Resource Spotlight: Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School
In this month's Resource Spotlight, Molly McDonough, Communications specialist with the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, shares resources they’ve developed for those looking for food systems related legal or policy expertise, including a land access toolkit to help young and beginning farmers and landowners develop leasing and land transfer solutions.
To develop law and policy solutions for a more sustainable and just food system.
Okay now for the fun stuff…
How would you describe the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems? But there’s a catch… describe the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems in a haiku!
Law and policy
Supporting a food system
That works for us all
What does the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems bring to the national food systems table?
We team up with partner organizations and stakeholders across the food system, leveraging our law and policy expertise to develop resources, tools, and policy solutions.
Who does the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems serve?
We serve anyone working on food systems issues who might benefit from legal and policy expertise. We also serve farms and food businesses in our community, connecting them with pro bono legal services through the Vermont Legal Food Hub (which we run in partnership with Conservation Law Foundation). And since we’re based at Vermont Law School, we also serve students, training them to engage in law and policy work that addresses food systems challenges.
What do people/orgs look to you for?
We offer legal and policy expertise that spans the food system. For example, one new resource we developed helps plant breeders keep their innovations in the public domain; our Farmland Access Legal Toolkit helps beginning farmers who are seeking land; our Farmers Market Legal Toolkit is targeted to farmers market leaders; and our National Gleaning Project includes a resources hub for organizations engaged in gleaning and food recovery throughout the U.S.
What one (or two!) problem(s) can someone find solutions for on your site?
One example of a useful tool on our site is the Healthy Food Policy Project. Municipalities looking to increase access to healthy food through local policy can use our database to find examples of innovative policies from across the country.
Are there certain tools or resources that you’ve found especially popular?
Our Farmland Access Legal Toolkit—which helps farmers and landowners affordably access, transfer, and conserve farmland—is especially popular. Land access is a major hurdle for young and beginning farmers, and that legal tools, like the customizable Farm Lease Builder we developed, are sorely needed to facilitate leasing and land transfer.
Who can access your resources? How?
Our resources are free and available for the public. They're all listed and linked on our website at www.vermontlaw.edu/cafs-projects. Several of them also have their own websites, such as farmlandaccess.org, healthyfoodpolicyproject.org, nationalgleaningproject.org, and farmersmarketlegaltoolkit.org.
What other resources or support is the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems looking for?
We're always looking for partners. We team up with organizations across the country, and we often look to our partners to identify legal and policy needs and research topics.
What other “resource-full” organizations would you recommend?
There are so many amazing organizations working in this space, including: Conservation Law Foundation, Farm to Institution New England, Farm Commons, Farmers Market Coalition, Harvard Law School Food and Policy Clinic, Migrant Justice, National Agricultural Law Center, National Farm to School Network, Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn, University of Vermont Extension, the USDA National Agricultural Library, and too many more to list!
How can someone get in touch with you for more information?
One of our team members is planning a roundtable discussion on Building Legal Resources for Food Hubs at the National Good Food Network Conference this March!