A Summer for Sharing

Pitchfork Farm in Burlington is getting back into the swing of things as Vermont re-opens. And thanks to you, delicious Vermont produce from farms across the state is accessible to neighbors facing hunger.

The summer of 2020 was the summer that wasn’t. No gatherings. People staying in and keeping to themselves.

Now, with the opening-up of Vermont, there’s excitement in the air. The smell of outdoor cooking drifts through neighborhoods and sounds of laughter and small talk come from backyards.

For Eric, co-owner of Burlington-based Pitchfork Farm, the return to sharing food with friends and family at backyard barbecues and celebrations is the return to normalcy he’s been waiting for.

“Like most people in Vermont, we took [social distancing] pretty seriously,” Eric says about last summer. “We listened to the advice of our elected officials, the advice of scientists, the CDC, and we opted to not congregate in any real way.”

This year, it’s a return to pre-pandemic food-focused gatherings, and Eric is excited for a joint celebration coming up and happy to share what he’ll be bringing.

“We’re planning a big get-together this weekend for our birthdays,” he says. “I got these beautiful gem romaine heads that are poppin’ off right now, so we’ll probably do like wedge salads. And my personal favorite of our ferments … it’s a spicy, funky red cabbage-based kraut that’s got a lot of habanero in it. It’s really good on a burger or a hot dog.”

And there’s more that Eric is excited about for 2021. As a farmer whose business provides food to restaurants and stores throughout Vermont, last year was difficult for Eric and co-owner Rob. Eric says seeing the chefs, servers, produce buyers, and store employees that he’s come to know as friends struggle due to closures was difficult to say the least. “It was really hard talking to chefs, talking to restaurant owners and just watching how stressed out they were and how terrible it was. I’m excited for a return to normalcy and for people to get back out there …”

Eric shares that 2020 wasn’t a disaster for Pitchfork Farm. Business was down, but the farm continued to get produce out into the community and onto the plates of neighbors facing hunger, thanks to your support. Because of you, the Foodbank is able to purchase local food from Pitchfork, and other Vermont farms, to distribute to people facing hunger. And Pitchfork Farm hosts gleaning volunteers who rescue excess produce to share with neighbors, as well. Being part of these programs and helping the Vermont community, even before the pandemic, is something Eric feels proud that Pitchfork Farm can play a role in.

“It’s tremendously important,” Eric says of his work with the Foodbank. The roughly 30-acre farm situated along the Winooski River grows cabbages, beets, carrots, and winter squashes that are distributed through the Foodbank. “We grow very healthy food, and it’s important that the more vulnerable in our communities, not just Burlington, but all of Vermont, it’s important that they have access to fresh, healthy food as well. We’re tremendously proud of the small part we can play in that.”

And with summer here at last, and the return to normalcy, there’s one crop in particular that Eric is waiting for and is excited to be sharing with friends, family, and Vermont.

“You just can’t beat a watermelon,” Eric says. “Cutting one open in July or August on an 85 degree day, 90 percent humidity, when you don’t have any water at hand, but you got a watermelon, there’s nothing better.”

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  • This month, we're celebrating you and those who've offered the Gift of Support and in so doing have joined us on the journey of creating a food-secure Vermont by sharing part of a recent interview with friend and neighbor Sara.