WITHOUT A FARMHOUSE NEAR: At a Crossroads in Vermont by Deborah Rawson

WITHOUT A FARMHOUSE NEAR: At a Crossroads in Vermont

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Rawson, a free-lance writer for Life, spent many childhood holidays on a Vermont farm; in this, her first book, she offers a slow, carefully orchestrated look at how farming in the Green Mountain State is falling victim to suburban sprawl. Rawson focuses on two Vermont towns, Underhill and Jericho, traditional communities now being turned into bedroom communities by employees of IBM and other mega-corporations. The statistics are startling: while Vermont boasted 12,000 dairy farms in 1950, only 2500 exist today. The reasons are obvious: farming means 14-hour days, low pay, backbreaking labor, no vacations, and continuing threats from crippling taxes and undervalued produce. Mostly, Rawson lets those involved speak for themselves. Transplanted city-dwellers Gall and Bob Schermer rejoice in their natural surroundings, but worry about condo development. Alice Rivers, ""born to be a grandmother,"" donates her land to the local fire department on the condition it remain unspoiled. Gary Davis, the only member of his high-school class to be a farmer, tried working in a sawmill but missed the milking too much. A pattern emerges: most Vermonters adore farms, yet curse the hardships of the farming life; want desperately to preserve Vermont's rural beauties, yet feel the magnetism of developmental money. The future seems uncertain--an awkward final choice, perhaps, between cash and cows. Further evidence that America, even in the crustiest of Yankee regions, ain't what it used to be--and will be even less so tomorrow. Informative but unexciting.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1989
Publisher: Available/Ballantine