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Hill Farming in the Mad River Valley to be discussed next week

Farming has changed a lot since the 18th and 19th centuries. In The Valley, the landscape has boasted pastures for sheep and cows, grain and hay fields, vegetable plots, orchards and sugar lots, and the market has transitioned from home-based production to bulk operations and back again.

Today, small, diverse agricultural operations dot The Valley’s hills, and on Wednesday, December 12, the Mad River Valley Rural Resource Commission and the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) will host a public presentation titled “Hill Farming in the Mad River Valley: Past, Present and Future.”

The presentation, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Round Barn in Waitsfield, is part of an ongoing project about area hill farming that includes a historical essay and documentary film. On Wednesday, historian Lyssa Papazian will present her current research about the history of hill farming in the Mad River Valley and videographer Meg Campbell will summarize her recent interviews with area farmers.

The presentations will be followed by an open discussion about what is happening on hill farms today as well as their future potential based on past trends as well as the types of farms emerging with the localvore movement.

At “Hill Farming in the Mad River Valley,” the public can learn about what older farms are doing to adapt to today’s economy and markets, how new farmers are entering the fold, how land conservation is assisting farmers in starting or maintaining agricultural ventures and what new trends in state agriculture offer opportunities for farming in the Mad River Valley, specifically.

Representatives from various statewide and regional agricultural organizations will attend the event and will be available for inquiries, including the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation’s Barn Census Program, the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District, Mad River Localvores, the VSJF’s Farm to Plate Program and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The MRVPD is a three-town planning entity developed by Fayston, Waitsfield and Warren as well as Sugarbush Resort in 1985 to carry out a planning program for the Valley that considers its physical, social, economic, fiscal, environmental, cultural and aesthetic well-being.

The MRVPD and the Vermont Land Trust created the MRV Rural Resource Commission in 1987 with the goal of conducting an inventory and developing a conservation strategy for The Valley’s rural resources.

The planning district was the first of its kind in Vermont to become a Certified Local Government (CLG) under the National Historic Preservation Act. As a CLG, the planning district is eligible for matching grants from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

This event is part of the MRV Hill Farm Research Project, made possible by a grant from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Additional event sponsors include the Mad River Valley Planning District, the Mad River Valley Conservation Partnership, Sanford/Strauss Architects and Liz Lovely Cookies.

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