Even during hard times, most communities have unique assets, qualities and resources to build upon. These may be natural resources like scenic mountains, lakes, rivers, or ocean beaches that present unique recreational opportunities. It might be a rich history, heritage or culture. It could be the inventiveness and enthusiasm of local residents and businesses or the "curb appeal," aesthetic character or special "feel" of the place. It could be agricultural. It could be access to transportation networks or being a distribution hub. The key is to identify and build upon these unique assets and characteristics, to share knowledge and to be creative. Collaborating among individuals, businesses, nonprofits and local government is also key.
A great description of efforts to build on unique agricultural and local food assets in the rural Vermont community of Hardwick (population 3,000) was featured in the Dining section of the New York Times last Wednesday. In "Uniting Around Food To Save an Ailing Town," Marian Burros notes:
"...Facing a Main Street dotted with vacant stores, residents of this hard-scrabble community of 3,000 are reaching into its past to secure its future, betting on farming to make Hardwick the town that was saved by food.
With the fervor of Internet pioneers, young artisans and agricultural entrepreneurs are expanding aggressively, reaching out to investors and working together to create a collective strength never before seen in this seedbed of Yankee individualism."
- The Center for Agricultural Economy
- Clean Yield Asset Management
- Vermont Soy
- Jasper Hill Farm
- Pete's Greens
- Vermont Food Venture Center
- High Mowing Organic Seeds
- Vermont Natural Coatings
- Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont
- Investors Circle
- The Highfields Institute
- Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont