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Intervale Center press conference

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mark Bittman, and Travis Marcotte discuss the Intervale Center's work strengthening the local food system during a press conference on Friday, November 25. Photo credit: Joe Speidel.

On the day after Thanksgiving, United States Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Times columnist and author Mark Bittman emphasized the importance of a strong local food system while visiting the Intervale Center.

The Intervale is an experiment of extraordinary importance,” said Bittman. “The Intervale Food Hub, and projects like it, are the way of the future … It’s an inspiration for everybody.

Joined by the Intervale Center’s founder, Will Raap, and its executive director, Travis Marcotte, the group learned about the Intervale Center’s work, toured the Intervale Food Hub facility, and held a brief press conference at the Calkins Farmstead, where the Center’s offices are located. They also enjoyed local refreshments prepared by Intervale Center staffer Julie Rubaud and Intervale Center board member Maura O’Sullivan, chef at Burlington’s Penny Cluse Cafe.

Intervale Center presentation

From l.: Intervale Center board member Meg Smith, Bernie Sanders, Will Raap, and board member Mary Sulilvan listen to Travis Marcotte speak about the Intervale Center's innovative programs. Photo credit: Joe Speidel.

Joined by Intervale Center staff, board members, and Intervale farmers, Bittman and Sanders learned about the Intervale Center’s innovative Farms Program, which incubates 1-2 new farmers in the Intervale each year, as well as the Intervale Food Hub, which aggregates and distributes local products from over 23 regional farms directly to consumers, retail markets, and institutions.

“The Food Hub is really sort of innovative. It will be interesting to see where it goes, though there’s no reason it won’t do great,” said Bittman.

Bittman and Sanders also talked to Intervale farmers Thomas Case, of Arethusa Farm, and Eric Seitz, of Pitchfork Farm. Along with the other 10 farms operating in the Intervale, these businesses bring over $1 million of local food annually to Burlington-area markets. (Already familiar with Intervale farms, Bittman expressed his concern about Irene-related damages in an earlier blog post here.)

Also present were Erica Campbell, the Farm to Plate Initiative‘s Program Director, and Joe Speidel of the University of Vermont‘s Community Relations office.

What is taking place here in the Intervale is extraordinarily important,” said Bernie Sanders, “not only for Chittenden County and Vermont, but as a model for the nation.

Sanders, Raap, Bittman at conference table

From l.: Bernie Sanders, Will Raap, and Mark Bittman discuss the Food Hub's aggregation and distribution systems. Photo credit: Alice Levitt

 Read more about the visit:

Burlington Free Press

Blurt: Seven Days staff blog

Bernie Sanders’ newsroom