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