Investing in Winter GreensNovember 4, 2015
A reliable source for locally grown greens is a valuable commodity in Vermont. The cost for farmers to build strong, efficient winter greenhouses is considerable, but Mark and Christa at Jericho Settlers Farm had a creative solution to heat up their winter productivity. They funded their first winter greenhouses and their latest expansion with the help of their dedicated, greens-hungry chef partners.
Burlington’s Farmhouse Group of restaurants were the first to jump at the unconventional opportunity – why not help their reliable farm partners with capitol to build greenhouses and, in turn, be paid back amply with fresh, local product in a normally bleak season? It was a situation perfectly aligned with their values. Now, the University of Vermont Medical Center has agreed to a similar proposal. The progressive hospital loaned Mark and Christa $30,000 to build two more greenhouses and will collect payment in kale, lettuce and spinach deliveries throughout the next year.
Trust in partnerships with these stakes comes with more than a handshake – Mark and Christa had been selling to UVM Medical Center for five years before entering into this next level. Christa’s confidence in the hospital's commitment to local food inspired their proposal. “They are pushing the envelope for institutions,” Christa spoke of UVM Medical Center, “it’s a cool thing, seeing the private sector step-up to support and expand local agriculture.” Through yearly face-to-face planning meetings and proven reliability on both the farm and the Hospital’s side, the trust grew to where there was comfort entering into a legally binding relationship. Partnerships at this commitment level are mutually beneficial – a farm gets a necessary expansion and a chef has a farm partner that is more viable and can consistantly provide the products they need.