Center for an Agricultural Economy

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= a Hardwick (Vermont) ‐based nonprofit that coordinates regional food system activity



by Jessica Conrad:

"Among many other contributions to the community, the nonprofit just purchased the old town common. Until recently, no one had hope that Hardwick, an aging granite-­mining center, would ever recover from the mining industry collapse. The town common had been neglected since the thirties, but members of the Center for an Agricultural Economy saw its potential and purchased the sixteen acres in the heart of Hardwick. Today, Stearns describes all kinds of activity planned for the property, including an educational farm and community garden.

The combined effect of these many assorted commons solutions is a small town renaissance no one could have expected in Hardwick. Stearns describes countless new economic opportunities growing up around healthy food, ecological awareness, and value‐added agriculture. There are new jobs—good jobs—at High Mowing and elsewhere. The rural “brain drain” is reversing in this area, as smart young people who moved away are coming home. People are once again running for town select boards and school boards. “People are actually competing [for those positions] because they want to have a voice,” Stearns says. “It’s really cool.” (