Our Mission & Story
Strolling of the Heifers is a non-profit organization with the mission of connecting people with healthy local food, encouraging and facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship in the farm/food sector, and supporting the development of stronger local food systems and healthy, sharing, connected and resilient communities.
Why eat local food? Not just because it tastes better and is healthier, but because knowing your farmers and food producers is good for your soul. Because knowing where your food comes from helps you understand your connection to your community, your bioregion, your Earth.
“Orly, you have to do something about this,” Dwight Miller told his neighbor, Orly Munzing, back in 2001 as they strolled through Miller’s Dummerston, Vermont orchard.“Farmers are slowly going out of business. People don’t know where their food comes from. If they knew how hard farming is, they’d support their local farmers.”
Munzing took Miller’s words to heart, and then she had an inspiration. She had recently visited Pamplona, Spain, site of the famous Running of the Bulls. As a way of honoring and supporting local farmers, she envisioned a slower, friendlier, female version of the Running of the Bulls — the Strolling of the Heifers. Farmers would bring their heifer calves, lead them up the historic Main Street of nearby Brattleboro, and afterward, there would be a festival where people could meet the farmers and learn about local foods.
A parade turns into a movement
Munzing went to work with a team of volunteers, and the first Strolling of the Heifers parade and festival took place in 2002. The word “locavore” had not yet been invented (it came along in 2005). But from the beginning, the point of Strolling of the Heifers was to support and sustain family farms by connecting people with healthy local food, and by showcasing the farmers and food producers who bring it to them.
Now in its second decade, Strolling of the Heifers has grown from a small-town parade into a regional movement with year-round programs and events. In recent years, “the Stroll” has expanded its horizon to include not only sustainable agriculture and food systems, but many other aspects of local economic sustainability.