On March 27, 2015

Elementary students propose Gilfeather turnip as state veggie

By Amy Ash Nixon, VTDigger.org

Wardsboro Elementary School children want a turnip to be the state vegetable—the Gilfeather turnip, grown in and around Wardsboro.

On Tuesday, a dozen students told the House Committee on Forest and Agriculture Products to consider designating their hometown’s prized root as Vermont’s state vegetable.

The students were informed by Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, that the bill would not pass this year, but she said many members of the committee supported it. In fact, Partridge added, Gilfeather turnips had a celebrity status at her family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas tables when she was growing up.

Farmer John Gilfeather is credited with developing the turnip that bears his name. Gilfeather lived in Wardsboro, and is buried there. The turnip—a cross between a turnip and a rutabaga —dates to the late 1800s.

Vermont would become the 14th state in the union to have a state vegetable if the legislation passes.

“Like the Gilfeather turnip, we are tough-skinned, put down strong roots, and after a tough challenge [a winter frost], come out sweeter,” student Trevor Plimpton said. “We are Vermont strong!”

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