I was interviewed by a local TV program recently on the work of VCRD. The host thought it was interesting that our organization was working this year to support farm and forest business development, which he saw as supporting “traditional Vermont,” alongside the work of the Vermont Digital Economy Project, which is helping businesses, municipalities, non-profits and downtowns embrace the opportunities of our internet age and which he found to be more “future-oriented.”
In fact, these efforts are conjoined in supporting innovation in rural Vermont in ways that make small communities attractive to a new generation of entrepreneurs and young people—who are the inspiration for the renewal of Vermont’s rural future. The exciting thing today is that the Renaissance of agriculture and the natural resource economy are attracting and retaining young people. Working the land is cool. On the other hand, “digital natives” who’ve been growing up connected to online culture, don’t want to live without it. And new farm and forest businesses, even small ones, are connected, sometimes in surprising and creative ways, to high tech information systems, social networks, online marketing and more. Many are selling locally but adding value in production to connect to global opportunities.
The Digital Economy Project will provide resources to support the use of Internet applications by farm and forest businesses, and look to identify new ways that non-profits and associations can systematically advance opportunities for new and existing businesses.
All of VCRD’s work is built from Vermont’s “tradition” of innovation, a respect for local culture, and a recognition of the deep connection we have to the land—that’s a legacy, but also a key part of our collective future!