POULTNEY - The Green Mountain College Farm & Food Project has been awarded $100,000 from Jane's Trust to research the market potential for flash-frozen products, using a mobile flash-freeze unit provided to the College and several regional collaborators by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.
Last June, the Farm & Food Project was granted use of the flash-freeze unit for three growing seasons. Flash-freeze units are expected to increase the ability of farmers to market seasonal products throughout the year. The College is currently using the unit for research and education, in conjunction with the Farm & Food Project's new "Community Food Lab," a commercial kitchen facility on campus dedicated to teaching and research.
Green Mountain College uses the flash-freeze unit as an educational tool for classes focusing on food and agriculture and to test the feasibility of certain vegetables and fruits for institutional food service providers. The quick freeze unit is also a tool to help farmers understand the potential of quick freezing. Showcasing the unit promotes new markets for local frozen products and may reduce reliance on food service providers to source produce from out-of-state during the off-season. GMC and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) currently use the unit to preserve donated produce and distribute to those in need throughout the year.
With the new funding from Jane's Trust, the College will expand the goals and use of the flash-freeze project, working in close collaboration with partners including (RAFFL), the Poultney-Mettowee Conservation District, and UVM Extension. The grant will fund a "flash-freeze specialist" position to transport the mobile flash-freeze unit to farms in Rutland County to process "gleaned" products, test flash-frozen products for use in schools, hospitals, senior centers, and the charitable food system, and develop market opportunities at regional food coops, farmers markets, and grocery stores. The grant will also support several research assistants and educational and outreach materials.