I’d like to introduce myself to those who may not know much about me.
I attended Johnson State College and studied education. It was my experience with what I call old time Vermonters that led me to choose a life as a farmer. I was drawn to their value system and connection to the land and their community. They were in my view the modern native Americans that were attached to the seasons and part of the natural world.
I became involved in the Johnson community while at college and was a Big Brother, a Boy Scout leader, volunteered on the local ambulance service and was part of the first Vermont Green Up Day. A lucky opportunity enabled me to operate a farm in Wallingford from 1975-1982 and that is where I fell in love with Rutland County. As I jokingly say I learned how to lose money in every form of agriculture, but I also learned a great deal. It was an exciting time with farmers’ markets just beginning to emerge and local food not yet on the radar of most Vermonters. I purchased land in West Rutland in 1982 that became Boardman Hill Farm. For many years I operated two successful businesses, a design and building contraction company and Boardman Hill Farm to make ends meet and raise my family. I was one of the first certified organic farms in Rutland county and was involved in NOFA and the farmers’ markets from the beginning. I sat on the farmers’ market boards for over 30 years, served on the planning commission in West Rutland for many years and represented my community on the Regional Planning Commission. I won awards from NOFA and the Vermont Youth Farm Corp for various initiatives.
I worked with youth at risk in several Rutland area schools and taught ag classes at Green Mountain College. Boardman Hill Farm became a natural classroom and I set up an incubator farm that help many young farmers begin their farming careers. Happily several have now started their own farms in Rutland county and now have young children helping to bend the graying of Rutland County by seeding new young farmers. I co-founded both the Rutland Area Food and Farm Link and the Vermont Farmers Food Center, two agricultural nonprofit organizations.
My idea of starting a winter farmers’ market seemed like a natural next step in growing a year round food system but was met with a fair amount of skepticism. It became the first and most successful winter market in New England and grew the Rutland Farmers’ Market into one of the largest and best markets in the state. In 2016 I was chosen as Business Person of the Year by the Rutland Chamber of Commerce for my work in growing agriculture and the local food system. Rutland is now known for its food culture and many new food based businesses have helped grow both the economic and physical health of Rutland County.
I have always been credited with thinking outside the box and working to make ideas reality. It’s easy to dream but harder to make those dreams come true. I believe Rutland County has the diversity and work ethic capable of creating a bright economic future. Rutland county has all the resources necessary to create a resilient and sustainable future including amazingly fertile farm land from the Mettowee Valley to the Otter Valley, beautiful lakes, some of the most beautiful parts of the Green Mountains, both slate and marble quarries as well as some of Vermont’s best skiing and recreational trails.
I would like to bring the wealth, vision and work ethic of all Rutland’s communities together and work for that brighter future. Every one of our towns brings something essential and unique to the table and must be included in the conversation. But, conversations are not actions — we must create and implement a county-wide vision and then broaden that vision to include Bennington and southern Addison County so that together we have a more powerful voice and gain access to the resources necessary to carry out that plan. Let’s route resources from Montpelier to Rutland!
Greg Cox, Rutland