Janine Harvesting Lenga Lenga

In Vermont, we share pride in our local food and fiber, and how our extended communities prioritize support for our farmers.  We’re recognized as a national leader in our commitment to an agriculture-based economy, and to locally produced food.  It’s an exciting place to dig in deep.

We are seeking to engage in a community-wide learning project to enrich our shared understanding of who farms in Vermont, and the context in which farmers do their work.  The UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the UVM Humanities Center (together with community partners) have been awarded a Creating Humanities Communities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to allow us to:

  • Collect oral histories of farmers from around Vermont with different identities and backgrounds.
  • Collect historical archival information about farming as it’s been experienced over the years.
  • Use the collected stories as the foundation for comic books and digital storytelling videos. 
  • Build a middle school curriculum shaped by a diversity of farming experiences in Vermont.
  • Offer community events around readings and screenings to engage our broader community.

We enthusiastically invite you to join us in this project that celebrates the diverse people who grow food and manage Vermont’s land: the Who Farms? project   It’s a partnership between the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the UVM Humanities Center, the Vermont Folklife Center, Vermont’s Farm to School Network, and the Vermont Historical Society.  The NEH challenge is an exciting start, but to qualify for the grant we need to raise $90,000 over the next three years to support the work.  If you are interested in making a gift, or for more information about how to get involved, contact: Kurt Reichelt, UVM Foundation, 802-656-1396, kurt.reichelt@uvm.edu.

Project Scope

Jack Lazor Describing Wheat

Agriculture shapes the economies, social life, and landscape of rural communities across the county. In this panorama, Vermont is recognized as a national leader in our commitment to farmers, an agriculture-based economy, and locally produced food. But the image of who is a farmer is often fairly constricted. The typical Vermont farmer is frequently depicted as a middle-aged, male dairy farmer of northern European descent, whose family has lived here for generations. This image has been created and supported by historical patterns of representation of ethnicity, landscape, and community that are both powerful and unique to Vermont.

Click here to read more.

Although many such farmers do indeed play important roles in our communities the reality is, of course, more complicated and dynamic. Vermont farmers come to their work from a wide array of ethnic and cultural groups, including Native American and African American people, Southern European, Caribbean and Latin American people and, more recently, resettled refugees from Asia and Africa. Farming has never been a strictly male activity, nor has farming in Vermont always been about milking cows.

When the popular image is a homogenized one, many of the people producing food, managing the land, and contributing to their communities are rendered less visible and are consequently ignored. When this happens, the larger community lacks important information about its composition, resources, and why people make the decisions they do about land management. Making that information available can be an important step towards strengthening the social fabric of Vermont's rural communities and their tradition of civil discourse.

To address this, the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, in partnership with the UVM Humanities Center, the Vermont Folklife Center, Vermont's Farm to School Network, and the Vermont Historical Society, proposes a community-wide learning project to enrich our shared understanding of who farms in Vermont, and the context in which farmers do their work. Specifically, we seek to document diverse farmers' oral histories, and then use those as the foundation for comic books and digital storytelling videos. Those will then become the center of a curriculum for middle schools participating in Vermont's Farm to School programs.

The Who Farms? Project in the News

Kimberly Hagen with a Farmer

We've been honored to receive a lot of early media attention for this project. Here's a sampling of what's appeared in Vermont and around the nation.

Project Team

UVM Humanities Center LogoUVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture Logo   Vermont Folklife Center LogoVermont Historical Society Logo

Interested in knowing more about the Center's work or do you have a question we haven't answered here?  Contact us via email  or  802-656-5459 and we'll do our best to help.

Woodcut of a farm with people gathering produce and cows grazing

Contact

  • Linda Berlin, UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, (802) 656-0669 or  linda.berlin@uvm.edu
  • or
  • Luis Vivanco, UVM Humanities Center(802) 656-1184 or  luis.vivanco@uvm.edu

Funder

National Endowment for the Humanities Logo

.*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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