It is the season of giving thanks. The autumn harvest is complete, and we thank farmers, particularly our Vermont farmers, for providing us with food. Thanksgiving is a special time for family and friends to reconnect, pause and enjoy a few hours together over a meal — a meal, thanks to a farmer.

Many of you will enjoy a fresh Vermont turkey that was raised by neighbors, perhaps filled with local bread or stuffing mix. Maybe you like to change it up around the dinner table, serving pork, chicken, lamb or beef. Vermont is blessed to have so many choices thanks to our farmers.

From parsnips to potatoes, Vermont farmers statewide supply fresh vegetables to add to the repast. It might be spuds smothered in Green Mountain butter or butternut squash doused in pure Vermont maple. It’s all made possible by a farmer or producer.

We raise our glasses to our farmers. The Thanksgiving toast might be a fresh glass of milk from one of our local dairies, or the cheers could come from Vermont’s outstanding wine, beer or spirit companies. We are thankful for their commitment to agriculture on this day and every day.

Thanksgiving would not be a day to give thanks without pumpkin, apple or mince pie. Our desserts are made possible by our bakers and farmers. It’s a sweet way to complete the Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving is also a day to think of those less fortunate: neighbors helping neighbors … what Vermonters do. Farmers often are the first to contribute to their local food shelf or donate fresh products to a gleaning program. Their contributions make a difference to so many. Farmers also open their land to recreation. Hikers, hunters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts are thankful for what farmers provide.

We also give thanks to our farmers for their contributions to our land, water and hills. It’s been a challenging year with snow, rain and floods. But farmers are adapting and still feeding us. Those open fields and vistas don’t happen without hard work and commitment to Vermont’s environment. Farmers work hard, 365 days a year, to care for our forests, open land, sugar woods and tree farms. Our visitors are thankful when they come to the Green Mountains in all five (mud!) seasons.

We also give thanks to all who support Vermont’s farmers and producers — buying your food at a farmers’ market or at a local co-op called out with that Vermont label, buying local food through a CSA program at your place of business or shopping at one of Vermont’s many farmers markets. It might be giving gifts of Vermont products — we are thankful for those who ship a taste of Vermont all over the world. Commitments to buy local are meaningful and do not go unnoticed. They help all of us.

Thank you for pausing and thinking about our tremendous assets this season — the harvest, the care we show each other, and our care of the land. We are blessed to have so many around the table thinking of our farmers, this Thursday, and every day.

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

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