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Counting Sheep and Other Critters: Land Use, Soil Fertility and Population in Post Civil-War Vermont

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10/03/2006

The history of late 19th-century Vermont has traditionally told a story of emigration, rural depopulation, and supposed agricultural decline. This tradition ignores several paradoxes. Vermont farmers achieved some of the highest crop productivity in the U.S. during the same period the region developed a reputation for soil exhaustion. In the same period that the number of farms and farmers reached their highest levels, a mass exodus supposedly left farming. While farming in Vermont was said to be uncompetitive with other regions, thousands of small farmers persisted well into the 20th century. This talk by Christopher Harris, adjunct faculty in the Department of History at Northeastern University, presents an alternative narrative of the period, using a multidisciplinary approach.

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