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The Vermont Food Revolution Solution for 2021

by Liz Spitler

Vermont Food Shelves grapple to keep pace as the pandemic drags on. In South Burlington, one out of four of our neighbors continues to struggle to put food on their tables. And while vaccinations are on the rise, Food Insecurity in our Vermont communities is still a sinking issue. Since 2018 food Insecurity among Vermonters has almost tripled!

A recent study at The University of Vermont found concerns related to the rising cost of food and diminishing access to food assistance programs since March 2020. 50% of households experiencing food insecurity ate less fruits and vegetables since the start of the pandemic.

The good news (this research suggests) is since the beginning of Covid is, over 40% Vermonters engaged in growing their own gardens for the first time! Vermonters are stepping up and helping each other- by volunteering and/or delivering food to people in their communities. The bright side of our humanity is shining!.

One might even say we’ve ALL gained new perspectives as a result of Covid-19. The pandemic has unveiled many underlying issues we’ve known all along. Hunger and lack of adequate nourishment have taken on a whole new light.

The Common Roots solution? There must be actionable steps taken to address these challenges...and with that, an ongoing GROWING long term commitment.

For 13 years, Common Roots, a non-profit in South Burlington, has grown organic produce at the Farm at South Village and the Underwood property both on Spear Street for 6 years. Common Roots made a bolstered 2020 commitment to set up a Farmstand outside the South Burlington Food Shelf from May 1st though Thanksgiving. Participants simply chose what they needed. Common Roots’ volunteers and interns were trained to bridge the needs of participants with dignity, offer suggestions and recipes to use our fresh, certified produce. Several interns are nutrition majors, inspiring wholesome options, with recipes tips.

Common Roots is lining up ambitious commitments to date in 2021:

*The Common Roots Farms at South Village and the Underwood property will increase certified organic food production 33%, providing more for families and households to select at the Farmstand at the South Burlington Food Shelf. The Farmstand at the Food Shelf is open 3 days/week, run by our volunteers from early May through Thanksgiving. Produce will then be delivered weekly until it is depleted, likely February.

*Prepared foods from the Wheeler House will be included at the Farmstand, along with recipes for participants to use at home.

*Community partner-chefs will prepare a series of 6 nourishing full-course meals for 300 families and households = 1,800 meals.

*We plan to provide Farmstand Dollars for families and households to use at the Farmstand at South Village, offering families and households the chance to visit the farm and access wider produce selections. The 2 farms are about 4 miles from the Food Shelf.

The mission of Common Roots is to enhance local food production, provide education and bolster food justice. We pass the torch to our children through Farm to School educational monthly lessons, and humbly ask for your continued support as we set up a dynamic farm season for you! It’s Common Roots belief that we must “Nourish to Flourish”

Whether you are gardening for the first time, building your culinary skills--or just committing to participate in the local food movement, food is a key common denominator in our lives. We invite YOU to be a community partner in wellness by being a part of our growing Common Roots Solution.

~Liz Spitler

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