New ex­hibit opens—Plow­ing Old Ground: Ver­mont’s Or­ganic Farm­ing Pioneers

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS -

Plow­ing Old Ground: Ver­mont’s Or­ganic Farm­ing is a new ex­hibit at the Ver­mont His­tory Mu­seum. The ex­hi­bi­tion will open on Satur­day, March 16 with a re­cep­tion and a short talk by the ex­hibit’s cre­ators, Su­san Harlow and John Nop­per. The event will be held at the mu­seum at 109 State Street in Mont­pe­lier from 2:30 to 4:30 pm.

Two years ago, agri­cul­tural writer Su­san Harlow and farmer/pho­tog­ra­pher John Nop­per de­cided to doc­u­ment the sto­ries of Ver­mont’s pioneer or­ganic farm­ers. The re­sult is a stun­ning ex­hibit of black and white pho­to­graphs with nar­ra­tives col­lected from oral his­tory in­ter­views.

Harlow wrote, “I’ve con­ducted about 40 hours of in­ter­views, most of them around farm kitchen ta­bles, and feel like I have many more to go be­fore the project is ‘fin­ished.’”

Th­ese pioneers started farm­ing in the 1970s and 1980s, some as mem­bers of com­munes, oth­ers as new ar­rivals to the state look­ing to “get back to the land.” A few were home­grown Ver­mon­ters. They wanted to farm or­gan­i­cally for many rea­sons: they were farm­ing con­ven­tion­ally but saw its draw­backs; they be­lieved in or­ganic as a phi­los­o­phy; they saw the fu­ture of agri­cul­ture in or­gan­ics.

Six work­ing farms and their farm­ers are high­lighted in­clud­ing Jack and Anne La­zor of But­ter­works Farm in West­field; Paul Harlow of Harlow Farm, West­min­ster; Jake and Liz Guest of Killdeer Farm, Nor­wich; Joey Klein of Lit­tle­wood Farm in Plainfield; Bruce Kauf­man from River­side Farm, Hard­wick; and Ver­mont’s first of­fi­cially cer­ti­fied or­ganic farmer Howard Prus­sack of High Mead­ows Farm in Put­ney. Im­ages and com­ments by writer and or­ganic farm­ing ad­vo­cate, Sa­muel Kay­men will also be in­cluded.

Ac­cord­ing to John Nop­per, “This project is an evolv­ing story; it is some­what about the his­tory of or­ganic farm­ing in Ver­mont, but more im­por­tantly about the peo­ple who were not sat­is­fied with things as they were, but who saw things as they could be.”

Photo courtesy

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