Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cooperation makes food big business in small town

The story of Hardwick, Vt., reads like that of many other small mining towns. The granite company left town, and local businesses began to follow. Main Street emptied and the town's economy was in trouble. But where many towns work to bring in new business, or see a migration of residents, Hardwick is working hard to be "the town that was saved by food," reports The New York Times.

Residents are working collectively to build up local agriculture through mutual promotion, shared capital, business planning advice and borrowed equipment and storage. They buy one another's produce. “All of us have realized that by working together we will be more successful as businesses,” Tom Stearns, owner of High Mowing Organic Seeds, told Marian Burros of the Times. “At the same time we will advance our mission to help rebuild the food system, conserve farmland and make it economically viable to farm in a sustainable way.”

The town manager, Rob Lewis, says that the effort is paying off for the economy. With only 3,000 residents, 75 to 100 jobs were added in the last few years. Stearns says that six businesses spoke with him about moving to the area in the span of one week. “Things that seemed totally impossible not so long ago are now going to happen,” said Mateo Kehler, who with his brother, began aging cheese on the family farm, then expanded to start aging cheese for other farmers. “In the next few years a new wave of businesses will come in behind us. So many things are possible with collaboration.” (Read more)

No comments: