We told you about the Vermont Sail Freight Project when it was fundraising for its maiden voyage, and we shared the news when it reached the funding goal. Here’s a little recap of the idea if you forgot:
The Vermont Sail Freight Project is a contemporary re-invention of a historic regional foodway, and is sponsored by the Willowell Foundation of Monkton, Vermont [and The Greenhorns, an Essex, N.Y.-based farmer advocacy group]. In 2013, the Sail Freight team, led by farmer Erik Andrus and Willowell staff, [built] a simple low-cost sailing barge 39 feet in length, 10′ in beam (width) […] with which to trade [Northern New York and] Vermont-produced foods in New York City and the Lower Hudson. (Vermont Sail Freight Project)
Vermont Sail Freight Project Ship Completes Maiden Voyage
Now we’re happy to update you on VSFP’s progress. The sailing barge Ceres (named for the Roman goddess of agriculture) has successfully completed its autumn journey from Lake Champlain down to New York City carrying goods from local area farms.
The boat, loaded with 15 tons of cargo from 30 farms, [completed] its maiden voyage down the Hudson. The crew has been hosting daily dockside markets at port towns from Hudson to Yonkers, selling pantry staples, like wild birch syrup, heirloom beans and Atlantic-harvested seaweed, and fresh produce, like blue fingerling potatoes from Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams, N.Y., and shiso from Grange Co-Packer Cooperative in Essex, N.Y., which [Severine] von Tscharner Fleming co-founded. (The New York Times)
The ‘To’ in Farm-to-Table
That’s right, goods from Champlain Valley farms traveled down waterways on a sail powered ship like in the days of old! Sure it is a slower mode of travel than many available today, but it’s far more environmentally friendly than others.
The ‘localvore’ movement that promotes consumption of local/regional foods is growing. Projects like Ceres are the next step in the system that brings local food to your table! Yet, will this be a sustainable method of trade with real business potential?
Is this a publicity stunt or a workable new paradigm for feeding the world? Von Tscharner Fleming freely admits that it’s a bit of both. “Nine million people live within walking distance of the boat’s markets,” she said. “Frankly, it shouldn’t be a luxury to eat regional food. We’re allowing ourselves to imagine what it might mean to reshuffle the system and move toward a compelling, regionally appropriate, affordable, satisfying diet.” (The New York Times)
The National Geographic adds to this discussion in their article about the VSFP entitled, “Sailboats Ship Freight to Manhattan for First Time in 60 Years,” which covers a bit of the history of sail freight transport and its reemergence on the small scale across the world.
Stay up to date with this project and its progress forward on the Vermont Sail Freight Project’s blog.
- Biker Slights Adirondack Coast (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- sail freight press! (thegreenhorns.wordpress.com)
- Get Ready For Sail-Barged Farm-Fresh Goods (workingharbor.wordpress.com)
- Sailboats ship freight to Manhattan for first time in 60 years. (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Vermont Sail Freight Project 100% Funded (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vermont Sail Freight Project (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
Dolores Provost says
The November 11 issue of the New Yorker also has a piece on this, along with an excellent article about a tech company that provides detailed meteorological information to farmers.