As a farmer Hewitt is deeply interested in the future of food. As a journalist he seems to be able to get anyone to talk to him. He interviewed old-timers and newcomers, visionaries and pragmatists, to come up with a capsule description of a town which is self-consciously working to rebuild a genuinely local, reasonably complete food system.
Hewitt outlines four qualites of a viable local agriculture:
- It must offer economic vitality to small-scale food producers. Farming has to pay off for the farmers.
- It must be based on sunshine. Chemical and petroleum based fertilizers will eventually run out, might as well switch now to cover crops.
- It must feed the locals. Artisan food shipped around the world may keep a business afloat, but a local economy keeps inputs and outputs circulating in the regional foodshed.
- It must be circular. Industrial processes are linear, with exhaustion and contamination as end results. Seed, crop, compost, form a repeatable cycle of fertility.
Hewitt believes Hardwick, Vermont is farthest along of all the towns in the country working on these principles. Kitsap farmers, artisans, chefs, policy makers, and families involved in local food will surely find his ruminations thought-provoking and his stories inspiring.
As a local food movement chronicler he’s rougher than I am. He tells the inside stories about who’s mad at whom and pokes good-natured fun at the excesses of locals with big personalities. I aim to promote local food ideas in a friendly, boosterish way, so I only tell upbeat stories. I’d be afraid if I wrote a book like that I’d have to move! That said, his style is never mean. If you never get a chance to visit Hardwick, Hewitt will take you on an enjoyable armchair tour.