“Vermont is now officially, quantitatively the number one state in the union for local foods two years running, according to Strolling of the Heifers’ 2013 Locavore Index.”
Having spent some of the last 3 years working with Vermont food system organizers, I can tell you that this news was likely (again).
Sharing with your community – whether it is your talent or with your products – is embedded deep within the Vermont DNA and can account for part of their success in being #1 for local “eating”, but quite possibly a book that I am currently reading, “Fast Lane On A Dirt Road: Vermont Transformed 1945-1990,” may also shed light:
“The 24,000 farms of 1946 became 9,200 farms by 1964… and by 1990, 2400.”
superimposed over this info:
“The 1960 newcomers reversed the century-long exodus of the young and the restless and helped increase Vermont’s population from 390,000 to 445,000, the first jump of more than five percent in one decade since the 1830s.”
In other words, by the early 1960s the “halcyon” days of agriculture had given way to paved roads leading to ski lodges (in a state with over a thousand peaks over 2000 feet) and IBM jobs, yet had fewer people.
So, what may have saved the state from chasing the corporate buck and rich tourist to its economic death may have been those hippies who came a few years later looking for ways to live their values and start a new life.
And in a state now known for its progressive politics at the state and national level, it may surprise many to know that when the Republicans gave way to a Democratic governor in 1962, it ended the “longest run of one-party control in American history.” However, that change also meant more state programs and less local control which continues to affect the future of Vermont, especially in the role of agriculture and who will help decide what “local” will mean in the coming years.
What all this means to me is each state’s food organizers need to understand their demographic past and then adapt to current assets and trends just as I think Vermont has started to do quite well. In any case, congrats to the hardworking folks of the Green Mountain State.