Monday, February 21, 2011

WHAT CERES MIGHT SAY                 

Vermont has a very rich agricultural history.  The early white settlers understood the riggers of the land and were largely subsistence farmers.  Later came the golden days of grain production in the Champlain Valley, the raising of prized merino sheep in the early to mid 1800’s, followed by dairy with butter and cheese production, and then largely fluid milk to supply the Boston market.  During these changes, farmers across the state engaged in a diversity of enterprises from maple to apples to potatoes, to poultry and eggs, to hemp and grains and even spirits.  History demonstrates that Vermont farmers have never been immune from either international or national influences.

I have always had an interest in the history of Vermont agriculture.  During my tenure as Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets for the State of Vermont, I spent a great deal of time reading the old yearbooks of Vermont agriculture.  They are rich in stories, data, and other facts relating to the challenges and opportunities that existed over time for farmers within our State.  I learned from these and other documents, that history often repeats itself and “to appreciate the future, it is important to understand the past.”  What is happening today, with the growth in farmers markets, CSA’s (community supported agriculture), and interest in local foods, I call a “renaissance of the past.”

Many have supplied me with stories and other documents, and this blog is posted to share these with you.  Each week I will post some particular information on the history of agriculture in Vermont as I continue to do more research on the subject.  Some of you too may want to use this blog “What Ceres Might Say” to share what you know as well.

I have chosen the name Ceres because she is the goddess of agriculture and her statue stands atop the golden dome of the Vermont statehouse.