gets things done. And that’s why I’m so excited about this campaign," Shumlin said.

This time of year, the Appalachian Trail fills up with hikers passing through Vermont and New Hampshire on their way to the endpoint in Maine. Some are walking to bring attention to a worthy cause. But not everyone scales the obstacles that Phil Valentine has faced. 

This week, Bedlam – recently named one of the best young theater companies in New York City by  will perform two nights at the Paramount Theatre, offering early glimpses of Pygmalion and a brand new play called New York Animals.

Several hundred people attended a vigil in Barre Sunday to honor a Department for Children and Families social worker killed on Friday, apparently as the result of a child custody dispute.

Authorities believe three other apparent murders in Central Vermont are all connected to Jody Herring, the suspect in the Barre killing.

More and more members of the military are coming back from deployments needing medical attention, and Vietnam-era veterans are aging. 

The decision by Gov. Peter Shumlin to abandon a single payer health care system is having an unexpected impact on Vermont's larger businesses. And lawmakers will now have to make decisions that Vermont's health care law never anticipated.

The village of Island Pond, in the Northeast Kingdom, is becoming the maple sugar capital of North America. An out-of-state company called Sweet Tree has bought about 7,000 acres and tapped 100,000 trees this year. But they say they don’t want to make the stuff you put on pancakes.

Vermont’s online health insurance exchange has been beset with problems since its launch a year and a half ago. In a surprise announcement on Friday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Vermont will abandon Vermont Health Connect if it doesn’t start working properly soon.


Longtime Washington County Sen. Bill Doyle says he'll propose a constitutional amendment to make it less likely that lawmakers will be asked to elect a governor in the future. Doyle says the results of this year's election show why his amendment is needed.  

Delaywaves via Creative Commons

Vermont's big experiment in creating a single-payer health care system is over, at least for now.

On Wednesday Governor Peter Shumlin announced he would effectively kill the plan to create a publicly-financed insurance system that was to be known as Green Mountain Health Care. "In my judgment," Shumlin said, "now is not the right time to ask our legislature to take the step of passing the financial plan for Green Mountain Health Care."

New federal science education standards adopted in Vermont require that students learn about climate change. So teachers are starting to create lesson plans with hands-on activities about weather patterns.

Some are getting that training deep in the woods of the Northeast Kingdom.

Rob Friesel via Flickr CC

The Vermont Attorney General's office has released a draft of the rules it is writing to govern the state's first-in-the-nation law to require the labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms.

The nine pages of rules released Wednesday lay out everything from definitions of "food" and "genetic engineering" to the required disclosures on packaging that will read "Produced with Genetic Engineering."

From gasoline to heating oil and propane, fuel prices in Vermont are lower than they were a year ago. The decline in prices will likely mean lower heating bills and less expensive fill-ups during the coming winter.

According to Chicago-based, a clearinghouse of real time information on gas prices across the country, on Tuesday the price for a gallon of regular unleaded varied in Vermont from a low of $3.18 in Rutland to a high of $3.69 in Derby.


An environmental group has lost its bid to intervene in a proposal by Vermont Gas Systems to build a pipeline between Colchester and Middlebury.

The Rutland Herald reports Public Service Board denied the Vermont Public Interest Research Group's request to intervene in a re-evaluation of the approval granted to Vermont Gas.

Over the past five years, law enforcement agencies in Vermont have invested more than $1 million in technology that gathers millions of data points every year about the whereabouts of vehicles across the state.

The Automated Plate Recognition Systems, or ALPRs, use high-speed cameras mounted on police cruisers that take photos of passing cars and relay them to an in-car computer for analysis. The technology keeps track of every license plate the cruiser passes and checks each against a “hot list” of vehicles, all in real time.

Via the Austine School

The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is shutting down later this month.

The center announced in the spring that its Austine School would not be opening for the 2015 school year. Its board had hoped to keep some of its programs operating this year, and to reopen the school in two years, but at an emergency meeting last week voted to completely shut down both the school and the center.

Angela Evancie for VPR

The Beacon 10 Stirling – black, with a glowing blue light, and about the size of a large chest freezer – emits a constant low hum. And this one, in the basement of the Essex Resort & Spa, converts natural gas into electricity, enough electricity to power an average-sized home.

It’s just one of the technological innovations on offer at NRG Energy, a national company that is about to use Vermont as a testing ground for its products and services.

For the second time in three years, the Brattleboro Retreat faces a potential loss in federal funding because of a failed inspection. Despite the warnings, the state’s commissioner of mental health says he’s still confident that the retreat can provide quality care.

The federal warning comes after a suicide attempt at the Brattleboro Retreat in June which, after retreat staff notified the state, prompted a site visit of the facility.

Green Mountain Power broke ground in Rutland Tuesday on a new $10 million solar project that the utility says will not only generate clean energy, but also provide emergency back up power to parts of the city when needed.

Solar arrays are sprouting up all over Rutland County and some of the larger ones have generated a fair amount of controversy and criticism.

Visitors to the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford are getting a rare chance to see American icons normally found only in the National Capitol. Morrill was the U.S. Senator famous for the legislation launching land grant colleges. He’s less well-known for another accomplishment: creating Statuary Hall, where each state is represented by two statues.

Imagine you’re fresh out of law school. Instead of going to work in a place where there are people to learn from and turn to for support, you’re a one-person firm on your own. 

A new program is helping young lawyers establish solo practices in hopes of helping both law school graduates and those who need legal services.

Flkr Creative Commons / KeithCarver

Experts estimate there are nearly 300 adult loons living on Vermont's lakes and ponds, up from just a couple dozen 30 years ago.

On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers spread out across Vermont for the annual loon survey.

The results of the survey are trickling in, but Eric Hanson of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the coordinator of the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, says there are many more birds now than just a few years ago.

He says 15 years ago there were around 100 loons and in 1983 biologists counted only 29.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has agreed to a request from the White House to investigate whether the state could house some of the undocumented children now being detained in the southwestern part of the country.

The request from the White House is the first step in a very long process. 

The initial goal is to determine how much capacity each state has to house some of the nearly 60,000 children who have streamed across the border in the last few weeks.

Toby Talbot AP/File

The lessons of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont have been incorporated into a new report designed to assist communities across the nation. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency says the report offers a more comprehensive approach to mitigating the effects of flooding.

Last year at this time farm fields were soggy from rain. The bad weather hit dairy farms at a time when expenses outstripped income and it caused vegetable farmers to lose entire crops.  

It’s a different story this year: Milk prices are high and the weather is good.

In her job as Agronomy Outreach Professional with the University of Vermont Extension Service, Kirsten Workman visits farms throughout Addison and Chittenden counties. She remembers well the rains of last year.  

Amanda Loder / NHPR

The Currency is our ongoing look at economic and business news in New Hampshire. 

Angela Evancie VPR

The grocery market is changing in northern New England. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are each expanding their presence in the region.

What do those moves mean for the local food networks here? Well, recently Whole Foods put out a call for local growers in New Hampshire for the store it's opening in Nashua. But, can you find local food at the new Trader Joe's in South Burlington, Vermont? As Angela Evancie of Vermont Public Radio explains, the answer is maybe - maybe not.

A biomass plant has been proposed to occupy the site of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is shutting down at the end of year.

The idea is in its infancy. The Brattleboro Reformer reports officials plan to organize a public forum to discuss the details.

The state has negotiated a detailed agreement with Entergy, owner of the nuclear plant, providing for millions of dollars for economic development and clean energy projects as well as a "timely decommissioning."