Hardwick, Vermont.

I'm back home now, and have been advised by a number of people to sleep and start fresh tomorrow, but I am feeling motivated, if not exhausted, through showing my friends and housemates some of this content so I want to share at least some of it with you now.

I briefly touched on Hardwick, Vermont in a post from the BALLE conference....but their story needs to be told here in a significant way, so here goes.


Hardwick, Vermont is a special place. The people there are welcoming, helpful (esp to an outsider)....and some of the most dynamic business people I've ever met. Sustainable agriculture, slow food...these are the buzzwords. Now I'd like you to meet the people who are turning those concepts into action, and succeeding.

From Hardwick, Vermont

Andrew Meyer
Co-owner Vermont Soy
Owner - Vermont Natural Coatings
 ...and relief milker

I spoke about "full circle" earlier in this blog, and Andrew is yet another example. I was first introduced to the story of Hardwick at the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston's 20th annual conference.

He told a story about a small town in Vermont that was innovating and 'rebuilding their economy to be based around Sustainable Agriculture'. And this community is doing just that. A town of about 3,000 people, along with 8 communities surrounding (a whopping 10,000 now), Hardwick has become a center for entrepreneurism, sustainable living and international inspiration and attention. Hardwick is a town nearly abandoned 70 years ago by the flight of the Granite industry, and passed over by gentrification and sprawl, has become an incubator and a thriving community of innovation.

Here's Andrew's interview (sorry, the lighting is off, hopefully I can fix it soon)

From Hardwick, Vermont

Tom Stearns
President - High Mowing Seeds
President - Center for an Agricultural Economy.

Tom was one of the Keynote Speakers @ the BALLE conference and after meeting Andrew and hearing Tom, I knew that I had to make it to Hardwick once I got back to New England. Tom is eloquent and down to earth and really takes his role, as someone people can learn from, seriously but with a light spirit. He knows that people all around the world are looking at Hardwick and how a circle of about 25 entrepreneurs, all under 40 and none with MBAs, have changed the face of their community. Though things like:

--Lending each other almost $600,000 to support smaller investments and strengthen weak or seasonal cash flows.

--Creating the Center for an Agricultural Economy and facilitating the implementation of numerous food and agriculture related programs in town.

--Supporting the formation of a Community Supported Restaurant. Claire's was opened after Linda (also the owner of Galaxy Bookstore, the indie bookstore downtown) and some partners raised $500,000 by issuing $1000 "gift certificates" to investors. These certificates are redeemable over a 4 year period, with a small stipend each week. People here almost always outspend their stipend. Sadly, Claire's is closed on Wednesday, the day I was there :(

And of course, they're hyper local in their food sourcing. The chef proudly told me that they averaged 70% of spending on ingredients from within 15 miles in year 1, and that the 1st three months of this year (Jan-Mar), they were at 79%....and those are supposed to be the tough months. And you guessed it, Steven is now helping the farmers plan future crop cycles so that they can get even more locally (they're trying Garbanzo beans right now)....this reciprocal relationship allows for the growth of both businesses. 

--They know people are watching and they've embraced that role admirably. In his interview, Tom talks about how they know they are ahead of a lot of places in building something sustainable and equitable, and so when they are approached they're welcoming, accomodating and seem genuinely happy to see you interested in their work. 

What a magical place....we've got a lot to learn from them, and they seem happy to teach.

Here's both of Tom's clips again:



  1. Eric says

    The juxtaposition of Tom and the cube is just too freakin' funny.

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