Vermont Foodbank staff working in the orchard at Radicle Apple.

“As a novice farmer, it’s hard to imagine someone that we would be more thrilled to be growing for and caring for than a food insecure population of our neighbors,” says Lauri, who founded Radicle Apple along with her husband Doug. Radicle Apple is a non-profit orchard in Saxtons River, and one of two Vermont orchards that the Foodbank is partnering with in a new effort called Every Vermont Apple.

This fall marks the second year of Every Vermont Apple, an initiative that you help support, focused on distributing more local fruit to neighbors experiencing hunger while supporting local agriculture. The Foodbank purchases apple “seconds” from Radicle Apple and Scott Farm Orchards, located in Dummerston, at a lower cost than first-quality fruit, which allows the Foodbank to source more apples from Vermont farms than would otherwise be financially possible.

These apple “seconds” may be slightly imperfect but are high-quality, ecologically grown fruit and include heirloom varieties carefully cultivated by the farms’ orchardists Erin (Scott Farm), and Zeke and Ali (Radicle Apple).

“Just the thought that those apples, that are 98% perfect … but just because of that 2% they can’t make it to the shelf of the food co-op … therefore they’re going to be discarded and just pressed into juice, sometimes is a little bit heartbreaking,” explains Simon, the manager at Scott Farm. “I’m like, this is a totally decent apple.”

Simon pauses and laughs, “My kids complain because that’s all I bring home, seconds.”

This year, close to 15,000 pounds of these perfect and almost perfect apples will be distributed at local food shelves in the Brattleboro area and through Vermont Foodbank events and programs, just in time for holiday meals and celebrations.

For Lauri and Doug’s family, apple crisp with hard sauce is a staple of the festive season — a dessert they learned was a Thanksgiving favorite of both their grandmothers. “So, we have this beautiful dish,” shares Lauri, “That has become a symbol of our unknown traditions that come together and get passed on.”

Simon, who grew up in Brittany, France, likes to make tarte aux pommes (an apple tart) for the holidays. “Very simple slices of apple, making a little sugar egg mixture as a filling, but just an open tart with a really nice crust. Simple, but put a lot of apples in there … And with the right varieties, with some really good heirloom varieties … those make it just incredible.”

During the first two years of the Every Vermont Apple program, you have helped support neighbors facing hunger, Vermont farms, and the local economy with the purchase and distribution of about 43,000 pounds of local apple “seconds.”

This effort is a true collaboration, with the orchards adjusting business operations for the needs and the mission of the Foodbank. During a year when groceries are more expensive than ever, it’s especially meaningful to be able to provide fresh-picked Vermont apples to families and neighbors experiencing hunger in our communities.

“We always try to pick and pack the apples quickly enough that the patrons of the Foodbank will be able to share our experience of having really fresh fruit right off the tree. These apples are truly so much better than a typical supermarket apple that sits in a refrigerator for two months and travels 1,000 miles to get to them,” says Doug.

“It’s a feel-good program … I really like it and I wish we could do much more of it. I wish… I think with all the apples that Vermont orchards have, we could feed all Vermonters,” adds Simon. “It feels good, it’s great.”

  • Matthew works at Foodworks food shelf, one of the 353 community organizations that partners with Vermont Foodbank working towards a food-secure vermont.

  • Elysia lives in St. Johnsbury and is a community consultant for Vermont Foodbank. She brings her expertise to help improve services and increase access to food for folks in her community.

  • 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.