Cycles of Change: Farming in Norwich
A story of our rich agricultural heritage
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms in Vermont increased for the first time in 150 years. Despite the financial risks and physical demands, more people in this small state are choosing to become farmers.
Vermont has become a national model for small-scale, sustainable agriculture. The state’s commitment to strengthening its food system, evident in innovative legislation such as the Farm to Plate Investment Program (2009), sends a clear pledge of support to farmers. Statewide organizations like the Northeast Organic Farming Association and the Vermont Land Trust, along with countless local programs, work with farmers and food-related entrepreneurs to find the resources they need to be successful. The result: more land in agricultural production, more women and minor- ity farmers, and a 15% increase in the market value of Vermont products. Developing the farm and food sector creates a robust economy and puts healthy food on our tables.
The eight farms featured in this exhibit represent the diversity of agricultural enterprise in Norwich. Whether raising meat animals, grow- ing organic vegetables, cutting hay, or making compost, these farmers share a commitment to high quality, nutritious food. They are creative in the face of an ever-fickle economy and resilient in the face of unpredictable weather. They are conservationists without the title, preserving open space, soil quality, and wildlife habitat. And they are agents of community—trading advice with each other, inviting us to invest in their farms through Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), and giving us a reason to step out of busy lives to mingle with neighbors at farmer’s markets.
Cycles of Change is a project of the Norwich Historic Preservation Commission, in collaboration with the Norwich Historical Society, the Norwich Public Library, and the Marion Cross School. Through a series of public and school programs and a community-wide forum, it will examine the vital role that farms continue to play in town life, the challenges they face, and how state and local policies and regulations help and hinder them. The 15-minute video is available for loan.
Photography: Chad Finer
Video: Ben Silberfarb
Research and Writing: Charlotte Barrett Alan Berolzheimer Seth Goodwin
Oral Histories: Vermont Folklife Center, Middlebury, Vermont