Meeting of January 25, 2017

 
 

President Judy opened the meeting at 07:30 and led the pledge of allegiance. Ric Flood offered a short and thoughtful morning prayer.

Judy introduced today’s guests:
• Patrick McKee, CEO of Wake Robin, guest of Phil Denu
• Becky Castle and Bob Clark, owners of Fisher Brothers Farm and today’s speakers

Upcoming Meetings:
• 2/1-Meeting program-Art Woolf, UVM Economics professor
• 2/8-Meeting program-Rotary Speech Contest contestants
• 2/15-Meeting program-Club committees meet
• 2/22-Meeting program-Eileen Whalen, President and COO, UVM Medical Center

Announcements:

  • President Judy thanked Linda Schiavone for implementing the table-centric happy-fine note-

    taking system (TCHFNTS)

  • Dave Rice passed out sign up sheets for meeting note-takers and set up/take down helpers

  • Todd Whitaker reported an easy time of parking 200 cars for Shelburne Farms’ Winterfest

  • Lara Keenan announced that the Green Mt Audubon Society is speaking tomorrow at

    6:30pm, and the library is planning a Valentine’s Day “Love Your Library” event with an

    evening of chocolate and poetry

  • Alan Bates passed around sign up grids for the 50-50 Super Bowl pool; today is last day to

    enter

  • Richard Fox, Assistant District Governor, gave an uncharacteristically abridged, if not

    truncated, reminder of the 2017 Rotary District conference 2-4 June at Loon Mountain, Lincoln, NH. The planning committee is encouraging all Rotarians to attend, at least some portion of the conference, to engage with the wider Rotary world beyond club centered activities; businesses and groups are invited to become sponsors by placing ads in the conference program.

    Sergeant-at-Arms:
    Chris Davis happily and politely collected happy fines
    • Todd Whitaker is happy
    • Denny Bowen is unhappy because he had no money
    • Lara Keenan is happy as ever
    • Fritz Horton is happy to be back
    • John Dupee is out of money but his state of happiness is unknown
    • Michael Clapp also is happy
    • Dave Rice is happy
    • Bill Deming would be happy were he not taking notes
    • Linda Barker is happy that her colleague Margo is going on the Hands to Honduras project • Bob Sanders is happy about Linda Schiavone’s new note-taking system
    • Ric Flood is happy that daughter Megan’s first treatment went well with few side effects
    • President Judy is happy that Bob S agreed to take meeting notes
    • Sam Feitelberg is happy because he’s always happy
    • Guest Bob Clark is happy that his 3 kids were on time for school

  • Guest Becky Castle is happy to be breathing and attending this meeting

  • Eric Hanley is happy to have surprised his daughter on her 17th birthday by kidnapping her

    for a hockey game

  • Joan Lenes is happy

  • Richard Fox is happy that his family has reunited over the Super Bowl

  • George Schiavone is happy to pay a happy fine in honor of Denny Bowen

  • Adam Bartsch is happy (for McCormick spices?)

  • Phil Denu is happy that he missed the Women’s march in Montpelier

  • John Hammer is happy for a ski trip to Park City Utah

  • Howard Seaver is happy driving by Montpelier

  • Roz Graham is happy for the club support at Winterfest and for Montpelier march

  • Jane Knight is happy to be taking notes

  • Barb Comeau is just happy

  • Alan Bates is happy to head to Jackson Hole and to have marched in Montpelier

  • The 50-50 Raffle ticket was held by Sam Feitelberg, but alas, he did not pull the joker from

    the ever-smaller deck of cards. $600+ remains in the pot.

    Presentations:
    • Ric Flood recognized George Schiavone, already a well-deserving Paul Harris Fellow, for his

    continuing support of The Rotary Foundation and presented him with a PHF+1 pin. BZ George!

    Today’s program:

  • George Schiavone introduced the amazing Fisher Brothers Farm owners, Becky Castle and

    Bob Clark, of Shelburne.

  • Becky started by announcing that Bob would be passing out samples of their ice cream for

    our enjoyment. Vanilla and Chocolate Anarchy.

  • She and Bob bought the farm in 2013 and are now growing many kinds of berries, including

    raspberries, elderberries, aronia berries, as well as grapes and corn. She grew up in Connecticut and met Bob, from upstate NY, at Middlebury College. Becky is very familiar with Rotary because she was a Rotary Fellow in Central America and attended and spoke at many Rotary clubs. After the Rotary Fellowship ended, she joined the Carter Foundation in Atlanta, where she worked on international development projects. Now she operates a consulting business focused on international development projects in health, agriculture, and water. She is currently working on a project to develop non-GMO vitamin enriched micro nutrients.

  • Bob Clark became interested in farming after hearing investment guru Jim Rodgers say that everyone should learn how to farm. Bob grew up working beside his father and grandfather and other relatives from Germany who came to farm in upstate NY. Bob named the farm in honor of his family, the Fisher Brothers, who are happy that Bob remains in farming.

  • Bob believes farming in Vermont is very interesting because the average large farm in VT is only about 150 acres and the small scale requires farmers to be creative and possess an entrepreneurial spirit. Bob is happy to involve his minor daughters in the farm operation. He and Becky looked for a year before deciding on the 75 acre farm north of Kwiniaska Golf Course. Although the land had been long neglected, its location in Shelburne and the epicenter of Vermont’s high income consumer market made the farm ideal for their agribusiness plan.

  • Bob says the most challenging part of the operation was reawakening the dormant and untended land, with its 6 distinct soil types, to grow food. He loves to interact with customers, kids, and other farmers. He is working with South Burlington HS and CVUHS to solicit business ideas/plans from students, offering them space and mentoring and profit sharing. He is also interested in providing a product drop off space for other farmers operating community supported agriculture (CSA) enterprises, particularly those distant. He wants to encourage cooperation to make the VT agricultural pie bigger for everyone. The farm has a number of product developments underway. They will be using their seasonal berries to make ice cream. Some ice cream has been determined to be too good for kids and will be marketed as black label for adults only. For the upcoming season, they will implement an online pre-pay and ordering system with same day convenient pick up. They plan to make their retail operation easy, nimble, and customer-friendly. Movie nights will continue this summer, with movies taking place inside the barn (better for boxing in kids) so adults can enjoy outside stargazing.

  • See http://aroniaberry.org for more information about aronia berries.