Col­leges, Com­munes Co-ops: 1970s con­tri­bu­tions to Ver­mont’s or­ganic food move­ment

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Mont­pe­lier, VT

The roots of Ver­mont’s or­ganic farm­ing move­ment will be ex­plored in a day­long con­fer­ence pre­sented by the Ver­mont His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. Panel dis­cus­sions will fo­cus on the 1970s, a time when Ver­mont’s com­munes, col­leges and co-ops played sig­nif­i­cant roles in shap­ing to­day’s in­ter­est in lo­cal and or­ganic food sys­tems.

Af­ter the So­ci­ety’s an­nual meet­ing, the morn­ing key­note, given by UVM’s Pro­fes­sor Dona Brown, will set the stage with a pre­sen­ta­tion on the his­tor­i­cal back­ground of the self-suf­fi­ciency and back-to-the-land move­ments which peaked in the early years of the 20th-cen­tury.

“With more Ver­mon­ters look­ing closely at lo­cal sus­tain­abil­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity, this is a timely topic.” ex­plained Mark Hud­son, Ver­mont His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. “In the 1970s, com­munes nur­tured ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and im­ported new­com­ers, col­leges fos­tered in­tel­lec­tual change, and co-ops brought like-minded food pro­duc­ers and con­sumers to­gether—giv­ing rise to the un­der­pin­nings of to­day’s or­ganic farm­ing cul­ture in our state.”

By the late 1970s, Ver­mont was home to an es­ti­mated 100 com­munes. Com­mune mem­bers were al­most uni­ver­sally iden­ti­fied as “hip­pies” but there was great va­ri­ety in the size, or­ga­ni­za­tion, and phi­los­o­phy of th­ese groups. Some re­treated to Ver­mont as a ref--

uge from rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal fights, oth­ers saw Ver­mont as ripe for a po­lit­i­cal takeover, and still oth­ers wanted to live sim­ply and closer to na­ture. Many ar­rived with no pur­pose other than to par­tic­i­pate in the com­mu­nal ex­pe­ri­ence. Dur­ing the same pe­riod, an ed­u­ca­tional fo­cus on ecol­ogy and sus­tain­abil­ity be­gan, cre­at­ing new in­sti­tu­tions or build­ing on ex­ist­ing col­lege pro­grams.

The Ver­mont His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s An­nual Meet­ing and Fall Con­fer­ence will take place from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Ver­mont His­tory Mu­seum lo­cated in the Pav­il­ion build­ing, 109 State Street, Mont­pe­lier. Reser­va­tions are re­quested by Septem­ber 13.

Please con­tact Diane Camp­bell at (802) 4798503 for info about regis­tra­tion fee and to reg­is­ter or go on­line: www. ver­mon­this­tory.org/ an­nual-meet­ing. The fee cov­ers day­long pro­grams and lunch. Please con­tact Diane Camp­bell at (802)

Photo Rebecca Lep­koff

1970s com­mune dweller.

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