“Buy a Tree, Plant a Tree” Continues to Grow in 2020

Guest post by the Intervale Center

An Update on Intervale Center Programs and the Annual City Market COTS Tree Sale

2020 marks the third season for one of our favorite and fast-growing holiday initiatives, Buy a Tree, Plant a Tree. For every tree sold at City Market’s annual COTS tree sale this year, not only will your purchase raise critical funds for the Committee on Temporary Shelter, but City Market will also purchase a tree from the Intervale Center’s Conservation Nursery to be planted in Vermont in 2021. In this way, when you buy a tree from City Market this year, your purchase is both supporting our community members in need and protecting our environment at the same time!

To date, Buy a Tree, Plant a Tree has planted 610 trees at seven different locations around Vermont in sensitive drainage areas to improve water quality, fight erosion, sequester carbon, and create wildlife habitat. New this year, the sale will happen at both the Downtown and South End City Market locations, allowing even more trees to be planted as a result. The sale will run from Wednesday December 2nd through Saturday, December 5th at the Downtown Store, and will begin Friday December 4th at the South End store and run as long as supplies last.


Volunteers build fascines with the Intervale Conservation Nursery in October 2020 to establish shrub willow and fight erosion along streambanks in Vermont

The Intervale Center has been operating its Conservation Nursery since 2002 and is located on Intervale Road in Burlington. At large, the Center is a farm and food organization with a mission to strengthen community food systems, and its Conservation Nursery is exclusively dedicated to growing native trees and shrubs for riparian restoration projects in Vermont to protect our state’s precious natural resources. Trees are grown organically and rely on a dedicated group of volunteers each year, including many City Market Member Workers. In addition to growing trees, the Intervale Conservation Nursery also leads planting projects for riparian buffer zones and storm water management projects.


Musician Hayley Jane performs during the Spirit of Summervale livestream in August 2020, one of many Covid-adapted events produced by the Intervale Center to raise critical funds to support the Intervale Conservation Nursery and accompanying programs.

About the Intervale Center and its Pivot in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic:

Founded with the radical vision to reclaim agriculturally significant land along the Winooski River for new, community-based farm and land enterprises, the Intervale Center manages a model 340-acre campus and delivers agricultural and conservation programming across Vermont. Their Burlington property is home to commercial organic farms, community gardens, hiking trails, conservation areas, and a host of Intervale Center-led programs and enterprises. Their impact radiates out on many fronts; they grow and plant native trees for watershed restoration, provide business planning and other technical assistance to Vermont farms, deliver local food, conduct market research, connect families with healthy food, and help other organizations leverage their expertise statewide and nationally. 

Since the beginning, the Center has put forward the best ideas in sustainable agriculture and conservation, spearheading the development of commercial-scale composting, living machines, farm business incubation, food hubs, riparian restoration services, and food rescue. They continue to push forward food and farming innovations as together we face local and global challenges related to climate change, food insecurity, environmental decline, diet related illness, and struggling rural economies.


The conservation nursery operates alongside a broad range of Intervale Center programs designed to strengthen local food systems.

That innovative, community-centered spirit has never been more apparent than this year, as the Center has responded to the needs of our community during the pandemic in dozens of ways. They expanded their online retail and home delivery food enterprise to serve more people. They developed and implemented new food access programming to support laid off restaurant and service workers. Their agricultural service providers also leapt into action, supporting over 100 farms throughout Vermont as they adjusted their businesses to account for diminished restaurant accounts and the need to retrofit operations to enable physical distancing. 

They also had to develop ways to safely continue to operate their conservation programs, harvesting, propagating and planting trees to combat climate change. As in years past, the Center was happy to plant trees purchased by City Market as part of the COTS tree sale partnership; however, this year, instead of holding a big community planting day, the Center distributed trees to partners and landowners across Vermont who safely planted them along rivers, streams and culverts, creating over two acres of new forest!


Nursery crew member Christine poses with one of the trees they raised from native seedstock and planted at one of the seven planting sites in Spring 2020.

The Intervale itself saw record numbers of visitors, as people looked for recreational opportunities close to home. Open 365 days a year, the Center encourages you to come down for a walk, bike ride or ski, even as the weather gets colder. Though this year has been tremendously challenging, it has also demonstrated just how essential the Center’s work is to ensuring a just and sustainable food system. They are tremendously grateful to have the support of many community members, who recognize the value the Center brings to Burlington and beyond. Thank you for rounding up in December to support the Center’s work sustaining farms, land and people!