An old gardening practice acquires new life

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copyright the Chronicle October 11, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

Dense forests of bright green parsley. Waist-high kale, green-black and curly. Vegetables growing in profusion in soil so rich and light that a hand thrust among their roots travels downward a foot or more before reaching any impediment.

It’s the impediment, the thing that finally stops the hand, that’s the surprise — logs and branches, layered one on top of the other in a loose mass. Topped with organic waste and then soil, it’s all decomposing slowly under the surface, providing an almost endless source of nutrients for the roots above.

The practice is called hügelkultur, an old German invention that’s seeing a resurgence in popularity in this country. “Hügel” is the German word for “hill,” since the logs and brush and dirt are usually piled up to form a mound.

On Saturday afternoon, two of the area’s garden experts, Rebecca Beidler and Jeff Ellis of Peace of Earth Farm in Albany, held a workshop to teach one variation on the hügelkultur idea — hügel terracing.

The couple farms a steep hillside, so terraces are a logical adaptation.

Their soil is sand with some gravel mixed in, left by a major road washout 50-some-odd years ago.

“On its own, it barely grows grass,” Mr. Ellis said.

But thanks to hügelkultur and other practices collectively known as permaculture, the couple has turned wasteland into a thriving small farm.

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Pet thieves posing as “humane officers?”

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copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Tena Starr

 

The owners of two dogs in Albany believe the animals were stolen last week by someone posing as a representative of P.E.T.S of the Kingdom, a nonprofit that checks on animal welfare.

Ronald Mason said his wife Melissa’s dog and his youngest daughter’s dog were taken from the Albany home where a relative has been caring for them. The Masons recently moved from Albany to Lyndonville and can’t keep pets there, so they left them in Albany with their nephew.

“He came home from work and the dogs were gone,” Mr. Mason said. “My nephew called P.E.T.S., and they said they didn’t take them.”

Mr. Mason said a woman had come around to the Albany home where the dogs were, saying she was doing neighborhood checks of animals and wondered if they would like to get rid of the dogs.

“We were like, no, we don’t want to get rid of them,” Mr. Mason said. “We’ve had these dogs since they were puppies. I just think it’s pretty damned bad when somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to you. Pets can be like family. I’m just plain disgusted.”

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Governor Scott visits Albany

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copyright the Chronicle June 14, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

ALBANY — Governor Phil Scott breezed into Albany Monday to sign a pair of bills that he said will help revitalize aspects of the state’s rural economy. One, a bill to increase the number of chickens a farmer may raise, kill, and sell from 1,000 birds to 5,000, was proposed and seen through to passage by South Albany’s own Billy Pearce.

The other, which aids forestry workers in a number of ways, was welcomed by Colleen Goodridge, who hosted the signing ceremony. Ms. Goodridge, the matriarch of Goodridge Lumber, a family business that specializes in white cedar, is also vice-president of the Vermont Forest Products Association.

Governor Scott was welcomed by a crowd of around 70 people that included legislators from around the Northeast Kingdom and state officials, including Secretary Julie Moore of the Agency of Natural Resources.

H.495, the new forestry law, includes a provision exempting logging equipment and the fuel used to run it from state sales taxes. The state will also loan or help loggers purchase pre-made skidder bridges to help them meet clean water requirements.

Governor Scott said the state hopes to have 25 of the bridges available for loan or lease this summer.

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Albany Neighbors opposed to gravel pit

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copyright the Chronicle May 3, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

ALBANY — Father and son Christian and Clark Katzenbach are hoping to earn a living from a vein of gravel on their 203-acre property on Grigg Road. Christian Katzenbach has spent most of his life as a logger, and it’s time for a change, he said. And 18-year-old Clark just bought a truck and is keen to go into business with his dad.

That puts them at odds with their neighbors, some who fear for their own livelihoods, and others who worry about living near a gravel pit — about the noise, the traffic, the dust, or just the look of the thing.

Albany has no zoning, Selectman Chris Jacobs said at an Act 250 hearing held at the Albany Community School in April to consider the Katzenbachs’ application for a permit to open a three-acre gravel pit on the land that Christian Katzenbach has owned since 1994.

Rebecca Beidler and Jeffrey Ellis’ organic vegetable farm lies right along the edge of what’s now a dead-end dirt road.

Chris Katzenbach’s plan is to reopen a long-unused segment of the road, and he’s agreed to build and maintain it. It’s the most efficient way to get gravel trucks down to Route 14, he says.

Ms. Beidler and Mr. Ellis aren’t happy about having heavy gravel trucks rumbling past their fields many times a day, kicking up dust and spreading diesel fumes.

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Albany concert expected to draw thousands

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copyright the Chronicle December 7, 2016

by Tena Starr

Two Irasburg Masons are hoping that up to 100,000 people will come to Albany next fall for a daylong concert they’re planning to raise money for the Mt. Sinai #3 Shriners, based in Montpelier. The concert lineup mainly features 1980s rock bands, but there will be 11 acts in all with country music, as well as a trio of local acts, thrown in.

Adam Johnson and Marcos Clay are working together on the concert, called Shrinedom 2017, which will be held on the grounds of the Creek Hill Barn on the Creek Road in East Albany. A hundred thousand tickets are being advertised for sale, ranging in price from $100 for general admission to $300 for a stage front ticket and a chance to win an autographed guitar. Also, the Shrinedom website lists a category to make a donation, which doesn’t include a ticket.

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Albany teacher named Vermont Science Teacher of the Year

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copyright the Chronicle October 19, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

ALBANY — When Megan Jolly was in college, and for a couple of years after that, one of her jobs as a fledgling biologist was to crawl into bear caves in winter and haul out cubs so they could be counted and weighed.

“I have to say, teaching teenagers is harder,” she said on Monday at the Albany Community School where her stories about working with bears and seabirds bring science alive to her middle school science students.

Next week, Ms. Jolly will be named Vermont Science Teacher of the Year by the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE). The awards — one for a teacher at the high school level, and one for an elementary or middle school teacher — will be presented at a banquet at the University of Vermont on October 24.

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Communities struggle to find new uses for old churches

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copyright the Chronicle September 14, 2016

by Tena Starr

One of Vermont’s iconic images is the steepled white church that’s at the center of so many villages. But with the number of people who attend services dwindling to near extinction in some cases, the remnants of those congregations are looking at what to do with their gracious old church buildings. Somehow, most of them have been maintained, if lightly used, but that’s getting harder, too.

The First Congregational Church of Westfield stopped having services maybe ten years ago when the handful of remaining churchgoers found the meager pay for a weekly pastor prohibitive. Services there were revived in May with a new pastor, John Klar of Irasburg.

And for the past two years or so Katherine Sims of Lowell and her husband, Jeff Fellinger, have hosted a summer monthly concert series at the building, where once women made enormous batches of pies and sold them as a fund-raiser for the church, where years ago people of all ages attended lively card parties in the basement. The proceeds from the concert series go towards church repairs and maintenance.

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1,000 pounds of onions stolen from Albany farmer

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Andy Paonessa at one of his farm fields.  Last week someone stole about 1,000 pounds of onions and shallots from him and his soon-to-be wife, Meghan Stotko.  Photo by Tena Starr

Andy Paonessa at one of his farm fields. Last week someone stole about 1,000 pounds of onions and shallots from him and his soon-to-be wife, Meghan Stotko. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle September 23, 2015

by Tena Starr

ALBANY — A puzzled Albany farmer is wondering why anyone would want to steal nearly 1,000 pounds of onions.

Andy Paonessa arrived at one of his farm fields last week to top and crate onions and discovered that he had been robbed of about $2,000 worth of onions and shallots.

“I looked around and thought there’s a lot missing. I looked down at my feet, and I was looking down at tire tracks.”

It turned out that about 1,000 pounds of onions that had been pulled, topped, and crated up for further drying had vanished. There were, and still are, clear tracks indicating that someone with a truck drove in and simply took 20 crates of onions and shallots from the field.

“I said, oh my God, we got robbed out of the field,” Mr. Paonessa said.

He said his workers scratched their heads.

Even the State Police were a… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Peters still holds CDL at 95

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Bill Peters' children recently gave him a plaque, honoring him for possibly being the oldest man in Vermont who still holds a CDL.  He's 95, and was a longtime road commissioner in Albany.   Photo by Tena Starr

Bill Peters’ children recently gave him a plaque, honoring him for possibly being the oldest man in Vermont who still holds a CDL. He’s 95, and was a longtime road commissioner in Albany. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle May 27, 2015

by Tena Starr  

NORTH HYDE PARK — Former Albany Road Commissioner Bill Peters could well be the oldest man in Vermont who still holds a CDL. That’s a commercial driver’s license, which, among other things, allows a person to drive the big trucks that maintain town roads.

Mr. Peters’ children recently presented their father with a plaque that says: “Congratulations on being the oldest person we could find that still has a CDL and medical card in the state of Vermont. Turned 95 on March 31, 2015. We are proud of you.”

The plaque was the idea of Mr. Peters’ son Donald.

He said he was out shoveling snow in March and thought, what do you get a man who’s 95?….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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contact Tena Starr at tenas@bartonchronicle.com

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A look at the internal struggles of an early feminist

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WEB marthas mandala bookcopyright the Chronicle March 25, 2015

by Natalie Hormilla

Martha Oliver-Smith of Albany has written something like a memoir, except it’s not really about herself.

The main character of Martha’s Mandala is another Martha, the author’s maternal grandmother, Martha Stringham Bacon, who went by the name of Patty. Ms. Bacon was a talented artist and writer who lived mostly in the first half of the twentieth century, but you had to personally know her to know any of that. She was better known during her life as the wife of Leonard Bacon, an accomplished writer who won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for a collection called Sunderland Capture.

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