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February 2024 Resources, Opportunities, News, and Funding

February 27, 2024

This week's warm temps and sunny weather is a reminder that spring is right around the corner! As we get into the busy season for many of the farms, producers, and restaurants in our network, we're also seeing an increase in promotional opportunities, professional development resources, funding, and more. Check out our roundup below for an extensive (but hardly exhaustive) list of the goings-on in Vermont's food and farm sector!

VFN Member and Industry News

  • VFN member MKVT Farm was recently featured on WCAX to share the story of their rare Dutch spotted sheep - which will be the only specimens in the Western hemisphere when they're born this spring! Farmer Mark Rodgers expects this breed to revolutionize Vermont’s sheep industry. View the full story on WCAX.
  • Seven Days published a glowing review of Michael's on the Hill, under new ownership since Oct. 2023. The story features some of the ways owners Andrew Kohn and Don Jones are celebrating the restaurant's legacy and reputation, while bringing their own ideas to the Waterbury Center institution. Read the full story on Seven Days.
  • The Brattleboro Reformer wrote about Food Connects' recent expansion, and the work they're doing to build and strengthen the greater New England food system. Click here to read all about it.
  • The Weston and Hen of the Wood Waterbury were two VFN member restaurants featured in's list of Hidden Gems in Vermont to Visit this winter from Boston.
  • Rochester's Maple Soul was included on Yelp's list of the Top 100 US Restaurants in 2024. Congratulations on the well-deserved recognition!
  • Get to know Chris Kesler, founder of Black Flannel Brewing & Distilling Company, in this interview with Penta.

Funding Opportunities:

  • The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center's Dairy Product Trade Show Assistance Grant is now open for applications! Dairy processors can apply for awards up to $20,000 to exhibit and sell value-added dairy products at business-to-business trade shows. Learn more and apply here.
  • Dairy producers and processors can also apply for The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center's Goat and Sheep Dairy Development Grant program. Grants may be awarded for projects designed to increase business viability, market development, or innovative approaches to production. Get the details on NE-DBIC's website.
  • Vermont farmers can apply for NOFA-VT's farmer resilience grants, to support projects that will improve long-term resilience on farms. Learn more on NOFA-VT's website. Applications are due March 3, so apply soon!
  • The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is offering grant awards ranging from $5,000-$15,000 to small farms who are looking to diversify or transition their business. Applications are due March 4. Learn more and apply here.
  • The application window is also open for USDA's Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grant funds can be used to help agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Find more information and application details on USDA's website.

Promotion Opportunities:

  • Be a part of the Big E! There are multiple ways VFN members can get involved in New England's biggest fair. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is accepting applications for vendors at the event, and the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association is looking for maple producers who want to send their syrup for visitors to sample at their booth. Click each organization name to learn more about their Big E offerings and apply!
  • Vendor registration is open for the Vermont Specialty Food & Beverage legislative tasting at Capitol Plaza! Meet with legislators, agency heads and the Governor at the state house on April 11, 2024. The tabling fee is $25. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • How are you celebrating April's total solar eclipse? Much of Vermont is in the path of totality for the total solar eclipse that will take place on Monday, April 8, 2024, and the Vermont Department of Tourism expects our state to see a significant increase in visitors around this event. Whether you're extending your hours that day, or offering eclipse-specific events (like this bonfire party at Snow Farm Vineyard or this eclipse tea party at the Woodstock Inn), we want to know so we can help get the word out! Fill out this form to share your 2024 eclipse plans with us for inclusion in upcoming VFN and DigInVT promotions!
  • Speaking of DigInVT promotions - we have a new event submission form! Use this form to easily share your event information with us, for inclusion on the DigInVT events calendar. Eligible events may include special menus and tastings, music/art/performance, farm tours or visits, classes and workshops, fairs and festivals, and more - as long as it's an authentic Vermont food or farm experience!

Professional Development and Resources:

Upcoming Events:

  • Save the date! The celebrated Annual Forum Dinner is back at the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn on July 21, 2024. If you'd like to showcase your food (as prepared small bites and/or specialty food and beverage samples) at the event, sign up to participate here. Questions about the event? Email
  • Registration is open for the Vermont Tourism Summit! This year's event will be held May 8-10 at Mount Snow in West Dover. The Tourism Summit is one of the largest gatherings of tourism professionals in the state including owners, managers and employees of the many businesses connected to this important segment of the economy. View the agenda here, and register to attend here.
  • The 2024 Vermont Farmers Market conference is coming up! Join in for a day of learning and networking with other farmers market organizers, board members, and vendors. This year's conference will take place on Monday, March 18th, from 9:00 - 4:00 with an optional gathering afterwards to keep the conversations going. Click here to learn more and register.
  • Sugaring season is right around the corner! The Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association's spring Maple Open House Weekend is March 23-24, 2024.
  • Join VFN and Bleu Northeast Kitchen for a farm dinner on Thursday, March 14! This special four-course menu will include locally-grown and produced ingredients from Jericho Settlers Farm, Trenchers Farmhouse, Pitchfork Farm, Misty Knoll Farm, and Lake Champlain Chocolates. Tickets are available for food only, or with beverage pairings for each course. This event is also a fundraiser for VFN, and supports our work! Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • VFN is hosting a regional networking event with Pearl Street Pizza in Barre on Monday, April 15! Keep an eye out for more details coming soon.
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