NPR’s Morning Edition aired a story this morning that fits right in with our Farmers Under 40 series.
Hardwick, Vermont, is the town, according to author Ben Hewitt, that “food saved.” Local food, that is, and the smal farms, markets and other businesses that the locavore movement spawned around Hardwick.
Reporter Dan Charles found a more complicated story when he visited Hardwick:
But did food really save Hardwick? At the local high school, Hazen Union, some students in senior-level English classes have been reading and discussing Hewitt’s book as a class assignment. They don’t think it tells the whole story.
“He only covers one side of the town,” says Derek Demers. “There’s the side of the town that’s for the local food movement, but I think there’s an even greater side of the town, with more people, that can’t afford the local food. I work at our local supermarket grocery store, and I see most of the people in town there.”
Later, the story evolves further, as, Charles says, Hardwick is still evolving:
Take Pete Johnson. He owns one of the biggest organic farms in the area — Pete’s Greens.
“You know, some of this food has been kind of fancy and on the fringes and perhaps a bit overpriced because the efficiencies of production are low,” he says. “Our farm is small, and it’s really diversified, which means we’re not particularly efficient at raising anything.”
So Johnson is trying to get a little bit bigger and more efficient. Essentially, he’s moving a little bit in the “industrial” direction.
You can find our Farmers Under 40 series here. Monday, we looking at how the hard realities of farm economics: high cash flow – low margins, plays out on big and small farms.