Letters to the paper are not fact-checked and do not necessarily represent the views of The Bridge.
Thanks to Volunteers
I am writing to thank the dedicated volunteers who have helped with recent downtown beautification projects. These projects, led by the Montpelier Alive Design Committee, help contribute toward a more attractive and vibrant downtown, and we could not have completed them without volunteer support.
The North Branch River Art project, led by Design Committee Chair Didi Brush, was inspired by an art installation in Quebec City in 2008. This project brings majesty and allure to Montpelier’s rivers, which are an oft-forgotten downtown asset.
More than 170 plants were planted in City Hall Plaza, softening and beautifying this underutilized space. Now, downtown workers and visitors can enjoy a meal or a moment of contemplation surrounded by beauty but still in touch with the pulse of the town. The flowers were planted on Green Up Day by the Design Committee with the assistance of volunteers from National Life Group.
And finally, dozens of flower barrels and hanging flower baskets will be planted and placed across downtown in the coming weeks.
These projects were funded in part by Downtown Improvement District funds, with administrative support from Montpelier Alive.
We invite readers to be involved as volunteers or supporters by contacting email@example.com.
Dan Groberg, Montpelier
Thanks to Hecht, Pyralisk
As I was about to throw away my copy of The Bridge [May 3], I noted an article by Nicholas Hecht that had not jumped out at me earlier—“Finding Space for Art: Pyralisk Rises from the Rubble.” Yes, someone is finally going to do something about the lovely Middlesex train station! So many times in the past few years as I drove by it on my trips to and from my family home at Round Barn Farm in North Waitsfield, I would comment to myself about the dilapidated state of this once thriving building and wonder if someone was ever going to do something about it. Thank goodness, it will be preserved and not bulldozed!
It reminded me of my childhood in the 1940s, when the Middlesex station was an active hub on the Montreal-to-Boston and New York Canadian rail system. My dad shipped out his very high-quality gallons of “grade Fancy” maple syrup in large wooden containers nailed together at our farm, and I often accompanied him on those trips on what was then Route 100 to Middlesex. Now the road is Route 100B, exchanging route numbers with what was then a dirt road over Duxbury Hill to Waterbury.
Every summer my older and street-wise cousins from Montreal, Helen and Nancy, came down on the train with their huge trunks to stay during their school vacation with their mother, Aunt Helen Bisbee Marsh, in their little summer house next to our farm. Formerly a home for hired farm help, it had no electricity, running water, or other modern conveniences, but it was fine for them to spend the summer in the country and be near all the family relatives. Their dad, Uncle “Deke” Robert Marsh came down only a few times to visit. He worked as an executive for Aluminium Limited in Montreal.
It was always a joyous occasion for me as their country cousin, to see and hear what was going on in the rest of the outside world through their more metropolitan view of things. They often quoted to me the story of the city mouse and the country mouse, denounced the American flag while singing “God Save the King/Queen,” and kept me apprised of the Führer’s latest escapades in Germany!
(My cousin Helen, who still lives in that totally renovated little house, reminded me recently that they also took what was known as “the stage” back and forth from Middlesex on occasion. This was a van used by the postal service to deliver mail to the town post offices on Route 100 from Montpelier and also served as a local mail carrier for rural postal customers along the route to Warren. It probably replaced what once was a real stage coach that filled the same duty years before. When this happened we would just have to pick them up on Route 100 at the intersection of Meadow Road.)
I therefore remember the old train station fondly and have been saddened by its apparent neglect, as it seemed to be sinking into the sunset along with many other old icons including ourselves. How great to realize that it is being rehabilitated by The Pyralisk, which I also remember as having its home behind the Montpelier Fire Station in the building next to the steep hill. I think I will send them a tiny donation, which is all my lowered social status can do at this time!
Thank you, Nicholas Hecht!
Mary Alice Bisbee, North Waitsfield
Farms of All Sizes Are Best Use of Vermont Land
I am proud to say that I am a dairy farmer. Our farm strives to take the best possible care of our land and animals so that we can provide a source of local food for our community and beyond. It was disheartening to read a recent letter to the editor by Mimi Clark, the wife of a dairy farmer, claiming that the Vermont landscape can’t support large dairy farms, like ours.
The best way to keep our environment healthy is to keep farms of all sizes in business. According to the Lake Champlain Basin Program, one acre of urban/suburban land contributes about four times more phosphorus to the Lake than one acre of farm land.
On our farm, we manage 3,600 acres of land to feed our cows. We have worked extensively with the Vermont Land Trust over the years and own 1,675 acres of conserved farm land. Soil health is crucial to the cleanliness and future of our water and food supply. The soils and nutrients on our fields are kept in place by covering them with plants all year; studies show that this is helping to sequester carbon.
Each spring we plant corn, without tilling up the soil, the land is left intact and the seeds are planted directly into the ground through existing vegetation. When soil is undisturbed the root systems, worms and bugs all help to retain nutrients while doing the tillage work themselves, creating pathways for water and nutrients to be absorbed.
Our corn is harvested in the fall and immediately, our winter-rye cover crop is planted. Rye protects our soil through the spring snow melts and rains and helps hold water. As soil organic matter increases by one percent, through these practices, the soil absorbs 25,000 additional gallons of water per acre.
On many of our fields we transport manure directly from our manure pits through a pipeline hose which connects to a tractor in the field and is spread or injected directly into the soil, protecting water quality and soil health. An added benefit to both no-till planting and piping our manure is less equipment trips over the field (and road) which reduces soil compaction and fuel usage.
Before we consider transitioning farmland to other uses, it’s important to recognize that dairy is a local food that is affordable and nutrient rich and can feed millions of people. Our farm is a member of Cabot Creamery Cooperative where our milk is made into cheese, butter, yogurt and other dairy products.
Currently, New England produces about 10 percent of its own food according to Food Solutions New England. Their goal is to increase that to 50 percent so that we are less dependent on other parts of the country that are facing water shortages and drought due to a changing climate. Vermont family farmers can meet this challenge and feed people in a sustainable way, but we need your support.
Clara Ayer, East Montpelier
What Do You Think?
We welcome your letters and opinion pieces. Letters must be fewer than 300 words. Opinion pieces should not exceed 600 words. The Bridge reserves the right to edit and cut pieces. Send your piece to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for the next issue is June 15