Food Sails from Farm to Table on Historic Trade Route

An old trade route used by the Mohawks, missionaries, fur traders and colonists took a step toward revival last weekend as the Vermont Sail Freight Project embarked on a 330-mile journey downriver, stopping at historic river towns along the Hudson.

Along the way to New York City, they’ll pick up everything from honey to sauerkraut from 30 farmers and sell the goods at pop-up markets.

“We’re trying to rebuild a whole sector that’s been decimated and open new opportunities for young farmers and rebuild a whole aspect of the culture that’s very nearly been lost entirely,” said project director Erik Andrus, who also farms rice and grass-fed beef at Boundbrook Farm in Ferrisburgh, Vt.

The crowd-funded sailing barge, named Ceres, will ply the Lake Champlain-Hudson River Route from Shoreham, Vt., to New York City.

“It was a very busy route,” said Dan Ward, curator at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, N.Y. The river once had so much shipping it even had stores on boats that sold household items such as candy and other goods to the river traders, who didn’t have time to get ashore. “That was also the alcohol route during Prohibition,” said Ward, describing boats with secret compartments. “Alcohol was massively produced in Canada, and it was massively consumed in New York City.”

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