World dishwashing record shattered in Hardwick

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copyright the Chronicle May 31, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

HARDWICK — For a while it looked like Bethany Dunbar’s biggest problem would be finding enough dirty dishes. The Center for an Agricultural Economy, where she works, had plenty of clean dishes. It has been collecting them to hold its own zero waste events and has created a 400-dish library to loan to other organizations wanting to do away with paper plates.

A warm sunny day, a rarity this spring, brought huge crowds to Hardwick’s Spring Festival Saturday and it seemed there would be plenty of dishwashers for the assault on the record.

Time passed. People finished their meals and deposited plates and bowls in the bins Ms. Dunbar had set out to collect used plates. Then they set off to do whatever needed to be done in the garden or around the house.

By 2:30 p.m., the time set for people to line up, there was only a fraction of the crowd that had been milling about Atkins Field only an hour before.

Ms. Dunbar and her fellows from the Center for an Agricultural Economy had reason to be nervous.

The plan was to break the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most people simultaneously washing dishes. Ms. Dunbar said the Center and the Kiwanis Club, which sponsor Hardwick’s spring festival, hoped the attempt would inspire more people to attend.

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Panel discusses the future of migrant labor

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copyright the Chronicle May 24, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

HARDWICK — “Who will milk the cows?” asked panelists at a farm forum held at Hazen Union High School on May 17.

But the real question on the table was what happens on Vermont dairy farms if President Trump makes good on his promise to step up deportations of undocumented workers?

If deportations are stepped up in Vermont, it could be devastating to Northeast Kingdom dairy farmers. The vast majority of dairy workers in Vermont these days are Hispanic, mostly Mexican, said former farm worker Abel Luna, the campaign and education coordinator for the Burlington-based organization Migrant Justice. And most of them are undocumented.

The issue has united Vermonters from all sides of the political spectrum. Recently, all three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation, along with Governor Phil Scott, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, and Vermont Farm Bureau President Joe Tisbert jointly signed a letter to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“This is an urgent issue in our small state — when Vermont farms struggle, so too does Vermont’s entire economy,” the letter says in part.

In a far-ranging conversation that spanned the threat of deportations, treatment of farmworkers, and the economic challenges facing dairy farmers, the four panelists at last week’s meeting in Hardwick answered questions and traded observations with about 40 people.

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Congressional delegation draws hundreds in Hardwick

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copyright the Chronicle March 29, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

HARDWICK — The parking lot at Hazen Union High School here was filled an hour before the event even started. Inside the school’s gymnasium more than 500 people were already in their seats waiting.

“Is it always like this when this kind of thing happens?” one woman wondered.

There was no answer to the question. Nothing similar had ever happened in this quiet Northeast Kingdom town.

By the time the announcement came, there were between 600 and 700 people in the hall, all of whom rose to their feet and let out a roar when the arrival of the state’s Congressional delegation was announced.

U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Representative Peter Welch walked through the crowd waving and smiling on their way to the small platform at the end of the gym.

There, Vermont Senator Jane Kitchell of West Danville, the master of ceremonies, awaited their arrival. Mr. Welch paused to hug his former state Senate colleague and exchange a few words with her before joining his colleagues in waving to the crowd.

Though billed as a town hall meeting, the event had the unmistakable feel of a political rally and a joyous one at that. The three men were arriving on the heels of the best news their supporters have had since November — the decision by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump to pull the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often called Obamacare, rather than see it fail for lack of Republican support.

 

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Galaxy to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

 

This is the second year for Independent Bookstore Day, which celebrates independent bookstores nationwide. It will be on April 30, and there will be literary parties around the country. The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick will be celebrating with a story time, sales, raffles, and homemade treats.

“We’re so excited for Independent Bookstore Day,” said Sandy Scott, who co-owns the store with Andrea Jones. “This isn’t just about our store; it’s about indie stores all over the country and our role in our communities. We’re planning to make it a fun day for everyone.”

The Galaxy Bookshop will also offer exclusive day-of merchandise created especially for Independent Bookstore Day by major publishers and authors. Those items will only be available at participating independent bookstores. Since its inception in 2014, more than 120 authors have demonstrated their support for independent bookstores by donating work for Bookstore Day.

The second annual National Independent Bookstore Day is sponsored in part by Penguin Random House, Ingram, and The American Booksellers Association. Last year participating bookstores saw an average increase in sales of 70 percent on Independent Bookstore Day. — from The Galaxy Bookshop.

For more things to do, see our events page.

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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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Debut novel draws page-turning journey

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WEB mill horse reviewcopyright the Chronicle November 26, 2014

The Clever Mill Horse, by Jodi Lew-Smith. Paperback. 409 pages. Published by Caspian Press, Hardwick. $16.99

Reviewed by Tena Starr

Jodi Lew-Smith has written a rollicking story here, as unlikely as that seems, given that the plot revolves around securing a patent for a flax-milling machine. I would not, myself, have thought of patent rights as the most gripping subject for a young adult adventure novel.

But it works. The characters are well drawn, for the most part, and the plot has considerable twists and turns.

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