The Curveball of a Lifetime

We wrote this memorial to a great adventure just about a year ago but never shared it. Upon reflecting on the anniversary of the Festival That Never Was, we decided to share this out. Here’s to all the remarkable people and big hearts involved.

 

August 21st, 2018: Back in January, we first began hearing rumblings of another Phish festival in the works for the summer of 2018 at Watkins Glen. So like any local food creperie would do, we reached out to Phish to see if we might be able to find a way to participate. Their response: “If you have any creative suggestions, we are always open to them.” This simple exchange was the beginning of a very real adventure that will prove to be a milestone in life for several of us who shared in it.

 

With our most creative thinking caps on, we fired back to Phish with a half dozen ideas ranging from a roving cart on wheels slinging crepes to the crowd mid-set, curating a VT Food Court, raising money for their non-profit, Waterwheel. We also threw out the idea of building a temporary Skinny Pancake with walls made from reclaimed wood and tables and chairs. Never did we think the most ambitious idea would be the one to land…

 

By March, we were honing in on a clear vision: The Skinny Pancake would produce a fast casual pop-up restaurant and an adjacent farmers market and beer garden. We iterated and iterated, marking up over a dozen layouts in all. Patience. Diligence. Persistence. This is the world of festival work. Empathy and understanding: the logistics are complicated when the practicalities of servicing 40,000+ people are paired with the effort to create a unique and magical experience – all while knowing the build will ultimately be ephemeral: there and gone in but a weekend. 

 

We have done many many events over the life of The Skinny Pancake, from simple vending booths to large scale vending coordination for Grand Point North. We even led festival production for our local food festival Eat by Northeast (2014- 2015) and Big Tiny Love (2018). The nature of this work is that, for folks directly involved in the production, a festival increasingly clouds and ultimately eclipses everything else in the final push. This was most certainly the case for Curveball.

 

Our initiative at Curveball was ambitious. We not only committed to operating and coordinating a pop-up restaurant, beer garden and farmers market, we committed to building the physical infrastructure for the experience we planned to create. 

 

 

To accomplish this ambitious task, we needed a GREAT team of builders and foodservice professionals. And what a team we ended up with: Josiah Jackson of Ironwood Building and Design signed on as foreman. Reclaimed lumber specialist Adam Marsano from Small House Carpentry and his assistant Tom Ladd joined the crew as exceptionally productive carpenters. “Eddie Can Fix It” Grasmeyer joined the team as our resident Macgyver (and boy did Macgyver come in handy). Lee Anderson from the Radio Bean brought in his crew to build a major light installation. Our Marketing Team and I all signed on to help “raise the barn” with site maps, acquisitions and whatever the heck else it would take to get the job done. This motley crew came in on top of the world-class team and resources Phish itself had hired to accomplish the task of manifesting yet another one of their incredible festivals.

 

On Friday, August 10th, this ‘Advanced Production Team’ set off for an adventure of a lifetime. We had 4 commercial scale trailers full of lumber and materials. Every truck was packed with tools. Palettes of deliveries had been sent ahead of us. We had five days scheduled to build our vision which ran smack into the deluge of rain that would eventually become the festival’s undoing. 

 

 

Saturday, August 11th through Wednesday, August 15th was what we call “pillow to pillow work”: 12+ hours a day of physically demanding manual and intellectual labor. To our own surprise, the balance of the team was ideal.  The problem solving was relentless and persistent. Where there were hurdles, the question was ‘how’ not ‘if.’ Where there were metaphoric mountains to move, we had access to literal excavators from the festival producers. Despite the rain one day, the intense heat the next, the mud throughout, we persevered. Despite the stress and anxiety of a rapidly approaching deadline, the whole team kept their cool and there were remarkably few unforced errors.

 

On Tuesday, August 14th, the second wave of our crew departed from Vermont: our summer Festival vending team left for Watkins Glen, driving our beloved School Bus, Sueno, in addition to Samson & Deliah: our freshly painted reefer truck and trailer. 

 

Several hours later we got that devastating call we’d heard before: Sueno was broken down on the side of the road deep in the Adirondacks. For better or worse, it was not due to a major mechanical issue. She had simply run out of gas, but a recovery shot of diesel and ether had not done the trick. So we moved to plan B: we loaded everything and everyone we needed into Samson (our concession trailer) and got the festival team back on track. An hour later, in preparing to leave the bus, our driver thought ‘what the heck, I’ll try to start it one last time…’ Lo and behold, she fired right up. In our efforts to restart her, we had flooded the engine. By waiting a few hours, the problem had fixed itself. Sueno triumphantly drove through the night to Ithaca and safely made her way to Watkins Glen the next day. 

 

We were scheduled to open a small stand for Wednesday and the full operation on Thursday. To our own surprise, we were ahead of schedule. We set up our stand for a noon opening only to learn that the organizers had opted to not open the festival grounds to the public until the next day. “Ok…no big deal” we thought, “we’ll just open tomorrow.” 

 

Wednesday night our build-out was done and it was stunning. We all hung out and just enjoyed the look and feel of it all. We took photos: this would be the only night it was empty before the place was overrun with the happy festival-goers setting up camp right outside the gate. 

 

 

With time on our hands, we added some finishing touches on the buildout Thursday. Drink holders for cold beer were made from wood cut-offs and installed by our hammocks. Hay bales were moved around as farmers loaded in. We hosted an all staff orientation. The festival organizers were sending more fun stuff our way: magically colored piano suddenly appeared. A friendly and talented lighting designer, Jason “Liggy” Liggett volunteered to install technicolor lighting inside of Sueno to luminate her all night. It was all coming together better than we could have ever hoped. The festival organizers lauded the build-out as remarkable. We were proud of our creation and eager and ready to open the next day.  

 

 

It was Thursday afternoon, August 16th. Gates were expected to open at 2pm. Those who have been following the saga know what happens next. Confusing delay after confusing delay. Rumors started to swirl and were laughed off as absurd. 

 

Around 4pm, a member of the racetrack’s concessions team came through, telling us the gates would not open until Friday and feverishly saying he needed our cash start bank (we were working with the racetrack on our banking needs). The request confused me. What was going on? 

 

Soon enough, however, this unfortunate information was confirmed by someone in the know. I saw the text myself: EVENT CANCELLED. Stunned. Alone with this knowledge, I looked around. Dozens of people industriously and excitedly working immediately around me, preparing for a deluge of festival goers: members of our team, the greater Phish organization, numerous other subcontractors. I walked past our build team who were proudly and happily laying in the hammocks we had installed. I grabbed two beers, one in hand, one went to my pocket. Folks took notice and asked “what’s up with that?” I said I needed to take a walk, mumbling that we were not opening until tomorrow. As I left, our amazing festival manager approached me asking if she should up her food order with the distributor for the next day, fretting she had under-ordered. I asked her to hold off. 

 

For half an hour, I wandered around a beautiful festival ground that would never be activated. Happy vendors were all ready to go. Art installations were all completed. Production vehicles and golf carts continued to zoom back and forth. 

 

 

I called our point person at Phish. The announcement would go out at 5:30pm.

 

At 5:15, we were given permission to tell our team. We gathered everyone together. “Attitude is everything” is easy when you’re winning. But it’s when the chips are down that it matters most. When we had to build 20 pergolas in the rain on Sunday, attitude was everything. When the bus broke down, attitude was everything. When a festival that could move mountains with an army of forklifts, pneumatic hammers and cranes was brought down by an outbreak of a single microorganism, E. Coli, it also threatened to lay waste to our single biggest initiative of 2018 and arguably our most prominent branding opportunity in the history of The Skinny Pancake. Attitude was still everything.

 

The E. Coli may have stopped the festival, but it didn’t lay waste to our creation. On the night of Thursday, August 16th, when we should have been enjoying a full room of festival goers and seeing our months long effort realized, we instead hosted a bittersweet and beautiful party in our pop-up creation for the few hundred organizers, artists and friends still onsite. Some we knew before the festival, others we just met, many we’ll likely never encounter again. The rug had just been pulled out from under us all, creating a heartfelt camaraderie in this strange, post-festival apocalyptic moment. The next day, we knew it would all be unwound and broken down. But for that one passing evening, we activated this beautiful space that our proud community had created. We offered up food and drink from the bar and order counter free of charge. Donations and tips flowed generously from partygoers to the pockets of our staff who missed out on a lucrative weekend of tips from hungry and thirsty festival attendees.

 

 

The next morning, we fed anyone who needed a good morning breakfast and coffee. And then we started to break it all down. 

 

The mix of emotions and cognitive dissonance had been stunning. For those of us that shared this experience, it will be a milestone in life. It was set to be a career highlight: we absolutely exhausted ourselves doing some of the best work we’d ever done. We were proud and excited to see it activated. The feedback from these storied festival organizers was overwhelmingly and positive. And yet it was all a western mandala: this installation would be torn down before ever being seen by the tens of thousands of Phish fans who were supposed to enjoy it. 

 

 

Speaking for everyone on our team, it was a privilege and a pleasure to be given this opportunity. We are deeply grateful to Phish, their entire organization, their unbelievably competent Vending Coordinator, Watkins Glen and their concessions team. Much press has gone out about Curveball’s cancellation. Where the focus should be, and where it will be for anybody who has ever gone to a Phish festival, is that no one band could pull off what Phish alone can do. The one-band festival is a remarkable feat, and they do it with class and a collaborative and supportive attitude toward everybody there helping make it happen. 

 

The Skinny Pancake’s installation at Curveball was not the end of something failed. It represents a chapter in an exciting and ambitious career-long adventure to create simple fun and positive social impact. I don’t know a single person involved who didn’t leave with a conviction to do it again and do it better in the future. Whenever that is, wherever it is, whatever you do, take care of your shoes.

 

Thank you to everyone who joined us in this grand adventure. 

 

A Decade of Crepes in the Capitol City

Dear Montpelier,

 

Benjy here. Howdy!

 

Well, we’ve been open and operating in Montpelier for TEN years now. Man, that’s a lot of life. For those of you who have been in the community for more than a decade (a lot of you!), you’ll recall that we took the space over from Ben & Jerry’s right near the height of ‘The Great Recession’ of the late 2000s. We loved the symbolism of inheriting the space from the iconic Vermont business, and one we so admired and continue to for their trailblazing approach to doing business sustainably. The fact that “The Montpelier Mini Skinny” was roughly the size of an oversized postage stamp helped us more easily stomach the risk on a second location. We funneled every penny we had saved from the OG Skinny on the Burlington Waterfront into a self-funded opening. Keep in mind, the 2009 Waterfront Skinny was roughly 1/3rd the size it is now, and at that time, we thought that was HUGE.

 

Ten years ago…we had a President that inspired hope. The economy seemed to have nowhere to go but up for everyone, ObamaCare was in the works, 350.org and the environmental efforts of Bill McKibben were just getting going, the legendary Langdon Street Cafe was in its hay-day. A lot has changed in the world since then.

 

But oh, Montpelier: you’re still standing strong. I know you know you’re a special town, Montpelier. You have huge pride in place, powerful integrity and impressive will and conviction towards your values around progressive politics, the arts, local food and weirdness: ‘Montpeculiar!’ they say. While a lot of towns like to rally around a “Keep _____ Weird” mantra, Montpelier has never really had to do that, because that’s just the way it’s naturally been. A lot of people outside of Vermont like to throw out stats that Montpelier is the smallest US capital and the only one without a Mcdonalds. Maybe that’s weird to some people. To us, that’s just awesome.

 

So where’s it all going now? Well…we make crepes, we don’t read crystal balls…but here’s what we know: Everyone needs to do their part and thankfully we have the backbone of remarkable towns like Montpelier reminding us that’s it is possible to build a community full of vibrant culture and mutual respect. Wearing our ‘socially responsible capitalist hat’, though, we want to remind everyone that you can protest with action as well as vote with your dollars. Spend your money wisely to empower the enterprises committed to making the world a better place…that’s what we try to do as a business every damned day…and our conviction has only grown as we have matured and witnessed the world around us not going in the direction our youthful selves just about took for granted would naturally happen.

 

As it turns out, our Montpelier Skinny has been a sleeper hit this whole time: we are laying plans to combat the large agri-food system on the frontlines of foodservice by hopefully expanding into the rest of New England with our little location in the Capital City as the model we’re basing our future locations on…

 

Montpelier: you’ve been so kind to us. Thank you for welcoming us into your community and supporting us so we could thrive here. We’re super grateful and swear again that we’re going to pay it forward and help pave the way for a better world…that better world that your city’s community has been helping build since before we got here.

 

So, please, join us as we embark on another 10 years by celebrating the 10 before us this Saturday, June 22nd ALL DAY with beer and food specials and live music all day.

 

Sincerely,

 

-Benjy

 

PS: I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a deep digital bow of respect and gratitude to our leadership in Montpelier over the past decade: Jeremy Silansky, who opened the location and led it with us for several years, Sayer Dwinell-Yardley who worked with The Skinny starting as a dishwasher in Montpelier and moving onto KM, AGM and then to The Chubby Muffin in Burlington for many years. David Heath who took over as GM for 2 years and refreshed the space tremendously before returning to Los Angeles…and the current bedrock of reliability, General Manager Nate Morris alongside his brother, Kitchen Manager Chris Morris alongside all the line level employees without whom we never could have existed. THANK YOU, ONE AND ALL.

Earth Day 2019: 10% For The Planet

Spoiler Alert: the Earth needs our help.

Since 2012, the Skinny has been a member of 1% for the Planet, pledging 1% of revenues from participating locations to environmental non-profits. But, for Earth Day this year, we decided our 1% just wasn’t enough.

We think Earth Day should be every day. While we spend all 365 days a year on our planet, we only give one of them to the Earth by name. So, this year we want to make it count. On Monday, April 22nd, in celebration of Earth Day, we’ll be donating 10% of sales across Pancakia (*except our BTV Airport locations) to our friends at 1% For the Planet who are leading a movement to increase environmental giving. Please, join us by helping our 1% go a little further this year.

Want to do more? Support other 1% For the Planet businesses year round or consider joining as an individual member.

The Skinny Pancake Announces Newest Location!

For Immediate Release

April 1st, 2019

 

The Skinny Pancake Announces New Location on the Moon.

 

Lunesta Galaxy, Moon – The Skinny Pancake will be opening a new 30,000 square foot location in the heart of the Lunesta Villiage on the Moon. With a mission of building a healthier, safer and more delicious foodshed while creating everyday enjoyment that is fun and affordable, The Skinny Pancake is thrilled to be leading the pack in developing the lunar food system. 

 

Owner Benjy Adler says, “We’ve spent a few weekends on the moon scouting potential opportunities, and quickly learned Vermont and the Moon are not so different. From the small-town community vibe to the rolling hills of the landscape – the Earth’s Moon truly is the Vermont of the Milky Way Galaxy.” 

 

The new Skinny Pancake will open alongside a mixed-use development project anchored by Tesla’s SpaceX project. “The Skinny Pancake is the exact sort of tenant we were hoping to attract as we continue to advance our space tourism industry,” says SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

 

“We are thrilled to continue our commitment to community engagement in an area with literally endless potential. We hope to become a thread in the fabric of the community here on the Moon,” Mr. Adler says.

 

“You think urban farmers are cool? You should check out these lunar farmers. They’re incredible,” Adler continues.

 

The Skinny Pancake on the Moon will open in Winter of 2021 and will serve many of the offerings of their existing locations, with a zero-gravity spin. The location will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

 

 

Festi Staff

The Skinny Pancake is looking for energetic, hard-working, music-loving folks to join our summer fair & festival tour! We travel around the Northeast in our whimsical bright blue school bus, ‘Sueno,’ to overnight music & art festivals such as Quechee Balloon Festival, Greyfox Bluegrass Festival, and Green River Festival, as well as local single-day events including the Addison County Fair & Field Days, Shelburne Museum Concerts on the Green, Grand Point North, Tumbledown and more.

 

This is NOT a 9-5 job! This is an adventure. We head out on the road for a week at a time, sleep & camp in a tent, and live the festi lifestyle. (No gear? We can help with that.) We set up & take down a mobile kitchen each week, work outdoors, and crank out sweet & savory crepes with a smile.

 

The ideal candidate is honest, efficient, a self starter & tough enough for some healthy hard work. You must be able to lift 50 lbs and a valid driver’s license is preferred! We encourage a fun and friendly work environment that is also healthy and safe, promotes sustainable practices, and represents the Skinny Pancake at all times.

 

Work begins mid-May through October 1st. Weekends are a must!

 

If this sounds like a culture and healthy challenge you’d like to take part in, email us with a cover letter and resume to schedule an interview! Apply below!

 

Apply Here

 

At The Skinny Pancake, we offer a supportive and professional work environment. We care about our employees and strive to help them live happy, balanced lives. We provide competitive pay, free meals, health insurance contribution, 401K, access to voluntary benefits, and opportunity for growth.

The Skinny Pancake is committed to providing equal opportunity in all of our employment practices and does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or veteran status.

FREE Coffee and 50% Off Food For Federal Workers Affected By the Government Shutdown

With a government shutdown and all, our friends at the TSA, FAA, USDA and The National Weather Service have still been showing up to work at the Burlington International Airport to keep us all traveling safe and sound. Beginning today, we’ll be supporting these federal workers by offering FREE coffee and 50% off food to all federal employees showing up to work at Burlington International Airport.

This offer will continue until the government re-opens.

 

 

Where Did All Our Strawberries Go?

 

For the time being, our menus will not include strawberries.

 

As it goes with any business, the costs of doing business are constantly in flux. Prices go up, prices go down. When it comes to food, price fluctuations can be surprisingly large. That’s why, for example, most places have an “MP” next to their Lobster Roll on the menu. While many of us have come to expect the cost of lobster to change significantly from day to day, similar price fluctuations can happen with every single item, every single day. Since it’s become increasingly easier and more efficient to move raw ingredients from coast to coast, many consumers will never even be aware that seasonality and availability will shift the cost of a bag of lettuce, box of oranges or flat of berries from week to week.

 

For the past several winters, we have had to make a tough choice as it pertains to one of our most popular ingredients: the strawberry. Every year around November, the strawberry crops in Florida and California start to freeze, the supply of berries drops, the quality plummets and the price spikes outrageously.

 

Up until this year, we’ve tried to find ways to make it all work. We made a modest price increase on our strawberry items year-round in order to continue to provide them at a reasonable margin in the winter. We’ve explored using different local and national distributors. Last year, we even tried to anticipate this annual situation by purchasing as many local strawberries as we could in their short Vermont growing season, processing them into a compote and freezing the compote for this winter spike. We thought the increased locality of the product would win our customers over – unfortunately, the compote was not what our Lovemaker and Strawberry Shortcrepe faithful were expecting or hoping for.

 

So last week, we had to take a hard look at some serious numbers. 35,749. That’s roughly the number of crepes with strawberries we’ve sold at our brick and mortar locations year to date. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly double the number of Veggie Monsters, our most popular savory crepe, that we sell in an entire year. Wow, we thought, we sell a hell of a lot of strawberries. Meanwhile, the price of strawberries nearly doubled, literally overnight. While we internally deal with the realities of a global food system every day, most of the people that come visit us looking for a crepe probably don’t – so a $20 Lovemaker for the winter months probably wouldn’t be welcome or make much sense to our strawberry loving friends.

 

And then there’s the other bottom line. While people love strawberries, our earth probably doesn’t. Strawberries annually top the list of the Environmental Watch Fund’s Dirty Dozen – that is to say industrial strawberry cultivation requires the most pesticide treatment of any fruits or vegetables on the market. Sadly, organic strawberries are not entirely immune to pesticide treatment either. Outside of Vermont’s short 4-6 week strawberry growing season, the rest of the year our berries come from monoculture farms in warm weather states, leading to increased carbon emissions associated with transporting product from there to here. While we are deeply committed to sourcing locally, we are also committed to ensuring our food is accessible to folks who are not as obsessed with local food as we are…so we keep ‘gateway foods’ like strawberries and chocolate hazelnut spread in stock all year round. Until now…

 

Rather than substitute a compote that doesn’t meet everyone’s standards for yum or sell fresh strawberries that do not meet our expectations for environmental, price, or quality standards, we’re pulling them off the menu for now. Yep, that’s right…for the time being, strawberries have been dropped from all our menus. No more Lovemakers, Heartbreakers or Strawberry ShortCrepes. Strawberries will likely find their way back onto our menus once the price and quality of the berry stabilizes, but like we did last year with Nutella, we recognize that we need to find a long-term solution to our less than healthy year-round addiction.

 

How do you break such a popular (and revenue generating) addiction? For starters, we’ve tried our best to reduce our use of strawberries in weekly specials. Also, for the first time this summer and fall, we began to drop Lovemakers and Heartbreakers at mobile vending events in favor of more sustainable and locally available fruits like apples and blueberries.

 

Even more boldly, our Skinny Pancakes in Stowe and Sugarbush will be strawberry free when they open this winter. When you consider the 1,200 Lovemakers we sold in Stowe alone last winter, this was not a decision we made lightly. But, when considering the food system as a whole, the strawberry just isn’t something that should be widely available throughout a Northern Vermont winter, and we decided our menus at ski resorts should paint a more accurate reality.

 

We hope that one day there’s a solution to our seasonal strawberry conundrum that doesn’t disappoint the strawberry lovers of Pancakia, and we’re hopeful that there is. Our ultimate goal is to effectively bridge the gap between consumer’s wishes and the realities of our seasonal food system.  Last year, we were amazed to see how some of our local growers were able to extend the season. We also hold out hope that the local compote we keep stocked in the freezer will become more acceptable on our menus long term. Our northern neighbors in Quebec have been building up their organic strawberry crops, which is a great option during their growing season, and through greenhouses and indoor hydroponics, may one day be able to provide us a reasonably priced organic berry in the winter. But none of these solutions solve the strawberry problem we face today.

 

So, for now, we’ll be eating blueberries. Please, join us. 

Throwing a Curveball!

A curveball is being thrown next weekend by Vermont’s finest band, Phish, and we are lucky enough to be part of it. Seriously people, SERIOUSLY, we are SO excited about this, it’s just silly.

 

It all started this spring when we heard rumors of Phish throwing another magical summer festival at Watkins Glen, the giant speedway in upstate New York. So we reached out to their production team to get in on the fun. They got back to us: “Dream big, let’s do this.”

 

There is the feeling of excited when you’re kind of excited… and then there is a whole other kind of HOLY S#*T THIS IS AWESOME kind of excited that we felt at that moment. So we immediately got to work. We dreamt, we planned, and we collaborated with the best, most creative logistics team we could find. Fast forward to this moment right now, our amazing building team is driving across the great state of New York with 3 huge flatbed trailers full of too many things to describe, which we will be putting together into a 100 seat restaurant complete with shaded hammocks under pergolas, a big beer garden with lawn games and Fiddlehead Brewery suds, as well as a farmer’s market with local organic meats, vegetables and even Jasper Hill Farms cheese.

 

When we say this has been a long time coming for us, we meen a loooooonnnggg time coming. We here in Pancakia are anything but alone in our love for Phish. I believe Winston Churchill once said something like, “Never before was so much awesome created by so few.” OK, he didn’t say that, but you get the point: love for the good time Phish creates goes way back. In the case of Pancakia, it harkens back to one of our first shows: the world famous New Years’ ‘95 Show at Madison Square Garden. 8 years (and many many shows) later, in our first week of operations as a little cart on Church St, bassist Mike Gordon cruised by on his Segway, bought a crepe, and then (we swear) five minutes later cruised by again and bought another. We’d like to think that Mike’s first bites of Skinny goodness still lingered in his memory nearly twenty years later when we got invited to this festival.

 

There is at least one thing that we here at the Skinny would like to think we share in common with Phish: they are through-and-through Vermont. They started here, they love it here, and they work together with other Vermonters like Russ Bennett to share their fun wackiness with the whole world (who else remembers the World’s Largest Cowbell Ensemble?).

 

Fun fact: Phish started playing at Nectars; the first commercial kitchen we ever used was Nectar’s. Burlington had a rich culture and a great music scene before Phish came into the fold, but it is inarguable that their giant cultural contribution is part of why we now punch so far above our weight as a city, both musically and otherwise.

 

Here’s what we can tell you about next weekend: the surprises will never end and the ridiculousness will never stop.  No band could singularly get so many people to come out and keep all of them entertained 24 hours a day. We are lucky to be part of it, and we hope that we can put just a little bit more curve in this year’s curveball. Hope to see you there!

On 4/22, We’re Donating $422 for Lake Champlain, $4.22 At A Time

This upcoming Sunday, 4/22 is Earth Day. Every day is Earth Day, as far as we’re concerned, but Sunday really really is ACTUAL Earth Day. In our crepe-addled minds, we believe Earth Day should be one of the biggest holidays of the year. After all, most holidays are just one country’s holiday, or one religion’s holiday, but Earth Day is everyone’s holiday and this beautiful planet of ours really needs some tender loving care.

 

This Earth Day, we hope you can join us to celebrate and support this one and only planet we have. This year we decided to keep it super local, to a place literally right outside our front door that certainly deserves some attention: the one and only Lake Champlain. This amazingly beautiful body of water is under threat from, among other things, phosphorus, pollution, and surface runoff, and has taken a good 150-year beating from various industrial activities on her shores. Luckily there are some amazing organizations out there trying to help clean up the Lake, and others that help get us out on and around the lake. This Earth Day we’re focusing on the latter.

 

How does getting us out on Lake Champlain help preserve it? The more people choose to hang out in the lake’s glorious embrace, the more they will come to enjoy it, the more they will care to protect it. This year we have decided to focus our support on 2 organizations that get people out on and around Champ’s waters: Local Motion and The Community Sailing Center. For 4/22, we’re giving away up to $422 to these amazing non-profits that love our Lake: for every $10 donated to these groups, we will donate $4.22!

 

Here’s a little bit about what they do and how they help the lake:

 

The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center: this place is like no other. Most cities have an exclusive country club on their shores, but uur great city has a community center that affordably gets people of all ages and income brackets out onto the lake. They offer summer camps, sailing instruction and racing, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, and yoga. They’ve got “Leader Ship” programs for kids, women’s programs, and adaptive sports programs. Lake Champlain is a gift, and the Community Sailing Center makes sure everyone can take part in unwrapping it.  Donate $10 here and we’ll match it with $4.22!

 

 

Local Motion: right now, you may be thinking, OK, Mr. Pancake, you said this was a lake-centered thing, Local Motion is a bike-centered thing.  Bikes don’t go on lakes. Oooohhh but they do, thanks to the good folks at Local Motion. They run the bike ferry across the gap on the Lake Champlain Causeway, making the crucial connection between the Lake Champlain Islands and the Burlington Bike Path. And this is just one spoke in Local Motion’s proverbial wheel: they are among the most prominent advocates for Bike Path rehabilitation, they help businesses become bike-supportive, they help make our streets safely bike-friendly, and they provide valet bike parking at major events all summer. Donate $10 here and we’ll match it with $4.22.

 

 

Combining your love with our love, we’ll raise $1422 for these amazing organizations, $14.22 at a time. Please join us, and from all of us in Pancakia, HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Here’s a Delicious Way You Can Help

 

Support the work of Salvation Farms by ordering some Hash Purples!

Have you tried these deliciously deep-fried wonders? Hash Purples are made with local beets and carrots, a magical rarity in our Vermont food system as they can be enjoyed and stored year round. Among the most nutritious veggies we grow in VT, beets and carrots also showcase the hard work of Salvation Farms, a non-profit working hard to glean, process, store, and redistribute produce to those who need it most.

Last year they gleaned more than 1700 lbs of beautiful beets in the state of Vermont. So to help support their awesome work, we will donate $1 for every order of Hash Purples to Salvation Farms this spring until we have transformed 25% (425 lbs) of their bounty into our delicious fried purple munchies.

So right now, you’re probably thinking: why would hundreds of pounds of quality local food go unsold? The truth is, fresh, wholesome food stays on farms all of the time—and a lot of it. In the US, it is estimated that 10 MILLION TONS (ReFED report) of food is lost on farms annually and more than 14 MILLION POUNDS (SF study) in Vermont alone.

Farms in Vermont experience a booming lush of harvest every summer and fall – sometimes so overwhelming they run out of time to harvest crops like beets, cabbage, and carrots; or they try to sell into an already saturated market. In addition, some produce is simply not pretty enough for retail shelves, “ugly” produce so to speak. With more than 10% of Vermonters living in food insecure households, Salvation Farms saw all this under utilized bounty as an opportunity for change.

Working with volunteers and training a small team of professionals, this scrappy, hardworking organization based out of Morrisville redistributed nearly 200,000 lbs of not perfect, but perfectly good produce from Vermont farms to consumers in 2017. The team gets down and dirty gleaning on farms and also receives produce from farmers and gleaning programs statewide. In a packroom in Winooski, SF washes, organizes, processes and packs produce to distribute to nutritionally insecure Vermonters, working with organizations such as The Vermont Foodbank and the Chittenden County Department of Corrections.

This little team has already fed thousands of people, saved millions of servings of quality produce from remaining uneaten on farms, and helped develop a talented local food workforce of people who might have otherwise had trouble finding work.  All of this has been accomplished by just a 4-person full time team of hard-working visionaries and many, many volunteers. It’s a model for how the country can help feed our citizens, maximize local resources, and support farmers. So, come down to the Skinny Pancake, enjoy some hash purples, and know that $1 of your purchase goes right to a group who will receive every penny of that donation doing amazing work for our environment and our neighbors who need it most.

 

sources:

https://www.hungerfreevt.org/hungerinvermont/

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/american-food-waste/491513/

To learn more about SF and food waste, watch episode 6 of the Local Motive!