Ellen Ecker Ogden of Manchester Village, founder of the Cook’s Garden seed catalogue and former member of the Vermont Cheese Council, has been writing for a while — she has a gardening book coming up from publisher Stewart, Tabori & Chang. But a new food magazine, Vermont Field to Table, is giving her a chance to explore the other side of the process. “It’s my first job as an editor,” she explains. “I’ve been involved in the Vermont food scene for 30 years. Being able to tap into the network of people I really know and respect and bringing their voices together is exciting for me.”
Each free quarterly issue will coalesce around a single Vermont-agriculture-related theme chosen by Ogden. The first one, a 52-pager that hits streets in July, focuses on greens. “It’s the ‘salad bowl issue,’” Ogden says. “If Vermont had a signature food it would probably be greens … it has such a perfect climate for growing [them].”
The pages will include pieces by Jared and Heather McDermott, owners of Vermont Herb & Salad Company, and Matt Hastings, chef at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth. Of Hastings, Ogden says, “He’s going to write about what it’s like to be a chef and receive vegetables from farmers. How he educates staff [about local ingredients] and comes up with a menu.”
Wanna know what to put on those greens? The “Rate It” column, in which foods are evaluated by a taster, will deal with the plethora of locally made salad dressings. “I think we have more salad dressing companies than any other state per capita,” Ogden guesses.
As she prepares for an initial print run of 25,000, Ogden says she’s not concerned about competition from more established area food mags such as Edible Green Mountains and Local Banquet. Her writers are under 35, she points out, and her target audience is into “food for real people, not so much into the high-end white tablecloth. As far as I’m concerned,” Ogden continues, “there’s no such thing as competition when it comes to local publications writing about food. We’re trying to figure out what the gaps are that we can fill in. We want to get at the ground level rather than skimming the surface; we want the behind the scenes.”