Vermont's Local Banquet began in 2007 with Meg Lucas and Barbi Schreiber. They wanted to create a publication dedicated to providing a meeting place for Vermont's farmers, producers, and food artisans. . .and those who enjoy eating and supporting locally grown food. The idea of "localvores" had become popular in Vermont, diners taking challenges to eat only food grown with in 100 miles of their homes. It was an educational tool, but it also spoke to a new wave of consumers who wanted to use their daily lives to shape a stronger local food system and connect with their community's farmers. Local Banquet could be a vehicle for exploring Vermont's vibrant food and farm world with articles that took a close look at agriculture, while speaking to a broad audience.
For its first decade, Local Banquet was distributed quarterly to drop off points around Vermont as a print publication, complemented by an online site with local food information. Carrie Abels, a journalist (and now a sheep farmer!) served as editor through most of those years. Carrie worked with writers at all experience levels to help craft thoughtful, professional articles for the magazine. Her writer corps included both freelancers and practitioners working in different parts of the food system, farmers, chefs, specialty food makers, and people working in the nonprofit sector to support local agriculture.
At the end of 2017, Meg and Barbi decided they wanted to move on to new projects, while Carrie had a farm to start in upstate New York. The local foods movement in Vermont had grown and changed considerably, as had the world of publishing. A print magazine no longer seemed financially feasible while the costs of digital production, including the opportunity for multimedia pieces, had come down considerably.
Helen Labun, a longtime writer for Local Banquet, took over the magazine in 2018 to continue it as a digital publication. The site was rebuilt and relaunched in the summer of 2018.
Local Banquet Today
The mission of Local Banquet remains much the same as when it began in 2007. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.