The Farmplate Blog

The Town That Food Saved

FarmPlate Mar 12, 2010 The Beat 0 comments

At first glance, Hardwick seems a typical Vermont town. Main Street turns into Mill Street as it follows the curves ofhardwick book the Lamoille River. Stolid public buildings hint at its granite-quarrying past. Ford pickups and Subarus jockey for street parking and people dash into stores to grab a paper or a cup of coffee.

Yet when you skim through the Hardwick Chamber of Commerce directory, you begin to suspect there's something happening here. Listed are not one, but two bakeries in this town of 3,200 people. The several ag/farm members list a wide variety of products including worms, soy foods, cheese, seeds, berries and vegetables galore. There's also a healthy handful of nonprofit organizations including The Center for an Agricultural Economy, which is devoted to ensuring access to local, affordable foods.

In the past few years, food-based businesses—Applecheek Farm, Bonnieview Farm, Claire's Restaurant, Connie's Kitchen, High Ledge Farm, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Jasper Hill Farm, Patchwork Farm & Bakery, Pete's Greens and Vermont Soy to name only a few—have transformed Hardwick into a sustainable foods Mecca. Along the way, Vermont farmer/writer Ben Hewitt has been taking notes.

clairesHewitt's book, The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food (Rodale Books), will be released on Tuesday. This engaging account looks at the long tradition of agriculture in the area and focuses in on today's localvore movement and its creative "agrepreneurs." Vermonters will recognize many of the characters from charismatic leaders to quiet activists to laconic old-timers.

Claire's Restaurant, the farm-food hub on Main Street in Hardwick, is hosting a book-launching party for Ben Hewitt on Tuesday, March 16. The three-course $25 prix fixe dinner will celebrate the farmers, artisans and producers highlighted in Hewitt's book. To make a reservation, call 802.472.7053.

Ben Hewitt will be signing books at bookstores throughout the state in the coming weeks:
Tuesday, March 16: The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, 7 pm (For every pre-sold copy, the store is donating $5 to the Hardwick Area Food Pantry.)
Tuesday, March 30: Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, 7 pm
Saturday, April 3: Phoenix Books in Essex, 7 pm
Thursday, April 8: Bridgeside Books in Waterbury, 6 pm