Monday, July 23, 2012

Vermont 2012 - Hardwick & Winooski

Hardwick is the subject of a book titled, "The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food." I haven't read the book but it has been on my amazon wish list for a little over a year.  While I'll still probably get around to reading it, I was thrilled to visit the town on my 3rd day in Vermont.

The short version of Hardwick's ever evolving story is that the small town (approximately 3000 people) dealt with a crushed economy built on granite mining and agriculture.  Many residents, both old and new, came together and with a great amount of tension began to carve out a place of locally grown and developed food.
Found taped to a light pole in Hardwick
We had lunch at Claire's.  If you tell anyone in the know that you're going to Hardwick for lunch - they assume you're going to Claire's.  The restaurant is built entirely on local foods with a few exceptions (liquor, for example) that isn't local but is produced by small businesses and families in other people's local business circuits.  Our meals were delicious but many of us left still confused as to whether this was a sustainable business plan; they were still subsidized by their initial investment grants which were running out this year.
Listening to the owner of Claire's telling his story
O_O Awesome
Speaking of compost (picture above)! We visited the Highfields Center for Composting where an incredibly hunky man in overalls and rubber boots dazzled me with his compost knowledge.  Most of Hardwick's compostables go to Highfields and then back into the local soil.

Windrows - I could see the steam rolling off them
Ventilated compost bins
Vermicomposting unit! (my favorite ^_^)
Our next stop was High Mowing Organic Seeds run by Tom Stearns.  To say that Tom is passionate about seeds is an understatement.  He was an absolute pleasure follow around town and his tour of his company was just as fantastic!  High Mowing grows, saves, and sells 100% organic and non-GMO seeds.  Did you know that certified organic produce doesn't usually come from organic seed?  And that the majority of seeds (despite being ordered and shipped from hundreds of middle-man companies) are controlled by 6 large pharmaceutical and chemical companies?  High Mowing started the Safe Seed pledge in 1999 to protect against GMO seeds and since then over 70 companies have signed on.  I was so impressed with Tom's knowledge and High Mowing's operation that I won't be getting my seeds anywhere else from now on (unless Michigan suddenly develops an organic, sustainable, GMO-free, locally owned and run seed business).

The measuring department, complete with prayer flags.
You can't really see with this picture -
but the wall contains scoops of all kinds!
Tom giddily showing us the seed cleaner and sorter.
The BEAUTIFUL mural on the bathroom walls.
High Mowing's rigorous germination test

We finished our field trip with a tour of the Vermont Food Ventures Center where budding food entrepreneurs can become food safe certified and rent time/equipment in a commercial kitchen to produce and package their own value-added products.  They get help from food scientists, business planners, and marketers to get their business up and running.

We had to gear up to get into the center -
hair/beard nets and foot washes
Inside the bakery room, listening to the operator talk
about their expansion plans
Devin and I ended the night with dinner in Winooski, a town neighboring Burlington.  We ate a delicious and cheap meal at Papa Frank's.

For $1 we got garlic bread and a huge cup of roasted garlic
in olive oil - heaven!


1 comment:

  1. Loving your recaps :-) NEED to get together soon. Looks like I'll be in your neck of the woods in about 2.5 weeks. !