Last Friday our FoodWorks class visited the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont. It was a beautiful day after several days of rain that week. Our tour guide gave us the history of Intervale, explaining how it was previously used as a dumping ground yet for the city. Yet in 1986 a man named Will Rapp initiated the Intervale clean-up effort to restore the bottomland. Today, Intervale acts as a unique community space that is constantly working to improve the local food system in Vermont.
During our visit we got the chance to see the Food Hub which was interesting to see and compare to the CAE Food Hub we visited in Hardwick, Vermont. The space was small, with several preparation tables, and there was a large freezer with sufficient storage room. We learned about how the Intervale Food Hub offers a direct-to- consumer year round market with community drop-off locations in several areas. It was also really fascinating to learn that they have began wholesale services as a vendor to Sodexo at the University of Vermont.
We also got to tour the farm land that small farms use to start their businesses. Intervale has a Farms Program in order to help new farmers get their start and overcome the barriers to accessing land, equipment, capital, and even mentorship.
Intervale seemed to have so many effective programs that are intertwined with one another in effort to truly improve the local food system which was really great to see. It was also great to hear about the Summervale events that they hold with live music and food vendors. It seemed like a really great way to bring the community directly to the location where people are working to improve their local food system, especially in such a beautiful and spacious location.
Overall, I think that these field trips have been really great in allowing us to gain a real perspective of what Food Hub’s can look like and how they, of course, can be so different, but how they are working toward similar goals.