Common Roots Farm Nourishes Patrons and the Community06/02/2022 02:32PM ● By Dina Grace Sciortino
Farmstand patrons at South Burlington’s Common Roots Farm aren’t just getting the freshest nutrient-dense organic produce around. They’re giving hungry neighbors nourishment, promoting land stewardship, and educating the community on dietary health. As if that wasn’t enough, Farmstand purchases also help secure the future of Vermont’s regional food system while respecting its past.
“At Common Roots, community health is one of our top priorities. Our farm team considers our Farmstand patrons as ‘partners in community wellness,’ rather than merely customers,” says Common Roots Executive Director Carol McQuillen.
DOWN AT THE FARMSTAND
The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization aims to create a healthy and sustainable community by offering the highest quality produce and educational programs on nutrition and sustainability. To the left of their gravel road at 150 Allen Road East, you’ll find lovingly grown certified organic produce available from May through November on their idyllic 220-acre pesticide-free property, where breathing in the fresh Vermont air beats standing in a big box store checkout line.
In addition to freshly harvested vegetables and herbs, the Farmstand at South Village offers breads, milk, cheeses, and frozen meats from local purveyors and artisans. Shoppers can also grab seasonal farm-grown flower bouquets and jars of healthful honey pollinated by resident bees. A variety of prepared seasonal entrées, soups, sauces, rubs, salsa, pesto, baked goods, and pickled produce crafted by Common Roots Farm’s Executive Chef Anthony Jones are available at the Farmstand.
Swinging by the Farmstand also serves as an opportunity to enjoy social interaction, learn about nutrition, connect with how food is grown, and find new recipes to prepare purchases from the farm. This year, the Farmstand has a full-time assistant on-site to answer questions and assist members using the checkout system.
Those looking to get more bang for their buck at the Farmstand or assist in Common Roots Farm’s mission can purchase a Farmstand membership. Memberships help pay for up-front seasonal labor, seeds, and equipment for production. Common Roots Farm is looking to add at least 50 new members and will offer Bonus Farmstand Dollars, based on a percentage of their membership fee, to those who sign up by June 1.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES
When Common Roots Farm says they want their community to eat healthily, they mean it. Their commitment to the highest organic growing standards has led them to be certified as one of 850 Real Organic Project (ROP) farms in the US. It’s just one of the reasons why food from the Farmstand tastes so good.
Common Roots Farm uses a low-till method to amplify the nutrient density of their chemical-free soil to support better, healthier crops through the season. Nutrient-rich soil creates nutrient-rich produce that fuels bodies while tasting wildly delicious.
“We love the positives of local ag[riculture] for our landscape, our farmers, our economy and we enjoy nourishing our neighbors!” says Common Roots Land Educator JoAnne Dennee.
Common Roots Farms believes that proper nourishment and healthy food are the foundation for creating a flourishing community, which is why their motto is “Nourish to Flourish.” In 2005, after a group of parents, teachers, and educators found the food being offered at local schools unsuitable for the developing minds of the great thinkers and doers of tomorrow, the Farm to School program was created. They were concerned over the impression the disconnect between talk and action was making on students when learning about nutrition.
“Children who are nourished, as opposed to fed, have more sustained concentration and energy. As an adult, I have experienced this difference myself,” Carol says.
Common Roots Farms’ Farm to School programs now educate children, faculty, and families on the importance of local, healthy, mindful eating through classroom instruction. Students also learn how to make healthy meals they cook and bring home to their families.
FEEDING THE NEIGHBORHOOD
In addition to educating their community, Common Roots Farm also feeds it. More than one-third of all the food produced by Common Roots Farm feeds local families facing food insecurity through its Food Shelf programs. Common Roots Farm also offers food education, taste tests, and recipes at their Food Shelf locations.
This summer, they plan to introduce Food Shelf participants to growing their own food by providing them with plants, instruction at the farm’s 40 raised beds, instructional videos, organic compost, and follow-up support to help them become self-sufficient. Interns also learn how to maintain the farm and sustainably produce crops to educate the next generation of farmers that Common Roots Farms hopes will grow and secure the local and regional food supply.
"Our aim is to do more than provide our friends with food. In teaching our neighbors everything from soil to consumption, they gain a greater sense of self-reliance overall."
SHARING GOOD TIMES, GOOD FOOD
Common Roots Farm does all that without school district or taxpayer dollars, though they hope that schools and municipalities will see the value in and prioritize their programming in the future. Funding comes through donations, the Farmstand, the Farm to Fork Tuesdays and Flatbread Friday chef-prepared meal programs, and events. Common Roots Farms offer field trips, social events, and programs that pay homage to Abenaki culture. Their Historic Wheeler Homestead property can also be rented for catering events like weddings, family reunions, company retreats, and bat or bar mitzvahs. Learn more about Commons Roots Farms' offerings and Farmstand membership opportunities at www.commonroots.org.