When farms met factories

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I’ll be giving a talk (and signing copies of A Quabbin Farm Album) at the Wendell Free Library on Thursday, Nov 16 at 7 pm, focusing on ways to understand how the agricultural economy in our area has historically related to the industrial one.

There’s common story that farming declined or even disappeared in New England’s hill towns because of poor soil and bad management. As people who have been listening to me talk about farming history for a while now know, I’m trying to tell a more complicated story of continual adaptation and reinvention as our region’s economy became more oriented toward manufacturing in the 19th and 20th centuries and then struggled to recover from the still-ongoing loss of industry.

“Hill Towns, Mill Towns, and Farming in the Quabbin Region” will take up that story, with some attention to the broader saga of industrialized agriculture and how it constrains today’s relocalization efforts in the local food system.

The Wendell Cultural Council helped to support the photo exhibit that’s been appearing in area towns, and the plan is to bring it to Wendell at some point too. In the short term, I’ll be including a digital slide show in the Nov 16 presentation, and of course Oliver Scott Snure’s beautiful farmer portraits are featured throughout A Quabbin Farm Album.

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