Publishers' Note Winter 2015

Mr. G.W. Clarke coming to town to sell butter on a Saturday in the winter of 1939, Woodstock, Vermont.
Mr. G.W. Clarke coming to town to sell butter on a Saturday in the winter of 1939, Woodstock, Vermont.

Written on

November 16 , 2014

They’ve already started to arrive in the mailbox: seed catalogs, with their glorious photos and wonderful illustrations, calling to us, announcing the promise of a future garden—and of spring. We’re in!

But at this time of year, we also like to look back and reflect on the lessons our garden was kind enough to let us in on. Here are just a few.

It will never cease to astound us that in every seed, no matter the size—from tiny arugula to seemingly giant beans—there is an entire biological instruction manual to produce an adult plant. And that if we tend to the seed’s needs, it will do its part—sometimes. This has taught us that there are so many things beyond our control, that our influence is limited. We’ve learned that the vegetables we pick to eat look very different than the ones we let grow and from which we harvest seeds. We have learned respect for the food we grow and that wasting even a bit is unthinkable. And we’ve learned that the promise of all those seed catalogs must be tempered with what is possible for our garden and for us. As Wendell Berry says, “We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” We’re learning to plan our garden to meet our needs. Most of all, we’ve learned that we’ll continue to keep learning, and that this powerful lure draws us back again and again.

Three stories in this issue also highlight the fact that, when we work land, and work with animals, we always continue to learn. In this article, Katie Spring notices—during a day of processing chickens—that she has come to use the words harvest and process in place of slaughter, and she wonders how wise that really is. And on a lighter note, Rose Paul learns firsthand about the delicacy that is fresh woodchuck, after she seeks to defend her backyard from this wiley garden predator. In this issue we also invite you to learn a bit about permaculture, about making jam, and about the state of bees in Vermont.

Another wonderful opportunity to learn and pick up skills comes at the Annual NOFA-VT Winter Conference that will be happening on February 14 and 15. At this two-day event there is something for everyone, from gardeners to seasoned farmers. We always look forward to seeing old friends, having good conversations, and sharing the time together.

Meg Lucas

Barbi Schreiber







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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 ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.