The annual apple-picking season — one that ran particularly long this fall — is winding down at apple orchards across Vermont. This year’s season saw near-perfect weather conditions, with mid-October and early November still seeing warm enough temperatures for fruits to thrive, as well as a significant number of apple-pickers — enough for an extended season.
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Last Thursday, Nov. 4, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, in collaboration with the Regional Planning Commission, held a public meeting to discuss truck traffic in the town of Vergennes and the surrounding area. All participants in the meeting received a handout detailing the Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) Study that aims to address the truck traffic problem and explore alternative transportation and planning options.
“Petite Maman,” the latest movie in the Hirschfield International Film Series, uses a minimalist approach to tell a poignant story of family and friendship bound through loss and love. The film opens in a nursing home, with the camera following closely behind a child as she says goodbye to each resident of the building. The viewer follows her until she finally enters an empty room and approaches a young woman, her mother, taking down the family’s personal effects from the room. The girl then sits on the empty hospital bed, unable to say goodbye to this last person.
With a year and a half of instruction amid an ever-changing environment under their belt, the Addison Central School district is back to in-person classes for pre-K through twelfth grade. But according to Laurie Ballantine, administrative assistant at Cornwall Elementary School in Cornwall, Vt., policies remain strict throughout the district in order to best “stop the spread.” Students are required to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking, out at recess or sitting six feet apart outside of the classroom. In addition to this mask policy, there are policies limiting visitors in Addison Central schools. “In normal times, you’d have … parents coming in the building to drop off lunches or pick students up,” said Justin Campbell, principal at Middlebury Union High School (MUHS). However, with Covid-19 regulations in place, the building is closed to outside visitors aside from essential workers such as electricians. The school also has contact tracing protocols in place so that, should an outbreak occur, they will hopefully be able to minimize its severity. “Students sign in and out of classrooms, and we know where students are sitting in the lunchroom, for example,” Campbell said. These policies remain similar to those of the previous year. This could largely be attributed to the fact that vaccines are not yet available to most elementary school students. Nevertheless, there are considerable changes that have taken place in the 2021-22 school year. In the previous school year, Addison County schools relied on cohorted instruction to limit the spread of Covid-19. “The grades 7-12 were subdivided into two cohorts that met in-person two times a week and were remote three times a week,” Ballantine said. The youngest pre-K students were similarly divided into cohort groups but met in person four times a week. Finally, grades K-6 were in person five times a week, but significant measures were put in place to minimize disease spread. “[Students] were not allowed to remove masks unless they were eating. [Masks] were required to remain on even at recess,” Ballantine said. Policies regarding school events are still subject to change, and the schools plan to hold events for the student body when they can, even though the format of these events might look quite different from previous years. At MUHS, Campbell noted that the school holds indoor dances in normal years. This year, during homecoming weekend, there was an outdoor bonfire instead of a dance. There is also an air of uncertainty regarding athletic events as winter approaches. This fall season, MUHS athletic teams were required to play their games outdoors, although the fall sports, who already play outside, were unaffected. As winter approaches, the schools will have to deal with the logistics of hosting indoor sports. Some considerations include whether the school should allow fans to attend games or institute mask policies at matches. Campbell noted that, while school-wide events are happening this semester, most will have to be conducted outside. At Cornwall Elementary and other schools throughout the district, Ballantine noted that they plan to organize school-wide events this year but are following state guidelines for extracurricular activities. While vaccinations are not available to a significant portion of the student body in the Addison Central School District, schools are working toward implementing strategies to increase vaccinations for those eligible and develop knowledge of who is vaccinated. MUHS has organized and continues to run vaccination clinics for both the student population and local community. Campbell notes that the Vermont Agency of Education and Health Department has outlined a “self-attestation policy” in which the schools can gather input from students and their parents or guardians on their vaccination status. ”We’re getting a better sense of who among our student population is vaccinated,” Campbell said. At the superintendent level, there is an evaluation in progress of faculty and staff vaccination status. While there is currently no vaccination requirement for staff, Campbell suspects one might be implemented in the near future. Ballantine hopes that there might be a return to normal in the future but said that, for the time being, measures must be taken to keep students safe. “We are following the guidelines from the CDC and the Educational Department for the State of Vermont,” Ballantine said. As for MUHS, there are ongoing meetings taking place to evaluate the impacts of the evolving pandemic. A district-wide group composed of administrators, nursing and support staff, teachers and union representatives come together monthly to look at data and state guidelines to respond effectively to changes. ”If conditions change one way or the other in some dramatic fashion, we’d have to respond,” Campbell said.
Three new businesses have arrived on Merchants Row in downtown Middlebury, including the Little Seed Coffee, new locations for Berkshire Hathaway Realty - Vermont Realty Group and the food spot Juice Amour, which was previously located in East Middlebury. Merchants Row’s central location provides its shops with heavy foot traffic, which has become even more important for local businesses during the ongoing economic downturn. Shops on Merchants Row are also frequented by college students, since the street is within walking distance of campus, making the location a significant draw for new establishments. Little Seed Coffee occupies 24 Merchants Row, and its owners Anthony and Maggie Gerakos are avid coffee roasters who lived in Brooklyn just last year. The couple began roasting coffee beans a few years ago on a small sample roaster, a move which set plans in motion to launch a coffee shop. Maggie Gerakos indicated that the pandemic sped up the timeline of opening Little Seed Coffee but ultimately expressed that it has paid off. “We really loved the community of Middlebury and how supportive everyone has been here,” she said. While Little Seed Coffee does not officially open until Oct. 2, it is already buzzing with pre-opening activity. As the Gerakoses prepare each day by hiring new employees, working with contractors, amassing a variety of coffee beans and creating merchandise, they make an effort to embrace the locals who walk by. “We’ve had people in the neighborhood sort of wandering around . . . we’d be around to answer them as best as possible about what we’re planning to do,” Anthony Gerakos said. “We’re hoping [Little Seed] will be a really nice spot for the community of Middlebury,” Maggie Gerakos said. The location has two floors, and the Gerakos plan to use each space differently. The couple intends to fill the upstairs space with music, and customers will be able to chat and purchase coffee there. The downstairs will have room for two long communal tables and is meant to be a quiet space where students and working professionals can gather. The couple hopes to do community outreach through their “You Sip, We Give” program. This program will involve donating 5% of the shop’s quarterly proceeds to small nonprofits based in the communities that their beans originate from. Since Little Seed Coffee plans to change the coffee beans it offers every few months, the Gerakos plan to give back to multiple communities. “That way, we can support not only the [coffee] farmers but their communities at large,” Maggie Gerakos said. At 32 Merchants Row, Brokers Neil and Sue Mackey partnered with several real estate agents to open a branch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Vermont Realty Group in mid-July. Berkshire Hathaway - Vermont Realty Group has gone through several changes throughout its almost fifty-year history in Vermont. Started in 1972 by Jack Russell in his home in Georgia, Vermont, the group was originally called Jack Associates and was part of the Century 21 franchise. In March 2020, the group changed its name to Vermont Realty Group and switched to partner with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Having been with the Century 21 franchise since the inception of [Jack Associates], it was somewhat of a difficult decision,” said Neil Mackey. “I think [the Russells] have been very pleased with the change.” Mackey himself started his own real estate company in Middlebury in 1986, which was later acquired by Jack Associates in the early 2000s. Over the course of the pandemic, real estate has been subject to plenty of changes and adjustments. Due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, some out-of-state buyers have been unable to look at properties in person, instead relying on associates at Berkshire Hathaway to do video tours of properties. These changes have also led to many out of staters buying property in Middlebury and the greater state of Vermont. “We’re seeing a tremendous influx of out-of-state people coming in and buying property in Vermont right now,” Mackey said. Although Juice Amour currently has a store in Middlebury on Route 7, owner Sheri Bedard is moving her Middlebury store to a more downtown location at 16 Merchants Row. Bedard opened the business with her father, Jack Bedard. Juice Amour serves juices, smoothies and vegan food, which, according to the Addison Independent, aligns with Bedard’s values, as she is a vegan. According to Juice Amour’s website, “creating nutritious, delicious, beautiful and accessible food to our community is at the core of everything we do.” The business buys their produce from organic farmers in Vermont, and juices are served and delivered in glass jars that can be reused when brought back into the shop. Juice Amour also uses “100% compostable single use items'' to eliminate waste and plastic usage, according to its website. Bedard hopes to open Juice Amour’s new location on Merchants Row on Oct. 1, the Addison County Independent reported. The three businesses join six others that are set to open their doors in Middlebury within the next year, including an ice cream parlor, a climbing gym and an art supply store.
In between semesters, many students chose to spend their summers on campus, providing the perfect chance to enjoy Middlebury without having to endure the harsh weather and harsher workload. After being online during the summer of 2020, many of the Middlebury Language Schools were back in person this year, making campus all the more vibrant with multilingual students. Many students also chose to work on campus, helping to keep the campus up and running over the summer, whether it was at the gym, the library or the dining hall. Reika Herman ’24 attended the French language school for the majority of the summer. Herman spent her time diligently studying French, taking up to four classes each weekday. In addition to studying, she was a participant in the French School Choir. “Weekends were mostly spent in town with other French students or going to the French school dances at Wilson Hall,” Herman said. She was one of more than a hundred Language School students to call the Middlebury campus home for the summer. In addition, some students stayed on campus due to travel restrictions or logistical difficulties that barred them from international travel. One such student was Angela Izi ’24. Izi worked five times a week in Proctor Dining Hall, serving language school students from late June, when the program started, until it ended August 13. “I had a great time just meeting the nice people that were there and being able to help the language students that were on campus,” she said. For Izi, summer at Middlebury meant time to explore and become more familiar with a place that she had not fully gotten to know. “I didn’t have any host family. Because of Covid, we never really got to do that for international students,” Izi said. She used her time on campus this summer to become more acclimated to the college. Izi also had free time to explore the town of Middlebury and the surrounding area, something she was not able to do this past year because she studied remotely in the fall and was too busy in the spring. “I managed to find a circle of friends that I hung out with the whole summer, and we did a lot of exploring around Midd,” she said. The group spent their time biking to the East Middlebury Gorge and down Weybridge Street. Izi was also able to explore Burlington for the first time. Other students used time over the summer to gain experience working and volunteering. Abed Abbas ’24 stayed on campus over the summer due to the present economic and political circumstances back home in Lebanon. “I wanted to make use of the summer to grow and get some experience,” he said. Abbas worked as a student intern in the Disability Resource Center and as a lab assistant in the stock room of Bicentennial Hall. In addition to working forty hours a week, Abbas volunteered to work in Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Clarissa Parker’s lab for ten hours a week, helping with research on the effects of withdrawal on mice. Abbas experienced an ever-changing social scene that was unlike the past school year. “It was kind of boring at the beginning, as not everyone was here yet,” he said. But once the language school students arrived on campus in mid-June, the campus was much more vibrant. “It was much easier to focus on the close relationships and friendships after the work is done, which was totally different than last semester,” he said. For some students who spent their summer at Middlebury, it was time to explore the area and focus on gaining non-academic experiences, while others devoted themselves to language learning or work while getting to know Vermont and the campus better.
Sugaring, the process of creating maple syrup, started around three weeks later this year than is typical for the industry. As a result, there has been a 50–70% drop in maple syrup production throughout Vermont and southern Canada. “This year, we didn’t collect any sap until the third week of March because it was really cold,” said Donald Gale, owner-operator of Twin Maple Sugarworks. The sugaring season is usually only about three weeks long, and sugarers usually collect an average of 7,000 to 9,000 gallons of maple syrup per day. The starting date of sap collection depends heavily on temperature. “It all has to be done early in the spring or late winter when the sap is at its richest sugar, because as the season progresses later into spring, the trees are starting to grow and they’re demanding a different kind of solution from their stored reserves,” said John Buck, principal operator of Buck Family Maple Farm. As the sugar content drops out of the syrup, tapping the tree will yield more of a mineral-rich water solution that cannot be boiled to produce maple syrup.The flow of sap out of the tree depends on the right combination of colder nights, warmer days and a certain amount of pressure in the atmosphere. Due to cold winter conditions, the sugar content was lower in this year than previous years, which made processing the sap less efficient. In a typical year, one gallon of maple syrup requires about 40 to 45 gallons of sap. This year, it required closer to 65 gallons. Gale stated that sugaring also started late in 2016. In that year, the production extended almost until May due to ideal weather conditions. This year, however, the sugaring window remained short. Since the maple industry is heavily seasonal, some maple producers like Murray Thompson of Thompson Farm have decided to run other wintertime operations. “Now I do some other things like Christmas trees and pumpkins and raspberries, and I cut a lot of hay and sell it,” Thompson said. Buck uses leftover maple syrup from the previous spring to put in glass jars and sell as Christmas presents during the holiday season as his alternative source of revenue. Once the maple syrup has been processed, many maple producers sell their products all over the country. “Some of my best customers are actually in Alaska, the West Coast, Colorado,” Gale said. However, there are also some producers who prefer to sell locally. “We sell [maple syrup] right here throughout the year to customers that I have,” Gale said. He typically cans some of the maple syrup each year, allowing him to decide later on what to do with it. While he mentioned that selling syrup in bulk is not his intention, sometimes there is too much syrup left at the end of the season so he connects with a wholesaler to get rid of the extra drums. “It’s always good to make enough syrup so that you don’t have to turn customers away,” Gale said. Similarly, much of the maple syrup produced at Buck Family Maple Farm is sold in organic farmers markets throughout Vermont, as well as to wholesalers who use that maple syrup to produce jugs sold in stores. Buck says that many maple producers feel they were destined to work in the maple industry given familial connections and childhood memories associated with making maple syrup. While working in the maple industry is “not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means,” as Buck says, making maple products has provided many of these maple producers opportunities to connect with their families as well as an outlet to continue working with what they love. “It’s a labor of love,” Buck said.
Vermont Coffee Company, supplier of coffee to the college, is being sold to Stonewall Kitchen, a large specialty-food company based in Maine. It currently operates a cafe in downtown Middlebury and has product distributors throughout the Northeast. Middlebury resident Paul Ralston established the coffee company in 2001. He has been looking to sell Vermont Coffee Company for the past three years and has been committed to putting together a succession team to manage the company before he fully retires. Ralston plans to stay with the company throughout the company’s adjustment to the new management. Over the past year and a half, he has trained and integrated two senior management hires into Vermont Coffee Company to ensure he will be leaving the business in good hands. Stonewall Kitchen leadership cited Vermont Coffee Company’s prioritization of sustainable business practices over the past few years as one of the reasons behind its acquisition. In April 2018, Vermont Coffee Company became the first roaster in the United States to exclusively use renewable biogas as its energy source to roast its coffee. “The Vermont Coffee Company products are sustainably sourced, 100% organic and — most importantly — make a delicious cup of coffee. We believe these deeply rooted values and commitment to quality make Vermont Coffee Company the perfect addition to our family,” said Stonewall CEO John Stiker in an interview with the Addison Independent. Ralston is hopeful that selling to Stonewall Kitchen will benefit the Middlebury community as well as the town’s economy. “We’re going to be busy and growing; there’s no question about it. And we’re going to be hiring,” Ralston said. Stonewall plans on opening a new, larger cafe in downtown Middlebury. As a leader in the world of organic coffee roasting with a large potential to grow in popularity over the next decade, Vermont Coffee Company garnered a number of offers in addition to Stonewall’s, according to Ralston. However, the sale to Stonewall was an easy decision. “Vermont Coffee Company is going to have access to a lot more resources and a much bigger distribution network,” Ralston said to the Addison Independent. The current Vermont Coffee Company cafe in downtown Middlebury is temporarily closed. Ralston’s primary role for the upcoming months is to develop the new cafe in a location yet to be determined, which he is hopeful will open in the fall of 2021.
With the Nov. 21 move out date just around the corner, all students but those approved to remain on campus are getting ready to pack up and leave campus. Whether you are planning to take the spring semester off, return to campus or are still undecided, The Campus has compiled a move-out guide outlining the protocols for departure this week. Remote or gap semester students Students who do not plan to return in the spring must fully move out of their residential space, meaning they must pack up everything in their room, suite or house and take it with them. Any students who are in need of packing supplies can find them near the Mail Center, in the Ridgeline Suites building, in Forest West and all dining halls. Students returning for spring Students living in singles — including those located in suites — who plan to remain in the same room in the spring may leave all their belongings in their rooms. Students living in doubles who plan to return in the spring must move their belongings off the floor and onto one side of the room — either onto their bed or desk — and away from all heaters, windows and exits. Each roommate should label their bed, desk and side of the room with their name, ID number, residence hall, room number and phone number to better organize and keep track of each student’s items. Any belongings, including larger items, in shared common spaces should also be labeled. Changing rooms If students are changing rooms for the spring semester, they should move their belongings to their new room. If this is not possible, students should fully pack and label all of their belongings and leave them in their current rooms. Students unsure of their plans Holly Ange, Battell and Allen residence director, said students who are unsure of their spring plans should pack and move out, since residential life is not yet sure how they will handle belongings that are left behind. “For students who think there’s any chance they might decide later on to go remote for spring, I recommend that they take as many of their belongings home with them, as they can to ensure that they’re able to access what they would need if they don’t return,” Ange said. General Move-Out Protocol Every student who is moving out must clean their room or suite before leaving, including disposing of all trash, recycling and compost. Vacuums and other cleaning supplies are available in each building’s designated areas. Additionally, all students must lock and shut their windows, pull down their shades, unplug all unused or nonessential small appliances and remove all their personal items from bathrooms. Students should set their room thermostat to the middle setting (any thermostats that range from “snowflake” to 8 must be set to 4), to prevent pipes from freezing. Students should bring all plants and pets with them. Students must also follow any additional building-specific closing or checkout procedures communicated by their Residential Director, including filling out closing tags left on residents doors by signing with the date and time they are leaving and checking the boxes indicating that they have followed all moving-out measures. Off-campus students The college recommends that off-campus students follow many of the same procedures as those who are on-campus, including taking out all trash, washing dishes, moving trash cans, bikes and furniture inside, as well as locking all doors and windows. Pick-up and departure logistics All students will need to leave by 8 p.m. on Nov. 21, unless they have received direct permission from the school to remain longer. At that time ID card access to residence halls will be deactivated. Students may have a maximum of two guests pick them up from campus. These guests cannot enter residence halls, must stay with their cars and are required to follow Vermont Covid-19 guidelines, including wearing a face covering. Vermont guidelines also stipulate that visitors must quarantine at home for two weeks before entering the state. Parents picking up their college students are exempted as long as they make no contact with anyone in the state. If a day trip is not possible, they may stay overnight in the state only if they quarantine at their hotel.
Restaurants and access to food in Vermont have both been notably altered by the Covid-19 pandemic: restaurant revenue has declined, resulting in layoffs, and food insecurity now affects one in four Vermonters. In order to mitigate both of these concerns, Vermont put into place Everyone Eats, a temporary program started in July to distribute free meals to food-insecure households at dozens of sites around the state. The meals are prepared by local restaurants, which receive funds to purchase ingredients from Vermont farms and food producers. The program, run by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in partnership with Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), is funded by a $5 million portion of the state’s Covid-19 Relief Fund. SEVCA is responsible for allocating the funding and administering it to the program’s hubs. Charlie DiPrinzio ’21 is a coordinator for the Rutland “hub” of this program, which is run through the Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC). The center began distributing over 800 meals per week in late August, according to the VFFC’s website. There are currently nine restaurants associated with the Rutland hub of this program. DiPrinzio noted that the mission of the Everyone Eats program is not only to help “people who have been impacted by Covid-19, whether that’s financially impacted or emotionally or physically” but also to help by “providing some steady income to restaurants that have been struggling, and injecting more money into the local economy,” because of the program requirement that the meals include 10% local food. Everyone Eats has seen significant success throughout Vermont. The coalition of local food shelves, shelters, other service providers, businesses, community groups and private citizens working in partnership with SEVCA is producing and distributing 11,000 meals per week, according to their website. While DiPrinzio noted that college restrictions requiring students to stay within Addison County have kept him from going into the Rutland community to see success at those restaurants firsthand, he says that the Rutland hub of this program has been collecting positive feedback from those picking up meals. One catering business in particular, Mamma Tamara, cucina Italiana, has benefited significantly from its involvement in Everyone Eats. Tamara Musto, owner of the business, joined Everyone Eats in order to minimize the impacts that Covid-19 has had on her business. “Business slowed down a lot because of Covid. I used to be at the market in Rutland, and we had to shut down, so basically my business shut down too,” she said. Musto’s situation is one that many other restaurant owners across Vermont and the country can relate to, as their primary sources of income are put to a halt. Musto has been working with BROC Community Action, a nonprofit in Rutland helping with food security, and Everyone Eats in order to build up her catering business again, aiming to soon open her own deli. “I started to do the markets, and they give me a little help, and [I receive] love from people around, but the big push that I had with Everyone Eats really helped with making my dream come true,” Musto said. She’ll be opening her deli on Nov. 13 in Danby, Vt. DiPrinzio makes sure to pass these comments on to the state funders to let them know how beneficial this program is. He says that although funding is set to expire in mid-December, administrators of the program are working to extend it, which requires legislative action. DiPrinzio notes that since the hubs of this program have known all along that Everyone Eats is a temporary program, they have been trying to provide information and connect the beneficiaries of the meals with existing food programs and resources in Vermont, including 3SquaresVT and other food security programs that can help with food access. It is hard to say what the future will look like for DiPrinzio’s hub of Everyone Eats, but despite uncertainty, the program is focused on achieving their goals of stimulating the economy and helping food-insecure families and restaurants.
Like nearly all campus operations, the process for picking up packages from the mail center this year has been altered to comply with social distancing protocols. This fall, the pick-up location was moved entirely to the warehouse, although envelopes and small packages can still be retrieved from students’ mailboxes in McCullough Student Center. In a normal year, package pick-up would be split between the warehouse and the mail center in McCullough during the beginning months of the academic year. The typical system for package pick-up in the McCullough mail center did not allow for proper social distancing, according to Jacki Galenkamp, the mail center supervisor. Students usually form a line that extends from the pick-up window and runs parallel to the wall of mailboxes. “If you were to have to do that six feet apart, it could definitely be problematic,” Galenkamp said. Moving package pick-up to the warehouse allows for proper social distancing outside. At the beginning of every academic year, the mail center receives a high volume of packages as students order dorm room and school supplies. Last year, the mail center received about 30,000 packages in the first two months of school, according to Galenkamp. “The warehouse is [normally] open for about the first month of school, because we get between 1,000 and 1,500 packages a day and a lot of those are large items,” Galenkamp said. But this year, the mail center has been receiving fewer packages than other years, possibly because of the abbreviated in-person semester and instructions for students to pack lightly. The new package pick-up location has some benefits for the mail center staff and the package delivery staff. The loading dock, where packages are dropped off by mail carriers, is located near the warehouse, making transporting the packages easier. “To have all of the packages being processed in one space has definitely been a very positive thing because we don’t have to split our work,” Galenkamp said. Additionally, the warehouse is not near other sources of crowding. This is in contrast with the mail center, which is near the Grille, Crossroads and Midd Xpress. The transition to the warehouse has been smooth, according to Katie Wilmore ’23, a student worker at the mail center. “We are essentially doing the same thing but in a bigger space,” Wilmore said. Eventually, package pick-up may have to move back inside McCullough since the warehouse does not have insulation for the colder months. ”We had a couple of days when it was frozen overnight, where we had some issues with the computers,” Galenkamp said. As the weather turns colder, Galenkamp is hopeful that adjustments can be made to keep computers in the warehouse running so the mail center staff can continue to operate from the warehouse. “Our number one priority is to be safe and to get everything done in a timely manner,” Galenkamp said. “We thought we were gonna be moving back [to McCullough], but if the weather holds, there’s no reason that we have to, so, we’ll see.”