Food

The Vermont State Vegetable

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Then-governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont signs a bill declaring the Gilfeather Turnip the state’s official vegetable. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Wardsboro Library.

Wardsboro’s heirloom Gilfeather Turnip became the official State Vegetable of Vermont on July 1, 2016, after then-Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill that sailed through the Legislature because of the expert testimony of schoolchildren from the Wardsboro Elementary School.

The students appeared multiple times at House and Senate committee hearings in Montpelier, giving presentations with colorful posters they had drawn, and making heartfelt speeches about why this humble root vegetable from their hometown was worthy of this important designation.

One student, Jesse Dykes, said, “The hardest part of making the Gilfeather turnip the state vegetable was nothing, really. As soon as someone said there was a Gilfeather Turnip cookbook, the senators were sold!”

Vermont is America’s 14th state, and it was the 14th state to name a state vegetable. The Gilfeather Turnip is also registered in the Slow Food Ark of Taste, an international catalog of foods that draws attention to the importance of preserving local agricultural traditions.

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