Legislators taking Vermont backward!

Video by Vermont State Employees Association

The proposal to close Vermont’s Windsor prison is a real step backwards for Vermont! This is not just any prison, they have been integrated into Vermont’s food security infrastructure. This is a deficit in understanding that there is more kinds of capital than just financial. Let them know what you think of this – http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/

Excerpt from VTDigger article FOOD PROGRAM MAY BE HURT IF WINDSOR PRISON CLOSES (below) by Tommy Gardner, of the Stowe Reporter, in which it was first published March 19, 2015.

Acost-saving proposal to close a prison in Windsor is causing alarm, because the inmates prepare vegetables to help feed the hungry in Vermont.

Salvation Farms, a Morristown-based organization, works with area farmers to get their surplus late-season crops to food shelves, schools and hospitals.

The nonprofit group has been employing inmates from the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Windsor to do some of the work and recently raised $156,000 to renovate a prison building to increase output.

Just last week, Vermont lawmakers proposed closing the Windsor prison.

The House Appropriations Committee is trying to close a $113.2 million gap in the state budget, as revenue continues to lag behind projections.

The committee is now discussing about $13 million worth of cuts, including $820,000 from closing the Windsor prison. The prison houses 100 inmates.

The shutdown would also put the Salvation Farms’ project in limbo, which is already underway. The nonprofit has raised $73,500 from 130 individuals and businesses and $82,500 from 10 foundations to renovate the food processing facility at the prison.

The organization has spent $20,000 for design expenses and invested $7,000 in Black River Produce, which trucks the produce between the prison and the various food shelves and institutions.

“For a small organization of 1.75 employees, it’s taken a lot of energy and determination, and it would be unfortunate to lose this,” Theresa Snow, Salvation Farms’ founder and executive director, said last week. “It has substantial program implications for us, as we try to build the Vermont Commodity Program.”

Deb Krempecke, director of Lamoille Community Food Share, has been receiving fresh produce from Salvation Farms since 2005.

Krempecke was “really upset” to hear that the prison could be on the chopping block, “especially now that (Snow) finally got it together. As a small organization, we’re in awe when someone can raise that amount of money.”

The Vermont Commodity Program, launched at the prison in 2012, “gleans” surplus crops that might otherwise rot on the vine or wind up in the compost pile. So far, according to Snow, 275,414 POUNDS of gleaned produce has been processed at the prison with the help of about 50 inmates. That volume — more than a quarter-million pounds of crops such as potatoes and winter squash — came from only 14 farms over three harvest seasons. More than half of it, 187,000 pounds, has gone to the Vermont Foodbank.

Last Friday, Snow asked the House Appropriations Committee to reconsider the plan to close the prison….

(Full article)

Related Article HOUSE LAYS OUT $13 MILLION IN NEW BUDGET CUTS

Some of the comments from Budget Cuts article:

– How does closing that prison help? The prisoners still need to be kept somewhere. Instead, we should stop sending them out of state (to be held by private for-profit low-ballers).

– I agree with Moshe, closing the only prison that does any form of rehab is a stupid idea- though typical of Montpelier. Bring the ones home that are out of state makes more sense.

– The cost of incarcerating a Vermont prisoner in Windsor work camp is about $74000 a year, these beds will be made up by shipping prisoners out of state where the average cost is $26000. Sounds good until you look at what you get for the money, CCA provides zilch in terms of services, and this is an effective tax on families who travel thousands of miles to maintain family ties. A completely bogus idea

– Private prisons are NOT cheaper. That’s why some states are doing away with private prison contracts. Private prisons pick and choose which prisoners they will take and who they will not take. That makes it distorted. If a private school only accepted A students without special ed. from 2 parent families, making over $100,000 per year, it would cost less per student. Private prisons are exactly the same. Closing Windsor would be just another boneheaded move by amateurs who, haven’t a clue what they’re doing.

This budget is in trouble for one reason: Incompetent leadership. This administration has squandered money, denied reality, blamed others and hired nincompoops based solely on their political background. It’s their way or the highway. I think Vermonters are fed up.

VT Committees “Arm wrestling for money”

From Rural Vermont’s Update: If you’re following the mainstream news at all, you know that there are debates raging in virtually every committee about money. Who’s going to get some, who’s not and where the hell is it going to come from?

In our work on the Raw Milk Bill (H.426), the Poultry Processing Bill (H.52) and the big Water Quality bills (H.35 and S.49) we are focusing on ensuring that economic opportunity and viability is preserved for family farmers, and greater freedom to choose our food is available to all of us “eaters.” We are also trying to ensure that fundamental principles of regenerative and sustainable agriculture and wise use of our crucial resources like water and soil are not abandoned or degraded in the process and politics of arm wrestling over money.

Along the way we’re also trying to preserve some measure of common sense as we seek to build a food system based on trust instead of fear.

For more on this I refer you once again to Wendell Berry:

“There is, then, a politics of food that, like any politics, involves our freedom. We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.”

Here you can read the entire essay, “The Pleasure of Eating” from which this quote comes. The Pleasure of Eating is part of Berry’s 1990 book “What Are People For?”

I hope you will!

Andrea

P.S. For more on our public policy work and how you can TAKE ACTION TODAY, see the Issue Updates section below. And I hope to see you on April 8th at Farmers Tell Their Stories. 

Grafting Workshop / VT Scionwood Exchange March 21!

Originally posted on Prospect Rock Permaculture:

multigraft

Hi Friends,

Please share this with potentially interested friends and networks. Hope to see you!

Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop and 3nd Annual Scionwood Exchange

March 21, 10 am – 4 pm

Willow Crossing Farm
Johnson, VT

Join us for a day of hands-on fruit tree grafting. We’ll begin the day in the classroom understanding the science of grafting, and practice bench-grafting apples, pears, plums, and other stone fruits.

Everyone will have the opportunity to graft their own trees to take home!

After lunch, we’ll go out and tour grafted and ‘multi-grafted’ fruit trees (including peaches grafted onto plums) and ‘top work’ multiple varieties onto pears, apples, plums, and other stone fruit. We’ll discuss some pruning basics, different grafting strategies for ‘fruit salad trees’, healing damaged trees, reworking new varieties, revitalizing old orchards, enhancing cross-pollination, and space considerations. We’ll also look at and evaluate both successful and failed past grafts.

We’ll contextualize…

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Will the Pentagon’s F-35 Fighters Be Based In Burlington, Vermont by 2020? (IMPERIAL BOONDOGGLE)

Originally posted on Second Vermont Republic:

2VR-F35Inquiring Vermont minds want to know. Especially given the exorbitant costs of the F-35. And the safety record, or lack thereof. And the flight time testing prior to basing, or lack thereof. And the noise. And the fact that Burlington International Airport airport is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. And the simple truth that the insanely expensive F-35 simply does not work as advertised. Why are elected Vermont leaders Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Peter Welch, Miro Weinberger, and Peter Shumlin ALL in favor of the F-35? Jeezum – this is a wonderful question to ask them any time they appear in public in our once-and-future Vermont republic. We’ve been covering the F-35 story since 2007 – here’s a new TRUTHOUT update by James Marc Leas, along with our artist’s rendering of Camel’s Hump with F-35s in the foreground.

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Measles, Vermont, and Informed Consent, by Jennifer Stella (VACCINE CHOICE)

Originally posted on Second Vermont Republic:

To our Dear Honorable Governor Shumlin,
The statewide members of our coalition want to express deep appreciation for your support in maintaining the delicate and critical balance between public health initiatives and individual rights. Since 1979, Vermont has honored this important balance by offering conscientious and religious exemption to parents. This was confirmed by the legislature in 2012 in the 133-6 House vote. 
images-1Mr. Governor, even the American Medical Association provides for religious and philosophic objections to its member doctors*. It is our most sincere hope that there will never come a time when the State feels it must compel mandatory vaccination without conscientious exemption on its citizens. Is mandatory vaccination the answer to measles? We think not, and concur with this pediatrician:
Measles. It used to be just a disease. Now it’s become a banner under which politicians gather to threaten one of our most sacred rights – the right to give informed consent…

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Results Based Accountability Report Released

Originally posted on Flow:

20150219RBACoverWe are pleased to announce the release of our first Results Based Accountability (RBA) report!

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) launched an effort this year to improve how we track and measure performance using RBA. RBA is a framework used to measure how well an agency department, division, or program is performing. RBA looks to answer three primary questions: (1) How much did we do? (2) How well did we do it? (3) Is anyone better off?

The Watershed Management Division’s (WSMD’s) performance measures are organized based on our efforts to: protect, maintain, enhance, and restore Vermont’s surface waters; directly correlating to our mission. Seven performance measures focus on Division level efforts and four highlight efforts at the program level. Our Division Report can be found online here: http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/WSMDPerformanceMeasures2016.pdf

Performance measures were compiled from each Division and organized at the Department level by the categories of: water, air…

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Vermont Gets Real About Local Food, by Rachel Carter (FARM-TO-PLATE)

Originally posted on Second Vermont Republic:

Local food movements are trending across the country. For some, it’s the next “in” thing to do, but for many Vermonters, supporting local agriculture has been a way of life long before it was trendy.

So where does the term “food system” fit in when talking about local food? Everyone from academics to government officials are referring more to food systems when discussing sustainable agriculture, the future of farms, how to feed our growing population, and food equity challenges.

2VR-Food System DiagramAlso referred to geographically as a food shed, the food system includes all components of how food is produced and distributed—everything from farm viability and labor costs to consumer demand and food access to education and energy.

Our current food system is out of balance. We are far too reliant on food grown and distributed outside of our region and decisions made outside of our control. Even in locally conscious Vermont…

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