Raap went on to create a nonprofit that guided the transformation of 350 acres into an award-winning model of sustainability with a dozen farms and 150 community garden plots; a conservation nursery and gleaning project; incubator and business programs that have supported over 100 Vermont farms; and a Food Hub, a CSA of sorts, which coordinates year-round weekly deliveries between two dozen farms and customers at more than 20 area workplaces. Starting this fall, for about $20 a week students at the University of Vermont can get deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Food Hub too.
The rich soil now produces 1 million pounds of fresh produce annually, many bushels of which make their way into local schools and to Burlington’s emergency food shelf. The Intervale’s success has inspired similar projects from North Carolina to Montana. “Many older cities on or near rivers have these fertile floodplains where you’re not allowed to build,” says Raap, “and they could be used to grow food.”