RUTLAND-The Board of Directors of the Vermont Farmers Food
Center hosted their first annual meeting at the Rutland Free
Library last week. The gathering was more than a time to discuss
financials and other business; it was a celebration of a successful
first year and a chance to congratulate and thank all the
volunteers and donors that made the project a success.
President Greg Cox recapped the events that led up to the
creation of the Center. "The Vermont Farmer's Market needed a much
bigger space and more parking for the indoor market. Our location
at the Strand Theater sold out before we even opened," he
explained. The group earned a grant for a feasibility study on the
old Mintzer building in Rutland to see if it would work as a new
home. It was found that The Rutland Farmers Market could not cover
the costs alone but that didn't deter the effort. The amazing story
of donations, pro bono aid, donated materials and volunteer labor
that unfolded last summer proved Rutland's commitment to local
farmers. Cox was especially proud of the large number of small
donations that added up to thousands and thousands of dollars.
"Little things grow into big things," he said.
A video, made by Art Jones, was presented at the meeting and it
highlighted the transformation the blighted property on West Street
has undergone since the Food Center bought it. Project manager
David O'Rourke spoke about the contagious excitement he witnessed
"This was a property that was run-down with drug needles
littering the area, homeless people living inside, vandalism,
broken bottles, etc. To see what happened since July is amazing" he
said. "We would have 80 people show up on some days to help out. It
Everyone who spoke at the meeting couldn't say enough about the
remarkable demonstration of community spirit that was conjured for
Local Chris Brown shared that his ancestors have been farming
the land around Rutland and Castleton since the early days of
American nationhood and they would certainly have been proud the
see what was happening today.
"It's the best thing to happen to Rutland," he said. The group,
which is now an official nonprofit organization, continues to move
forward. The next step is to continue preparing the adjoining space
that the Vermont Food Bank will occupy later this summer and
insulate the market area for better heat retention.
Greg Cox encourages anybody and everybody to keep thinking
critically about the possibilities for future use of this space.
"We would like to see something unique and interesting happen
here," he said.