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

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Click the cover for the full issueHill Country Observer February-March issue


The devilish details of legal pot

With New York facing a pandemic-driven budget gap of nearly $15 billion, some say this is the year the state will finally commit to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The state Department of Health estimated in 2018 that New York’s marijuana market was worth up to $3.5 billion annually, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo predicts that by regulating and taxing that market, the state could bring in about $300 million a year. But just across the state line in Massachusetts, where voters overwhelmingly backed legalization in a 2016 referendum, people involved in the state’s new cannabis industry warn that visions of a quick flood of revenue may be unrealistic. The details of New York’s regulatory scheme, they say, will make all the difference.
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Restoring the hub of Pawlet

Historic general store finds new life, new vision after five-year hiatus.
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Finding the future in health soil

Jim Schultz runs a small-scale that’s demonstrating how better agriculture practices can help to solve the climate crisis. Raising healthy food is a central goal at Schultz’s Red Shirt Farm in Lanesborough, Mass. But so is restoring and enhancing the health of the soil. And it’s a healthy soil microbiome, Schultz and others say, that’s key to putting carbon back into the soil and retaining it there -- rather than releasing into the air, where it contributes to planetary warming.

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In a homebound season, region’s fiber arts thrive

Andrea Myklebust came to Vermont two years ago to be part of the region’s growing fiber arts scene. The sculptor and weaver, who will teach virtual workshops in weaving this winter through the Southern Vermont Arts Center, spins and weaves the wool from a flock of 25 sheep. In the region where Massachusetts, New York and Vermont meet, knitters and weavers create their work with fibers from area farms that have been spun and processed locally.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron