hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires

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Farm and forest meet in new concept for agriculture

The crew gathered at Kevin Maher’s Cambridge, N.Y., farm on a weekend in the middle of May with an ambitious goal: to plant 10,000 hazelnut trees in open fields on the hilly property. The project was the first to be undertaken by Agroforestry Management LLC, a new company Maher founded with Jared Woodcock, a native of the neighboring town of White Creek. Their business is dedicated to spreading the practice of “forest agriculture,” in which tree crops like nuts are planted in widely spaced rows that leave room for complementary farming activities. Their efforts in Washington County are part of a broader movement, inspired by the Wisconsin farmer and author Mark Shepard, that aims to get thousands of acres in the region planted with chestnuts, hazelnuts and Korean pine nuts. read more



Vermont weighs rules for slate quarries

A legislative battle is brewing over whether and how Vermont should regulate the slate quarries that have dominated the economy and landscape of western Rutland County for generations. The conflict has come into focus over the past year as a legislative commission started crafting revisions to Act 250, the landmark law that governs land use and development throughout Vermont. In January, the commission recommended that slate quarries and their operators, who for decades have been mainly exempt from the law’s requirements, should be brought under its jurisdiction.
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Theater festival focuses on the new and the fun

In the world of professional theater, a new play is something of a double-edged sword. Especially in regional theater where most new plays come to fruition, each one seems to teeter on the razor’s edge of becoming either beloved -- or a flop. Those that wind up in the latter category can ruin a small company’s summer season, so many theaters will mix new works among tried-and-true crowd-pleasers. But Adirondack Theatre Festival is staying true to its commitment of staging nothing but new plays == and making it work.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron