All photos by Julianne Puckett.
I attended the 2013 Vermont Farm Show recently.
You may be neither shocked nor amused at this statement but, trust me, both reactions would be appropriate. You see, I’m the same girl who, not that long ago, used to lecture co-workers on the nuances of a good kitten-heeled sandal; bought Wellington boots purely as a fashion statement and lived in a well-manicured, highly regulated suburban community far south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Then I got hooked on eating local and reading food labels, growing some of my own food and generally handmaking instead of buying. And then I moved to Vermont, back home to my New England roots.
Now I spend my time cultivating a large garden or shoveling snow, depending on the season, as well as crafting hard cider and figuring out how to cook venison “harvested” from my own 10-acre farmette, as I like to call it. Additionally, I own two pairs of Wellies (admittedly, though, one pair is still for fashion; my transformation is not yet complete, I guess).
So, given my commitment to my little farmette in the woods, I decided to explore the Farm Show. I was pleasantly surprised.
Sure, I saw the expected: tractors that likely require a ladder to get into, an automatic milking machine so high-tech its name includes the word “astronaut,” portable sawmills and “firewood processors” (I’m still not quite sure what those are), stainless steel sap evaporators and everything else necessary to run a farm. Or a farming business, for that matter, given the presence of exhibitors such as the Vermont Department of Taxes and several agribusiness insurers and lenders.
But, to my delight, I also saw the unexpected for what I think of as a farm show, things appealing to not only professional farmers but also hobby farmette-ers: High Mowing Organic seeds, with an amazing array of seed packets for purchase; Cabot Cheese, offering delicious samples; the Vermont Beef Producers Association, with an extensive list of participating local farms; local beekeepers and honey producers; an aromatic hay display and a whole wall of blue-ribbon-winning entries from the products competitions — wool, vegetables, breads, pies and more.
In short, I saw just about everything from soup to nuts.
Speaking of which, I unfortunately missed the second-annual Consumer Night, which included not only a state-government Iron Chef-style competition but also the Buy Local Market, an event featuring more than 55 vendors of Vermont agricultural and food products, many of which were available for sampling or demonstration.
But don’t worry: I still sampled some maple cotton candy.