More agriculture, more jobs

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Sweet Rowen Farmstead owner Paul Lisai poses in front of his creamery with his 16-year-old dog, Bailey.

Sweet Rowen Farmstead owner Paul Lisai poses in front of his creamery with his 16-year-old dog, Bailey.  Photos by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle May 6, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

The six-year-old Farm to Plate initiative appears to be doing its job and has noticeably helped bolster Vermont’s farm and food economy, according to a report released earlier this year.

Among other things, the report, conducted by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, says that, statewide, there were 748 food manufacturing firms in the state in 2014, a 37 percent increase over 2009. And between 2009 and 2013 4,189 new jobs were created in the food system. In all, about 60,000 Vermonters are employed as farmers, waiters, cheesemakers, brewers, bakers, butchers, grocery stockers, restaurateurs, manufacturers, marketers, distributors and other food related jobs, the report says.

Farm to Plate was part of the Vermont Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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Sugaring season was short

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Alfred Carrier and his son, Alfred Carrier Jr., take a moment from sugaring to pose for a family photo.  The younger Mr. Carrier says that he has only missed one day of sugaring in the seven years since the family began making maple syrup.   Photos by Elizabeth Trail

Alfred Carrier and his son, Alfred Carrier Jr., take a moment from sugaring to pose for a family photo. The younger Mr. Carrier says that he has only missed one day of sugaring in the seven years since the family began making maple syrup. Photos by Elizabeth Trail

copyright the Chronicle April 29, 2015

by Elizabeth Trail

Alfred Carrier and his son Alfred Carrier Jr., were among the last people in Orleans County still making maple syrup this past weekend. Many local sugarmakers report that they quit boiling early last week.

Local sugarmakers say the season was nothing to brag about. While some made close to a regular crop, others said they made about half as much as normal. Sugarmakers who do not use vacuum had a particularly skimpy crop.

Asked how her season was, Janet Osborne in Island Pond said, “Horrid.”

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Wanted: foster homes

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Deb Richards (left) and Suzanne Shibley at the Newport District Office of Family Services.  The area is badly in need of foster homes.   Photo by Tena Starr

Deb Richards (left) and Suzanne Shibley at the Newport District Office of Family Services. The area is badly in need of foster homes. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle March 11, 2015

by Tena Starr  

NEWPORT — Erica Page always thought she was meant to be a foster parent. After years of unsuccessfully trying to have children of their own, she finally told her husband, Shaun Sykes, “Enough is enough. Let’s become parents in a different way.”

In May, Ms. Page and Mr. Sykes got their first placement, a boy, who is now four. They also have a four-month-old girl in their home.

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Industrial sugaring comes to Brighton

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Art by Brianne Nichols

Art by Brianne Nichols

copyright the Chronicle March 4, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

BRIGHTON — The days of making maple syrup to raise a little cash for property taxes have been gone for quite a while now. But an Island Pond sugaring operation getting ready for its first season could usher in a whole new era of industrial sugaring.

Sweet Tree, LLC, started and owned by a Connecticut-based investment firm, just finished tapping trees on 3,600 acres in Warren’s Gore and will be ready to fire up the steam-powered evaporators at the old Ethan Allen furniture plant in Brighton as soon as the weather breaks.

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Navigating the complexities of the simple life

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WEB Hewitt bookcopyright the Chronicle December 3, 2014

The Nourishing Homestead: One Back-to-the-Land Family’s Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills, and Spirit, by Ben Hewitt with Penny Hewitt. Published by Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, 2015; Paperbound, 352 pages; $29.95.

Reviewed by Joseph Gresser

Some books need to be written again as each new generation comes of age. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, may have set the template for one of these books, the exhortation to the reader to give up conventional expectations and live a radically simplified life.

Living the Good Life, by Helen and Scott Nearing, set forth a version of that message adapted for a very different world. To give them full credit, the Nearings lived according to their principles far longer than the year or two Mr. Thoreau spent in the woods.

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In Greensboro: After 114 years, Willey’s Store remains famously eclectic

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Robert Willey-Hurst, current president of Willey's Store, Inc., has worked tirelessly these past six years to see that the store remains a community center.  Photos by David Dudley

Robert Willey-Hurst, current president of Willey’s Store, Inc., has worked tirelessly these past six years to see that the store remains a community center. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle December 3, 2014

by David Dudley

GREENSBORO — While stories about Black Friday’s frenzied shopping flooded the Internet, the day after Thanksgiving began like any other at Willey’s Store, which is now in its one hundred and fourteenth year of operation.

Robert Willey-Hurst, president of the Willey’s Store, Inc., opened the store at 7 a.m. as usual. The only thing he did differently was stretch the annual winter sale, which usually runs for a single weekend, into a two-week event this year.

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The homeless — out of sight, out of mind?

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The area’s homeless don’t tend to be street-dwellers, as in more urban places.  In the Northeast Kingdom, they live on the beaches, in the woods, in their cars, or they “couch surf,” sleeping at the homes of friends or family who have enough room to take them in for a while.  The county’s homeless population exists, it’s just hard to find.   Photo by David Dudley

The area’s homeless don’t tend to be street-dwellers, as in more urban places. In the Northeast Kingdom, they live on the beaches, in the woods, in their cars, or they “couch surf,” sleeping at the homes of friends or family who have enough room to take them in for a while. The county’s homeless population exists, it’s just hard to find. Photo by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle November 19, 2014

by David Dudley

NEWPORT — Victoria Kuhn, a thin woman in her twenties, moved to Newport a little over a year ago with her fiancé. Since their arrival, they have lived on Prouty Beach, in their car, and during the cold months, with the man’s mother. Ms. Kuhn’s fiancé suffered a traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while in the military.  Since his return, he has developed severe stomach ulcers, and doctors have given him six months to live, Ms. Kuhn said.

“We came to Newport from Dover, Delaware,” she said. “We wanted to be near his mother, but we couldn’t find our own place to live.

“We’ve been here a little over a year now, and still haven’t found our own home. I don’t know how to explain it. ”

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Planet Aid drop boxes unlikely to clothe locals

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At least one Planet Aid bin has already appeared in Orleans County.   This one is in Orleans near Village Pizza.  Photo by Tena Starr

At least one Planet Aid bin has already appeared in Orleans County. This one is in Orleans near Village Pizza. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle November 5, 2014 

by Natalie Hormilla

A convenient way to recycle clothing is making its way into Orleans and Essex counties — but it’s highly unlikely that any of those clothes will end up on the backs of needy people in the Northeast Kingdom, or even in the country.

Planet Aid is a nonprofit that puts out bins where anyone can deposit unwanted clothes, shoes, or bedding, no matter what condition they’re in. It moved into Vermont in 2009 or 2010, said Northern New England Operations Manager Patrick Holland in a telephone interview Friday from his office in Hudson, New Hampshire. But it’s just now moving north of St. Johnsbury.

Drop-off bins will be available in the next few weeks in Derby, Newport, Irasburg, Barton, Orleans, Norton, Canaan, Lyndonville, and Danville, at the recycling centers in Glover and Brighton, and at the Westmore transfer station.

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Is the postal service shooting itself in the foot?

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The Post Office in Craftsbury Common has strange hours these days.  Residents say they are inconvenient, but the USPS says decreasing hours is the only way to keep some of these offices open. Photos by David Dudley

The Post Office in Craftsbury Common has strange hours these days. Residents say they are inconvenient, but the USPS says decreasing hours is the only way to keep some of these offices open. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle October 29, 2014

by David Dudley

In May of 2012 the United States Postal Service (USPS) implemented the Post Plan, which was devised to curb mounting debt, and prevent thousands of offices, many of them rural post offices, such as those in Greensboro Bend, Craftsbury Common, and Albany, from being shut down altogether. The USPS estimated that the plan would be up and running by September of 2014.

For many rural offices in Orleans County, the Post Plan means decreased window hours, which is affecting local businesses that depend on the Postal Service for shipping. Also, many employees have seen their hours cut, and people who work full-time are having trouble getting to the post office while it’s open.

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Safe Haven — a home for unwanted horses

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WEB Safe havencopyright the Chronicle October 22, 2014

by Tena Starr

HOLLAND — Tara Girard has taken in 17 horses this year, all of them horses that someone else didn’t want anymore, or at least couldn’t afford. Of the ten harbored by Safe Haven Farm right now, she said that she only bought one, and he was a hard luck case, too.

The little Morgan had a concussion and a dislocated tail. She calls him “a bought rescue.”

She’s had a few of those.

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