As regular readers know, we are a big proponent of agriculture as a means of breathing new life into Northern New England towns. So, a few days ago we made our first trip to Pete’s Greens Good Eats CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) of which we recently became members of. While they are technically located in Craftsbury, Vermont, Pete’s Greens is part of the broader agricultural movement based in Hardwick, Vermont.
The Hardwick agricultural movement is best described by The Center for an Agricultural Economy located in downtown Hardwick:
Increasingly as the weaknesses of the global industrial food system are revealed, the Hardwick region and the State of Vermont have rediscovered the possibility of remaking the state’s own food system.
In 2004, the CAE adopted a unique, entrepreneurial driven-approach to supporting sustainable agriculture, reinforced by the innovative opportunities community leaders in the region were creating.
Our vision is to support the desire of rural communities to rebuild their economic and ecological health by building upon local tradition and innovative, thoughtful opportunities.
Our mission is to bring together the community resources and programs needed to develop a locally-based, sustainable, healthy and regional food system.
Among some of the town’s players, and CAE boardmembers, are:
- Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organics
- Andy Kehler, Jasper Hill Farm
- Andrew Meyer, Vermont Soy & Vermont Natural Coating
- Pete Johnson, Pete’s Greens (see link above)
- Tom Gilbert, Highfields Institute
- Neil Urie, Bonnieview Farm
- Annie Gaillard, Buffalo Mountain Coop
- Linda Ramsdell, Galaxy Bookstore & Claire’s Resturant
- Johanna Laggis, Laggis Brothers Farm
The economic synergies these folks have created in Hardwick is amazing. You can also see the difference it is making even in the downtown area of Hardwick (as shown in the photo above, also see Hardwick, Vermont town picture gallery). So clearly an agricultural-focused initiative can also be the catalyst for saving the towns and villages of Northern New England.
Yet, the question still remains . . . can the Hardwick business model be successfully transplanted to other towns? Is Hardwick the product of rare-breed entrepreneurs that, through good fortune, happened to congregate in one area? To the best of our knowledge, these questions have not yet been answered. Who will be the next Hardwick?
If anyone knows the answer to that final question, especially replication in another town, please leave a comment. In the meantime, check of the book by Ben Hewitt that first chronicled the Hardwick model . . .