Reviewed by David K. Rodgers
Kingdom’s Bounty “A sustainable, eclectic, edible guide to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom,” by Bethany Dunbar, published by Umbrage Editions 2012, soft cover, 128 pages. $25.
Bethany Dunbar of West Glover is uniquely qualified in many significant ways to have written and illustrated her new book, Kingdom’s Bounty, “A sustainable, eclectic, edible guide to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.” She was raised and went to school in Craftsbury, graduated from Lyndon State College, worked with her ex- husband as a dairy farmer for 11 years, was a reported for the Hardwick Gazette, and then for the last 25 years has been a reporter and co-editor at the Barton Chronicle. In addition she gives a weekly radio interview about local news stories on WDEV, is a regular contributor to New England Country Folks and is past president of Vermont Press Association, still serving on its board of directors. A fine photographer, she knows the Northeast Kingdom in great depth and has her finger on the pulse of new trends there, especially those involving food.
Kingdom’s Bounty, just published by Umbrage Editions, goes beyond a simple factual guide to being a real celebration of the people, community and landscapes of the area. As one of the people profiled in this book (Mrs. Everts of Too Little Far,), susintly summed it up about locally grown food, “It has a story and a name behind it. It has a person. It has a place.” Ms. Dunbar uses her journalistic skills to bring out the human aide of numerous hardworking entrepreneurs and artisans who are fulfilling their personal vision of a better life and an excellent product, all of whom have put the Northeast Kingdom on the national map as being in the forefront of the local, organic, healthy food movement. These are people who really care about what they do, who are solidly connected to the land and the cycles of the animal and plant life around them, living in a more biological rhythm as opposed to the omnipresent mechanical (and now electronic) rhythms of our culture.
This guide is generously illustrated and very attractively printed, predominately with Ms. Dunbar’s own well composed evocative photographs, which are always empathetic to the subjects. The text has 32 profiles and over 200 listings, carefully organized alphabetically by the name of the enterprise and the town where they are located, with helpful cross references, suggested tours, and a good map. What makes this guide special is that it combines a lot of useful information with an engaging personal narrative. It is comprehensive in that it includes more than the edible, with entries on museums, inns, bookstores, county fairs and other activities as well as interesting side features on types of cows, barns, and not to mention the history and geology of the region.
Altogether Kingdom’s Bounty is a labor of love for the beauty of the Northeast Kingdom and the richness of its people. We should carry a copy of it in our car to encourage exploring this amazing place we call home.
Bethany M. Dunbar will share a booth at the Orleans County Fair in Barton with the Chronicle. The fair is August 15 through 19. To order a copy of Kingdom’s Bounty at a special discount for Chronicle readers ($20 plus $9 shipping and handling), click here. Kingdom’s Bounty is also available for $25 plus tax at the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, the Woodknot Bookshop in Newport, the gift shop at the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington, the MAC Center for the Arts in Newport, Barnes and Noble in Burlington, Hudson News at the Burlington International Airport, and the Craftsbury General Store.