Plowing Old Ground: Vermont’s Organic Farming Pioneers

Plowing Old Ground: Vermont’s Organic Farming Pioneers

Photographs by John Nopper will be featured at The Works Bakery Café, on Main Street in Brattleboro, over June. The exhibit is part of “Plowing Old Ground: Vermont’s Organic Farming,” a work in development by agricultural writer Susan Harlow and farmer/photographer John Nopper.


Their aim: preserve the story of the organic farmers who first came to Vermont in the 1960s. Over the past two years, Harlow has conducted about 40 hours of interviews, most of them around farm kitchen tables.

Nopper came to Vermont as a teacher, worked for many years in the wood industry, and then built and managed a large-scale sheep operation on his farm in Putney.

The photos are black and white and document the lives of six working farms and their farmers.

“Vermont’s early organic farmers built an industry and a culture from scratch. Many of these farmers, now in their 60s, are asking themselves ‘What will happen to my farm?’ They’re getting ready to retire, but few of their children want to farm the land themselves,” Harlow says.

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