Sarah Waring, Executive Director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) based in Hardwick, Vermont and Matthew Derr, President of Sterling College and a board member of CAE, addressed the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires annual meeting with a talk on the concept of “Growing an Agricultural Economy.”
The Q&A of their talk is available to watch online here.
Hardwick, Vermont is an example of how farmers, entrepreneurs, citizens, government, and educators, working together, can effectively build a vibrant local economy that respects the region’s unique landscape.
The Center for Agricultural Economy is at the hub of it all. CAE facilitated launch of High Mowing Seeds, a cheese cave aging and marketing multiple local farm specific varieties, a soybean operation for tofu processing with a waste product used to make a non-toxic wood coating, an organic compost company, a community kitchen for preparing vegetables for sale to local schools and other institutions, several farm to table restaurants, a bakery, maple products – and that’s not all.
Sterling College is a liberal arts college of environmental stewardship. Nearby, Sterling College’s Rian Fried Center is preparing the next generation of farm/food/agricultural entrepreneurs to take on this tradition and grow it. Courses in draft horse management, cheese making, brewing, greenhouse management, apple tree pruning, etc. using the farmers in the region as instructors and providing hands on experience in successful agricultural enterprises.
This interlocking development of agricultural related businesses is possible in the Berkshires as well with some deliberate and considered co-ordination and the participation of citizen consumers in furthering.