Thursday, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced plans to allow state employees to do their grocery shopping at work, with fresh produce drop-offs from local farms.
"The goal is this simple, to ensure that Vermont continues to be, in our cultural future, the place where the best farm days are ahead of us, not behind us," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Last year, 30 state employees from Addison, Washington and Windsor counties participated in a pilot Community Supported Agriculture program.
"We're now going to expand this program to all of our state employees," Shumlin said.
Customers pay a flat rate that varies by farm. In return, more than 40 local farmers will deliver weekly produce shares to 15 state buildings throughout Vermont.
"We offer meat, raised on pasture, eggs, vegetables and goat milk," said Laura Olsen of Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield.
Olsen says private CSA business accounts for about 65 percent of the farm's overall income. Her membership grew 20 percent last year upon joining the pilot program for state employees. She says it offered the perfect opportunity to reach a new audience at a time when they were ready to grow.
"The state essentially served as a dating service, bringing together interested farms and interested employees and then allowing us to figure out the match and set up that relationship," Olsen said.
Vermont leads the nation in CSAs per capita.
Shumlin says everyone benefits when consumers link with great food and the farmers with the customers.
"And it helps us grow our efforts to be the leader in this country," Shumlin said.
Shumlin says almost all of those who enrolled in the pilot program will do so again, as Vermont pioneers farm-to-state.