Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Telling the Farm Family Story

Coaxing a long line of slow-moving cows down their path, pitching hay near the roof beams of an old barn on a blistering summer day until your nostrils fill with dust, smelling the distant sweet odor of corn silage on a September afternoon, feeling the breeze off a long field of grass... those are just a few memories that generations of farm families share almost instinctively.

From those few images spring many others for those who haven't grown up on farms... pasture views, long expanses of land that people imagine being perfect for a house site, cows in a meadow, turkeys amid the stubble of a corn field, and crooked picturesque barns that keep standing despite a lack of attention.

The people behind the sounds and sights that make up the agricultural landscape in the Northeast Kingdom are the topic of this week’s Farm Families documentary series here at VPR. You might have thought that the story of agriculture in Vermont has been told. Not so, though, especially in this part of Caledonia County.

Charlotte Albright spent months visiting and getting to know the people who live on six multi-generational farms to explore just how the future of agriculture hangs in the balance. In this series, she touched the past, the present and, in some ways, the future.

There are many ways into this series. The stories air during Morning Edition at 7:50am and during All Things Considered at 4:50pm. Or you can listen online or read the text. The stories are sound-rich portraits that characterize the farm family dilemma from various points of view.

But don't miss the online audio slideshow. You can hear the behind-the-scenes narrative of how the project came together and see Herb Swanson's photos of the farm families who were interviewed.

Or maybe this entry brings to mind a story of your own. Tell us online; we’ll post your own farm family story or essay.

By telling these stories, VPR hopes to help you to find your own connection to the family farm and to examine how its preservation or disappearance affects you.

John Van Hoesen
VPR Vice President for News

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