Vermont Sail Freight Boat Bringing Good Food To NYC
September 30, 2013

riggingReviving a historic Champlain-Hudson River freight route, The Vermont Sail Freight Project, a new sail-powered transportation company is poised to deliver its first sustainably farmed products to families along the Hudson River in October 2013.

This project is attempting to create a transportation system that reflects the ethos of the farms where the agricultural goods are being produced. The goal is to revitalize our regional food economy through ongoing relationships with family farms and the sailing community, and to share the spoils of this integrated model with citizens all the way along the Champlain-Hudson supply chain creating a carbon-neutral transportation system.

Conceived of and constructed by Vermont rice farmer Erik Andrus, the newly built, crowd-funded sailing barge, Ceres, ferries up to 15 tons of shelf-stable foods. Sailing from the Champlain Valley, Vermont and the Adirondack region to New York City and ports in-between, the boat maximizes windpower over costly and polluting fossil fuels. The forty-foot-long vessel will depart Shoreham, VT on Lake Champlain on October 6 and make landing at several ports along the Hudson River during the three-week, 300-mile journey to New York City.

Carrying forward an honorable history of sail-powered commerce throughout Northeast waterways, Ceres will deliver a cargo of naturally durable and preserved agricultural products that do not require rapid transit down the interstate. This is the abundant niche of staples like potatoes, carrots, garlic, apples and other storage crops, dry beans, flour and rice, herbs, maple syrup, and honey — as well as value-added products such as jams, jellies, pickles and condiments prepared by rurally based, farmer-led co-packer businesses.

Individuals can pre-order 90 different handcrafted, organic and heirloom pantry items from more than 25 small- and medium-scale producers through Good Eggs and follow Ceres’ GPS-tracked progress live on the project’s homepage. New York-based restaurants, retailers and co-ops can place wholesale orders delivered with a bike-powered “last mile” push provided by project partners Revolution Rickshaws.

Public markets in Manhattan (New Amsterdam Market, October 27) will round out the sales campaign with the participation of thousands of food-loving New Yorkers. Public school youth and college students in Vermont and New York will board Ceres to learn about local agriculture, sail transport, and the project’s carbon-neutral mission through educational outreach led by the Willowell Foundation and Greenhorns.

Every day or so during its voyage southward, Ceres will dock at different Cities and Towns along the Hudson, such as Troy, Albany, Hudson, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Becon, Peeksill, Nyack, and Yonkers. A complete docking schedule is available on the project homepage.  For more detailed information, check out the project’s brochure.

NYC Dockside Events include:

  • Party at the Brooklyn Navy Yard – October 26
  • New Amsterdam Market at South St. Seaport – October 27

Contributions are tax-deductible thanks to fiscal sponsorship from the Willowell Foundation.  Please consider making a donation as the Project has encountered some unforeseen last minute expenses with which it could use your assistance.