What We Do 2
The Stroll is not just a parade — it’s a movement. We work year-round to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation at farm and food businesses, to connect people and organizations of many kinds around sustainable living and resilient communities, and to promote the value of robust local food systems, local thinking and Slow Living.
Slow Living Summit
Exploring more mindful communities: The Slow Living Summit is a conference focused on the development of nurturing and mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems. It happens each year just before Stroll Weekend, in the congenial environs of downtown Brattleboro. The third annual Slow Living Summit is set for June 5-7, 2013. At the Summits we have heard from many great speakers and thinkers, including Bill McKibben, Charles Eisenstein, Woody Tasch, Gary Hirshberg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gov. Peter Shumlin, David Orr, John Restakis and many others. Visit the Summit website for more information.
Our Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index keeps track of which states are most committed to local foods. First created in 2012, the Index is a ranking of the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local foods. Its purpose is to encourage local-food advocates in all states to work for improvement in access to healthy local food. Widely publicized, stories on the 2012 Index appeared in many newspapers and websites, and spawned many posts on food-related blogs around the country. Vermont, the Stroll’s home state, ranked No. 1 in the index, followed by Iowa, Montana, Maine and Hawaii. Read about the most recent Index here.
Business Plan Competition
Our Farm/Food Business Plan Competition spurs innovation and entrepreneurship at family farms, specialty food producers, restaurants and other food enterprises throughout Vermont. Launched in 2011 as a southeastern Vermont regional program (in partnership with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation), the competition expanded to central Vermont in 2012 (in partnership with Vermont Technical College), and will go statewide in 2013. We’re proud of the success that several of our past winners have had in improving and expanding their businesses. More information can be found here.
Our signature event: Strolling of the Heifers Weekend — A great family weekend, Strolling of the Heifers Weekend (June 7-9, 2013) is the centerpiece of our work. It’s the big, fun, public way we offer for people to connect with farmers and producers of healthy local food. Always rated one of Vermont’s Top Ten Summer Events, Stroll Weekend attracts tens of thousands of people to Brattleboro, Vermont — which is a great place to visit in its own right, often included on “10 best” lists of small towns. Visit our events page for complete information on the Strolling of the Heifers Parade, Slow Living Expo, Tour de Heifer and all the other happenings of Stroll Weekend.
The Vermont Brand
A highly recognizable brand and logo that promotes the quality and values of Vermont-originated food and forest products — this something we are working to establish in collaboration with a group of Vermont farmers and food producers. A natural addition to our program and event offerings, the branding project is consistent with our mission of supporting farmers and food producers by connecting people with healthy local food. The companies that display the Vermont brand will pledge to aspire in their business practices to bring you products that represent a quality of life that are all Vermonters are proud to present to the world. Because in Vermont, we care.
Art & Music
We strongly believe the arts are an integral part of building sustainable communities. We invite artists of all kinds to participate in our Parade, our Slow Living Expo, our Slow Living Summit, and other events and programs. Right now (through May 2013), the Strolling of the Heifers Farm Art exhibit graces the halls of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. A new Farm Art show at multiple Brattleboro locations will have its grand opening during Stroll Weekend. And at the Slow Living Expo on Parade day, enjoy the sounds of some of our region’s best musicians!
Woodlands & Forestry
The working landscape of New England includes more woodlands than farmlands — so each year at our Slow Living Expo we assemble an interactive exhibit focused on our regions forests. The Woodlands & Forestry Pavilion includes displays and demonstrations on forest management, the wildlife in our woods, invasive species, chestnut restoration, forest byproducts and much more. Read more here!
Microloans for Farmers
A farm-oriented microlending program, The Strolling of the Heifers Microloan Fund, was launched in 2008, in partnership with The Carrot Project of Somerville, Mass., using the proceeds of several benefit concerts featuring the legendary folksinger Pete Seeger, his grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger, Guy Davis, Paul Winter, and John Sebastian. The program “graduated from the Stroll” in 2011, and continues to be operated by The Carrot Project , which has expanded it throughout New England.
Beginning Farmer Apprenticeships
A program to place at-risk youth into farm-based summer apprenticeships, the Beginning Farmer Apprentice Program (BFAP), was launched in 2009 with a USDA grant secured by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and operated for several summers with support from private foundations. As a result of discussions that began around BFAP, the Windham Regional Career Center in 2011 launched its Program in Agriculture and Sustainable Foods (only the second Vermont career center to offer one), and BFAP was folded into its community mentorship program.
In the early years of the Stroll, from 2002 to 2007, the organization offered small educational grants to Brattleboro-area teachers, to help them bring agricultural topics into the classroom. Ranging from school gardens to class trips to farms, these programs became so popular that in most cases they became part of the schools’ standard curricula and the Windham County Farm-to-School program.