• Publishers' Note Spring 2009

    Publishers' Note Spring 2009

    Let’s look at what we Vermonters might eat on a typical day in, say, March. Hot steaming oatmeal with dried apples and maple syrup starts the day. For lunch, we make a soup with root vegetables and barley—and of course we’ll add a slice of multigrain bread. Finally, dinner consists of baked beans, sausage, and sauerkraut. And during the cooking process for all these meals, we would inevitably use salt and oil.

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  • Bartered, Smuggled, and Bought

    Bartered, Smuggled, and Bought

    When the Upper Valley Localvores took their first 100–mile diet challenge in August 2005, we came upon a serious stumbling block. No local salt! Tomatoes and corn–on–the–cob were abundant, but oh, we needed salt. Fortunately, one of our members had vacationed in Maine and brought back a precious supply of sea salt. It made us wonder what our Upper Valley ancestors had done for salt.

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  • The 9' x 12' Vegetable Garden

    The 9' x 12' Vegetable Garden

    If you’re able to devote 15 minutes a day to gardening and are willing to give up a piece of your lawn roughly the size of the parking space for your car, you can grow a significant amount of good food—food that is organic, food that is tasty, food that is healthy. During World War II, Americans started “victory gardens,” growing up to 40 percent of their fresh produce. In these tough economic times, it again makes sense for us to grow some of our own food.

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  • Vermont’s Newest Grain?

    Vermont’s Newest Grain?

    People are often surprised to hear that rice can be grown in Vermont. After all, this grass is known as a tropical plant. But cultivated rice, first domesticated 6,000 years ago, is divided into two subspecies: O. sativa ‘indica,’ which is the long–grain type (such as jasmine or basmati) grown in tropical southern regions, and O. sativa ‘japonica,’ which is a shorter, rounder grain that is more cold tolerant. Japonica rice has been grown in Japan, of course, but also in more surprising temperate climates, such as the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Romania.

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  • Set the Table with Peasant Food

    Set the Table with Peasant Food

    Many people say they don’t buy into the localvore movement because local food is “elitist.” ?Yet some of the world’s great cuisines—Chinese, Italian, country French, Indian—have their roots among people who had the least to work with: peasants. What can we learn from peasant cultures that can help us eat both economically and locally at the same time?

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  • Who Will This Feed?

    Who Will This Feed?

    Imagine yourself in the future—say the spring of 2016. Farmers and growers in Vermont are planting numerous varieties of grains, as well as oilseed crops. What are they growing? And when it’s time for harvest, who—or what—will these crops feed?

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  • Farming & Feasting with the Robinsons: Spring

    Farming & Feasting with the Robinsons: Spring

    The 1860s were a tumultuous time for the Robinsons. Rachel Gilpin Robinson, wife of Rowland Thomas Robinson, passed away in 1862, shortly after dismissing longtime housekeeper Naomi Griswold from service. Because Rachel and Rowland’s daughter, Ann Robinson Minturn, was living far from her family in Waterloo, NY, Rachel’s death meant that a large home and farm were left in the hands of an aging father and his two bachelor sons, along with a new, unfamiliar housekeeper and a revolving cast of hired men who sometimes lived on the farm.

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  • Jack Lazor and the Graining of Vermont

    Jack Lazor and the Graining of Vermont

    Jack Lazor is the first to admit he’s got his fingers in a lot of pies. He says so with a chuckle, his gentle eyes sparkling like the bright mid–afternoon sun reflecting off newly fallen snow. Among his “pies” are grain–growing experiments to find varieties that thrive in Vermont, infrastructure development for the processing and storage of staple foods like beans and cooking oils, and a plethora of workshops in which he shares what he’s learned in his 30 years of farming.

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  • The Return of the Root Cellar

    The Return of the Root Cellar

    The globalized food chain that Americans have increasingly relied on for over 50 years has begun to show its weaknesses—and inevitable failure. There are many weak links in the chain, but the weakest are storage and distribution. These aspects of modern food production contribute significantly to energy consumption: fossil fuel is required to ship food from far away, to keep food fresh during long–distance transport, and to store food over a long period of time. How can we opt out of this destructive system?

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  • The Winooski Bean Thresher Co–op

    The Winooski Bean Thresher Co–op

    I moved to Vermont in 1989 with a desire to garden and build a self–sufficient life—values I inherited from my mother. As I began growing food for myself and friends, I naturally started out with the basics, also known as “the three sisters” native to the Americas: corn, beans, and squash. I grew winter squashes, Maine black turtle beans, and sweet corn—or at least tried to. The crows plucked up nearly every corn seed that sprouted from the earth, and the cucumber beetles attacked my squash plants.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Spilling the Beans

    Farmers' Kitchen—Spilling the Beans

    A rustic wooden bin filled with black beans sits on our table at the Middlebury Farmers’ Market. Some delighted customers march right up and serve themselves heaping bags full. Others slowly approach our stand to see what’s in the bin. These folks are either disappointed that we’re not selling what appeared to be roasted coffee beans or, more often, they just stand and contemplate the implications of a purchase. Cooking beans is a new and time–consuming activity for most. But people are often excited to learn that dry beans are being grown in Vermont, and many are surprised to know that it’s even possible in our climate.

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  • Last Morsel—Robert King

    Last Morsel—Robert King

    Robert King is renowned in southeast Vermont for his vast knowledge of gardening and the many workshops he leads to teach people how to grow their own food. His longtime friend Ron Krupp recently interviewed him about his life. This is a portion of that interview.

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Last Morsel—Robert King


Written By

Ron Krupp

Written on

March 01 , 2009

Robert King is renowned in southeast Vermont for his vast knowledge of gardening and the many workshops he leads to teach people how to grow their own food. His longtime friend Ron Krupp recently interviewed him about his life. This is a portion of that interview.

My mom grew up on a Michigan family farm during the Great Depression. Everyone cooked from scratch and “ate local.” In my childhood home in Glens Falls, NY, my folks had a room in their cellar which was used for the cold–storage of canned goods and jams. My mother used the old–style jam–making method where you cover the top of the jar with wax. There was always plenty of food.

Seeking a socially conscious graduate school in the mid–60s, I discovered an innovative program run by Antioch College in Putney. Antioch’s experimental program to prepare teachers for urban and rural schools greatly appealed to me. Although I completed a Masters in Arts in Teaching degree, I had a young child, Posey, and had to figure out how I was going support my family, stabilize my life, and find a place to live.

Destiny intervened when I learned about a woman in Putney, Esther Poneck of Hill & Dale Farm, who was looking for a farmhand to work in the garden of her organic, mixed culture farm. Esther was a very forward–thinking person, in that she was concerned about a healthy environment, the misuse of pesticides, nuclear pollution, and sustainable agriculture.

At Hill & Dale, we raised organic grass–fed beef, apples, and vegetables. This is where my real education in farming and gardening began. As luck would have it, I received an apprenticeship with Swedish master gardener, Erling Anderson. Anderson had trained in Germany in biodynamic farming and gardening. He then went to work with Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, who formalized the basic biodynamic methods at the gardens in Spring Valley, N.Y., a center for Rudolf Steiner’s work in agriculture (biodynamics), education (Waldorf), and philosophy (Anthroposophy).

Erling, who spoke a mixture of English, German and Swedish, taught by having me imitate his actions. I learned to start and transplant seedlings, to cultivate the soil to control weeds, and to build healthy soils that would feed the plants. The gardens were well–ordered, clean, and beautiful to behold, with a mixture of companion plants. Working with Erling at Hill & Dale opened a new way of life for me, an understanding of the earth as a living, breathing organism.

I remained at Hill & Dale for a number of years as a farmhand. On the farm we raised a herd of 80 grass–fed Polled Hereford cattle, cut lots of firewood, harvested apples from an old orchard, and made apple cider and maple syrup. In one sense, we were organic pioneers well before the arrival of natural food co–ops and farmers’ markets. There was literally no access to local organic produce except at a few farm stands, because there were few commercial farms practicing sustainable, organic methods. A bulk–buying group would place monthly orders of organic whole foods from Walnut Acres in Pennsylvania once a month.

In 1971, I was fortunate enough to purchase a house and land at Hill & Dale Farm. Besides growing, harvesting, and preserving vegetables here for years, I have been able to supply quality produce to people who can’t garden, or who don’t shop at farmers’ markets or local food co–ops. This past winter I supplied vegetables from my root cellar to a friend living in a subsidized housing project. She prepares a simple soup and quick bread for her fellow housemates. For her, it’s as easy as ABC: Agriculture Building Community.

About the Author

Ron Krupp

Ron Krupp

Ron Krupp is the author of the Vermont organic gardening book The Woodchuck’s Guide to Gardening. He will be coming out with a new book this spring called Lifting the Yoke–Local Solutions to America’s Farm and Food Crisis. The book focuses on Vermont.

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A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.


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