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