Strolling Of The Heifers
In what is know, known as a town charished tradition. Last weekend; some 100 heifers, colorfully decorated with spring flowers strolled down main street in Brattleboro, VT. About 50,000 people (which) is half of Vermonts population, assembled 3 rows deep to show their support and appreciate for it's local farmers.
Where It All Began..
This age old tradition was first started in 2002 where it took it's inspiration from Spain's "Running of the Bull". Vermonters where lamenting over the growing loss of dairy farmers. It was establish to bring attention to farming’s importance to the community’s health, heritage, and economy.
“Without farms, we don’t eat,” says Orly Munzing, the parade’s founder and executive director, adding that “when food became a commodity, people lost touch with where their food came from, even here, where a farm is a stone’s throw away.”
Change, Not Always what We Hope For..
Understandably we expect some change over the years. In the 1940's Vermont proudly boasted over 11,000 dairy farms, you will be shocked to know that number is down to a whoppen 1,000 today. Sadly "Rob Family Farm" who led out this years parade takes that number down by one more. After being in production for 104 years Helen Rob says;
"Shutting down was a hard decision, but the economics of running a small dairy (50 to 55 cows) no longer made sense as the price for milk barely keeps pace with increasing feed, seed, diesel, and fertilizer costs."
On a positive note...
There is a rise in demand for small niche farms, particularly artisan cheese markers. And if only for a day the uncertain future of Vermont farms floats away in the shouts of this happy parade.