Growing Food, Growing Farmers

Exhibit Reception
Food, Drinks, and Remarks
Friday, September 7th from 5-7PM at Vermont Folklife Center, Middlebury, Vermont 


Four years ago, Vermont Folklife Center researchers Greg Sharrow and Andy Kolovos began a fieldwork project to explore the grass-roots food movement in Vermont. Growing Food, Growing Farmers is the product of that fieldwork: making visible the experiences of a community of farmers in Rutland County that exists within a growing network of local food production in Vermont.

In 2014, Vermont Folklife Center researchers Greg Sharrow and Andy Kolovos began a fieldwork project to explore the grass-roots food movement in Vermont. Taking a food systems approach, they interviewed farmers, distributors, agricultural support organizations and institutional buyers to better understand the contemporary cultures of farming in Vermont and the economic models that make agriculture viable today.

The interviews describe diverse agricultural systems and communities thriving in many parts of Vermont, including a particular node of activity in Rutland County. Sharrow described his early meetings with farmers in the Rutland area as revealing “the spokes on a wheel”, with the central axes radiating from Boardman Hill Farm, where Greg and Gay Cox have lived and farmed for more than three decades.

Growing Food, Growing Farmers is a deep look into the expanding community of young farmers in Rutland County and the surrounding area. Sharrow’s metaphor of the “wheel” is presented here more fully in the form of biographies, personal reflections and portraits of more than a dozen current and former farmers, many of whom trace some aspect of their agricultural trajectory to the Cox’s mentorship and generosity.

We meet the farmers, and in some cases their families, through large-format photographic portraits by Macaulay Lerman, who embraces the meticulous process of working with a 4x5 film view camera as a means of slowing down and allowing for organic conversation and honest depiction. Lerman’s process is ethnographic in spirit and echoes the philosophy of deep listening and collaboration that forms the methodological approach to cultural research at the Vermont Folklife Center.

Growing Food, Growing Farmers is the product of that approach: making visible the experiences of one community of farmers that exists within a growing network of local food production in Vermont.

Interviews conducted by Greg Sharrow, Andy Kolovos, and Kathleen Haughey. Photographs by Macaulay Lerman. Exhibit production by Ned Castle, Marty Dewees, Jessie Kuzmicki, Juliana Dunn, Madeleine Winterfalcon, and John Barstow.