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Its interesting how much karma and sustainable development have in common in their denitions. Karma is dened as the sum of a persons actions in this and previous states of existence viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. Sustainable development is dened as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Both terms view our actions now as dictating the future. While Cabot farms have been operating under this understanding for generations it took a special meeting in 2007 to take the company to the next level. Cabot was used to elding the question of whether the cooperative was sustainable but when the Vice President of Sales relayed a customer question What is your sustainability plan the team took pause and exchanged a couple glances. This was an entirely dier- ent question and they knew that they did not yet have language for an answer. Within the year sustainability became an important focus. Cabot began work in 2007 with Manomet and others to develop a more specic sustainability program. In 2008 Agri-Mark created the new position of Director of Sustainability and lled it with Cabot veteran Jed Davis. Davis led the company to new partners including Manomet to develop Agri-Marks sustainability plan. Agri-Mark was attracted to Manomets breadth of workespecially with foresters and forest companies on sustainability. As Davis says In the Northern Forest nd a forester and more often than not youve found a dairy farmer too. By 2009 Agri-Mark Manomet and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy had created a comprehensive national-level toolthe Vital Capital Index VCI and Toolkit for Dairy Agriculture that measures the econom- ic social and environmental sustainability of farmsthe so-called triple bottom line. Agri-Mark had an initial goal of 75 of the 1200 member farms completing VCI Level 1Awareness which gauges the level of under- standing and willingness to engage on sustainability top- ics. Well they far exceeded that goal with 96 or 1158 farms participating today. There are a total of four Levels in the VCI with the remaining three being Practicesmaking changes to be more sustainable Performancemeasuring the impact and eciency of those changes and Sustainability ensuring these changes can be successful in the long- term and meet the triple bottom line test. Being successful in meeting the triple bottom line means that the farm is an economically thriving viable business the social wellbeing of farm workers and the community is high with healthy work conditions livable wages and the community enjoying the farms presence and the environment around the farm is stable with clean water air and healthy soils. WHY START WITH AWARENESS SHOULDNT THEY BE MEASURING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS Before the end vision can be realized there must be a strong start. As Davis put it You cant have the starting point be outcome measures with farms being expected to dive right into performance you have to start with awareness and engagement because you get further in the long-term by building understanding and commitment upfront. Davis went on to explain that this is where Manomet really shined by showing us they understood how to meet farmers where they are and creating a sus- tainability tool tailored for us as their partner. Its been ve years since the launch of the pilot and the project is about to enter Level 2Practices. However VCI is in its third overall version 3.0. With the imple- mentation of 2.0 the project added on-line participation. Agri-Mark outtted each of its 20 eld sta with iPads to take to the 75-100 individual farms each serves. A little bit of technical assistance goes a long way informed Andy Whitman of Manomet. In version 3.0 farms can now participate incremen- tally giving them the ability to adapt the VCI toolkit for where they are in their sustainability journey. This is a long-term process and this is a tool that can spark con- tinuous improvement remarked Davis. The VCI covers 12 topics that are globally relevant. As the project moves into Level 2Practices the par- Mark Duffy at Great Brook Farm State Park WINTER 2014 MANOMET PARTNERSHIPS 5