Cycles of Change: Farming in Norwich

Vermont Folklife Center researchers collaborated with the Norwich Historical Society’s Cycles of Change: Farming in Norwich exhibition project - conducting oral history interviews with Norwich-area farmers, during spring 2014.  Interviewees were selected by the Norwich Historical Society and the interviews explored topics identified by the Norwich Historical Society as areas of particular interest.

Audio interview excerpts were produced by the Vermont Folklife Center and combined with other media and storytelling content on farming in the area, including: research and writings by Charlotte Barrett,  Alan Berolzheimer, Seth Goodwin; photographs by Chad Fine; and video by Ben Silberfarb. 

Cycles of Change: Farming in Norwich

Meet the Farmers Photos by Chad Finer

Excerpted from A story of our rich agricultural heritage written by the Norwich Historical Society.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms in Vermont increased for the first time in 150 years. Despite the financial risks and physical demands, more people in this small state are choosing to become farmers.
Vermont has become a national model for small-scale, sustainable agriculture. The state’s commitment to strengthening its food system, evident in innovative legislation such as the Farm to Plate Investment Program (2009), sends a clear pledge of support to farmers. Statewide organizations like the Northeast Organic Farming Association and the Vermont Land Trust, along with countless local programs, work with farmers and food-related entrepreneurs to find the resources they need to be successful. The result: more land in agricultural production, more women and minority farmers, and a 15% increase in the market value of Vermont products. Developing the farm and food sector creates a robust economy and puts healthy food on our tables.
The eight farms featured in this exhibit represent the diversity of agricultural enterprise in Norwich. Whether raising meat animals, growing organic vegetables, cutting hay, or making compost, these farmers share a commitment to high quality, nutritious food. They are creative in the face of an ever-fickle economy and resilient in the face of unpredictable weather. They are conservationists without the title, preserving open space, soil quality, and wildlife habitat. And they are agents of community—trading advice with each other, inviting us to invest in their farms through Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), and giving us a reason to step out of busy lives to mingle with neighbors at farmer’s markets.
Click here to visit the online exhibition at the Norwich Historical Society.

Artists' Medium Series

In 2013 and 2014, Vermont Folklife Center ethnographer and film-maker, Ned Castle, partnered with Edgewater Gallery to produce short film vignettes to take viewers behind-the-scenes of Vermont artists that were showcased at the gallery during that time.

Artist Vignettes

Catherine M. Beattie

Catherine M. Beattie (Mrs. Harold) Representative of Danville, Democrat, was born at Danville on April 5, 1921. Occupation: Farming. She was educated at Danville elementary and High School. She is married and has three sons and seven daughters. Member of the following organizations: Order of Eastern Star; Danville Woman’s Club; Pythian Sisters; Danville Parent-Teachers Group; Caledonia County Farm Bureau. Member of the House of 1965.

Franklin Swift Billings, Jr.

Franklin Swift Billings, Jr., Representative of Woodstock, Republican, was born on June 5, 1922. Occupation: attorney-at-law. He was educated in the public schools in Woodstock; Milton Academy; Harvard College (S.B., 1943) University of Virginia (L.L.B., 1947). He is married to the former Pauline R. Gillingham and they have two sons and one daughter. He is a member of the Grange; Masons; Shrine; American, Vermont, and Windsor County Bar Associations. He has been village trustee, town agent, selectman, planning commission, school director and library trustee. He was Assistant Secretary of the Senate in 1949, 1951, and 1953, executive Clerk, 1955; Secretary of the Senate in 1957 and 1959; Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, 1959 and 1960; Judge of the Hartford Municipal Court, 1955-1962; clerk of the Woodstock Union High School District, 1958-1962; and a member of the Woodstock Planning commission, 1958-62.

He served with the British 8th Army in the 6th Armored division, 1943 to 1946. In 1966 he was appointed to the Superiour Court and he served until 1975 when he was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court. He was Chief Justice from 1982-84. In 1984 he was appointed a U.S. District Judge of Vermont, serving as Chief Judge from 1989-97 when he took Senior Status and remains as a Senior District Judge today. Member of the House of 1961, and member and Speaker of the House of 1963 and 1965.

Seth B. Bongartz

Seth B. Bongartz of Manchester, Bennington County, Democrat, was born in Manchester, Vermont on September 23, 1954, and has been a lifelong resident. Occupation: Non-profit Executive-Director. He was educated in elementary schools in Manchester, Vermont; graduated from Burr & Burton, Manchester, Vermont; Skidmore college in Saratoga Springs, New York (B/A., 1977), Case Western, Cleveland (J.D.) He is married to Christine Evelti and they have one son. Served as member of: Board of Directors, Ottaqueechee Land trust, Past member of Manchester Zoning Board of Adjustment (1977-84); Board of Directors, Northshire Day School (1980-83); Board of Directors, Vermont Chapter, Nature Conservancy (1982-84); Vermont Blue Cross Board. 1990-2004, Chair of Vermont Blue Cross Board, 2001-04. Member of the House, 1981-84. Member of the Senate 1987-88.

Mary Ann Carlson

Mary Ann Carlson of Arlington, Bennington County. Democrat, was born in Palo Alto, California on January 22, 1944 and became resident of present town in June, 1978. Occupation: innkeeper. Co-owner and operator of West Mountain Inn, Arlington, Vermont. She was educated in elementary schools in Palo Alto, California, graduated from Notre Dame High School, Belmont, California; Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (B.A., 1965). She has thirty-two graduate credits toward M.A., in special education, Fordham University (1977) and has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology, Lesley College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, (1991). She is married to Wesley H. Carlson, and they have three daughters and two sons. She serves on the Vermont Loan Fund Board; Vermont Interactive Television Coordinating Council; Governor’s Blue ribbon Commission on Educational and Municipal Financing Reform: Judicial Nominating Board. Member of: Arlington Townscape; Project Against Violent Encounters; Vermont Business Association for Social Responsibility; VT’s State Business and Professional Women; Chambers of Commerce of Arlington, Bennington and Manchester; VT, National Organization of Women Honored with awards from Southern Vermont College, Honorary Doctor of Laws; United Counseling Service, Cleveland E. and Phyllis B. Dodge Award; Bennington County and State of Vermont Business and Professional Woman of the Year Award; Vermont Law Income Advocacy Council, certificate of appreciation.

Member of the Senate: 1989-90, 1991-92 (Democratic leader), and 1993-94.

Harvey Carter

Harvey Carter of Corinth, Democrat, was born in New York City on November 2, 1938 and moved to Bennington in 1964. He is a graduate of Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, (B.A., 1960) and Duke Law School Durham, North Carolina (J.D., 1963). He was formerly a member of the law firm of Witten and Carter, P.C., with offices in Bennington and Manchester and has been a sole practitioner from 1988 to present. He is married, has two sons and he and his wife run Maryella Farm in Corinth. Member of the House, 1969-70. Member of the Senate, 1985-86, 1987-88.

John Henry Downs

John Henry Downs Representative of St. Johnsbury, Republican, was born in Arlington, Mass. On November 12, 1919. Occupation: lawyer. He was educated in Arlington, Longmeadow and Winchester, Mass. Elementary schools; Winchester High School, 1937; Yale College, A.B., 1941; and Harvard Law School; L.L.B., 1947. He is married and has two sons and two daughters. Member of Caledonia County, Vermont and American Bar Associations; Kiwanis; Masons; Elks; American Legion; Chamber of Commerce; Republican town and county committees. He has been Town Grand Juror, States Attorney from 1951-55 and village trustee for St. Johnsbury/ He was in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1944 with the rank of Corporal. He was a member of the House of 1961.

Robert T. Gannett

Robert T. Gannett of Brattleboro, Windham County. Republican, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 26, 1917 and became a resident of present town in August, 1946. He was married to the former Sarah Alden Derby who died in 1999, and they have one daughter and two sons. Occupation: lawyer. He was educated in elementary schools in Milton, Massachusetts; Milton Academy and Harvard University (B.A., 1939; L.L.B., 1942). Member of Brattleboro Retreat, former trustee; Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, corporator and past president; National Life Insurance Company, director emeritus, United Way of Windham County, former director, Vermont Community Foundation, trustee; American College of Probate Counsel.

He served in the U.S. Army, 1942-46; Major, Field Artillery. Member of the House: 1953, 1955. 1957, 1959. Member of the Senate: 1973-74, 1975-76, 1977-78, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88, 1989-90, 1991-92.

Arthur Gibb

Arthur Gibb of Weybridge, Addison County, Republican, was born in New York on April 16, 1908 and located in Vermont in 1951. He died November 1, 2005 at 97 years old. He married the former Barbara Lowrie and together they had four sons and one daughter. Occupation: formerly banking and investment counsel, farming, Angus cattle breeder, presently retired. Educated at schools in New York and Connecticut, and Yale University (B.A., 1930). Former trustee and president, Porter Medical Center of Middlebury, honorary member, State Committee of Vermont YMCA; director, Baird Center for Children and Families; director Parent Child Center of Addison County, chairman, Governor’s Commission on Environmental Control, 1969, former chairman, Addison county Regional Planning Commission and Weybridge Zoning Board of Adjustment; presently Weybridge Town Agent; and former lister. He served in the U.S. Navy Pacific Theater, 1942-45, and holds the Bronze Star Medal Presidential Unit Citation Medal, and ten battle stars; present rank Captain USNR (Ret.). Member of the House, 1963-70.

While in the House served as chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources; member of the Senate 1971-72, 1973-74, 1975-76, 1977-78, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1983-84, 1985-86.

Philip Henderson Hoff

Philip Henderson Hoff of Burlington, Chittenden County, Democrat, was born in Turners Falls, Massachusetts on June 29,1924 and became resident of present town in 1951. Occupation: Lawyer. He was educated in the public schools of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, Williams College and Cornell University. He is married and has four daughters. Member of: Chairman, New England Natural Resources Center; Chairman, Vermont Advisory Committee for U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; President, Friends of Health Care; Chairman, Vermont Supreme Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on Admissions and Continuing Legal Competence; Burlington Country Club; American, Vermont and Chittenden County Bar Associations; Public Land Law Review Commission; Former chairman of the New England Governor’s Conference and the Committee on Civil Liberties; director of Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, and Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation. He served in the U.S. Navy, Submarine Service, 1943-46.

He was a member of the House of 1961. Elected Governor of Vermont, November 7, 1962 and re-elected in 1964 and 1966. Member of the Senate, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88.

Senator Jim Jeffords

Senator Jim Jeffords of Shrewsbury, (Republican), Independent, was born in Rutland, Vermont on May 11, 1934. He was educated in the Rutland Public Schools; Yale University (B.S. Industrial Administration, 1956); Harvard Law School (LL.B., 1962). He served three years active duty in the U.S. Navy (1956-59) and is currently a Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He is married to Elizabeth Daley and has a son and daughter. In 1962, he was a law clerk with Judge Ernest W. Gibson, Jr. U.S. District Court. In 1966-67 he was president, Young Lawyers Section, Vermont Bar Association and in 1973-75, National Director of the American Judicare Society. Jeffords served in the Vermont Senate from Rutland County, 1967-68 and was Vermont Attorney General, 1969-73. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and served until 1989. While in the House he was ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee and served on the Agriculture Committee and Select Committee on Aging. He was chairman of the House Environmental Study Conference, 1978-79; co-founder of the Congressional Solar Coalition and the Congressional Arts Caucus. Jeffords was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988 and serves on Labor and Human Resources Committee, the Environmental and Public Works Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, and on Veterans Affairs.

He is ranking Republican of the Labor Subcommittee and serves on the subcommittees on Education, Arts, and Humanities; Handicapped; Environmental Protection; Water Resources, Transportation & Infrastructure; and Toxic Substances, Environmental Oversight, and R&D