The autumn harvest is complete and the season for giving thanks is here. Thanksgiving offers time for family and friends to reconnect, pause and enjoy a few hours together over a meal. As we picture our nation’s fields, forests and barns and the people who work within them, we thank our Vermont farmers for our bounty.

On Thursday, perhaps you will enjoy a fresh Vermont turkey, raised by your neighbor, purchased on-farm or through a co-op or grocery store that is committed to offering local food. Or maybe your family prefers a roast of Vermont pork, chicken, lamb or beef. We have a cornucopia of choices, and Vermonters are fortunate to have so many ways to thank our farmers.

From parsnips to potatoes, Vermont farmers fill our Thanksgiving with fresh vegetables. It might be spuds smothered in Green Mountain butter or butternut squash doused in pure Vermont maple. A farmer made it possible.

And of course, we would not be giving thanks in true celebration, without dessert. Our farmers top off the day with pumpkin, apple or mince pie and fresh dairy whipped or ice cream. It’s a sweet finish for a Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving is also a day to think of those less fortunate. Vermont farmers are always among the first to help those in need. They often are the first to contribute to their local food shelf or donate fresh products to a gleaning program. When neighbors help neighbors, their community impact is exponential.

Every Vermonter has the opportunity to give thanks to our farmers for their contributions to our land, water and mountains. They are the keepers of our landscape. Hard work and commitment to Vermont’s environment create open fields and scenic vistas. From stands of maple sugar bush to Christmas tree farms, every day farmers steward our land. Vermonters and visitors alike enjoy and rely on Vermont food, forest products and the space for recreation. We are thankful so much land is left open.

On this day, we also give thanks to all of you who support Vermont agriculture. Choosing local food at your co-op or market, buying CSA shares, or supporting your farmer neighbor by visiting them to buy meat, eggs, baked goods, dairy and produce … we feed each other here, in the hills. Committing to local is meaningful and recognized by all of us invested in Vermont agriculture.

We are blessed to have so many around the table thinking of our farmers on Thanksgiving. As we enjoy the food and companionship of Thanksgiving dinner, let us raise a glass — of fresh Vermont milk, cider, beer, wine or spirits — to our farmers. We toast their commitment to agriculture every day, on this day.

Cheers to you and yours, on this Thanksgiving day.

Anson Tebbetts is Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets secretary.

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