Pies for people: Local Food and Collaborative Efforts Feed a Community

Hardwick (VT), November 10, 2008 — Butternut squash from High Mowing Seeds — harvested by University of Vermont (UVM) students, transported to Craftsbury’s Pete’s Greens for processing, baked into pies in the Sterling College Kitchen, and delivered to the Hardwick Food Bank — quite a remarkable path for squash whose original destiny was compost.

The Center for an Agricultural Economy, (the Center) based in Hardwick, VT, has organized the Pies for People project — delivering healthy local food to people in need during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. Following in a long tradition of the Hardwick community helping each other out, the pies project brings together Vermont agricultural businesses, UVM students and Sterling College students and faculty — all donating ingredients and services to bring the local harvest to the community.

The Pies for People project will culminate in the Sterling College kitchen for the first “Bake Night,” on November 18th.  Sterling College kitchen and student volunteers will create and bake 60 pies using locally donated ingredients. This first shipment of pies will be delivered to the Hardwick Food Bank, Greensboro Early Learning Center, Hardwick’s Community Dinner, and Greensboro Nursing Home. The pies project is planning additional deliveries in December.

The idea began with High Mowing Seed owner and the Center’s president Tom Stearn’s surplus of squash and knowledge of a need in the Hardwick Food Bank.  This project took advantage of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between UVM and the Center — which encourages a working relationship between the two entities.  

Sterling College, out of Craftsbury Common, joins the Center as a new strategic partner. Sterling faculty coordinated the many pies ingredients and services — generously donated from the following local agricultural businesses:

  • The butternut squash grown for High Mowing Seed Company on the Foote Brook Farm in Johnson harvested by UVM students.
  • About 1000 pounds of squash transported by vehicles provided by the Center and UVM.
  • This project would not have been possible without the generous usage of Pete’s Greens 
  • (of Craftsbury) new industrial size kettle that turned the squash into puree.
  • Any unused squash pieces will be composted according to recommendations from Hardwick's Highfields Institute composters.
  • The recipe came from Hardwick's Claire's Restaurant and was adapted by the Sterling kitchen Manager, Elena Gustavason.
  • The crusts will be donated by Charlie Emers at Patchwork Farm Bakery in Hardwick.
  • The pies will be assembled and cooked in the Sterling College kitchen with Sterling student, faculty, and staff participation.
  • Cabot butter, milk from the North Hardwick Dairy, eggs from Applecheek Farm, spices from the Buffalo Mountain Coop in Hardwick, flour from Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm,and maple sugar from Butternut Mountain Farm are all local donators.

The Center sees the pies project as a collaborative effort to meet the needs of a community using locally grown and donated organic produce.   Many individuals and organizations in the greater Hardwick community over the years have generously donated to the food bank and other community service organizations, and it is the hope of the Center that our experience putting the Pies for People program together will be another on-going inspiration to others to continue and even expand their generosity in the months ahead.